Tell us a little about yourself: Greetings, and thank you for having me, Karin. I was always a writer, even as a child. I got serious about it with my second attempt at a full-length novel in 2009 with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month). That was the beginning of what would eventually become my debut novel, Chasing the Lion. I didn’t really choose the genre. I sat down on a lunch break at a little hole in the wall café with a pad and pen. When I left, I had a title, the idea for a young Roman noble betrayed into slavery who would become a gladiator to save the woman he loves, and the name of my hero, Jonathan.
What is your writing day like? I don’t really have a structured writing day. When I’m writing a first draft, those sessions are generally painful and angst-filled. I’m getting better at accepting I can make it pretty once I actually have something on the page. It changed my life when I saw someone had boiled it down like this—Write like no one will see it. Edit like everyone will see it. To set the mood for drafting, I like to flip my hourglass, light a scented candle, and have plenty of ice water handy.
How do you organize your writing (outlines/note cards/post-its)? I wrote Lion before I had a clue about craft and story structure. Well, what I should say is I wrote the early drafts of Lion before I had a clue about craft and story structure, so I was a very seat of the pants writer. Then, with each manuscript since, I’ve evolved to more of an outliner. Just a simple word doc usually, or notes in a spiral. I use lots of index cards and sticky notes and photocopies of things I want to incorporate into the story, and keep those on a cork board by my desk. Lion’s looked like this:
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you?” Caelina, a supporting character in Lion, shocked me when she demanded to be a much larger part of the story than I originally planned. She was meant to be a very minor character, as a means to an end to show the integrity of my hero. But Caelina was having none of that. Instead, she worked herself between the hero and his best friend as a beautiful woman in love with a man she can’t have and an entire story of her own.
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters? I absolutely do. When I finished Lion, I knew I wanted to continue as a series. I loved Jonathan too much to stop writing him, so I drafted the new main character and two new minor characters I wanted to bring into the series next. On unrelated projects, I have a fantastic good and evil twin brother set in a Western that I want to write someday. I also want to get back to one contemporary romance I have in storage with a young adult hero named Russell. Mostly I let great characters percolate in my head long before I write them. Having at least one or two on the horizon keeps the fear of running out of ideas from setting in.
What does your work space/office look like? A college boy’s dorm room. Seriously. It’s the reason I sometimes have to go to the park or the coffee shop to write, especially my first draft. Clutter kills my creative side, but stimulates my editing side.
What is your go-to snack when writing? Ruffles potato chips and Kraft Ranch dip. Pair that with an icy-cold Mug root beer, and I am in Heaven.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why? Redeeming Love. It changed my life and gave me hope at a time I needed both of those things to happen. I am the Saturday librarian at my local homeless shelter’s transitional living center, and I am constantly recommending that book to the ladies there. If you’re going to read one book, read that one.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why? DiAnn Mills’ Dance of Character and Plot – especially for beginners just learning what craft even is. I read it as a seasoned author and still found it the most encapsulating, straight forward, cliff notes to the craft that I’ve ever encountered. I highly recommend it.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? For authors, enjoy the journey. Every step of being a pre-published author as you are honing your craft and learning the business side is a yellow brick in the road to your dream. There will never be anything as surreal as typing “The End” for the first time, not even when you sell your first book or see that “buy it now” tab on Amazon. For readers, thank you. You are why authors write. The process is painful, tiring, exhausting, and emotionally trying, but ultimately rewarding. When you connect with our work and share that with us, it reinforces that it was worth it and adds to our strength and desire to do it all over again, book after book.
Author, avid reader, and shameless hero addict, Nancy Kimball loves books, Ancient Rome and all things gladiator. She makes her home in Houston, Texas and is the former president of her local American Christian Fiction Writers chapter, Writers on the Storm. Her industry accolades include a two-time ACFW Genesis finalist (Chasing the Lion – 2012 / Unseen Love – 2013), and a Romance Writers of America Lonestar finalist in the Inspirational Category (Adrift No More – 2013). In 2012, her best friend and critique partner bestowed Nancy with the nickname “Phoenix” after hearing her personal testimony. Nancy loved the name and adopted the Phoenix symbol to embody her life verse, Ezekiel 36:33-36. It later came to represent her brand, Fiction from the Ashes, symbolizing stories of characters that rise from brokenness to victory.