Good morning, RU Crew! Our Visiting Professor today is simply one of the nicest and most genuine folks I’ve met since I began my writing journey. This year, Nancy Naigle released her debut novel Sweet Tea and Secrets (and seriously, who can resist a title like that??) about mischief in the small town Adams Grove. She’s here today to chat with us about her publication journey and all the wonderful wisdom she’s gained in the process. Nancy is also giving away a copy of Sweet Tea and Secrets to one lucky commenter!
Welcome, Nancy! Did you happen to bring any pumpkin bread to share with our readers?
Thanks for such a nice intro, Kelsey. I have a loaf of pumpkin bread right here ready to share!
To let the rest of you in on that story, I was the guest of honor with the BOOK CLUB BABES in Suffolk, VA last month. They’d made Sweet Tea and Secrets their monthly read. It was so much fun and the members made the recipes from the back of the book. All of the Adams Grove recipes turned out great. One of the members, Sandy, brought her extra-special pumpkin bread. She graciously share d that recipe with me and I’ve been sharing it with the world ever since. Will you post it at the end of this interview for us, Kelsey? Check below Nancy’s bio at the bottom of the post for the recipe :).
Kelsey: How many manuscripts did you write before you sold?
Nancy: I’d written five complete manuscripts, and a big old stack of unfinished stuff that I’ve shuffled across my desk from time to time.
Kelsey: How long was it from the time you began writing seriously and the time you sold?
Nancy: Turning forty had been no big deal for me but something about turning 43 left me with an urgency to get on the ball and follow my heart. Although I’ve enjoyed a pretty awesome career with Bank of America, I had the dream of being a novelist that never received serious attention. So, the summer of 1996 I joined RWA and attended my first RWA National Conference. It was in Atlanta, GA that year. I was alone and it was my birthday, but I’d never felt more alive. The information and inspiration I gained from that trip catapulted me in the right direction.
Kelsey: Why do you think this particular manuscript sold?
Nancy: It was ready! It’s that simple. I hadn’t sold up until that point because my work wasn’t “there” yet. I was getting good feedback right out of the gate, but I had a lot to learn. I’m still learning every day.
Here’s the thing. You don’t know what you don’t know. I thought I was so ready back in 1996, but the truth was I wasn’t. I learned through the conferences I attended, and the wonderful authors who mentored me and critiqued my work. I leveraged Brenda Novak’s Auction and others to gain invaluable editor feedback from the professionals at the big houses who gave me some good news and shot a few red flares to let me know where I was going wrong.
The key? The silver bullet? Tenacity. Through all the feedback, the disappointment, the frustration—don’t give up. Nothing worth achieving is easy.
Kelsey: What surprised you about the sell?
Nancy: Well, actually, the first book I sold isn’t the book that came out first.
I know…that sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
I sold Out of Focus first, last year in December, with a release date of November 2011.
Out of Focus wasn’t the first story in the Adams Grove series, but I’d learned that all stories in a series had to stand alone, so all my books did. Once I sold Out of Focus though, I really wanted to get the first one out there, too. Some lucky timing and an unexpected opportunity got Sweet Tea and Secrets first in line. It came out this summer.
Sweet Tea and Secrets was originally titled Pearls of Wisdom. I loved that name because of the tie to Pearl Clemmons the matriarch of the small town of Adams Grove, but I’ll admit I love the new title even better. If you haven’t read Sweet Tea and Secrets I won’t spoil your introduction to her, but I love-love-love Pearl. Okay … well just to whet your appetite here are a few of the “pearl-isms” from Sweet Tea and Secrets.
- Love’s kind of like sweet tea. The secret is all in having the patience to let it steep.
- Better to fight for what you really want then to be left wanting what you didn’t fight for.
- Here’s the good thing about the future. It comes one day at a time. Follow your heart each day. You’ll get where you’re supposed to go.
I hope I’m just like Pearl when I’m in my eighties.
Kelsey: Is there anything you wished you’d done before you sold?
Nancy: I wish I’d been more patient. In hindsight, I could have avoided a lot of waiting when truly my work wasn’t ready for submission. It’s hard to not get frozen in that “wait” period.
Kelsey: What’s your best advice for writers who are still waiting to sell?
Nancy: Keep writing, network, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I’d also remind folks to attend conferences in other genres. I’ve learned so much by attending writing conferences that have had slants towards poetry, mystery and literary fiction, besides the RWA conferences.
I should mention that I met you and the other gals of RU at the RWA National Conference in DC back in 2009. I’ve been so lucky to make lasting friendships at every single one of those conferences.
Kelsey: And last, will you tell us all about your debut book?
Nancy: Absolutely! Sweet Tea and Secrets is set in the small town of Adams Grove where the biggest crime last year was a few hunters bagging over the legal limit of deer.
When Jill returns to settle her grandmother’s estate, she’s greeted by a Clydesdale-sized guardian dog who doesn’t seem to be earning his stripes (although he drools on them pretty well), and Garrett Malloy, the ex-fiancé she left behind a year ago. You see, this sleepy little town is wide awake and locking its doors after a series of break-ins over at Pearl Clemmons’ place. That’s Jill’s grandmother, and the whole town of Adams Grove is feeling the loss. Pearl was known for her award-winning chocolate pecan pie and the best unsolicited advice in the county.
Jill insists on staying at Pearl’s amidst the string of break-ins, but Jill’s past with Garrett becomes the least of her worries when she learns that their lives are in danger. She is the only person standing between a desperate conman and a secret from Pearl’s past.
Will Pearl’s past kill any chance of Jill and Garrett’s future together?
RU Crew, small town romances seem to be all the rage right now. Which do you prefer–small town or big city settings? Feel free to quiz Nancy about her writing career and her books. Don’t forget, Nancy is also giving away a copy of Sweet Tea and Secrets to one lucky commenter!
Stop by Wednesday when voice over artist Cris Dukehart gives us the skinny on recording audiobooks!
Excerpt from Nancy Naigle’s SWEET TEA AND SECRETS
Jill Clemmons started each morning with Grandma Pearl’s favorite advice in mind: Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, ‘Oh shit, she’s awake!’
Sometimes that was harder than it sounded. Like today.
Even though Jill was thrilled to be half way home to Adams Grove for Pearl’s surprise party, the trip hadn’t come without its own set of hurdles. Bradley was unhappy about her dropping everything to make the trip up from Savannah to Virginia. He’d stomped around and mumbled about it being just two weeks before the big fundraiser and putting the timeline at risk. But Jill was in charge of that timeline and, aside from Bradley’s foul mood, the Kase Foundation wouldn’t suffer one bit by her being gone for one day.
Technically, Pearl’s birthday wasn’t until June 27th, after the fundraiser, but keeping a secret from Pearl was next to impossible. If Pearl’s friends succeeded in surprising her, it would be the first time anyone had. There was no way Jill was going to miss this, even if it did mean making the trip up and back in one day. Pearl’s party might not be one of Bradley’s priorities, but it darn sure was one of hers.
The tension from the week evaporated as Jill got closer to Adams Grove, the place she considered home.
She could hardly believe a year had passed since she’d packed all her stuff in Piggly Wiggly bags and hit the road in her little red pickup. Jill never thought she’d live anywhere but Adams Grove. But on the rebound from Garrett Malloy, accepting the fundraiser position with the Kase Foundation had been a no-brainer. In fact, getting away from Garrett by moving to Savannah had been one of the biggest perks of the job. The only downside was being away from Pearl.
As Jill took the exit off I-95, she turned the air conditioner up a notch then fumbled for the button to lower the window of her new BMW. She’d never been one to give two hoots about a fancy car, but fancy cars, big houses and appearances were the be-all, end-all to Bradley Kase. Since he’d become more than just a boss over the past year, she’d let him talk her into trading in Ol’ Red for something he considered more appropriate. She missed that truck and its trusty crank-down windows.
Jill turned on Horseshoe Run Road and a bittersweet smile eased across her lips. She inhaled the scent of honeysuckle and mimosa that filled this stretch of road every summer. When the wind blew downriver, even Farmer Young’s smelly pigs couldn’t drown out the fragrance.
Living on the cutting edge of technology in her day job in the banking industry for many years, Nancy spends each night creating make-believe small town worlds filled with hope, heart, and suspense. She hopes readers will accept her invitation to visit Adams Grove and will grow to care about the residents as much as she does.
SWEET TEA AND SECRETS was released earlier this year.
Aside from writing Nancy enjoys treasure-hunting in antique shoppes, and getting crafty no matter what the medium from painting and digitizing embroidery designs, to weaving pine needle baskets.
A Virginia native, she and her husband of 16 years moved inland to quiet Southampton County. They live on a working goat farm with their two labs and more kids (the four-legged kind) than they keep count of, where they are living out their own small town love story.
Nancy’s second book in the Adams Grove series, Out of Focus, will be out in November. www.NancyNaigle.com
3.5 c all purpose flour, .25 tsp. Baking powder, 2 tsp. Baking soda, 1.5 tsp salt, 1 tsp each – nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, 1.5 c each granulated and brown sugars, 1 c oil, 2 c canned pumpkin, 4 eggs. Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray and then sugar (instead of flour). Mix dry ingredients, add oil, add pumpkins, add eggs one at a time….bake 350 for 50-60 mins. Enjoy!!!
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for October 31 – November 4, 2011
- Rocky Road – great ice cream, but a bumpy ride to publication! by Nancy Naigle
- 8 Tips for a Successful Co-writing Partnership by Kelsey Browning
- Reader Roundup – Travel to Small Towns with Amy Alessio
- Debut Author Series: Rochelle Staab, Author of Who Do, Voodoo?