I think you’re going to enjoy my guest today! Please help me welcome, Nicki Greenwood! As usual we’ll start with her official bio, and then dip into what she has to say about her books and her process.
Nicki Greenwood graduated SUNY Morrisville with a degree in Natural Resources, which of course has nothing to do with writing novels. She has also worked in a bakery, an insurance agency, a flower shop, and a doctor’s office, which have nothing to do with writing, either. She did spend an awesome two years as an assistant editor for a publisher, and now does freelance editing on the side. Nicki still holds down a day job, which manages to get her out of the house once in a while. Since 2010, she has written eight novels, including the award-winning Gifted Series. Nicki lives in upstate New York with her husband, son, and assorted pets. If you can’t find her at her computer, you can always try the local Renaissance Faire.
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Nicki: Eight books of novel or short story length, and counting!
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Nicki: I began writing in the romance genre because it’s such a broad spectrum, from sweet, contemporary romance to spicy paranormals, and everything in between. There was a lot of room to play within the universal theme of a happy ending, and that appealed to me. I am now stretching my legs by writing in the New Adult genre, which is fresh and exciting. I have a planned trilogy currently in the works.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Nicki: I didn’t discover my “theme” until writing several books about it. I found that no matter what type of book I write, whether it’s contemporary, paranormal, or women’s fiction, the story always centers around a character finding his or her emotional home. In FIRE, my most recent release, the hero Ethan has never felt like he belonged anywhere. He is quite literally wandering the country in search of a place to belong. For him, it’s a matter of coming to terms with who—and what—he is.
Is love worth the risk of getting burned?
Ethan Sutter is good at running, but he can’t outrun himself. Rootless and reckless, he prowls the country, able to abandon everything except his hated Fire Elemental power. Then he lands in Pickering, Vermont, out of gas and out of options, and meets New Age curio shop owner Gypsy Ronan, an even bigger misfit than he is.
Gypsy knows Ethan is trouble. However, none of her tarot cards or tea leaves could have prepared her for their undoubtedly dangerous mutual attraction. More shocking still is the discovery that he possesses an incredible power, and he wants her help getting rid of it.
Ethan needs a normal life. He’s sure a woman like Gypsy couldn’t be part of it, but she sets his blood smoldering. Gypsy knows there’s more to Ethan than he admits, even as she fears for her heart.
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Nicki: I purposely bought a laptop with a comfortable keyboard and long battery life so I can write in my office, at Starbucks, on lunch break at my day job, or wherever else I find myself. I used to write by hand, and then on a desktop computer, and finally discovered this is the best way for me to get the words down.
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?
Nicki: Wednesday mornings are my Starbucks days, and I generally churn out the words over a green tea and breakfast sandwich with my headphones on. Something about the atmosphere encourages my muse to show up ready to work. I am a creature of habit, and these regular schedules work well for me. I write best in the mornings when I’m fresh, so unless I’m cramped for time I try to get my writing in as early as possible.
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Nicki: I wouldn’t be where I am without the generous and supportive members of the Central New York Romance Writers. I owe a lot of my craft growth to them. I also have to give a shout out to The Wild Rose Press, who came on the scene when ebooks were just beginning to emerge. They have been a huge part of my success as an author, and I couldn’t ask for a nicer publisher.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Nicki: I love dialogue. It’s the first thing I notice in a book or television show, and one of the things I enjoy most about writing characters. The wittier the dialogue, the more fun it is!
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Nicki: Generally, a character shows up first. I don’t even brainstorm them, most of the time. They just begin “talking.” (We writers are among the few who can say we “hear voices” and not get strange looks…especially when talking to other writers. *grin*)
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?
Nicki: I do have a loose weekly “structure,” but it is sometimes undermined by family needs. Family is important, so when something comes up, I move my writing schedule. I am currently writing on a 100-words-per-day minimum, but I often surpass that. Occasionally, it’s a case of squeezing the writing in wherever I can.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Nicki: I am a hybrid pantser-plotter, somewhere between the author who outlines her story first, and the one who just sits down to write without a road map. This works for me most of the time, since I don’t like to know the end of a story before I write it. There have been moments, however, where I get stuck. I call it “writing myself into a corner,” where I have set something up that ends in a snarl. When that happens I just keep going, and in the off hours when I’m not writing, my “passive muse” works on the problem until a solution crops up. Then I’m off writing again at a crazy pace.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Nicki: I don’t. It’s like dieting—if I call it a diet, I won’t do it. (Incidentally, I lost forty pounds over a six-month period by not calling it a diet.) Writing, like eating healthy, is a lifestyle, not a single event. I make more words by keeping at it daily than I ever would by pushing myself to do it in a standalone challenge.
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Nicki: Julia Quinn is a perennial favorite, and I have recently delved into Erica Ridley’s work. I also chanced across A PRINCESS IN THEORY by Alyssa Cole, and devoured it. Cole’s voice is such fun. A DUKE BY DEFAULT is next on my list.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Nicki: Historical novels, especially romances. I may never write one, but I love to read them, whether they are Scottish, Regency, Egyptian, or something else.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Nicki: For one Valentine’s Day, I received a beautiful leather-bound copy of THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES from my husband. It is one of my favorite possessions, and I am still working through it.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Nicki: I don’t read much while I am working on a book, but I treat myself to pleasure reading when I get to the end of my own works in progress. When I do read, if it isn’t a book on the craft of writing, it’s something historical.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Nicki: I wish I could write full time, but if that doesn’t happen, it’s all right. Getting out of the house and seeing other people is fuel for a writer’s brain. I am a pharmacy technician, and I love my co-workers, so it’s all good!
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Nicki: There’s room for every kind of story, with every kind of character, more now than ever. If you’re looking for a book that resonates with you, it’s out there—especially with the growth of indie publishing.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Nicki: Read, edit, learn craft, and don’t give up. There are so many books on the market, free or otherwise. In addition, you’re competing with entertainment streamers like Netflix, so you’d better learn to write a damn good book that’ll keep a reader’s attention. If you don’t polish your work, it shows. Readers recognize an amateur. You’re asking them to spend hard-earned money, so pay attention to the quality of your product. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming “good enough” is good enough, because they’ll look elsewhere for the next read…not to mention, you are doing your own craft a disservice by settling for “okay.” A thick skin is important, but remember that it grows over time. It’s all right to wallow in self-doubt for a day after a bad review, but don’t let it end your growth as a writer…because you never stop growing as a writer. It is a lifelong art.
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
Nicki: I don’t want to say too much until I have the books written, but I am working on a New Adult series with fresh voices and a different sort of tone. It’s been loads of fun so far, and I think readers are going to enjoy it.
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?
Nicki: I have often wanted to try children’s books and screenplays. Perhaps when I’m certain I have a handle on writing New Adult stories, I’ll turn my attention to those genres!
Some very good advice in there, and some hints at interesting stories as well! Thanks so much for stopping by, Nicki.
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