Lea Goad: Hello Hearts Through History members, today I’m talking with HTH member Tracy Koppel. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been working on?
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I write part-time.
What’s the hardest part of writing?
Keeping track of all the things one has to—the plot, the characters, the setting, the pacing, the word choices—so many details!
What’s your favorite historical movie?
I don’t have ranked favorites in any category. I grew up loving Errol Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood and Douglas Fairbank’s Mark of Zorro, Start the Revolution Without Me, the Court Jester. But there’s so many others I love, too, like Ever After, Braveheart, Amadeus, and The Sound of Music.
Who’s your favorite historical figure?
Right now I’m admiring Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Tubman and Florence Nightingale, who is so underrated.
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?
I don’t want to meet any of them—if I acted like myself, I’d break the social rules they follow. Besides, I’d be all uptight and wouldn’t know what to say.
If you could time travel, what era would you visit?
I like my modern conveniences and modern medicine, so I don’t actually want to time travel. If the question is what eras am I interested in? The answer is too many. I’m currently polishing a Regency romance, I’m revising an Elizabethan adventure, and I have a few other Regencies that I’ve started, as well as a few Medieval manuscripts I’ve started.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Turn off your internal editor and get something on the page.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in middle school and had the opportunity to take a creative writing class.
Are there specific books or authors who have influenced you as a writer?
Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Suzanne Brockmann, Fred Shafer
Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?
I’m a panster. I’ve tried plotting, I’ve taken classes in plotting, I’ve bought plotting software…I just can’t do it for drafting. I have used plotting techniques as part of revising a completed manuscript.
After drafting a manuscript, I let it sit and work on other things for months. Then I go back and revise, working with a critique group or two. Then I share it with Beta readers. When it’s as good as I can make it, I send it to a developmental editor.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
I wrote my first novel before I took any serious writing classes. I thought I had something good, but then my mother gave it to a retired editor friend who hated it. I started taking classes at the Graham School of the University of Chicago. Those classes got me involved in critique groups where I learned about Off Campus Writers Workshop, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and other organizations. Since then I’ve continued to take classes, attend conferences and workshops.
Over the years, I’ve lost my mother and father, plus both my in-laws. Also, various circumstances combed so that I ended up home schooling for a few years. Whenever things became too rough for me to continue working on whichever manuscript I was trying to finish, I’d allow myself to write whatever I wanted to write. By now, I’ve started more manuscripts than I want to count.
When life settled down, I finished a manuscript and started pitching it to editors and agents. As I struggled to learn all I needed to know so I could get my manuscript traditionally published, I was reminded that the “gatekeepers” often don’t do a good job of only publishing well-written and well-plotted books, plus the process takes a lot of time and they take a lot of the book’s earnings, so I decided to put my time and energy into learning self-publishing. I’m currently working with an artist on a cover design, and learning about how to write great back cover copy.
Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you.
I have a story coming out in an anthology entitled Turning Points, which is due out in September 2021. I’m also one of the editors of that anthology and part of the committee in charge of promoting it.
My first novel, The Orphan’s Gift, will be coming out soon. I’d hoped for fall of 2021, but I’m doing so much right now to make Turning Points a success, The Orphan’s Gift might not come out until January 2022. We’ll see.
Facebook: Tracy Forgie Koppel