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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Author Interview: Nan D. Arnold

The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Nan D. Arnold with us today. Nan is the author of Hitting the High Notes and its sequel Pesto Packing Mama, as well as the mystery Merry Acres Widows Waltz, which was released in March of this year. She also has a new book scheduled for release, Garnet Gale Gets Her Man.

Her favorite is her first book, Hitting the High Notes, with Merry Acres Widows Waltz being a close second.

I asked her to tell us a bit about her latest release, Merry Acres Widows Waltz.

They say retirement kills. And it looks that way in MERRY ACRES, a planned community in South Florida for the over-fifty-five crowd. Husbands are dropping fast. Georgiana Duncan wonders who will next wear the black veil of widowhood. Should she be worried....or happy about such dire prospects? Perhaps, like Georgiana, other wives in Merry Acres have secrets, too. Skeletons rattling around personal closets that so mar the gloss of happily-ever-after that only murder can make amends.
I also asked her to tell us a little bit about her upcoming release.

"Think a girl, a guy, and a ghost, circa 1830s New England," she told me.

Nan writes both romance/women's fiction ("think chick lit for the over-40 crowd," she said) and mysteries, and no matter the genre, the most important elements of good writing are being able to create a powerful question in the reader's mind.

Nan comes up with her titles first, because she believes in starting at the very beginning. Then an idea for a plot forms, and finally characters to run with the plot line. She will dream up a situation she'd enjoy getting into (or out of), then she visualizes characters to act out the resolution.

"After a few obstacles, naturally," she elaborated.

She had one mystery, however, that gave her fits. It was the first books she'd attempted without a synopsis, trying the totally organic method. She has written herself into corners and tried everything: channeling her inner Sherlock, zen mantras, walking around the dining room table fifty times. Ask her in the chat tomorrow what the outcome of these ploys were.

One of the secondary characters from Hitting the High Notes, Brenda Baxter, is on the back burner for a story of her own. Brenda is Maggie's best friend and is based on three women Nan knew. The title Nan is thinking about for that is The Dahli Mamas Ride Again and will feature Brenda and her biker babes.

"What did you want to be when you grew up?" I wondered.

"I wanted to be a lion tamer. Didn’t happen. Darn. No circus or Vegas connections, truthfully, and the courage factor was a minus. But, see, I was writing fiction in my head even as a tweener."

She said it was a good thing she didn't have her heart set on a modeling career, because she hates how she looks in pictures, with her driver's license photo being the worse.

"Even pro photogs have their work cut out when they work for me, and the older I get, the harder for them it is," she said. "Isn’t that odd?"

The strangest thing Nan has ever eaten was on a dare—a chocolate covered ant. She's never eaten a crayon, however, but told me, "It's a thought. Any fiber in wax?"

Her favorite animal is a cat and she would love to come back as one—especially if she can be a house cat in a house like hers where she would be pampered and worshiped 24/7.

"Have you ever cried during a movie?" I asked.

"Oh, yes. Love Story, anyone? Back in the day, we wore false eyelashes to add glam. Not a good move for that movie, believe me."

When discussing whether she preferred Pepsi or Coke, she responded, "Oh, please, honey. I'm a southern girl. Coke all the way."

"If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?"

"Here’s one of those toughies," she said. "Do you wish for something for the world at large or for yourself? Okay, truthfully? I’d like a contract with St Martins, uh, while we’re waving the magic wand around, make that with six figure advance attached….and Jen Enderlin as editor."

Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give to a new writer just starting out?"

"Read, read, read. Peruse craft books. Don’t quit your day job; join every community group you can for networking purposes; ditto writer’s groups….and say goodbye to a neat orderly desk (and/or life)."
You can keep up with Nan on her website,

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