Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Today I have romance author Nancy O'Berry who I contacted about being on my blog after meeting her on the Romance in the Backseat chat room a couple of Wednesday's ago. She was nice enough to agree to be interviewed by me today as well as guest blog about her wonderful Sweetbrier Academy series this Thursday, October 15. I was also happy to find out that Nancy wanted me to read and review the 3 books in her Sweetbrier Academy series. I've already read and reviewed the first book, Having Faith, I've finished reading the second book in the series, Holding on to Hope, which I'm now writing the review for and I'm now currently reading the third book, Giving in to Charity, and should have that review up soon as well. Well now onto my very fun and informative interview with Nancy:
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Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that writing romance was going to be the thing that you would do with your life? Which author inspired you to start writing romance? Nancy O'BerryNancy O’Berry: Writing shaped my life around fourth or fifth grade when I began reading The Black Stallion books written by Walter Farley. My love of horses and the West seemed to carry over in my imagination. In high school it was Louis Lamour and then I began gravitating toward covers with cowboys and daring damsels. I picked up Back to the Ranch series by Harlequin and shared with my mom. I honestly believe the writer that inspired me the most was J.K. Rowling. Yes, I know not a romance author but her determination to overcome when life was against her let me know I needed to believe in myself. The author that led me to romance was Judi McCoy's Goddess books. They brought back the laughter and the adventure of finding true love. I totally enjoyed the concept and bought into the idea. There are others who I read and respect Aliyah Burke's Interracial romances really speak about the new face of America. Suzanne Brockman's high adventures have me on the edge of my seat. Cathy Maxwell leads me on merry romps through regency. My new favorite is none other than Delilah Marvelle. Her Lord of Pleasure and Mistress of Pleasure books are awesome. But if I want western sensuality, my fingers move toward Diane Whiteside and her devil series…Yummy! I'm a diverse reader of many genres. Phoebe: Did you know what type of romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you? Nancy: I experimented. I knew I loved the West and cowboys but do I want modern day or historical? The answer was sitting on my shelf. Yes, I wanted to explore what I love most the historical. I am at home. Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote besides any school work? And do you still have it with you? Nancy: Yes, I still have 'my stories'. Big grin here. I really began learning the craft of plot and execution through fan fiction. Many of your readers might know what that is. Fan fiction often involves a favorite book or television show that you know all the ends and outs of. You begin by writing scenes of stories about the main characters. It didn't take long for mine to evolve into something quite different. I was writing 300 to 400 page stories creating other interacting characters and running wild. Lucky for me, one of the women on the fan fiction list was an RWA member. She contacted me and begged me to go for the published side of the business. She even went so far as to find my local chapter and give me directions all from Wisconsin. I owe her a lot. I hope one day to come face to face and thank her for all she has given me. Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research? Nancy: I do research sometimes I spend weeks. I'll write a bit down and make notes on the side of my notebooks in the margins to look for something. I use my history books, the internet, and good informational blogs like Pistols and Petticoats. I have purchased several books on historical information about everyday life. When I began the Sweetbrier stories, I did lots of research on brothels in the old west and morals of the late 1800's. Those poor women! Heaven sakes from father's rule to husbands thumb. No wonder some widows refused to marry. Some of the sites had me laughing. I remember reading one account of a woman prostitute with a wooden leg who beat her customer to death when he didn't pay. I think if I remember correctly, she got off for justifiable homicide. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your debut novel, Having Faith, which is the first book in your Sweetbrier Academy Series? Having Faith by Nancy O'BerryNancy: I am a vivid dreamer and often dream in color. I remember dreaming about this woman trailing her hand along a card table and when I awoke I wrote down all that I could remember. Then sitting with my husband watching an old western and it got me thinking, hum, bad girls need love too. So thus, Sweetbrier was born. I wanted to set it just after the civil war when there was so much movement and nation building. I needed three women who would be in the upper end of the prostitute ladder. (yes, there was a social ladder) all of whom will find life and love outside the brothel. Now, I needed a plot. So what better thing that to have a woman be the prize in a card game, a high stakes card game. With a huge pot, she could eventually buy her way out or find a man to sponsor her for a year. So, I needed big rollers. Easy, the railroads were being constructed they paid well, and the army. Now, I had my fellows. Howard Stetson contractor for the rails, Gregory Wilson payroll master, Thaddeus Oakley scout and head roust-a-bout, however, I needed a conflict. AH! Thaddeus was a southerner (I mean, my gawd, look at his name) and of course the army officer would be northern Major Abrams, all spit and polish. What better odds at the end of the civil war than that! Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your follow up novel, Holding on to Hope, which is the second book in your Sweetbrier Academy Series? Nancy: Hope was much more like Grace Kelly in High Noon. I wanted a bit more internal conflict so I knew this would take place in the town of Panther's Landing. But what would happen? Then we got into this mess with the flu. Therefore, what better angst is there than terrible flu with little medications. What better twist of fate than to have the Doctor fall in love with the prostitute. How horrible would it be for the town to turn their back on him? Blame her? Then have one of the girls at Sweetbrier die and Hope loses herself in grief. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your currently released novel, Giving in to Charity, which is the third book in your Sweetbrier Academy Series? Nancy: Charity, sweet Charity. Ever watch Showboat? Ava Gardener's character was of a half African American/half Caucasian and was forced to carry the piece of paper declaring her to be one-eighth blood. In my research I'd found that women who carried this piece of paper and had little characteristics of African Americans were called Passe Blanc which means of course passing for white. Well, I slapped my forehead, sure. So Charity became woman who carried the paper. She was white enough for a Senator's son to want her as his personal mistress, but she was too scandalous to take to Washington as his bride. Instead, Opal Wilson and Tobias Merewether work together to get her to go to Virginia City as his personal secretary. There, she stops a crime and nearly loses her life. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your upcoming novel, Stormy Weather? Nancy: Stormy Weather is a story close to my heart. My mother, my aunt, and two very good friends have had breast cancer. I wanted to do something to bring money to find a cure. In this story the heroine's husband demands a divorce because he considers her "damaged goods." Lauren then begins a journey of life, to regain her dignity, her livelihood, and to find true love. I wish I could tell you how much this story means to me. In the process of writing this story, my aunt had her second bout with the disease, one friend died due to complications from it. This strengthens my resolve that Breast Cancer should be eradicated. I am working with my publisher, Red Rose Publishing, so that all proceeds for this book will go to cancer research. Phoebe: How do you come up with each of your characters for your novels? How do you choose their names out of so many names out there? Nancy: Names are so very important when it comes to characters. Often I write down their character traits to get a better feel for my hero/heroines. I also look for top names of the years. Sometimes, I run my finger through a phone book for a last name. Often, if the plot comes from a dream, they are already named. I hear someone call out to them. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in any of your Sweetbrier Academy Series books? Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in any of your Sweetbrier Academy Series books? Nancy: There is a love affair with Opal and Howard that hasn't been explored yet. Mainly because when I do, it will close the series. I get all teary-eyed when I think about that. Opal is so prim and so proper a mother to all her "ladies" that I think I identify with her. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your upcoming novel, Stormy Weather? Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your upcoming novel, Stormy Weather? Holding on to Hope by Nancy O'BerryNancy: It was fun creating a dashing hero, Cole McGuire. A bit older more settled, a distinguished bit of grey at his temples. He had to be the alpha male that helps Lauren face the fact she wasn't damaged goods. He is a supreme lover. I love watching Cole's mother and his father's secretary scheme to get the two together. They were a hoot to write. I think they are the Thelma and Louise of romance. I think I modeled them after the three fairies, Flora, Fiona, and Meriwether from Cinderella. Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels? Nancy: Well a lot of my stories come from my dreams. I have a notebook and pen that I keep tucked in the bed frame and when I wake and something really sticks with me, I put it down. Then as I do housework, I play what if. What if this happens? What if he does? Oh, if she went here? When I get a good feel for it, I run it by a very patient writer friend who doesn't laugh. Then I pull out a bunch of sticky notes and start jotting down point A all the way to the end. My husband often looks at the blank wall of the kitchen that isn't blank when I get through and shakes his head saying NASA should have it so good. HAHAHA Romance isn't for Rocket Scientist. Say that sounds like a great title for another book! Phoebe: Which do you like best, writing a series or writing stand alone novels? How is writing each different for you? Nancy: Hum, this is an excellent question. Series means I'll have to take a deep seat for a long ride. I sometimes think it's easier because you are immersed in the story. A stand alone you are finished done, and you almost miss the camaraderie with the characters. So, for me stand alone stories are harder. Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long? Nancy: Yes, no, and yes. Confused! LOL. My first story, Faith's was turned down by several publishing places because women agreed to have sexual relationships. I really was hurt because I was beginning to see so many stories about ladies of entertainment out there. Courtesans were now becoming a huge topic. Frustration upon frustration, until Wendi Felter agreed to take on the project. Another author for her company heard my idea and suggested that I send her a proposal. She read it and instant message and offered me a contract on July 13th. I was overjoyed. It really takes the pressure off a writer when your publisher believes in you. I'm so glad I signed with Red Rose. Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels? Nancy: I do get writers block. Often it happens when I have so many ideas flowing in it is like circuit overload. You roll away from the computer, take a walk, a bath, lay on the couch with your eyes closed and let your mind drain. I believe dreams sort things out. After a power nap or a good night's sleep it falls into place. Phoebe: What is your biggest reader pet peeve, if you have any? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.) Nancy: Gosh, I love details. I don't know why. I want the scene set for me. Let me know what the sky looked like or what the character was thinking as the story opened. Don't rush to the sex scenes. Let them unfold naturally. Yes, if the book takes longer than 250 pages let it happen. Tell it as it should be don't shorten it, but give me that twist that makes me want to pick up the second book. Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what is your biggest writing pet peeve? (overuse of exclamation points, adverbs, bad guys named Wayne, etc.), if you have any? Nancy: I consider myself a novice writer. I enjoy writing pen and paper then going to the computer. Yes, manuscripts are done in long hand. I don't know if I have a big pet peeve. I hate to be told I can't do something, then turn around and see it done. But again those writers can break rules and it works. They often extend the boundaries for the rest of us. I guess my biggest pet peeve might be when I see a strong secondary character and they don't get their own story. That makes me want to pick up the pen and write it for myself or at least jot a note to an author. I'm shameful. I'll beg for a sequel. Phoebe: What is the one writing tool can you not live without? Nancy: Pencils and a good eraser. All my manuscripts start on posty notes, and then go to a notebook written long hand, notes in the margins, websites urls for research and posty notes stuck in. I can always tweak and expand at least 3 to 4 times on the computer. But, I have to start with paper and pencil. Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane? Giving in to Charity by Nancy O'BerryNancy: You mean, I'm not! My writing schedule is probably not unlike most busy moms who try their hand at writing. I keep my grandson for my daughter and he arrives early. This means, I'm up between 5:30 and 6:15 am so I can grab a cup of tea and become human. After breakfast and he gets settled I send off the promos I've done the night before and make a quick scan of my emails, then its playtime and a wild rumpus, lunch, and blessed naptime when I can work on my stories. When Eli leaves, I work until supper and continue on until about midnight. On the weekend, I write my blogs and MySpace because I have more time. The best part is that I have a wonderful writing mentor who makes me log in story and word count daily and puts her foot up my—well, you know until I get it done. Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing? Do you have any hobbies? Nancy: Relax, if find hard. I feel all these characters throwing down the gauntlet saying "NOW ME!" But to relax I'll clean a room, watch an old black and white movie, go out and chase the cows. Yes, we have two 2,500 pound bovines in the backyard or the back four and a half acres. Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Nancy: Don't give up. Find someone to believe in you and work hard. It's not a composition for school. Its work. People will say oh you can do this in your spare time. No, this becomes all consuming. It east at you, demands your attention and if you don't give into your muse there is heck to pay. But once it bites, enjoy, close your eyes envision let the scenes play out, writing is a lust for life. Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Nancy: Gosh, promotion I'm learning. I would say look at what others are doing, adapt their ideas to your style. Invest wisely, business cards are a must. Dollar stores have great giveaways. I wish someone had told me my best investment would be in finding a good publisher. I have a great one now and grateful for a seasoned writer taking me under her wing and telling me to write and write daily. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)? Nancy: Favorite genre no not really, I read anything I can get my hands on. I read sensual, contemporary, fantasy. I just can't read vampires or shape shifters. Right now I'm reading Diane Whiteside's Devil series waiting to see what Delilah Marvelle is going to do next. Phoebe: What are you reading now? And what do you plan to read after that? Nancy: I'm actually reading Vittano's Willow by Aliyah Burke and loving it. When I finish this, I'm looking to read Kissed by the Devil by Diane Whiteside. I'm also working on my latest story for Red Rose Press which is a fantasy set undersea with mermaids.

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Phoebe Jordan
I'm a part-time aspiring romance novelist, book reviewer and blogger. I've always wanted to travel the world and learn everything I can about other countries. Learning the Italian language is one way of trying to make that dream come true. Traveling will help me with my writing because I'll be learning about the history of the U.S., Latin America, England, Italy, and Ireland, the countries I find so fascinating while reading the romance genre.
 
I read and review romance novels of almost every subgenre along with erotic romance, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy and young adult novels. You can find the reviews at my blogs, Talk About My Favorite Authors and Phoebe Jordan's Reviews. I’ve also started a live podcast show called TAMFA | Phoebe Jordan hosted on Blog Talk Radio. This show is dedicated to everything I love about romance and young adult novels. I love having romance and young adult authors live on my show to be interviewed and showcase their books.

I plan to write contemporary romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance, paranormal romance and young adult when I get my writing career started with help from Keta. I'm not sure what genre I'll write to begin with since I love to read so many different romance genres.
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Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Poster It was more than year ago that we had heard rumors that there would be a Fifty Shades of Grey movie com...

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

Phoebe has read 1 book toward her goal of 180 books.
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