Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Angela Correll is Karen Peckham! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address!
This week we are featuring Nancy Moser! To win a copy of her new book, The Journey of Josephine Cain (Summerside Press, 2013) leave a comment on this post.
I’ve been married 38 years. We have three married kids and four grandkids—with one more on the way, all blessedly, all live within 20 minutes of us. I write full time, thanks to my hard-working husband.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest . . .
I started out writing contemporary fiction (16 novels), but in 2004 I took a turn and began to write historical fiction. Eight books later, I can’t imagine writing contemporary anymore. I love writing about the past, finding the neat moments of history to interweave into my novels, and learning that people haven’t changed all that much. I am very interested in the fashion of the past and have thousands of period fashion pieces on my Pinterest boards. I even like to sew period costumes, and I plan on sewing and blogging about an entire 1880 dress ensemble, from the corset on out, when I get going on my next British manor house project.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
My degree is in architecture and my interests leaned toward the theater. I’ve never had a writing course. But when my kids were little I started writing children’s books. No go. I was way too wordy! So I wrote novels. Five of them for the general market. They were my “practice,” and I learned a lot about how to write by writing and rewriting those manuscripts. None were published (thank you, God). In 1995 I had a God-moment and turned my attention to writing inspirational fiction. I set those five secular manuscripts aside. My first novel came out in 1998 and I just had my 24th published, which proves once you get on the right road, things can take off. Yet through the years, I’ve suffered hundreds of rejections. The key is persistence—and constantly improving your craft.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
About eight years.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well?
I am creative in the morning, though I can edit in the afternoon. I think it’s essential for writers to find their best time of day and tap into it. When the kids were little I used to get up at 4:30 a.m. to write because I needed silence and solitude.
Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write?
I have a very unconventional writing area. I have never used a keyboard placed upon a desk, but rest it in my lap. So I bought a leather chaise lounge chair and have my screen on a little table 2’ past my feet. I have a credenza to my left with files close—and to act as a place to set my coffee. I am situated in the corner of a room with big windows looking out onto the backyard in two directions. We live on an acreage next to a wooded conservation area, so I often see deer and wild turkeys. The calming effect of nature helps me write.
How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Actual writing? About four. Thinking about writing? Sixteen.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups?
Getting to know other writers helped the most. I joined a local writing group and met more people at conferences. Over the years I’ve become close friends with a few of them, and we often meet in small groups (traveling to each other’s houses) where we talk about the business and brainstorm each other’s projects. That brainstorming is perhaps the most beneficial, but in order to do that you need to develop a deep bond, and a deep trust. You are using your creativity to help a competitor. Rather odd, but it can work.
Was your mom as your first draft reader?
My sister was my first reader for many years. Now, I don’t have a reader before I turn in a manuscript though I may have some of my writer friends read a few chapters to get their input. Now, I am having one of my daughters edit a manuscript that’s not placed anywhere. She’s an avid reader and a great editor—a hard editor. That’s what you need. You don’t need a yes-man. You need a this-doesn’t-work-man.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
No. For one thing, I thought book signings would be glamorous and there would be long lines. Ha. Book signing are embarrassing. Unless you are a big name, you’ll get more questions about the location of the restrooms than you will about your book. It’s better if you gather a few authors together and have a group signing, but even then it’s just a matter of having others to commiserate with you.
I also was pretty clueless about the very real fact that bookstores only have X amount of shelf space. And once your book’s initial release is over, it will be replaced with other authors’ releases. Of course now that online bookstores are replacing a lot of brick-and-mortar stores, that doesn’t matter as much. Yet there is something special to a reader about being able to peruse the books in a store. To touch them and leaf through them. We’re losing that.
Email. I had to shut off the thingy on my computer that announced new mail.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Best: Getting reader emails that say my books have changed their lives is wonderful and humbling. Writing is a very solitary life, and sometimes I feel like I’m throwing a new book into the wind. To find that it landed and was read, and that it touched someone . . . I encourage all readers to contact their favorite authors. It means a lot to us.
The worst thing was having one of my publishers close up shop when they still had two of my books to release.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I probably like marketing the least. I’m an introvert and am happiest when I can just escape into my stories. Having to participate in all the social media stuff is daunting.
I like plotting the best. I am a seat-of-the-pants writer, meaning I do not outline and only have a minimal knowledge of what’s going to happen in the book when I begin writing. I refine it and expand the plot as I go along. But when it does expand and takes off . . . there’s nothing like getting that “Aha!” moment when I get questions like: What if my character finds out that her father isn’t really dead? Or What if they don’t like each other—at all? That’s exciting. Having it all fall into place makes me feel as though I’m supposed to be writing the book.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
My agent is a godsend. Because of her sterling reputation, editors listen to her when she pitches my ideas. She makes sure I sign a good contract, and if there’s ever an issue between the publisher and me, she acts as my go-between. She can be the bad guy when she needs to be—leaving me free to just be the writer. She is also good at career planning, helping me figure out which ideas are worth pursuing, and when.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Write every day. Even for a half-hour. And be willing to edit. My current book, The Journey of Josephine Cain, was restarted three times! I was nearly half-way through when I had a revelation about a character and went back to the beginning and changed tons of it. Too often I hear about wannabe writers who dig in their heels and won’t budge about items mentioned on a critique. I don’t know what I would do without the great editors I’ve worked with. Their critiques (and they are usually many pages long) are essential to fleshing out the best story. If I would have been unwilling to edit—and re-edit—my career would have been very short-lived. If you want to read more about some writing tips, go to my website.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
A pampered socialite embarks on a journey to the Wild West. Her life is changed forever as she witnesses the building of the Transcontinental Railroad right after the Civil War.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
A Downton Abbey-inspired series on life in a British manor house: Love of the Summerfields and Bride of the Summerfields.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Here are all my links: