Getting to know #romance #author Nancy Holland #fantasy #magic #fiction #amwriting #amreading

Today I’m kicking off a series of author interviews to share some new authors and their books with you all. Please welcome Nancy Holland to the interview hot seat.

First, here’s a bit about her and then we’ll begin.

About Nancy Holland:

A college professor with over thirty years of teaching experience, Nancy Holland recently began to live her dream as a full-time writer. After being a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart© contest and publishing two short contemporary romances, she is thrilled to return to her first love and write fantasy romance for Tule Publishing.  

Despite dark pasts, heart-breaking betrayal, and a future that is always at risk, her fantasy heroes and heroines accomplish amazing feats of valor and magic to create a better world for everyone. More importantly, her characters refuse to give up on themselves, struggle to improve their lives, and learn to trust each other.

After years spent studying and writing about words written long ago and far away, she loves to travel with her husband to explore the cities where she can feel the lived experience behind the words.

You can connect with her at www.nancyhollandwriter.com, on Facebook or find her on Twitter @nancyholland5.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Nancy: Four published, three more in the pipeline, including the last book in the Witch King trilogy.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Nancy: Short contemporary romance, because that’s how I came into romance, and romantic fantasy, because I grew up on classic (and not so classic) fantasy books and always wanted more, better romance.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Nancy: One common theme in all my books is trust (my tagline is “Always trust in love”), but Felyn’s Curse is also about the negative effects of toxic masculinity on men as they grow up and the positive and negative impact of family ties.

Can love and sacrifice conquer a curse?

When Felyn was a young, defenseless witch, she was cursed to live as a shape shifter—a deadly panther. She might have been rescued and raised by a noble and powerful leader, but she lives in fear she will hurt those she loves in her animal form so each full moon she hides deep in the forest. But how can she refuse her adoptive father’s plea for an arranged marriage with a new ally? After all, it’s temporary and in name only… 

Varz agrees to an arranged marriage reluctantly because he needs the military and diplomatic alliance. He has secrets and a growing power struggle back home. He’s relieved he need only marry the young witch for a year until he meets his bride. Felyn is beautiful and intelligent and not easy to ignore, but Varz is a man of his word. His vow to leave his bride untouched will be the hardest one he has had to keep.

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Nancy: I’ve been moving my workspace around the house lately from an ergonomically bad location to a crowded one and now to one I hope I can stick with. I also sometimes write or revise in a large recliner that is technically my husband’s.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Nancy: I do my best writing in the morning, while I drink my coffee, although I can write at other times given the opportunity and enough motivation. I do have rituals, but wish I had fewer because they easily become time sucks (e.g., social media).

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Nancy: Basically, RWA in several dimensions — my local chapter (Midwest Fiction Writers) and the critique groups that grew out of it helped me hone my craft, RWA chapter contests gradually convinced me I could do this, and finaling in the Golden Heart was a big boost. And, of course my agent, Scott Eagen of the Grayhaus Agency.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Nancy: Envisioning an intriguing world and situation that others want to learn more about.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Nancy: Always situation first, then sometimes character (usually the contemporaries), sometimes plot (the romantic fantasy books).

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Nancy: Now that I’m retired I can write pretty much whenever I like, but I’ve stuck with early morning from when I had to rush off to work afterwards. I do need at least an hour at a time of more or less focused time to accomplish much.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Nancy: My constant struggle is between keeping readers in the dark too long about things and telling them too much too early.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

Nancy: I did in 2017 and won in less than the full month, which was cool (although the book never sold). Before that it just wasn’t feasible with the day job. 2018 was not a good year for me, so I sat it out. Whether I’ll participate this year depends on my health and where I am in my writing.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Nancy: I read more than one thing at a time these days. Right now it’s The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin and An Unlikely Match, a duet of two short romances by Marion Lennox, plus two scifi/post-apocalyptic books I’ve gotten stuck in and a very long classic I’ve lost my enthusiasm for.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Nancy: Contemporary romance

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Nancy: I don’t reread very much anymore because I find great new authors. My keeper shelf is heavily tilted toward friends and chapter-mates, books I shared with my late mother and other old favorites, and recent books from AOC like Beverly Jenkins, Alyssa Cole, and Sherry Thomas.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Nancy: I generally don’t choose books that way unless a particular book is having a clear effect on my writing “voice,” in which case I’ll set it aside for a while.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Nancy: I wrote with a day job for over twenty years, but am retired now.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Nancy: It’s not as much of a meritocracy as they probably think, and most published authors are neither rich nor famous (but it’s still a great thing to achieve).

