Q: Nancy...what made you become a writer?
A: I think creating stories was always part of me, just under the surface since I was a kid. I was constantly reading, devouring anything I could get my hands on from age 12 on. At the age of 15, I wrote my first short story on my kitchen floor called When Boy and Girl Become Man and Woman. I had read so many romances at that point that I knew how to write that story. I tried writing my first novel at age 21 when I was a receptionist of a prestigious Chicago law firm, writing any time the phone didn't ring or a client wasn't standing at my desk. Years had passed, got married, had children, found and dusted off that old manuscript that was filed away, and remembered my love of writing. It was an itch I had to scratch. I was a medical transcriptionist for about 17 years until I scratched that itch. It stayed with me until I wrote Black 21 the summer of 2014. I'm now taking dictation from my characters instead of doctors.
Q: What is your typical writing day like?
A: I sit down sometimes in the morning, sometimes at night, when it’s quiet, and I just start writing the scene that comes to me. It’s a little harder in the summer when the kids are home. I have more of a schedule when they go back. I sometimes write 500 words, sometimes 3000, depends on how into the scene/chapter I am. I love when time flies and the story possesses me. Those days are awesome!
Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?
A: I do not outline. I've tried that, and it just feels so stilted. I like having an idea and just going with the flow. It’s strange how it can work out as far as plotting goes. I have an idea of what I want to do, but I end up trusting my characters more. As strange as it sounds, they know their story. I'm just transcribing it.
Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?
A: I would say about 3-5, no more. I let it sit after I write it and go back with fresh eyes. I then start from page one and change some scenes, add more description, add senses that weren't there before, do more research if needed. I really try to get the story down in the first draft and then go back and rebuild.
Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?
A: I would say to have another pair of eyes look over after you’ve edited it the best you can. Even being a former medical transcriptionist and the training in editing to make a perfect medical report, I still miss things and need fresh eyes.
Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?
A: Reading is the best form of teaching and greatest habit. And I mean both good and bad writing. It teaches me what I need to do and not to do. I try to follow the regular rules of writing, like one POV per scene/chapter just so not to confuse the reader. I’ve read some books that can pull it off, but I just feel more comfortable using omniscient POV in third person. I might like to try first person for a shorter story at some point. I’ve read Stephen King’s On Writing, which has taught me quite a few things about tightening my writing, and many other writing books over the years. I also have a subscription to Writer’s Digest on my Kindle, which gives a lot of good tips and advice. YouTube is also a great tool!
Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?
A: It usually happens when I’m tired, so I’ll go to bed and continue the next day with renewed eyes and better energy. I also watch movies in my genre such as horror/thriller, and something will just pop in my head for how I’ll end my chapter, or I’ll add something to a scene I hadn’t thought of that will make it stronger. I also listen to my iPod to a particular song that fits my scene while jogging in place. I imagine my story and the characters and see how the scenes play out, giving me creative juice to run to my computer and start typing away. I get excited and can’t wait to finish out that chapter. It really does work!
Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?
A: It’s funny because I always knew I wanted to write, but what genre? My first story I wrote when I was 21 I had no idea what genre it would be. I just knew the plot, which is what I think made me lose interest. When I went back to writing, I still didn’t know. I knew I liked horror, I knew I liked romance, but how to put them together? I’ve always loved horror flicks and read horror stories, would tell spooky stories to my friends when I was younger. I gobbled up romance novels since age 13. When I returned to writing after my third child was born, I had a dream about a girl sitting at a kitchen table with two older men who were arguing over her, pounding their fists on the table like she was the prize of a bet. Black 21 actually started out as some college romance about a homecoming dance called “Birds Must Fly.” I wasn’t excited about it. It did nothing for me. Then one day I sat down to rewrite the story, and the title Black 21 came to me (that dream is my first scene). I knew it would be a supernatural love story. And it still involves that dance. I got excited. I wrote it in 3 months. Supernatural/paranormal romance is my love. I never even knew how popular this genre was. It was the only way I could write this story and be true to it. Write what you read, what you love. It took a while for me to figure that one out.
Q: Do you utilize beta readers?
A: I’ve never used one before, only had an extremely good editor/friend help edit, but definitely plan on it with my current WIP. I want someone objective and not feel anything personal.
Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?
