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AUTHOR VIP

NANCY MEHL

 

November 2015

WG:      Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.

NM:      I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. Two years ago, my husband and I moved to Missouri to be near our son, daughter-in-law, and our precious grandson.

I've worked in a lot of areas, including Christian radio and banking. But most of my working life was spent doing social work. I loved it!

I've been married 43 years this month, and I have a 36 year-old son, Danny. He's been married for 4 years and has a 2 year-old son named Aidan. Aidan is such a blessing. We just can't get enough of him!

Since my husband Norman and I have no more children at home, we spend a lot of time parenting our puggle, Watson. Watson is part pug, part beagle. It seems he got the most rambunctious qualities of each breed. LOL!

When I'm not writing, or watching Doctor Who, I spend time doing embroidery. I just recently took it up again after a thirty year break.


WG:      Let's talk about your own personal road to publication: 
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.

NM:      Well, I always wrote, even when I was a child. But the idea of becoming a novelist didn't become real to me until I started watching Murder, She Wrote. I told my husband I'd finally found my calling. I wanted to be Jessica Fletcher! (But without the high body count. My friends and family breathed a sigh of relief. LOL!) After praying about it and believing God confirmed that this was what I was supposed to do, I started learning how to write. A small group of newbie writers and I banded together to help each other. Their encouragement was really important to me.


WG:      Tell us about your journey.

NM:      First of all, I think most writers need to come to the realization that they have no idea what they're doing. Writing is a craft. You don't just launch into it. Like a surgeon, you need to learn your trade before you cut someone open! I spent many years getting rejections. However, I had an agent who just wouldn't give up on me. Janet Benrey helped to open the door to my career, along with an editor that I'm still working with today. Susan Downs in one of the angels in my life.


WG:      How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?

NM:     Two. One was published, but it was through an author mill. I didn't know that at the time.


WG:      Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?

NM:      Yes. My agent told me that Barbour publishing was starting a cozy mystery book club. She asked me if I wanted to submit a proposal. I said, "Sure. What's a cozy mystery, and how do you write a proposal?" LOL! Actually, I'd been reading cozy mystery all my life. I just didn't know it. That part was easy. The proposal was harder. Janet, my agent, told me it would be at least two months before I heard back from Barbour. But only two weeks later she called to tell me they'd accepted my proposal! After we hung up, I actually screamed and jumped up and down!


WG:      How has being a published author impacted your life?

NM:      It has shown me that God really did have a call on my life. It's helped me to understand myself better. Lots of things that never made sense, became clear after I began writing. For example, I'm a homebody. I'm perfectly content to spend almost all my time at home. Something that comes in handy when you're a writer. LOL!


WG:      What aspect of life as a 'published author' surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?

NM:      The nasty reviews surprised me. Some people seem to love to attack authors. Still not sure what kind of person enjoys being unkind. Especially people who call themselves Christians.

On the positive side, I love how willing most writers are to help each other.


WG:      What about your writing process? Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?

NM:      I do have a set writing schedule. Mondays are for interviews, promotions, all the "other things" authors have to do. Tuesday through Friday I write in the morning - until lunch at 1:00 p.m. If I stay on schedule, I can usually stay on top of things. But sometimes when I push a deadline, all bets are off!!!!


WG:      Do you set writing goals for yourself?

NM:     Yes. When I start a book, I print out a calendar and plan out my schedule. This means figuring out how many words I need to write each day - and how much time I'll need for editing once the book is finished.


WG:      Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?

NM:      I love Pandora. I have several soft music stations that I play while I'm writing.


WG:      Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?

NM:      I usually just start out writing and then begin plotting once I have a good idea of my story.


WG:      Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?

NM:     A combination of the two. I have enough for a synopsis - and I know my main characters.


WG:      Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories? 

NM:      Yes. Almost all of my books have the same message: No matter what you've been through, God has a good plan for your life.



WG:      What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?

NM:     Probably my characters. I seem to focus on them quite a bit. And I can usually surprise my readers with plot twists - something I like to do.


WG:      Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?

NM:      Just one. My husband is home during the day (he works in the evening), and he tends to want to talk to me at the wrong times!


WG:      Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?

NM:    I have to work at staying off Facebook during my writing time. I'm working hard to break that bad habit.


WG:      Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?

NM:      Although I'm writing suspense, I love mystery. I actually add mystery into almost every book I write. I also love to read mysteries.


WG:      Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?

NM:      Maybe some Sci-Fi - if I had the time. I'm a Doctor Who fanatic!


WG:      Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?

NM:      Yes. Learn your trade. Don't try to get published too early. Find a good agent, and never, ever, ever give up!


WG:      Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?

NM:      I'm always having "ah ha" moments. LOL! I think the longer we write, the more we learn. And I'm still learning.


WG:      Rejections, less than stellar reviews and notes from unhappy readers are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?

NM:     I don't read negative reviews anymore. In fact, I don't read most of my reviews unless it's someone who really wants me to read their review because they love my books. Then I take the time to read what they've written.


WG:      Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?

NM:      No, not really. I think almost all the advice I've received has been helpful.


WG:      What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?

NM:      Touching a reader's life is the most rewarding part of writing. As far as struggling - I have to watch my attitude when I get rewriting notes back from my editors. I'm much better about that now. Especially after I discovered they are almost always right. :)


WG:      When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?

NM:     Watching TV while I do embroidery. Very relaxing.


WG:      When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

NM:      A professional barrel rider. I loved horses!


WG:      What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?

NM:      I used to take voice lessons. My voice teacher wanted me to sing opera.


WG:      What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?

NM:     Doctor Who is at the top of the list. I also like Castle, Bones, and The Middle. I love old movies: Anything with Cary Grant, Jimmy Stuart, Irene Dunne, Claude Rains… I could go on and on. And I adore the Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone. I have all of them on DVD.


WG:      I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.

NM:      I have to go with Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


WG:      Please tell us about your current project. 

NM:      I'm working on a new series about the U.S. Marshals Service. The first book, FATAL FROST, will release in 2016.


WG:      What inspired you to write this particular story?

NM:     I'm very passionate about supporting law enforcement. I believe we need to stand up for our men and women LEOs. They are willing to put their lives on the line for us, and lately they've been unfairly attacked. I belong to a group dedicated to letting law enforcement know how much we appreciate them.


WG:      What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?

NM:     I am working with a retired U.S. Marshal and a St. Louis police officer. I'm learning so many things I couldn't possibly mention them here!


WG:      Tell us about your upcoming plans.

NM:      There are three books contracted in this U.S. Marshal series. I'm writing the first one now. I'm also writing an Amish cozy mystery series for Guideposts - along with several other authors. It's a lot of fun!


WG:      And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.

NM:      You can easily find me on Facebook. I can also be reached through my website: nancymehl.com.


WG:      Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!

NM:      Thank you! It's always a pleasure. :)

 

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