In the Spotlight feature kicked off in April 2015 and is an opportunity for authors, editors and publishers (basically anyone in the book industry (yes, even bloggers!)) to connect with fans.
Now on with the show!
In the Spotlight with Nancy Christie
Welcome to Second Run Reviews, Nancy! Thank you for being In the Spotlight. I appreciate you stopping by and answering a few questions. So let’s get things started.
In a tweet (140 characters or less), tell us a bit about yourself.
Writer of short stories & essays, author of fiction and non-fiction, & full-time freelancer who hasn’t met a rut that she can’t resist busting!
Please tell a bit about your journey to becoming a published author. What’s been the best things about it and the worst?
The best thing hands-down (since I started on the journey back in 2004) has been the opportunity to talk with people at book events and conferences. I decided a long time ago to not focus on how many books I sold (or didn’t sell) but on how many people with whom I could engage. And it’s been a very worthwhile mind shift. I really enjoy talking with strangers, listening to their stories and sharing mine. (I have to admit that more than a few times something they tell me has sparked a short story!)
The hardest (so far, I haven’t had a “worst”) has been the marketing: finding the time to do it and learning the most effective strategies. There have been so many changes over the years—when I started, we didn’t even do social media. I feel like I am always playing catch-up! I make schedules and look for new opportunities, but it can be frustrating at times because I’m never sure if it’s working or, for that matter, if I’m doing it right! But it’s all a learning process.
Tell us a bit about your latest release. What inspired you to write it? Why should fans of Second Run Reviews consider reading it.
Rut-Busting Book for Writers came about because, when I would do workshops and give presentations on writing, people would ask if I had a book that covered the topic more in depth. Since I had finished edits to my latest novel-in-progress and my second short story collection, I thought I would do a writing book, especially since I also had so much material from the writers and industry experts I had interview on my blogs over the years.
It was interesting because, in the course of talking with contributors, I learned so much. Reading the book is like attending virtual writing workshops! It doesn’t matter if you are writing to make a living or writing for fulfillment—the book has loads of tips to help you move forward and bust out of any rut you might be stuck in! And a lot of the ideas are applicable to those in other creative professions as well.
What types of books do you enjoy reading the most? What three books to you find yourself recommending to your fans over and over?
I love to read fiction and books about writing—not on technique but more on living the writing life. For writers looking to be inspired, I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing, Elizabeth George’s Write Away and The Writer On Her Work, edited by Janet Sternburg. (There are more, but those are the ones that keep coming up. I have loads of others in the Resources section of my book.)
I don’t usually recommend fiction authors since everyone has different tastes but the ones that I have enjoyed and will read over and over again include Isabel’s Bed by Elinor Lipman, anything by Mark Helprin, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie and (sadly the late) Sue Grafton, and The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by my newest favorite author, Gil McNeil.
What is your current obsession? Any secret obsessions you would like to share?
Lord, I don’t know that I have any obsessions—except writing, I guess. Specifically, fiction. More specifically of late, novel writing. I have three finished to date (all unpublished, sigh…), and I am supposed to be working with a developmental editor on one of them because a publisher is interested, but instead have found myself writing another one!
The stories just show up and I have to pay attention to them! And then a short story will come out of nowhere and demand that I get it done—all in all, it’s not so much obsession, I guess, as it is a balancing act. Although, since I can’t stop writing, maybe it’s an obsession after all. (Actually, I wrote a short story about this—something a little Twilight Zone-ish. Still unpublished, though… sigh….)
Of course, once spring arrives, I will also be outside in the garden knee-deep in dirt, rototiller in hand, getting ready to plant more veggies. I love being outside!
What is one question you wish I would have asked, that I haven’t?
Question: How do you find time to do your own writing and book marketing as well as your client writing (which pays the bills)?
Answer: I am very organized and focused (most of the time anyway), so I set aside 30 minutes each morning for my fiction, spend most of the work day on client projects and soliciting new work, and then set aside most of the weekend for my own writing and any book marketing tasks I need to complete. Basically, I work seven days a week. Good thing I like to write!
Any last thoughts or wise words you want to pass along?
Ah, you are talking to someone who loves to give advice, solicited or otherwise! (Must come from being a mother.) So here goes:
It’s really important to have a writing community, however small, to keep the isolation from getting to you. Several years ago, I started Monday Night Writers — our core group gets together once a month and shares works-in-progress for feedback. I also have writer friends out of state that I share work with.
But the best piece of advice I can offer is that, if you want to write, stop making excuses why you can’t write and just do it. Expect to have your work rejected, because that is just a fact of the writing life, but don’t let it stop you. Get good feedback and strive to improve with every piece you do. No matter how long you have been writing, every day you should move the bar a little higher and try a little harder.
Thank you for being In the Spotlight, Nancy. Good luck with all your future endeavours!
Synopsis: Rut-Busting Book For Writers offers insights, information and tips for those who are pursuing the writing life, whether as a profession or for personal satisfaction, yet find themselves struggling to get out of creative or professional ruts. The book provides strategies, inspiring words and proactive suggestions from the author and more than 50 other industry professionals who have “been there and done that” and are now willing to share their knowledge about the creative and practical aspects of being a writer