Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nancy and Steve Brandt

What is your favorite genre of music?

Nancy – I don't have one particular genre. I tend to like specific songs more than a genre.

Steve - Things with strings :)

What is your favorite book that you’ve written?

Nancy - Sword & Illusion is the best book I've written.

Steve - Whichever one I've finished most recently.

How many manuscripts completed / book published?

Nancy – I've published three books and finished probably three or four more.

Steve - I've got about five completed, but only the one is published.

How rewarding has writing been for you?

Nancy – Writing has been wonderfully rewarding to me. I have made fabulous friends, read amazingly kind words about my work, and saw my dreams come true.

Steve - I'm not sure exactly how to express it, but I can't be happy anymore unless I'm working on something.

What has been your most memorable experience as a writer thus far?

Nancy – When I first joined RWA, I went to a New Jersey Romance Writers' conference and sat next to Eloisa James at lunch. I talked to her about a book I was working on at the time. She wrote down some information about a mythology that was related to what we talked about. A few years later when that book was released, at the next NJRW conference, she bought MY book! That was very special.

Steve - Finishing a manuscript, printing it up, and holding it in my hands.

How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

Nancy – Sword & Illusion is about a woman growing older and trying to figure out her place in the world now that her life is changing. My experience of reaching a new phase of life certainly helped me see how she would react to that situation.

Steve - I think programming and writing are related disciplines. Both construct things in the realm of ideas, both are creative, and both involve debugging.

How long has it taken you to get published?

Nancy – I wrote Attack of the Queen (now out of print) in about 1992. Then I wrote Fabric of Faith in 1997. Both books came out in 2004.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Nancy – Not rituals, so much, but I have a couple of writer t-shirts I like to wear to remind me who I am. Also, one year, during National Novel Writing Month, in November, we drove to Orlando for a week. I bought a Cat in the Hat mug and on the way home, while Steve drove, I wrote. He said, "You better keep writing because that book has to pay for this trip." When I drink out of that mug, I remember I still haven't earned enough from my writing to pay for that trip!

Steve - There's this thing called "Rowdy Girls" :)

Do you write on a schedule or when the mood strikes?

Nancy – You have to have a schedule. A couple of weeks ago, a friend, Alyssa Day said, on Facebook, that she'd written 11 books in 6 years. And that was with 4 Navy moves, one to Japan! I realized that I have no excuse, so I figured out how much I have to write every day to reach that goal. For the last two weeks, I've written every day, save one, and while I haven't always hit my word count, I have averaged at least that much!

Steve - Mornings on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - sometimes extra writing on Saturday.

What advice can you give for other aspiring authors?

Nancy – Take it seriously. Write every day, yes, but write productively. Don't pretend you're writing – WRITE. If you're a fiction writer, write at least a new scene every day. Keep the story going. Allow yourself to write garbage because you can always fix it later.

Where were you when you received your first call/email?

Nancy – I was reading email and I got an invitation to join the Wings Author Loop. I wasn't a Wings author but I had submitted Fabric of Faith to them. I joined the loop and immediately someone emailed me back saying, "Who are you and why are you on this loop? It's only for Wings Authors." I apologized and told them what happened. Then I got an email from the Senior Editor/Founder who said she assumed from the email conversation that I'd never gotten my contract she sent a month before!

How do you handle rejection letters?

Nancy – I usually get angry or sad. I eat something unhealthy, then pull out my list of publishers and keep going.

Steve - I have a beer. :)

What do you do with them?

Nancy – I have a file folder somewhere with a bunch in there. Usually though, now, they are emails, and I delete them and move on.

Steve - Toss them.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Nancy - No

Steve – No

Do you plot or are you a “pantser” (one who writes by the seat of their pants)?

Nancy – I like to think of myself as a "recovering" pantser. Plotting out every scene is really not something I can get my mind around, but I have learned that I can't just "leap into the mist" and hope for the best. I have written myself into too many corners I couldn't get out of. Now, I figure out my plot points and work toward them. I may not know all the twists and turns, but I have an idea where I'm headed.

Steve - I really try to sketch out the structure ahead of time. I haven't yet got the hang of it.

How do you create your characters?

Nancy – I start with an idea of who they are – hero's best friend, heroine's grandmother – and they basically reveal themselves to me as I write. Sometimes I have to go back and tweak things if they start heading somewhere away from the next plot point, but generally, together we can make it work.

Do you belong to a critique group? If so, what have you gotten out of it / how helpful have they been?

Nancy – I'm a member of the Rowdies. (It started out as The Rowdy Girls but we now have two men in the group.) We've been together over a year, but just in the last six months or so we've been meeting every week. Usually our meetings are more writing and brainstorming sessions than critique sessions, but we are all available for any of the others who need something read.

Steve - Yes,

What kind of things do you look for in a critique - basic grammar, plot, POV (Point of View) problems, etc.?

Nancy – I mostly need to know if the story itself makes sense. Are the actions motivated? Do you want to keep reading?

Steve - All of those things, but story structure is my primary focus.

How do you break through writer’s block?

Nancy – since I started this plan to write at least 1,500 words a day, I can't afford writer's block. If the words aren't flowing, I just keep chiseling them out with a toothpick if I have to. I know I can always change them so I just write whatever I need to to keep moving along. Much of the time I know it's not good, but at least the words are there.

Steve - I've never had writer's block. Sometimes I need to step away from the keyboard and just think about things before I type, however.

Do you have any techniques for character development that you'd like to share with your readers?

Nancy – I don't know exactly how I do it because the characters often tell me who they are. I have to let them develop organically instead of figuring it all out ahead of time.

How much time do you put into developing secondary characters?

Nancy – It depends on what role that character plays and how important he/she is. Clearly, a neighbor who is going to be in the book more needs to be fleshed out more than someone who only appears in one scene.

Steve - Frequently, my secondary characters and primary characters change roles during editing. Sigh.

Do you have any tips for marketing/promoting for newly published authors?

Nancy – Have a web presence before the book comes out. Get on as much social media as you can comfortably manage and still have time to write. The more "friends" you have the more potential customers, but make sure you aren't just using the sites for promotion. No one wants to stay friends with someone whose only contact is "buy my book."

Steve - Get your book on "". This is a website I created to help share writer's worlds.

How much of you is in your heroine?

Nancy – I have "lived" with Moonrazer longer than I have my daughter. I think it's more a matter of she is in me, now. Before she was a character in a book, she was a character I played in a game and at that point, she was more me. As she has grown, I'd like to think I've become more like she is. I actually have found myself thinking "What would Moonrazer do in this situation?"

Is your heroine the "you" you'd like to be?

Nancy – Absolutely!!

Where did you get your idea for your heo/heroine?

Nancy – When we were first married and living in New Jersey, Steve created a role playing game for my best friend and I to play. I was Moonrazer and she was Adazzra, Moonrazer's best friend in Sword & Illusion. We played through four adventures as those characters before Steve started grad school and we moved to Illinois.

Did you choose the genre you write in, or did it chose you?

Nancy – My first book was an inspirational romance, and I think I chose that genre, but fantasy chose me. Steve recommended years ago that I write in it "because you don't have to research." Well, yeah, maybe but he neglected all the world-building. Anyway, I feel like this fits. I love writing fantasy.

What were the deciding factors in picking that genre?

Steve - I don't like reality all that much. Fantasy / SciFi is all that's left. :)

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