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Monday, June 6, 2011

Meet Guest Author Nancy Bell

Barbara:Welcome Nancy to my blog. I am very excited to have you here, since you were my content editor for my upcoming YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, and I have great admiration for you.:) You were my content editor and it was a really great experience working with you.

Barbara:Your new book, Laurel’s Miracle is also YA . Please tell our readers a little about yourself:

Nancy:Hi Barbara and thank you for hosting me on your blog. I am a pretty ordinary person, I always find it hard to think of something interesting to say about myself. I have been married for 34 years (to the same man LOL), I have two grown sons who are married and have gifted me with two granddaughters each. I am a country girl, I have loved animals as long as I can remember, especailly horses. You can be assured in most of my novels or stories to come across a horse or two mixed into the plot. Writing and painting pictures with words has been a part of me forever, as early as grade three I was scribbling down poems and horse stories. Words pop into my head and won't leave me alone until I allow them to manifest in this world by giving them substance with my pencil and paper, although now it is my keyboard. I love words and the magic of creating with them.

Working as an editor allows me the great priviledge of interacting with talented authors and sharing in their creative processes. I enjoy all the authors I work with very much.

Barbara:1. Why did you decide to use the name, Emily Pikkasso?

Nancy:I use Emily Pikkasso when I write genres other than MG/YA or Sweet Romance. I needed an alter ego. Emily is my horse's stable name and Pik Kasso is her father's name. Her registered name is Pik Kasso Premiere, I know there really shouldn't be an "e" at the end but I liked the way it looked. There you have it: Emily Pikkasso. My YA release is under my given name, Nancy M Bell. I added the M in the middle because there is at least one other Nancy Bell who is an author and I wanted to make it easier for people to find me.

Barbara:2. How did you come to the idea for Laurel’s Miracle?

Nancy: Laurel's Miracle grew out of my research on spiritual places in England and my interest in dowsing and earth energies. I have always been fascinated by Glastonbury Tor but never had time to read and learn as much as I would have liked. In 2005 I had a wreck with my horse and ended up spending months with very limited movement. Going from full tilt to full stop in matter of seconds is quite frustrating, let me tell you. Suddenly, I had tons of time to fill and I used it to pursue my research into the magic and mysteries of English legends. I was aware of the idea of ley lines and earth energies, but only in a very superficial way. I read hundreds of books, scoured the internet and contacted people to ask questions. I have met some wonderful people from all over the world, who have become friends. Once I had a good grounding in the subject I sat down and Laurel flowed from my fingers. This is the only manuscript I have ever worked on which I didn't write in sequence so it was a bit of a challenge sometimes. I wrote the last chapter in one six hour stint, I just couldn't let it go. Often, I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to get up and put the words down on paper since they wouldn't let me sleep. It took over a year to write the story, longer than that to research it. I have to be honest and say I didn't come up with the idea for Laurel's Miracle, it found me and demanded I write it. The title is interesting, we owned a Fell Pony/Thoroughbred cross named Laura's Miracle. She came to us as a three week old orphan and we raised her and kept her until her death at 19. Lamorna, the Fell Pony in the story is Laura. I wanted to use names from the Celtic Tree Ogham for my characters, so Laura became Laurel. There is more information on how I chose the names of the characters on my website if anyone is interested in that.

Barbara:3. Please tell our readers how long it took for you to get this published?

Nancy: A long time , I sent it out to a few places and then sat back and licked my wounds. I edited and edited, but you can't do justice to your own work. An author is too close to the material and no matter how objective I thought I was being it wasn't good enough. I attended Lea Shcizas' MuseOnLineWriters Conference and cyber pitched Laurel to a house which asked to see the whole manuscript. Then I waited....and waited.... In the meantime I wrote a spin off novel called A Step Sideways featuring one of the male leads from Laurel. I submitted it to another publisher and surprisingly enough, and to my great amazement I was offered a contract. I withdrew Laurel from the house where she was beng considered and this novel was also contracted by the house which took Laurel. However, due to some creative differences I bought my rights back and started shopping Laurel's Miracle again. I was lucky enough to be contracted as a content editor with the new fledged MuseItUp Publishing during this time and thought I would see if they were interested in Laurel. I knew if the work wasn't up to par it would not get accepted. That fact was very important to me. Happily, Laurel's Miracle and A Step Sideways have both found a home at MuseItUp. Laurel's Miracle releases in September of 2011 and A Step Sideways in December of this year. I am so happy with the house and the quality of the cover art ( I haven't got mine yet, but can't wait to see it).

Barbara: 4. Do you have any other books published?

