Book Review & Author Interview – Saving Gracie by Nancy DeMarco

Thursday, May 01, 2014
Review and Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

Saving Gracie Description: When Gracie is accosted by a redheaded ghost, everyone assumes she's hallucinating. Again. But to Gracie the dead girl is real, and she bears a message:

Someone will die tonight.

Sure enough, a body surfaces in Echo Pond, and the town of Coyne Falls plunges into chaos. In the furor that follows, the victim's widow jumps out a window, a dead man sends text messages, a missing person is duct taped to a toilet, and a beagle runs howling into the night.

Meanwhile, the ghost sends Gracie on a mission: "follow the beagle" to save a life.

Nancy DeMarco is a talented storyteller and Saving Gracie is a book you won’t want to set down. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think back to summer camp. We would sit around a campfire and tell stories until our eyelids were beyond heavy. There was always that one girl in the group who could tell a story in such a way your mouth was gaping open and you found yourself leaning in so you wouldn’t miss a single word. Nancy DeMarco is that girl for me. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and I didn’t want to go to sleep until I had finished Saving Gracie. DeMarco has a storytelling gift and I am thankful she decided to share that gift with the world. I am excited to read her other works and hope she is already working on her next story!

WOW: Nancy, I believe you mentioned your writing began as therapy. Can I ask who encouraged writing/journaling as therapy? What advice would you give others in a similar health situation?

Nancy: The writing was my idea. Following nearly two decades of undiagnosed Lyme disease, my short-term memory was shot, so it wasn’t possible for me to read a book or even watch a movie. By the time I got halfway through, I couldn’t remember the beginning and had no idea who the characters were. I became exhausted easily, so I spent a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. I was inwardly frantic, and I needed to do something.

I wondered, if I were to write a story rather than watching or reading one, whether I might better remember what was going on. I was already sitting on my butt with a keyboard in front of me, so I wrote some narrative non-fiction—very short stories of my horses and chickens and of the local culture in this small town. Then I reorganized what I’d written, and I edited, and I wrote some more.

I had no idea that the therapeutic effects of writing would be so dramatic. My mind became much more organized, my speech improved, and I started to remember more and more of what I’d written. Even my balance and coordination got better as my brain figured out how to sort through my memories and present them as stories. Writing improved every aspect of the damage done by disease.

To others who are suffering with chronic illness, my best advice is to find your own way. Start with a good doctor, but if that doesn’t give you the help you need, keep looking. Don’t listen when a doctor says nothing more can be done. His isn’t the final word. The answer is out there, and your job is to find it.

WOW: I know so many people who began writing as therapy and moved to publishing. It’s so exciting to see your passion and see you sharing it with others!

When and why did you decide to publish? What would you do differently?

Nancy: I had no interest in publishing until I joined a writers’ group. Everyone there was working diligently towards publication, and, well, I wanted to fit in.

I see publication as a learning experience, much the same as writing. When I completed my first novel, I queried a local publisher, and they accepted the manuscript. I was excited, not so much because I was getting published, but because I saw this as an opportunity to work with professional editors and improve my writing. To me, this was on par with winning a scholarship.

That part was a huge disappointment. The editors provided weren’t what I’d hoped for and, when the book came out, I was unhappy with the final product. So I asked to be released from my contract. The publisher agreed to let me go, which I think was very decent of them. After that, I decided to self publish for a few years.

My goal now is to build a body of work, learn as much as I can about the industry, and then, when I feel ready, decide whether to go on self publishing, or look into representation.

The thing is, I’m a control freak, and I love having my fingers in every aspect of my work. I can choose my own editors. I can license my own images and oversee the cover and interior design. And, without a publisher in the mix, I can set my prices and make my books affordable.

I can also test drive various promotional opportunities without worrying about having to make sales. No one is investing in me, so I feel no pressure to provide a return on investment. When I run a promotion, I can watch sales figures in real time, and that helps me to know whether one form of marketing performs better than another. I don’t think I could expect that sort of transparency with a publisher, so I wouldn’t be free to learn as much.

As for doing things differently, I’m not sure I would. There are many paths available, and no matter which one I take, I will give up some things in favor of others. This may not be the best, fastest, most efficient route, but it’s mine, and I’m loving every moment of it.

WOW: I love your no regrets attitude – I love your ending sentiment in the last answer “it’s mine and I’m loving every moment of it!”

Who has been your biggest supporter during your recovery and writing process?

Nancy: That’s easy. My husband Jim.

One thing Lyme does is make you angry. All the time. You don’t need a reason to be angry; you just are. No matter how hard I tried to be kind, I was snippy and mean. It’s not my normal personality, and I knew I was being a jerk, but I couldn’t help it—not until I got antibiotics—eighteen months of antibiotics. Then my usual happy, peaceful personality returned.

My husband never got angry with me. He took everything in stride, he hugged me and held me and made things better. Many, many marriages fail due to chronic illness, but Jim never wavered. When I was mean, he joked with me. When I was snippy, he shrugged and asked if there was anything I needed. He kept me safe. He’s my hero.

I base my leading men on my husband. They’re not the typical men of steel with chiseled jaws and iron abs, closed off emotionally, tormented by a terrible secret from their past. They’re just nice average guys who get put in tough situations. And they get out of those situations by being nice guys. When I first started writing, everyone told me that I had to make my men taller and fitter and more handsome—nobody wanted to read about average guys. But my readers seem to love them as much as I do. This makes me happy.

WOW: Thank you Nancy (and Jim) – this truly has been a pleasure!

Nancy on Goodreads:

Nancy’s Blog:

Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 7, Andre 5, Breccan 7 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at:


Sioux Roslawski said...

Crystal--Thanks for the review and the interview.

Nancy--The "cons" of self publishing that you spoke of are convincing. For some--who turn their nose up at self-published writers--this might make them think twice. Thanks for sharing your process and speaking of writing as "therapy." I think it serves that purpose for a great number of writers.

Anonymous said...

Crystal-- Thank you so much! This is my favorite review ever. I'm walking on clouds.

Sioux-- I've been amazed to meet so many writers struggling with chronic illness. I am very, very lucky to have so much love and support, and to have made such a great recovery. I'm even jogging. Slowly. But I'll get faster. :)

Margo Dill said...

I LOVE THE COVER! Thank you for the insightful and honest interview, Nancy, and the review, Crystal. Going to check this out now. :)

Nancy DeMarco said...

Thank you, Margo--I love the cover, too!

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to connect with photographer Vladimir Morozov and model Megan O'Malley, both way the heck over in Ireland. They are wonderfully kind and talented. I still can't believe I have Megan on my cover. :D

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top