Tracy’s story telling career began when she picked up a copy of LaVyrle Spencer’s Vows on a college beach trip. A journalism degree and a thousand romance novels later, she decided to try her hand at writing a southern version of the perfect love story. With a great deal of luck and more than a bit of perseverance, she sold her first novel to Kensington Publishing.
When not writing sensual stories featuring complex characters and lush settings, Tracy can be found reading romance, snowboarding, watching college football and figuring out how she can get to 100 countries before she kicks (which is a more difficult endeavor than it used to be with her four-year-old son in tow). She lives in Charlotte, NC, but after spending a few years in “the city”, considers herself a New Yorker at heart.
Tracy has been awarded the National Reader’s Choice, the Write Touch and the Beacon – with finalist nominations in the HOLT Medallion, Heart of Romance, Rising Stars and Reader’s Choice. Her books have been translated into German, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. She loves hearing from readers about why she tends to pit her hero and heroine against each other and that great novel she simply must order in five seconds on her Kindle.
Hello everyone! I’m thrilled to be a guest author posting with Lisa Mondello!
I’m here today to discuss setting. Our characters not only require a stage to perform on, setting is a wonderful way to guide the theme of the story and enhance emotional drama. I didn’t really think I had a strong command of setting when I first began writing romance. I wasn’t even sure I liked added the layers that make up setting. Then, reviewers and readers kept making comments about “lush description” and “compelling setting detail”, and being immersed in the locale. I was “writing what I knew”, the North Carolina (Outer Banks) coast. Though in 1898, which did not know! J
I began to see that I used my settings to up the emotional stakes in key scenes with my characters. To intensify the drama. Take, for example, a excerpt from the newly released TIDES OF PASSION. The setting is the Outer Bank (NC) in 1898, and I found the setting (sand, sun, sea) very easy to romanticize.
Later that night, Savannah tiptoed from the makeshift campsite, following the path leading through the break in the dunes. Tilting her head, she counted until she lost count of the twinkling lights sheltered in the black velvet sky. An owl hooted nearby, a gull somewhere beyond that. A respected marine biologist, Noah had identified every sound for them after supper while Elle looked on with her own stars in her eyes.
Savannah had left them sitting so close their heads touched, their hands linked as if they couldn't bear to let the other go. Pushing aside the pang of envy she hoped was a natural reaction to witnessing such devoted adoration, she trudged across the warm sand, the occasional chip of quartz—another bit of information from Noah—glittering in the moonlight.
They were due to sail back to Pilot Isle in another hour, when the tide rolled in or out, whichever made it easier, or safer, to get home. Home. A misstep to use that word. She had not had a true home since those ragtag Brooklyn days. Or certainly not since her mother's death, anyway. Her father had not had the heart to provide a home for the daughter he always wished had been born a son.
She wiggled her toes, relishing the freedom of bare feet, and, too, the freedom of being Savannah Connor and nothing more for the summer. She wasn't sure when she would put on another pair of pinching boots or form another picket line and spend the night in a filthy jail cell for her dedication.
Peering through the shadowy moonlight, she found him sitting beneath a copse of sea oats, his back against the dune, hands stacked behind his head, bare feet propped upon a massive piece of driftwood. The wind tugged his shirt wide and pitched his crow black hair into his eyes. He looked vulnerable, sitting there in the darkness, alone and silent.
Sitting nearby, but not close enough to tempt either one of them, she pulled her skirt to midcalf and wormed her feet into the silken sand. Humid air whipped in from the east in gusts, and with an exhalation of surrender, she released her hair from the loose knot on her head.
"Lost, Irish?" His deep voice cut through the sound of the pounding surf.
So he did see her. Settling back against the dune, she gathered her thoughts. "Your family thinks we hate each other."
"Good. That'll keep them from asking questions."
"Do you, I mean, is this...." She shrugged, sending grains of sand down the back of her dress.
She had to ask.
"Wanting to wring your pretty little neck every other minute isn't enough to keep me from wanting to touch you, if that's where you're headed." He sighed, kicking at the driftwood. "Nothing seems to be enough."
"For what?" Scooting close, he captured a strand of her hair between his thumb and finger. "For making me angry or making me yearn?"
Averting her gaze from the breadth of skin exposed by his unbuttoned shirt, she released a pent-up breath. "For my histrionics earlier this evening."
He seized her chin in his palm and directed her eyes to his face. "Say it again."
"I'm sorry," she whispered, stomach doing the familiar dance that must be what he called yearning.
He shook his head. "No. The big word."
She frowned, puzzled. Big word? Oh. "Histrionics."
His attention centered on her mouth, recording every movement of her lips. "I love watching you talk, Irish. When we're in bed the first time, I want you to whisper one of those big words you love every time I slide inside you." He wrapped the strand of hair around his finger in a lazy rotation. "I don't care what they mean."
Her face colored; she felt it flame. Her lips opened, closed, her brain powerless to string together a sentence, big words or small.
She shook her head. It didn't feel like fear.
It felt like excitement.
"There's no need. We'll take it at your pace. You tell me when, where, and how much. Or how little."
"We'll be friends when it's over?"
A stray beam of moonlight spilled across his face in time for her to see his pause, his thoughtful deliberation. It made her feel good to know he tried to answer honestly. "I think so, yes."
Her eyes again dropped to his chest, the sprinkling of dark hair glistening. With perspiration or perhaps salt water.
Releasing her chin, he slipped his shirt from his shoulders and shook it from his arms. Lifting her hand from its mired position in the sand, he placed it palm-flat on his chest. "Go ahead. I think you want to. Hell, my good sense dissolved like mist the moment you stepped off the ferry. You might as well lose yours."
His head dropped back, his lids sliding low as she began to explore; the sand coating her fingers an oddly pleasurable abrasion.
To read excerpts of both novels in the Seaswept Seduction Series: TIDES OF PASSION and the just-released, TIDES OF LOVE, please visit my website at www.tracysumner.com or visit me at Facebook.com/TracySumnerRomanceAuthor or @SumnerTracy.
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Also, my Christmas novella TO DESIRE A SCOUNDREL is on the Amazon Top 100 List! Come along for a story of holiday seduction that Romantic Times calls, “a searing passion…a sexy tale filled with great verbal repartee!”