TURNING THE PAGE: Clive Mom Chases A Dream

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This is where it all began.  In a worn, wine stained chair, with the family dog, Chloe by her side, Tracey Garvis-Graves began chasing her dream.

“I’ve always been a reader, a complete bookworm,” says Garvis-Graves.

She wrote a few short stories in college, which her professors liked, but then life happened.  She got married, had two children and put her dream of writing a book on hold.

“If you ask my family, they would say that would be the first thing I would choose to do.”

So in 2010, she gave it another go.

“I’d usually be writing by about 5:30 in the morning.  I’d write until about 7:00 or 7:30 and then I’d go to work.”

Her first novel is a love story that unfolds on a deserted island in the Maldives.

“I was always a huge fan of “Lost” and “Cast Away,” says Garvis-Graves.

But unlike “Cast Away,” two people are stranded “On the Island” – a teenager and his tutor.

Garvis-Graves says the characters lived in her head.  It took more than a year to write the book.  When she suffered from writer’s block, she says it was usually due to a lack of information about the subject matter.

“It wasn’t always easy,” says Garvis-Graves.  “But I always enjoyed doing it.  I still do.”

Writing a book is one thing.  Getting it out to the masses is another.  Garvis-Graves wrote 14 query letters to agents, hoping they would like “On the Island” and pass it on to a publisher.  She received 14 rejection letters.

“Nobody wanted to read it, at all – no interest.”

With encouragement from her husband, Tracey decided to publish the book herself.  Thanks to websites like Amazon, authors can now self-publish on the internet.  Tracey hired a developmental editor, a copy editor and a digital formatter.  Two months and $1500 dollars later, “On the Island” was ready to go on-line.

“And then you hit publish,” says Garvis-Graves.

And then you wait – wait to see if anyone buys it.  At first sales were sluggish.  But then, people started talking about the book.  The word of mouth pushed the on-line version onto the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller lists.

“And that’s when things got crazy – in a good way.”

The tide turned.  Agents started calling her.  So did production companies, hoping to purchase the film rights to the story.

"And then a month later the deal was done,” Garvis-Graves laughs.

And later this month, her dream will come true.  She will see her novel on bookstore shelves.

“It’s overwhelming.  I really haven’t processed it, I guess.”

She won’t divulge exactly how much she’s being paid for “On the Island” or her second book, “Covet.”  But she acknowledges, it’s “life changing.”  She quit her full-time job.  She no longer worries about bills or her kids’ education.  And she celebrated by buying herself something that might have once been considered an extravagance – a designer purse.

“That was kind of my treat - and some sunglasses might have jumped into my bag too while I was there,” she says with a smile.

But the greatest reward?

“It’s a dream come true.”

The On the Island author is appearing at Beaverdale Books on July 12th.