Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In the Shadow of Romance with Author Nancy Weeks

Today I welcome fellow Crimson Romance writer Nancy Weeks. Nancy has just released the third book in her Shadow series. Nancy, please tell us a little about yourself.
I always choke-up when I’m asked for a short bio. I have been a wife for almost thirty-three years and a
mother for twenty-six years. But I’m more than a wife and a mother. I just can’t ever think of what that more is. I decided before having kids that I wanted to be home with them. It went against the norm, but I felt that one hectic career in the family was enough. After moving back to Maryland from southern Germany, I gave up my career and became a stay-at-home mom. The moment both my kids were off to college, I began to write. Now I proudly call myself an author.


As you should! Talk about the books you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?
Oh, I love talking about my books. The third book in my Shadow series, In the Shadow of Malice just went live March 10th.  The first book, In the Shadow of Greed was released in April 2013 followed by the second book, In the Shadow of Evil.  If I had to sum up one message behind the Shadow series as a whole, it’s that love will not only survive but flourish under the cruelest conditions. My hero and heroine find their happy-ever-after despite the terror that my villains put them through. The seed that spouted this series came from a common, but powerful adage: love conquers all. In the real world, our lives are constantly shadowed by adversity. It’s the people that love us and those we love that get us through difficult times.

Such an enduring theme. How did you celebrate the publication of your first book?
The day my first book came out was such a strange day. The moment I had dreamed and worked so hard for was finally here, but I didn’t know what to do with myself. My family was taking me out that night for a big celebration and we were planning a big release party with all our friends and family the next weekend. I actually emailed one of my dear writing buddies and asked what I was supposed to be doing. Her reply was you have done all you can. Now, sit back and enjoy your moment. For the rest of the day, I did just that and had a fun Nancy Day. When my next book came out four months later, I planned and looked forward to my day of celebration.

How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline? Let the muse lead you? Or something else?
My writing process changes with each new project. I only began writing about four years ago when my youngest daughter started applying to colleges. I spent the last twenty-six years being a stay-at-home mom. When my world finally grew quiet, the stories that had lived in my head for years wouldn’t be ignored any longer.
My beginning writing process was what I call by-the-seat-of-my-pants writing. I just wrote down the story as it came to me, allowing it to pretty much write itself. Well, that process has changed especially after I went through my first developmental editing process. Boy, was that an eye-opener. Now, I actually write down a basic outline for the story from beginning to end. I do allow the story to still take me where it magically wants to go, but I know the basic beginning, middle and end path before I write that first sentence.

Was there a scene that was more difficult than others? One that you pondered whether or not to include it?
I find the hardest scenes for me to write are when my stories demand that a beloved character die. I spend a
lot of time living inside my character’s head and heart. They are very real to me.
The hardest scene I have ever written was from In the Shadow of Greed. I had to say goodbye to a wonderful character and it tore my heart in two. I had to write it that way because nothing else made sense. I knew what was going to happen, and that it was going to blindside my hero and heroine, tearing them apart. After I finished the scene, I sat at my kitchen table and bawled just like Kathleen Turner’s character, Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone. But unlike Joan Wilder, I was alone and didn’t have a loveable cat to hug when it was all over.

The easiest scene to write is the last chapter or epilogue.  My hero and heroine are finally together, and even though they may still be reeling over whatever I put them through, they have each other to hold onto. That is what I wish for all my readers; to have someone wonderful in their lives to hold onto when times are wonderful… and when they aren’t.

What is your research process like? Do you enjoy it?
Thank God I love research. One day I’m going to write a book about something I actually know about. LOL!  Sometimes I feel like you can fill an ocean with what I don’t know and fill the top of a pin head with what I do know. I research everything! I live on the F.B.I. and Maryland State police websites. I’ve researched science journals about cyber security, botnets and cyber crime. Everything I ever wanted to know about a handgun; how to take it apart, what sound it makes when it fires, how to load it, and what damage it can do I have watched on YouTube. With my work in progress, In the Shadow of Pride, I’m researching drone technology.  As you can probably guess, my best friend these days is Google.  I may not know what the inside of a great, soulless mansion looks like, [my heroine, Jennie McKenzie’s impression of the villain’s home] but Google will show me.