Nancy: I have a self published book of poetry called Through This Door which I am very pleased with. Sales have been so so, but then nobody is going to get rich from a book of poetry. I have had some short stories published, For "Jesse's Sake" in Knowonder Magazine, which is a horse story, and R.E.A.L. Magazine for Kids has contracted "Patches the Pony goes to the Fair" and "Fairies in the Garden" for publication sometime this year.

Barbara: Congratulations, Nancy! I will be looking for your announcement when they are published.

Barbara: 5. Please take us through your writing process. Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter”?

Nancy: Usually, I am a pantser. A character or a situation presents itself and pokes me until I sit down and release them unto paper. There have been many times when I call my writing partner Lynne and say "You're never gonna guess what (character name here) did now!" My protagonists constantly surprise me with their originality, or in some cases their perverse stupidity. LOL It all works itself out in the plot.

Laurel's Miracle is the exception to this, as she has been many times before. I had to have a map and a plan. Her quest takes her across SW England, from Lands End Cornwall to Glastonbury Somerset. Somehow I had to figure out where she would get the clues to her riddle and then where the clue would take her. I also created an involved, intertwined cast of supplementary characters which I needed to keep straight. There was some pantsing though, a couple of creatures showed up to help drive the plot along which I wasn't expecting or planning on. Belerion, the fire salamander with his bright blue eyes and Morgawr the sea monster who apparently can also fly should he so wish. It was quite an enlightening experience working on this novel, and very magical.

Barbara:6. How much research did you have to do for Laurel’s Miracle?

Nancy:Tons of research, most of which didn't make it into the novel. However, the knowledge gave me a deeper understanding of what was behind things Laurel was experiencing in the novel and it made it easier to persent the situations in the correct context. Research is invaluable and for me anyway, very enriching t my own life and world view.

Barbara: 7. As I read through the synopsis of Laurel’s Miracle I noticed you have both reality and fantasy in it. Was it difficult to intertwine these two different genres?

Nancy:Sometimes mixing the two was a little dicey.My husband, who read only a little of the rough manuscript requested I make a supplementary "Doug's Notes" so he knew what I was talking about. Laurel meets a selkie who is quite important to the story, a selkie is a shape shifter, changing from man or woman into a seal and back depending on the gender.

Barbara: 8. What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Nancy: I get up, walk the dogs, check on the horses and one remaining cow, feed fish, gather eggs and take care of hens. Then I turn on my cd player which has celtic music, country and orchestral on it. I love Ian Tyson, The Travelling Mabels, Corb Lund, Enya and harp music. Sometimes I light incense, I love sweet grass and Dragon's Blood. Then I read a bit from where I left off and away I go. My husband is happy if I have remembered to come up for air and make supper when he gets home.

Barbara: 9. When you wrote Laurel’s Miracle, did you have a particular person in mind? Have you ever gone through the experience of having a parent who has terminal cancer?

Nancy: Laurel is her own person, I didn't model her on anyone at all. My husband's mother died of cancer and my grandfather ,who lived with us when we were growing up, died of cancer when I was thirteen. I think I chose cancer because while I was writing and researching Laurel I spent a lot time at the Foothills Medical Centre here in Calgay in the physiotherapy department. The Tom Baker Cancer Clinic is part of the hospital and there was one young woman in her thirties who lost a leg to cancer and had young children. I never really met her and I don't know her name, but she resonated with me somehow and that is where the germ of the idea for Laurel's mother's illness came from.

Barbara: 10. Do you have any WIP’s you are getting ready to publish? Would you please tell us about them?

Nancy: As I mentioned earlier, A Step Sideways will come out in December. I have a sweet romance set in Longview, Alberta which I am very excited about. I am also working on the story of Laurel's grandmother Arabella.

Barbara: 11. Since Laurel’s Miracle is an ebook, how are you planning to promote it? Do you have any book signings planned?

Nancy:I am twittering and Facebooking about Laurel and I am planning a book launch party for September. There will be a book signing at the Muse Retreat in Montreal in November and I am hoping to be able to participate in the Surrey Internation Writers Conference in Surrey, British Columbia in October.

Barbara:12. Where can we find Laurel’s Miracle when it is released in September?

Nancy:Laurel will be available at MuseItUp Publishing book store, I don't have a buylink yet, and also Amazon, Smashwords and whereever MuseItUp books are sold.

Nancy, thank you for being a great guest author and how exciting we are both releasing in September. It has been my pleasure to be your host. Check out Nancy's Contact information:

Contact information:

Until the next time, my next guest author is going to be David Narmoyle so please come back and check him out. Meanwhile Nancy's interview will be up until June 10th so please everyone come and leave a comment.