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Nancy: If you write romance, join RWA; if you write mystery, join Sisters in Crime; and read extensively, but not exclusively in your genre.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Nancy: I have two contemporary Christmas-themed romances in the pipeline at Tule publishing.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Nancy: I have ideas for a romantic suspense and maybe a women’s fiction, but I don’t have the plotting skills for romantic suspense and I don’t think my voice is right for WF.

Betty: Thanks so much for stopping by, Nancy!

I hope you all enjoyed meeting Nancy as much as I enjoyed having her visit today. Happy reading, everyone!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

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Discovering Old Winchester Road #Huntsville #Alabama200 #amwriting #supernatural #histfic #Alabama #history #historical #fiction

The best part of researching for a novel is taking day trips with my loving husband to explore and experience a place. Trying to imagine what life would have been like in a past era in a present location or house or, in this case, along a road.

The fictional haunted roadside inn in my upcoming new series, Fury Falls Inn, is situated along the Winchester Road that connects Huntsville, Alabama to Winchester, Tennessee. I invented a location and setting in the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau in northeast Alabama. But was my fictional locale at least plausible? I don’t mind a little poetic license but I strive to stick as close to what’s plausible and possible as I can.

So we went for a drive one pretty Saturday afternoon not too long ago. As I drove up the current busy road, I noted that the road stays away from the hills, sticking to the flatter terrain alongside.

But then we came across the Old Winchester Road and it turned to hug the base of the hills close. So we turned to explore where the older road would take us. We followed it up into the low mountains with homes here and there and forest all around. A river ran along the valley, bisecting a crop field at one point.

We wound up and around and eventually came out at a T-intersection with another highway. By that time we had crossed into Tennessee which is beyond the boundary for the location of my series. So we turned around and headed back, deciding to turn again to explore the Mountain Road that took us up and over the ridge and down the other side. All the while that I was driving through the steep hills I was trying to imagine walking or riding horseback along a more primitive dirt/mud road. Or driving a wagon pulled by horses or perhaps leading a team of oxen over the hills.

We even came across a small waterfall but not as steep a one as I imagined in my book. But there are points along the foothills that could possibly have a waterfall if conditions were a little different.

All of this experience gave me more confidence in the plausibility of the location and setting I’ve used in the first story in the series. The brick and clapboard inn, the stable and corral, the mineral springs and water fall with a river running across the property. All are inspired by my research into 1800s farms and homesteads.

By the way, after doing a bit more research into titles for this genre, I’ve changed the titles. The first book is now called The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (Fury Falls Inn Book One). I think that’s a more descriptive title that speaks to the entire storyline perfectly. Although I often struggle with what to call a book, let me tell you! Titles are hard to choose.

One last note. Starting this Friday, I’ll be sharing some guest author interviews with you all. I’ve invited some authors of all genres to share not only their latest release but also more about themselves as authors and readers. I hope you’ll find some new books to read and enjoy!

Cheers!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

A Bit of History of the Green Bottom Inn and Race Track #Huntsville #Alabama200 #amwriting #supernatural #histfic

When I started to research Alabama history, I came across the Early History of Huntsville, Alabama: 1804 to 1870 by Edward Chambers Betts, dated 1909 and revised in 1916. One side note caught my attention.

Apparently General Andrew Jackson not only frequently visited Huntsville, and purchased “vast areas of Madison county lands” but he also enjoyed some relaxation. He would stay at the Old Green Bottom Inn located 4 miles north of Huntsville in Normal, on property now belonging to the Alabama A&M University. There, General Jackson would race his horses and “fought his cocks.” If you’re curious, you can read more about his visits here.