A: Just one? Ha! I really enjoyed the scene where my MC, Daisy, visits her psychic grandmother in a nursing home for the first time. This woman is a kick! I loved bringing Marissa to life, and believe me, she was waiting for her turn in this story! She made me laugh and cry in just this one scene. The way Daisy and her friend, Eric, responded to her was a joy to read again and again.
Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?
A: Daisy and Christian are special in that they have struggles like the rest of us with family issues and self-worth. Daisy visits her aunt and uncle after a traumatic experience at home, and she still wants to do what makes them happy. She puts them before herself because she loves them. There’s a point in the story where Christian stands up to his father, knowing he’ll lose as he always does. He does it anyway because he wants to protect Daisy from what’s in store for her. He’s willing to lose her and anger his father all at once just to do the right thing.
Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?
A: Since I’ve only self-published this past May, I’m still learning as I go, but I’m learning a lot. I try to utilize all social media like Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and my own website. I’ve used paid promotions and free promotions. I love Goodreads and started out as a reader and now as an author. I’ve promoted myself on there with my free days on Amazon and gained a couple of reviews from some avid readers, one of paranormal romance and one that actually found my book on Google+ and wanted to read it, not her normal genre. I was featured in an indie newsletter. All this has put me on the Google map! I can Google myself and find tons of author information, which is so cool. I’m constantly thinking of new ways to get my name out there, since it’s more challenging for an indie author. I’ve joined some writing boards and have gleaned great tips and have also shared what I know. Self-promotion is a job in itself, let me tell ya! I try to balance promoting and writing. There’s a lot of tricks with each of these avenues. For Pinterest, I’ve created a board for Black 21 and "Rose’s Sin" (a prequel short story), and pin pictures of what I think the scenes look like, the characters, the homes, anything pertaining to the story. I link those pictures to my website showcasing my works. I re-pin my books at least once a day to show up in followers’ feeds. I joined Google+ writing/author groups and promote there. I post a picture of my book on Instagram (I have a personal and an author Instagram) and hashtag it to death. I’ve also given a free copy of my book to bloggers/reviewers for an honest review (have 15 out so far). There’s so many ways to get yourself out there. The best gig is landing an interview on a great blog like this one!
Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?
A: I’ve only garnered six great 4-5 star reviews, but even in some of those reviews, there’s a little sting. But that’s what I want, I guess…the truth. You can get a high-rated review but still get something negative written in that review, but it’s nothing personal. This is their perspective only, how they see things, and that’s okay with me. The day I get lower than 4 stars, I might cry! Just kidding, maybe just suck in my breath, read the words again, and then shrug it off. Some authors say don’t read them, not worth it. My curiosity would get the best of me, though. Not everyone is going to love your stuff!
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?
A: I really love the independence of it all. I used to query agents and sometimes get a bite. Oh joy! I was just done with the whole publishing process and wanted to give up. Then I read something on the Internet, and a light bulb went off about self-publishing. An insatiable hunger took over, and I needed to learn everything I could about this strange yet very popular method of publishing. I never understood it before that day in May of 2015. I believe in divine intervention, and this was it for me. I love controlling my own deadlines, royalties, just the freedom of it all. I get to write in the way I want to write without anyone changing my story/plot/character’s name/title. It’s all mine.
Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?
A: Trying to get my name out there. It’s all on me to do. Publishing houses have a huge budget to advertise, something indie authors really don’t have. Thank goodness for other supportive authors/bloggers to help us achieve this.
Q: What is your current writing project?
A: Broken Down – a supernatural thriller set in another creepy town with a sinister secret. Oh, how I love those stories!
Q: What are three of your favorite novels?
A: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, Delores Claiborne by Stephen King, and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.
Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would you talk to them about?
A: Danielle Steel. The woman’s a machine, and would love to pick her brain on how she churns out best seller after best seller and keep looking so good! I’ve read so many of her novels as a teenager and a story on her life that I found fascinating. She's not only named Steel, but she's made of it. She shrugs those awful reviews off and keeps on! She believes in herself!
Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?
A: Believe in yourself! If you need to write, then do it and do it well. Don’t listen to those negative thoughts. Find the time to read and write, and allow your muse (we all have one!) to guide you. Trust your characters; allow them to tell their story, and it will shine with the truth!
Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
A: “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” – Virginia Woolf
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