Thursday Focus: T.R.Graves talks about, "Warriors of the Cross..."

TRB: Tina, are you still active in nursing or have you transitioned into writing full time?

TR: I am an RN administrator within a public healthcare system for one of the nation’s most populous counties. I’m disclosing my administrator position because there are those who believe I am no longer a ‘nurse’ because I don’t perform direct patient care. Of course, I disagree. I work tirelessly at being a business office advocate for patients while making sure the system gets paid for the excellent care provided to the people of our community. Almost every ounce of my nursing career has been devoted to hospitals caring for people who can’t afford their needed healthcare. For that privilege, I am honored.

I work AND write full-time. A typical week for me is tiring. It consists of me commuting 10-12 hours, working at my administrator job 40-60 hours, editing Guardians of the Cross while marketing Warriors of the Cross around 40 hours, and raising an active seven year-old son and a driven seventeen year-old daughter before falling exhaustively into bed for sleep with the remaining few hours. Without my devoted husband, I would not be able to do any of this.

TRB: What made you choose to go Indie?

TR: In the beginning, I had no idea I had options. I assumed the only path included traditional publishing. I sent Warriors of the Cross to a handful of literary agents. Each query was instantly declined without any information that would help me understand what the query letter (or book) was missing or what I could do better. I won’t lie: there were hours after each generic "thanks-but-no-thanks" when I wondered why I was putting myself through the rejection ringer.

Last year, I discovered CreateSpace, and I realized there may be other options for authors. A few months later, I bought Switched by Amanda Hocking. When I saw she published her book through Smashwords, I realized there definitely were other options. On that site, I found a whole population of people who had "taken the bull by the horns" and accomplished their goals without literary agents or traditional publishers. Instantly, I was fascinated and began my extensive research into the Indie Publishing movement. As they say, the rest is history.

TRB: What is your advice to other authors that don't wish to go the “legacy publishing” route?

TR: I would encourage them to research both options extensively. Then, they need to go with the one giving their book the best chance of succeeding. I’m sure you can attest that Indie Publishing is not for the faint of heart. As you can see by my schedule listed above, Indie Publishers have to be willing to pretend this is a full-time job no matter what other obligations they have. 

TRB: Amen, sister... 

TRB: Where did you get your idea(s) for your novel, Warriors of the Cross?

TR: First, I'm a nurse by profession and choice…and passion. I spent years working in pediatric/cardiac/medical/surgical intensive care units. During those years, I took care of the sickest of the sick. For the rest of my life, I will vividly remember every man, woman, and child dying on my watch. I recall each tear shed (mine and theirs) while I stood by and watched the families grieve for their loved ones. These extraordinary patients and families impacted me and made me the person I am today. They sparked a desire in me to want to change the world into one where people can be healed with the touch of a hand and the merging of souls. I get excited when I think of a universe where this power is a possibility.

TRB: What type/style of a writer are you? Seat-of-Your Pants? Outline Queen? Master Plotter?

TR: I am definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal. I tried outlines and realized they squelched my creativity. It prevented the story from flowing naturally because I was trying to make it fit into a predetermined place. The write-as-you-go method is wonderful when you commute as many hours as me. I’ve spent hours in traffic mentally planning and plotting what I would write the second I made it home. I bet the great people driving through Houston with me wondered what in the world was going on when I worked my way through a challenging spot…while dealing with rush hour traffic. You can’t help but get excited when you think of a unique storyline.

TRB: Did you model any characters after real-life people? Is there a character that resonates with you?

TR: I embedded the interesting and endearing mannerisms of my friends and family into the characters of this fantasy. Besides The Sisters, there are no, one-to-one matches. Instead, the individuals of the story are layered with lots of peoples' characteristics in order to make them more dramatic. Because of this, I truly love reading Warriors of the Cross. It makes me feel like I have just had a homecoming visit with wonderful friends/family (dead and alive) by the time I make it to the end.

Without a doubt, Allison La Crosse is my hero. She’s an independent, strong, and powerful woman who wants to take care of the world. When she loves, she loves unconditionally. She is a role model for young women.

TRB: What is your hope for readers to experience by reading your novel?

TR: I truly hope it helps them to escape from their everyday troubles for a few hours while they become enthralled in this very exciting story. Most of all, I hope they love the story and its characters as much as me.

TRB: Is there a playlist that you listen to that inspires you while you're writing?

TR: While there are many, many singers that I admire, there is something about Kings of Leon that is critical to my ability to write. In fact, it is almost impossible for me to type without their songs humming along in the background. You can see from the Warriors of the Cross book trailer, I love Beautiful Design by Trading Voices. I adore Just Save by Sarah Reeves so much that I used that song in the Guardians of the Cross book trailer. Other recording artists I respect include Diane Birch, Sheryl Crowe, Eminem, Macy Grey, Alanis Morissette, Alison Krauss, Audra Mae/Curtis Stigers and The Forest Rangers, and U2.

TRB: Who is your favorite author? Is there a certain genre you read [in] exclusively?

TR: While I could fill your entire blog page with Indie names like Amanda Hocking, Tamara Rose Blodgett, Jayde Scott, Addison Moore and Beth Harris, there are a few writers who inspired me to begin my writing career. Those role-models include but are not limited to: J. K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, Richelle Mead, Charlaine Harris, P. C. & Kristin Cast, Stephanie Meyer, Melissa Marr,… 

TRB: Thanks for including're such a gracious person, Tina... 

As you can tell, my favorite genre is Young Adult Paranormal Romance. I’ve read lots of books from all sorts of genres, but this is the one preferred by my seventeen year-old daughter. I use our common interest as an opportunity to open the lines of communication between us. She is very supportive of me and loves Warriors of the Cross. After she read the book the first time, she told me she loved it, and I was very creative. Because she is my toughest critic, her honest review will forever be one of my proudest moments.

TRB: Are you a DTB (Dead Tree Book) reader, or do you use a dedicated reader? What do you predict for the future of these two formats?

TR: I’ve been conditioned to love holding a book in my hand. At the same time, I’m addicted to technology. After I found I could buy a book anytime/anyplace with my Nook/IPAD, I was instantly "e-hooked." The author in me loves the immediate gratification of providing an e-book to someone who wants a copy. A bonus is the fact that I never could have given paper copies away by the hundreds like I have with e-books.

TRB: When can we expect the exciting sequel, Guardians of the Cross, to publish? What are a few things the reader can expect from book two?

TR: Guardians of the Cross is written. I am editing it now and hope to have it released by the end of the summer. I’ve started Enemies of the Cross and should have it completed by the end of the year or early next year.

In my very subjective opinion, Guardians of the Cross is more exciting than Warriors of the Cross because the reader already knows the characters. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time introducing each character and detailing their connection to Allison. With Guardians of the Cross, there are going to be some heart stopping shocks at the end. It will have everyone thinking: "What in the world? When can I get my hands on Enemies of the Cross?"

TRB: Who was responsible for your eBook cover art? Also, what a FANTASTIC blog and trailer you have. Can you tell us a little about how you went about choosing and constructing such and appealing site?

TR: Phatpuppy Art designed the book covers for both Warriors of the Cross and Guardians of the Cross. Landing Claudia (the kindest person ever) was one of those things I will forever be grateful for. It is as if her designs were meant to be on the cover of my books. Even more amazing is the fact that she does Amanda Hocking’s covers and still has time to devote toward me and my humble story.

Thank you for complimenting the blog and book trailer. The trick is to find sites that will do the work for you. For the trailer(s), I used Animoto. I’d spent hours trying to create a trailer worth posting. Nothing worked. Finally, I found Animoto. All I did was: decide on the back ground, download pictures, add words, and select a song from their library. Once finished, Animoto produced the video. The ease of the process was amazing given the hours that I had spent trying to do it on my own without having anything to show for my efforts.

Blogger makes the creation of blog sites as easy as it can be. Even then, it took hours and hours to design something visually appealing. During the creation process, I had to educate myself on gadgets, widgets, RSS feeds, hyperlinks, clouds, and graphics. Amazon associates gave me the tools to create wonderful carousels and slide shows to showcase books/songs that my site visitors can purchase with a click of a mouse. I’m pleased with it - so far - but realize it is still a work in progress.

TRB: I absolutely LOVE Blogger and feel the same about what they've provided for me as well~!

Now, Tamara, I want to take a few minutes to thank you for doing this interview, for supporting me, and for being my virtual friend/follower/fan. You are a wonderful mentor for authors. Since you have done this interview for me, I will make sure to pay it forward in the true spirit of Indie Publishing. What a wonderful community to be a part of. 

TRB: You're so welcome, Tina, you've been a gracious and responsive guest. As you know, I'm a fan and think you've been a savvy marketer as well as a terrifically talented author. Thanks so much~! 


Author Bio~ 
 T. R. Graves was born in North Louisiana. She currently lives near the coast in Texas with her husband of twenty-four years. Together, they raise their seventeen year-old daughter and six year-old son. Besides being the author of The Warrior Series, she counts her eighteen year career as a registered nurse in not-for-profit hospitals among her most fulfilling accomplishments. She enjoys embedding realistic medical emergencies within a world filled with paranormal fantasy.

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Catch T.R. Graves Trailer~!
Warriors of the Cross~ Click HERE 


  1. Thank you so much for your support, Tamara. It is wonderful to work with and support people who are as giving as you!

    T. R. Graves


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