Wow! That is intensive research! When you get the edits back from your editor, how do you work through that process?
 Oh, rewrites, revisions are the bane of my existence. When I send my manuscript off to my editor, I think I can’t make it any better. Wrong! The first time I received my developmental edits from my editor, I just sat in front of my laptop and cried. My son was home working on his master’s degree at the time and popped his head in to say good morning. My kids never see me cry. To make a long emotional story short, he downloaded my story onto his Kindle and spent the next several hours reading it cover to cover. He then took a look at my editor’s comments and said, "She’s right. It’s a good story but that would make it a great story." 

I learned two huge lessons that day. First and foremost, my kids have turned into amazing adults. Second, I consider my editor, Julie Surgeon is Book Whisperer. Editors are wonderful, hardworking people and need to be paid a hell of a lot more than they are. Revising that first book was grueling, but I’m so proud of the story it became. The only advice I have dealing with revisions is it is vital to protect your story, but you have to trust your editor. If you can't, then you need to find another publisher. A good editor is worth his/her weight in gold and then some. The only way to get through the revisions is sit your butt in the chair and do the work. It’s a difficult time but I know my story will be better for it.

Great attitude on revisions. What food or beverages do you turn to while you are writing? Are you a stress eater on deadline or a “lack of inspiration” eater when ideas are not flowing?
This is an easy question: coffee in the morning, a little chocolate in the afternoon and a nice glass of wine at night after I have made my word count for the day. When the ideas aren’t flowing, I do housework and just let it all rest in my head. Of course, brushing my teeth helps every time. It's so strange, but that simple, mindless chore produces some of my best ideas. I’ve been known to tear across the house with a toothbrush in my hand to write down something before I forget it.

LOL The shower is what works for me. I need to find some waterproof paper. Has writing changed how you read books now?
Sadly, yes. I have found that it's harder for me to get lost in the story. I’m critiquing it, or taking notes how an author wrote a certain passage. It’s hard to turn off the writer in me and just be a reader.

I find that happening to me, too. What is the best piece of advice about writing that you ever got or read? What would tell aspiring writers today?
Write! Revise! Write again. If you are serious about becoming a published author, accept that it’s not going to be an easy road. Take your writing seriously, learn your craft, and be willing to sometimes change the way you see your story.  ALSO, you will never be published if your manuscript never leaves your laptop. You have to query it out all over the place. When you receive a rejection, read it, learn from it, store it away in its own file, and get back to writing. A wonderful author friend, Sharon Buchbinder gave me some great advice: Rejection is an opportunity to learn. It means I missed the mark, not that I failed.

Blurb for In the Shadow of Malice

Adam Blake, ex-CIA operative, has gone to great lengths to keep his identity a secret from his maternal grandfather, who controls the most brutal crime syndicate in Eastern Europe. The moment he lets his guard down, the unthinkable happens and his best friend, the mother of his child, is tortured and murdered. To protect his daughter, he must seek the help of his father’s family—who has no idea of his existence. What Adam could have never foreseen is the unusual attachment between his daughter and her most unlikely protector.

After months of living in an emotional vacuum after her roommate’s murder, Calista Martin takes a chance and befriends a handsome regular at the diner. What is supposed to be just a ride home hurls her headlong into Adam’s world of murder and revenge. To add to an already explosive situation, Adam’s traumatized little girl refuses to release her hold on Calista. Knowing what it’s like to lose a loved one, Calista insists on staying with Adam to protect Anna.

After Calista risks her life to protect Anna, Adam begins to see the waitress from the diner in a different light. But the Vasnev threat is heating up and Calista, while willing to help him, really doesn’t trust him. Can he find a way to eliminate his enemies to become the father Anna deserves and the man Calista needs—or will he fail again, taking his future out of his hands forever?

Nancy C. Weeks lives in suburban Maryland with her husband of more than thirty years. With her two grown children out of the nest, she loves spending her days on her deck writing as the local bird population keeps her company.

Find Nancy at:
Twitter: @NancyCWeeks

Buy Nancy’s books at:

IN THE SHADOW OF EVIL:

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://bit.ly/17hjfco

IN THE SHADOW OF GREED

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://bit.ly/16GHb6I

IN THE SHADOW OF MALICE

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://bit.ly/1dId2db


2 comments:

  1. Elizabeth,
    It is such a pleasure to be a guest on your lovely blog this morning. I can't thank you enough for hosting me.

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    Replies
    1. My pleasure, Nancy. In the Shadow of Malice sounds so good that it just moved to the top of my TBR list!

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