Nancy Quinn is my guest author this week who has an eclectic and interesting background. She is not only an author, but also an internationally known wildlife artist. She has always had a love of animals and nature and has worked as a conservation law enforcement officer and volunteers at a wildlife rehabilitation center where she brings birds and reptiles into schools to educate children of all ages.
I found the support and interest of people who wanted to hear about our rather atypical life, inspiring. Friends and family seemed to enjoy my perspective on our unusual adventures and often suggested I write a book. I didn’t think I could write; I already had a career as a wildlife artist, but the idea of becoming an author appealed to me. Since all of my dreams and goals have been well out of my comfort zone, the more I thought about it, the more willing I was to step out of it again and give it my best effort.
I think most every book I have ever read has influenced me on some level, either positively or negatively. My love of reading and my favorite authors did inspire me to want to someday be included among them. I adore the James Herriot series and Nancy Drew mysteries, which I still read with my daughters. Being from a law enforcement and investigation background, I enjoy solving a good mystery, and am always on the lookout for a new one.
My editor will tell you it is the mechanics of punctuation! I tend to focus on the clarity and structure of my ideas when I am writing. Being and artist, I want to paint a picture with words, so I am intent on creating a visual image in my initial drafts. After I have finished making what I have seen in my mind flow onto the keyboard, I have to go back and edit the words and punctuation very carefully. Otherwise, the reader may become lost trying to follow my train of thought.
I still like to sit in my favorite chair by the window and use a spiral notebook to make an outline and hand written notes to refer to when writing my manuscripts. I know it isn’t as efficient as using the computer, but since I sit in front of a monitor all day, I look forward to any chance to gather my thoughts and write with a gel pen while gazing upon the mountain peaks from my picture window.
I would have to say the amount of time it takes for the book to reach production. Once the book is written, it requires months to properly edit and reedit it, and to find photos or art to compliment the manuscript. Then one must choose a cover design, look at formatting and presentation, and a host of other decisions that are needed before it goes to print and is available on the book store shelves. And then, there is marketing…
It requires a subject that has general appeal, good continuity, and engaging details that bring the reader along and make them feel part of the experience in the story. I believe these qualities apply to both fiction and non-fiction as well.
My ideas come from our true life experiences, so I sift through our life and decide which ones would most entertain and inspire readers.
Go West, Young Woman! is the true story of the first five years of my family’s modern day pioneer adventure. Honestly, have you ever found a cougar on your swing set or a moose in your driveway? We were a military family. When my husband retired, we left Washington, D.C., to live what we thought would be a “calmer” existence in rural Montana. We were surprised at just how unprepared we were for the challenges ahead, both comical and adventurous. The humor of our early encounters with cattle and local customs only masked more ominous confrontations we would share with predators and the natural elements. I like to think we discovered the true meaning of the “code of the West,” a concept we believe has not entirely vanished from the American way of life. I am currently writing the sequel, which will cover approximately the next five years of our story.
I hope they remember it was fun and uplifting; that my book is about hope and perseverance, with the idea that living a personal dream is achievable, whatever it may be.
As we hurried about, checking the lashings one last time before we departed, I scanned the scene. It was a bright and beautiful spring day, and the sun glinting off of the metal body contrasted sharply with the shimmering tarp. Colorful as it was, I tried to imagine it was not unlike the prairie schooners of the pioneer stories I loved reading in my childhood. The idea that I too was moving west was like a dream finally come true. But it had started as a nightmare...
My thanks to Ms. Quinn for sharing about herself as an author and her journey in publishing her first book. Please leave a comment or ask a question. I know she would love to hear from you.