The Old Green Bottom Inn, one of the first hostelries in Alabama, was built by John Connelly in 1815 along with the adjoining race track. The race track became a kind of mecca for sportsmen from across the entire state of Alabama (then part of the Mississippi Territory). By the way, the Alabama Territory was created in 1817, and the cotton economy and fertile soil attracted “cultured and wealthy Virginians, who brought with them large droves of slaves.” Only 2 years later, on August 2, 1819 the Alabama Territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Alabama.

Historic Huntsville Green Bottom Inn
Postcard Back

Sadly, the inn burned down in 1931 and only a portion of stone wall remains standing.

This discovery of an inn confirms the idea of a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821, the time period of my Cassie Fairhope and the Haunted Inn, which will release in the fall of 2019. My fictional Fury Falls Inn, though, is situated at the base of the foothills of the southern end of the Cumberland Plateau of the Appalachians, along the Winchester Road that ran from Normal to Winchester, Tennessee.

I enjoy digging into the real history of an area and then incorporating those details as authentically as possible into my historical fiction. All while providing an engaging and enjoyable story for my readers.

Next time I’ll talk about a recent road trip with my ever supportive husband to the foothills along the Winchester Road. Until then, I hope you’re reading something that you enjoy!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Discovering Huntsville, AL in 1819 #amwriting #histfic #supernatural #books #Alabama200

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last blog post. I’ve been trying to figure out a theme for a new series of posts, and finally struck upon one near and dear to my heart. I’ve been very busy the last couple of months researching and writing. I’ve written the first draft of the first book in my new Cassie Fairhope supernatural historical fiction series, which I call Cassie Fairhope and the Haunted Inn. I’m planning to release this book in October, so stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.

The series is set in north Alabama in the year 1821, three years after statehood. So I’ve been digging into the history of the state, including visiting a local living museum from the 1800s, visiting the Heritage Room at the local public library, and reading. Lots and lots of reading!

So I thought in honor of Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration this year, I’ll share tidbits of the research I’ve done and how that informs my storyline (characters, setting, etc.).

To kick off this new series, let’s talk about what Huntsville, Alabama, looked like when the Alabama Territory became a state in November 1819.

The journalist Anne Royall described the city in her Letters from Alabama as consisting of 260 brick houses, a bank, courthouse, and market house. She claims there were twelve stores that faced the square. She also notes with a sense of surprise that there wasn’t a church, but services were held in the courthouse.

Image from a brochure I found in the Heritage Room map archives of Madison County, Alabama published by the Huntsville Historical Society in the 1970s

In Alabama: The History of a Deep South State the authors describe the city as a “bustling community of cotton planters” and that while the big planters who had migrated largely from Georgia dominated all the social and financial aspects, most of the landowners in Madison County, where Huntsville is located, were in fact “small famers from Tennessee.”

In my story, the Fury Falls Inn is located on the Winchester Road which connects Huntsville to Winchester, Tennessee and runs along the foothills of the lower Appalachian Mountains. My characters visit the city upon occasion and have customers that stop in for a meal on their way to wherever they’re headed. So knowing what the kinds of businesses and the layout of the town in the early years helps me ensure I have representative ventures and opportunities for my characters. Since I’m writing fiction instead of a history of the town, I’m free to include some made-up locations to suit the needs of my story. With that in mind, though, I still strive to keep to facts as much as I can when I create a new business, like the livery that is mentioned in Cassie Fairhope and the Haunted Inn.

Huntsville has grown up quite a lot from its early days, with a thriving and diverse population, high-tech industries and arts and culture for all to enjoy. It’s still growing and the leaders have said the city will be the largest in the state within the next 5 years. I believe they must be right on that point.

I’ve much more to share with you all and look forward to your questions and comments as I work through the many interesting facts I’ve unearthed about the state where I live. Until next time!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.