Friday, March 21, 2014

THE ROAD TO WRITING


My guest is paranormal romance author Nancy Northcott. Her road to writing a book and publication was a winding road. 
Nancy is a sucker for fast action and wrenching emotion, she combines the romance and high stakes she loves in the adventures of her Light Mages

Some writers always knew that was what they’d be.  They never wanted to be anything else.  I’m not one of them.  I sort of edged into writing a little bit at a time.

My grandfather and I used to make up stories and illustrate them with stick people.  From there, I progressed to writing in crayon, starting in about second grade.  The stories were sort of fairy tale-ish or else primitive space opera.  They also weren't the kinds teachers encouraged kids to write.  They weren't “serious.”  So I drifted away from writing, but I never stopped reading.  I sampled pretty much every kind of fiction, finally gravitating toward romance, science fiction/fantasy, and mysteries.  Those genres influence pretty much everything I write.

From the time I was about seven, I also read comic books.  The monthly adventures of the characters let me get to know them better than the characters in the books I read, even the series.  At some point, I found myself thinking about what happened to the characters off-page.  That led writing fan fiction involving my favorite characters, the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I’d also written part of what I now realize was a fantasy romance set in a preindustrial society, but I hadn't finished it.  At the time, I didn't know how to plot anything long.  But my fan fiction kept getting longer and longer.  By the time I left active fandom, around 1996, I was writing sagas.  I’d also written about half of a traditional fantasy novel, but I’d gotten stuck in the middle and abandoned it.

My fan fiction was written for amateur press alliances (APAs) I belonged to.  APAs are groups of fans who send multiple copies, one for every member, to a central mailer at regular intervals.  The central mailer then collates the contributions into sets and mails them to the membership.  The positive feedback my APAs gave me for the fan fiction encouraged me to try again at creating my own worlds.  But I was still worried about that middle-of-the-book roadblock.

One day, my husband stopped beside the desk and picked up a page of fanfic.  To save copy costs, we printed long stories in Times 8-pt., two columns to a page (yes, ouch!).  That particular story was part of a lengthy Batman series I was doing.

He picked up a page.  “How long do you think this would be if you put it in standard manuscript format?”

“Hmm.  Four manuscript pages to one of these…a hundred and twenty pages or so.”

“Okay.  If you put all the parts of this whole story arc together in that format, how long would it run?”

Silence while I did mental math, not a history major’s strong suit.  Finally, I ventured, “Four hundred pages.  Maybe more.”

He nodded.  “So tell me again why you think you can’t write a whole book?”

I had nothing to say.  So I dug in, went to the library and read plot books (which I should’ve done in the first place), and finished that traditional fantasy.  And revised it.  And revised it again.  It never sold, but I learned a lot from writing it.  A few years ago, I pulled it out and looked at it. I still love the story, but I don’t write that way anymore.  Maybe someday I’ll pull it out again and clean it up.

Meanwhile, I’m writing mages (think wizard if that term isn't familiar to you) who owe a lot to the dashing super-heroes of my childhood.  And I’m having a blast.  I hope readers will, too.

  • What about you?  Is there something you've always wanted to try but haven’t gotten to yet?
                                                                                                                             



More on Nancy's Book Page
SENTINEL
Release: Wednesday, March 26th

He’s on a Quest for Justice 
 When mage investigative reporter Rick Moore gets the chance to clear his father’s name, it’s a dream come true. But there’s a price. He must first uncover the truth about the mage world’s most wanted fugitive.
 Her Secrets are His Only Hope
Caroline Dare knows her beloved brother had a reason for killing a prominent mage. Heroes don’t go rogue on a whim. Burned by shady reporters, she pours her devastating worry for him into her fabric art career and avoids all questions. But when her art is panned as a fraud because she’s blind, she’s forced to seek help from Rick, a man she knows only as a sexy arts writer.

Helping beautiful, determined Caroline prove herself gets Rick inside her well tended walls. But as he wins her trust, he finds he’s losing his heart. Now he has a choice–give up his dream or betray the woman he loves.

BOOK ONE
She follows the rules
He breaks everyone of them
Now they are each other's only hope
  


                                                                                                                    

Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman.  Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy and YA romance.  A sucker for fast action and wrenching emotion, Nancy combines the romance and high stakes she loves in the adventures of her Light Mages.

Her debut novel, Renegade, received a starred review from Library Journal.  The reviewer called it “genre writing at its best.”  Nancy is a three-time RWA Golden Heart finalist and has won the Maggie, the Molly, the Emerald City Opener, and Put Your Heart in a Book. 

Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.


13 comments:

~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome to Over Coffee, Nancy. You have a sneaky husband, lol!

As for your question: I've always loved Sci-fi and although I've written a couple of short stories, I haven't tried my hand at a longer format. Not the deep geeky tech sci-fi but space opera style, like Star Trek styled with stories and adventure. :-)

Jo said...

I love magic. I also love dragons so if a story has one or both my interest peaks immediately.

Glad your husband encouraged you.

Nancy Northcott said...

Sia, thanks for having me today!

I love space opera. Original Star Trek remains my favorite despite the fact we might describe the special effects as somewhat dated. They weren't at the time!

You should try the longer story format sometime.

Nancy Northcott said...

Jo, thanks. I've been fortunate in that my husband is very supportive.

I love dragons, too. Have you read the Pern books?

Donna MacMeans said...

Nancy - Please give your husband a hug from me. He's the poster image of a supportive companion. Love that story.

There's many things that I've wanted to try - create quilts, for example -- that I haven't tried yet due to time issues. Writing, as you know, consumes vast quantities of it. However, as I never ever imagined I'd be writing in the first place - I guess that qualifies as my dream worth pursuing.

I love the sound of Sentinel (Hey, your heroine delves in fabric arts! ) and am anxiously anticipating it's March 26 release. Congrats!

Nancy Northcott said...

Donna, I'm always happy to give the guy a hug! *g*

I definitely think writing is a dream worth pursuing, and I love your books. Quilting has always struck me as something that's very detail-oriented and requires a lot of patience. People do produce beautiful pieces, though.

Thanks for the kind words on Sentinel. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia and Nancy .. how do we start - well Nancy you had a really good introduction via your grandfather - sounds like excellent memories.

Sia - good luck on the 27th and see you at some stage .. all the very best and in the recovery timeframe too ..

Cheers Hilary

Nancy Northcott said...

Hilary, thanks. They're great memories.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Your husband sounds like mine. He caught me writing again after a ten year hiatus and asked why I didn't just write a book like I'd always wanted. We need that prompting sometimes, don't we?

Nancy Northcott said...

Diane, I so agree. Good luck with your book!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Nice to meet you Nancy!!

Rachel Morgan said...

Having never written any fan fiction, I'd never heard of APAs before, so thank you, Nancy, for sharing about that, as well as how it eventually lead to you creating your own story worlds :-)

shelly said...

I would love to learn how to outline my stories. Pansting can cause anxiety and overrating chocolate.