Thank you to my new follower. And of course, thank you to the people who continue to follow my meanderings. If you want to hear me in person you can tune into my Blog Talk Radio show, RRWL Tales from the Pages on Thursday, June 23rd at 3PM Central, 4PM EST where I will be interviewing my last guest author, Beth Reinke and the fabulous Salvatore Butaci, a really splendid poet and short story author who I know from Poetic Asides or PA as we call it. The show should be a lot of fun. Enjoy the sunshine and you can contact me on Facebook: barbara ehrentreu or Twitter: @Barbehr.


  1. Soooo, a little more of the layers come off dear Nancy...I got really scared over the wreck with your horse and I'm glad to see you recovered. I also hope the horse is okay. Fascinating interview. Didn't know all these other things but so glad I do. Thank you Barbara for the insightful questions. Nancy has to be one of the most gifted writers I know and I've met a lot. Her generosity of spirit and ever encouraging words are always to be found and so very well received. Hugs to both of you and thanks for the great interview.

  2. Thank you, Karen:) It's always a pleasure when you visit!

    Nancy sent me an excerpt, but it hasn't been in final editing so I didn't post it. But I got wrapped up in the story. Nancy was such a great editor and the writing is great! I am thrilled we were able to connect.

    Nancy, I didn't remember about your horse's accident. I hope the horse is better.

  3. You guys are too nice. Karen, the horse is fine, she didn't get hung up in the equipment, just me, who got stretched between the trotting horse and the iron handle my thigh got caught up on. Didn't even break a rein when the bridle came off over her ears. No one broken except me. LOL I used to be more Emily-like, now more Nancy-like. Sooooo booooring, as Emily would say. Hugs

  4. More great scoop for me to use for your Editors Goddess Nancy.

    Barbara, thanks for sharing our mutil-amazing Nancy/Emily

  5. With every interview I read from you, Nancy, I learn more about you. I had no idea until today about where the name Emily Pikkasso came from...interesting. Your book sounds like it would speak to many in touching, introspective a good book should.
    Thank you, Barbara for sharing Nancy with me (smile).

  6. Nancy, thank you for clarifying that incident.:)

    Lin, you are getting to be like a detective. Now you are gleaning bits of information from interviews. You are so cute!!! Thanks for visiting.

    I personally can't wait to see Nancy's trailer.

    Kay Dee, Nancy is like an onion with lots of layers to peel off and find the real person underneath. So glad you liked the interview.

  7. Great interview and so nice to learn more about you Nancy. Your book sounds delightful. Good job with the interview, Barbara.

  8. Roseanne, so nice to see you again. I loved interviewing Nancy and learning more about her. It isn't often you get to learn more about your editor.:) Thank you for all the kind words

  9. LOL, that me the amazing onion woman. A very good friend of mine who was also an author once told me: You get to know the author through her books, not in her living room. It is so true, we reveal parts of ourselves through our characters without even realizing it. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

  10. Great interview Barbara, Nancy good to learn more about you. Sounds like the research was as much fun as writing the book. Funny how that happens. Even if you don't use all the information, it really helps add authenticity to your writing.
    Looking forward to the release of Laurel's Miracle.

  11. Great interview Nancy, or should we say, Emily. ;-) So nice to find out so much about you. I too love horses and enjoy sneaking them into my stories. Look forward to both your book and Barbara's book. Thanks for sharing!
    C.K. Volnek

  12. Charlie, thank you for visiting and it's always good when another side of an author is revealed. That's why blog hopping is so much fun. What one person will ask is not always the same as the other, so you are constantly learning new things about the people you thought you knew.:)

  13. Hi Nancy! I enjoyed your interview. I'm curious to read more on Laurel's Miracle. It sounds like it will be very appealing with the type of research you did for it, the character going on a quest and the element of magic. Researching the magic in English legends (any legends) would be fun and interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  14. congratulations, you broke the ten mark. great interview to do it with too.

  15. Larriane, we can't count Nancy as a commenter, so still need three more. I'm sure they will come! Glad you liked the interview. I loved interviewing my editor.:)

  16. Wow, thanks to everyone who has come and commented. Laurel's Miracle is an amazing story and I love that it has so many layers to it. When I read it while I'm doing edits I have a hard time believing I actually wrote it as new things jump out at me each time. Silly author, it was my Muse who wrote it. LOL This one is a Nancy book, no Emily element at all. :~)

  17. Wow, thanks to everyone for dropping by and commenting. Laurel is an amazing story as it has so many layers. When I read it as I do my edits I find it hard to believe I actually wrote it. Silly author, my Muse wrote it of course. LOL Draw for goodie basket is on Thursday night.

