Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters. Nancy
Each character has something of me in them, some aspect that connects me to them, so that I can fashion them in a more authentic, personal way. By putting something of myself in them, even just a small aspect, I’m able to bring them to life more easily.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
This is kind of embarrassing, but I guess it illustrates my odd sense of humor. When our five sons were young, we moved out to a rural piece of our own land, with only a few neighbors. I thought it was great to be out of trailer parks and somewhere the boys could spread out, build forts and tree houses, or whatever they wanted. Anyway, with five boys, there were always bikes, half-finished projects, as well as swing sets and toys scattered in the yard. I thought it was great not to have a landlord nagging us about it, but I guess one of my neighbors decided we were too messy, and began a gossip campaign against us.
It saddened me at first, but then I got kind of annoyed when she kept it up. She’d take her daily walk with a few other ladies, and go past our yard, giving it head shakes and disapproving looks. I felt like I needed to do something to change the course of the situation, and I got tired of the negativity directed at my family. So I thought of something that would let the gossiper know I didn’t share her opinion but would also have a touch of humor in it. So, I painted a large sign and propped it in the front yard. She and the others stopped to read it, cast a few startled glances at our house, and stopped walking past our yard every day. Within a month, she and the other ladies had stopped by to mend fences, and the trouble was over. What did the sign say? Boring People Have Clean Yards. (I know, it’s not very nice, but they did appreciate the humor, so it all worked out! And if you have a clean yard, I’m sure you’re not boring. Just tidier than my family!)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I was about ten or so, and I went outside right after a thunderstorm passed. I came back inside for a pen and paper because I just had to write down what it felt like outside, the way the changed atmosphere affected me. That was the first time that writing felt like singing, like a way to really express myself.
Well said. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Though I have pretty varied taste, I always like a story that emphasizes characters, and how they interact. Relationships always fascinate me, and the different ways people respond to the same situations. If that element is in the story, then it can be almost any genre that I’ll enjoy, though I’m not fond of horror, or stories with such convoluted plots that it’s like homework to try and figure them out.
I agree. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Prayer time. And naps!
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Usually I let names run through my mind until one feels right. Also, for one of my novellas I’m working on, I decided to try and use all my nieces and nephew’s names for most of the characters. That’s been fun.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Raising our five, funny, unique, creative, quirky sons. It’s what always mattered most to John and me.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d like to say a cat, because the little acrobats have always delighted me, but if I had to pick one that I’m most like, I guess it would have to be some kind of bird. I’d love to spend my time flying and singing, and resting in my nest, gazing at the sky.
What is your favorite food?
Aged cheeses. Yum.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
When I decided to write books, rather than short, inspired bursts of thoughts or poems, I discovered that I wrote the way I spoke. I had to learn to explain less, show more, and cut out a lot of unnecessary words. I overcame this through the help of ACFW critiquers, editorial advice, and many hours of revising my work. I’m still learning.
Aren’t we all? Tell us about the featured book.
It’s called The Right Ingredients. It’s a contemporary Christian romance, set at a cake shop where the main character, Ann, runs it with her friend Susan. Ann is shy, overworked, and afraid of relationships. She’s unawakened spiritually and romantically, and the story is about how her life changes.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Ann hoped the bakery stayed empty of customers. She needed every bit of concentration to decorate the cake the way she envisioned it. Her eyes scrutinized the last patch of undecorated surface. Almost done. Shifting on the chair, elbows planted on the low icing table, she pressed her lips together and leaned closer. She calculated the perfect angle to hold the frosting bag.
A stray hair drifted into her line of vision and she blew out a quick upward breath to deflect it. How on earth could any strand escape her coiled braid? She should have worn the hairnet. But hairnets were old-womanish. Still, she preferred them to the flimsy paper hats she and Susan wore the first year they opened the bakery. They never fit well, and exasperated her by sailing off her head when she rushed past the ceiling fans.
The bell on the bakery’s front door tinkled. Ann sighed and wished Susan would return from deliveries. She glanced through the archway and out the picture window. Maybe she’d appear. No such luck. Oh, well.
“Be right there,” she called. Ann set down the icing bag, rose from the chair and angled her hips to slip past the table. As she stepped sideways, two bees zoomed in and flew toward her. She
startled, brushed both hands to scare them away, and lost her balance.
In helpless shock, her stomach fell as her forearms, palms, and chin landed on the cake and sunk in while a groan escaped her. Ann lifted her head and stared in total horror. Loud moans erupted. “No, no, no.”
As though a protest would change anything. Tears gathered. She drew away from the cake, and straightened up. One little wobble, and her handiwork was destroyed.
“Are you okay?”
Ann stared at a tall, sturdy man in jeans and a tee shirt. He stood in the archway between the front and back rooms and surveyed the scene. “I’d have stayed out there, but I heard you cry out and thought I’d better check on you.”
Ann’s lip trembled. She pushed against the tide of emotion. No tears in front of customers. The two bees danced on the frosting, poking around on her ruined cake. “It’s all their fault. I tried to do everything right, and see what happened?”
She pointed a frosted finger at them while her tears overflowed. Through the blur, she glanced from the excited insects over to the man. She blinked to clear her vision.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Here are my links:Goodreads page
Thank you, Nancy, for sharing the book with us. I look forward to reading it. I want to know what happens next, and I'm sure my readers do, too.
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The Right Ingredients
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