Second Star: Tell us a little about your latest book.
Nancy: My latest is due out in November. It’s the third book of Ruby and Maude Adventures, set in 1896 Cripple Creek. This book takes Ruby to Colorado Springs to be a witness for the trial of the notorious Jake Hawker. It’s full of twists and turns and surprises.
Second Star: What advice do you have for young writers?
Nancy: Keep at it! Write what you enjoy. When you’re stuck, ask yourself the “What if?” question. The “what if” should be answered in a way that will make the story more interesting, frightening, surprising and engaging. Example: Clarabelle heard a strange noise. What if…. it was her mother, her dog, or!!!!
Second Star: Give us an insight into your main character. What does she/he do that is so special?
Nancy: I have several main characters, so I’ll talk about a couple of them.
Hides Inside, in the book Hard Face Moon, wants to distinguish himself as a Cheyenne Warrior. Because he is mute, he faces difficulties with his peers and others in his tribe who think he is not worthy.
Ruby, of the Ruby and Maude Adventures, is lively and energetic. She also has a big heart and loves animals, especially her donkey, Maude. She’s an outdoor girl who hates school and anything that is “ladylike.” Unfortunately her Pa wants to marry the school principal who thinks Ruby needs a little “taming.”
Second Star: How important are names to you in your books?
Second Star: Do you choose the names based on things – like the way it sounds or the meaning?
Nancy: All of the above, depending on the book. For Hard Face Moon, I used lists of Cheyenne names from the Sand Creek Massacre and other Cheyenne name lists. These were only for ideas, then I decided what fit the characters.
I have whole books of names I sometimes skim through, especially if I am writing for a different ethnic group. One of my books is based on the Jewish Colony in Cotopaxi and I wanted to make sure my names were both ethnically correct and historically correct.
Second Star: Where do your ideas come from?
Nancy: Since I write mostly historical fiction, many of my ideas come from historical events that interest me. I did write one book, however, specifically for my stepson when he was younger because he loved baseball. There is usually something that sparks a story in some way. There are zillions of ideas, but the idea has to stick for it to be written into a full length book.
Second Star: When did you decide to become a writer?
Nancy: It’s something I have wanted to do since I was in my teens even before that. Getting published is a whole different thing. That didn’t come until later in life/
Second Star: Why do you write?
Nancy: I love finding the exact words that make a story come to life. Also, it’s satisfying to finish a project and know I’ve done my best. Sometimes writing is simply getting what’s in my heart down on paper. The process of writing helps to clarify and define what it is I want to say.
Second Star: Do you have any strange writing habits? (like standing on your head or writing in the shower?)
Nancy: I truly wish I could write standing on my head, but I can’t even stand on my head. Often good ideas come in the shower, but the only writing trick I use that is helpful is to use an hour glass. I turn it over and use it to set goals and focus. Especially when I’m busy with other things, if I sit for a full hour, it’s surprising what gets done.
Second Star: What book do you wish you could have written?
Nancy: I wish I’d written the Once and Future King by T. H. White. I loved that book. A more recent book that I loved was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I think I could go on and on. But those are a couple.
Second Star: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Second Star: Do you have any pets?
Nancy: Yes! Here’s the list: donkey, three dogs, several cats, 12 chickens (yes, they’re pets, they run around in the yard and are a great source of entertainment.) We just bought a milk cow, and already thinks she’s a pet. You might guess we live on a ranch, so we also have goats, cattle, and a couple of horses—one that bucked me off a year ago and I ended up in the hospital with a broken arm.
Pets I had at other times in my life, turtles, fish, snakes, a salamander, guinea pig, tadpoles, and a pile of frogs caught in a nearby lake. (Not all simultaneously.)