    Hugs Nancy

  18. Nancy, I feel the same way when I read my story too. When I see my writing at the end I always get emotional! I can't believe I wrote it:) We don't want to spoil it for anyone, but you know what I mean:)

  19. Since Nancy and Emily get to participate, Me, myself and I are joining in for that added chance to win!

  20. Good to learn some Nancy lore as well as teasers about the story. But I have one little gripe---you wrote a journey that went right past country where I was raised and didn't say hi. I'll have to read about the country and the strange residents you did include.

  21. I'm not sure if multiple comments count. What do you think Nancy?

  22. Hi Christopher. Thank you for visiting and come to think of it Nancy might have popped in to say hi:)

  23. hey Barbara & Nancy.

    Thanks for sharing the post.

    And Nancy congrats on your book getting released. Glad you recovered from the horse incident. Can't wait to read your book, kiddo

  24. Jerry, thank you for visiting! I am also looking forward to
    Nancy's book.

  25. I'm glad I got to this post. Nancy, I'm very interested in your book. It's the kind of historical I enjoy. I want my historical authors to work their butt off with the right stuff, and it looks like you've done just that.


  26. I must read 'Laurel's Miracle'! Hurry on September.
    I love the Celtic tree calendar, I love Glastonbury Tor and shapeshifters and the type of myths your are writing about.
    I climbed the Tor in 2006 and later wandered through the tarot shops in Glastonbury. Right now the scent of incense is tickling my nose.
    Lovely to learn more about you Nancy.
    Great interview Barbara.

  27. Wow, thanks for the response everyone, Chris I would have dropped by but I was hot on the trail of Laurel's quest. Next time I will call ahead and be sure to stop by for a cuppa.
    Thanks for stopping by Jerry, I appreciate the support.
    Karen, my dear, I am glad you, yourself and you came by again.

    Barbara, thank you so much for hosting me this week, it was wonderful to interact with everyone. Killarney said she visited but couldn't leave a comment, if we count her I have 10 commenters and some of those were sweet enough to comment more than once.
    For a teaser, you guys are gonna LOVE Barbara's September release, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. It is a great story. September is gonna be a banner month at Muse.

    Hugs and thank you again

    Going to make the draw now. :~) Drum ROll..... BRB

  28. Congratulations on getting Laurel's Miracle published. It sounds like you put a lot of thought and research into it, as well as many sleepless nights! I'm intriqued.

  29. Thank you for commenting, Marva. So glad you found this post too!! I read the excerpt, but didn't put it on here, because it wasn't the final edit.

  30. Thank you, Wendy. I love your comments. Wait until you read the excerpt.:)

  31. Okay, commenting is officially closed this morning.:) Thank you to all the people who commented. We had 12 separate commenters and that is terrific!!! See how popular you are, Nancy?

    Results of the drawing will be posted everywhere as soon as it happens. Good luck to all!!

  32. Very nice interview, Barbara and Nancy. The book sounds wonderful. Best of luck with your tour.

  33. Dear Barbara--Great blog--I enjoyed your post with Nancy Bell, and in finding you got excited about meeting another new author! Thank you and good luck with your writing and blogging!

  34. It's always interesting to learn the process other writers' use - the course of their day, developing their characters, etc. I think the process may change over time but having one is very necessary. The interview was an interesting read and inspiring.

  35. Thank you to all the people who commented and were just found! I have comment moderation on here and Blogger was being difficult and not reporting every comment to me. So tonight I found all of your comments. If you commented on June 10th, unfortunately comments were closed for the drawing early in the morning. I am deciding what to do about you guys, though. There might be another drawing with your names in it. Have to decide. Meanwhile, thank you for your comments and for visiting.

    Dee Dee, I do get excited about meeting new authors. I love learning about everyone's writing process and it helps me in my writing. Someone always has a technique I might try.

  36. Hello! I found you via She Writes. Interesting interview. I'll go and explore the rest of your blog.

  37. New follower from SheWrites. Excellent interview here - and I like what Nancy says about there being so much more research behind the book than made it into the text. So true of any good book.

  38. Hi Helen, so glad you found me from SheWrites. Thank you for visiting and hope you enjoy the rest of the posts.

  39. Hi Deborah. I remember your name from SheWrites. Thank you so much for the follow. Yes, even for my YA novel I had to do a lot of research about bulimics that didn't make it into the book, but it gave me great insight into the kinds of problems they face.


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