Author Interview with Nancy Christie

How long have you been writing?

I started in second grade, and except for a few “life intermissions,” I haven’t stopped writing since then!

In terms of being a professional writer, I started my career writing for newspapers and magazines in the mid-eighties, branched into corporate work in the nineties and published by first book, THE GIFTS OF CHANGE (Atria/Beyond Words) in 2004. That book was followed by two short fiction e-books—ANNABELLE and ALICE IN WONDERLAND—and TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER AND OTHER STORIES (Pixel Hall Press) in 2014. RUT-BUSTING BOOK FOR WRITERS (Mill City Press), which just came out, is my third print book.

I’ve also had essays and short stories published in print magazines and online.

What is your favorite genre to write?

Fiction, especially short stories. For some reason, that is my go-to genre. But I have written a few novels—all of which are unpublished so far—and working on developing my ability in that area.

Which genre have you never tried before, but would like to try out?

I’ve done fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry, so I don’t think there is too much left in terms of broad categories. I don’t think I have the skillset for detective stories and don’t have the right attitude for romance novels—somehow I think dark humor and/or satire would surface!

Please tell us about your book.

That would be RUT-BUSTING BOOK FOR WRITERS—my newest baby! When my first book, THE GIFTS OF CHANGE, came out, I started doing “Rut-Busting” workshops, and then developed a series just for writers: “Rut-Busting” Workshop for Writers. Every time I did one, people would ask if I had a book that went along with the workshop but all I offered were handouts. So this spring, I decided to pull all my notes together, reached out to more than 50 writers, authors and other industry professionals for their input, and voila! RUT-BUSTING BOOK FOR WRITERS was born!

RUT-BUSTING BOOK FOR WRITERS offers strategies to get writers unstuck, along with inspiring words and proactive suggestions from other writers who have “been there and done that” and are now willing to share their knowledge and experience. By following the tips in this book, writers will spend less time trapped in their particular writing rut and more time following their creative passion!

What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Just finding the time! I write for a living—primarily for ad agencies—and to keep a roof over my head and the cats fed, I have to devote a fair amount of time to also soliciting new work. Once I decided to produce this book, I would go into my office around 5 AM and work for two hours each day plus hours on weekends, because I wanted to turn it in to the publisher before July 15.

I made it, too—I am a very focused, deadline-oriented person!

What is your writing routine?

I devote at least 1 hour every morning to my own writing—fiction, primarily. Then, I do some marketing, and blog and social media postings. Then, I work out, get cleaned up, grab some yogurt, and head into my office to start my official work day by 9 AM.

Weekends, I spend hours in the office, in between yardwork.

So basically, I work all the time!

Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

Coffee helps, but really I just need quiet when I am creating: no TV, no music. But if I’m editing, then I can have something on in the background.

How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

Technically, just a few months. I started in April and got it done with edits by the first week of July. But a lot of it came from the workshops I have done and the author interviews I have conducted on my blogs, plus the additional contributions from other writers.

It would have taken a lot longer if I didn’t have so much background material to draw from.

Can you tell us about your editing process?

It’s long and ugly and makes me feel like some evil spirit was at work on the keyboard! I write, then edit, then print out and read aloud.

Then I edit and revise, then send it to my editor Ann Henry so she can tell me all the places where I don’t have commas but should have, and have commas where I shouldn’t, along with other obvious mistakes that I missed! (You can never perfectly edit your own work because you see what isn’t there and don’t see what is!)

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t focus on getting the book out by a certain date. Focus on writing the best possible book you can, and allowing enough time for all the necessary revisions.

Why should everyone read your book?

If you’re a professional writer, it will give you practical suggestions for handling the business side of writing, from learning to negotiate fees to dealing with rejections. From a creative standpoint, it will encourage you to set aside time for writing, regardless of its income potential, as well as overcome those obstacles, aka writing blocks, that can deter you from writing.

And many of the tips and suggestions apply equally to those in other creative fields. Giving yourself permission to devote time and energy to your art, learning to set a value on your work and being able to hear “Thanks, but no thanks” and still keep moving forward are skills any creative person needs to have.

If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson.

Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

In my “upcoming projects” basket is a second short story collection, edits to a novel and another novel that right now is just a collection of notes.


Book Excerpt

The Procrastination Predicament


I do a lot of book events and writing workshops, and at each one, without fail, someone will come up to me and say, “I’ve got a great idea for a book and I’m going to write it someday as soon as I have the time.”

I so want to tell them that if they are waiting for the Time Fairy to grant them several months, or possibly even years, to produce a manuscript, they’d better settle in for a good long wait. There’s no Time Fairy, and there’s no guarantee of an open space for writing. All you have—all any person has—is this moment right now.

“But I don’t have time,” you protest. “There’s work and family and…” and here it comes, the list of reasons why you can’t do what you say you want to do. Too often, however, what you believe is a lack of time is really a lack of prioritizing. Think about it. If something is really important to you, you find time for it. You shoehorn it in among all the other items on your To-Do list and, one way or the other, you get it done.

So why not the writing? Why have you fallen victim to the Power of Procrastination, that insidious little voice that tells you “There’s no rush! You have plenty of time!” instead of moving forward on that project you claim is so near and dear to your heart? What is holding you back?

Very often it is one of the following excuses.

Excuse #1: You’re afraid of failing.

Whether this is your first foray into writing or you’ve completed other pieces but are now trying something new, fear can be a major procrastination-producer. Writing is like being on a tightrope. You can see the end, but between that and the first step stretches a very long, very skinny rope. And that rope doesn’t even have the decency to remain still but sways with the winds of change: how you feel, what else is going on in your life, what other people say about your idea.

So you stand there, think about giving it a go, but never really move—too afraid of “falling” (i.e., failing) to take the first step.

What you need to remember is that, when it comes to writing, the only real failure is in not writing. All writers—famous or insignificant, published or not—have had work that didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. But they didn’t allow that to stop them from going back to the desk and trying again.

Excuse #2: You feel guilty taking time for writing.

Ah, guilt… like Lon Chaney, it’s an emotion with a thousand faces: responsibility, self-sacrifice, duty—you name it and guilt is probably behind it. Of course you need to fulfill your other obligations, but would spending 30 minutes a day or a few hours a week harm the other people in your life? And if you were able to take the time and work on your dream, wouldn’t it make you feel better about yourself and your circumstances? And if you felt better, wouldn’t you be a nicer person to be around?

There is no reason to feel guilty about using the talents you were given and finding new ways to express your thoughts and emotions. The only guilt that should surface is the one that comes when you realize you chose to waste that creative gift.

Excuse # 3: It’s so big an undertaking that you don’t know where to start—so you don’t.

You may have a great idea—writing a research-heavy biography of a little-known missionary or starting a freelance writing business—but then you are so overwhelmed by the ramifications of the project you’re considering that you can’t even start it!

It’s not that you don’t want to do it—there may be moments when you are really excited about the prospect. But you just can’t take those first, all-important steps. To use a trip analogy, your luggage is packed and the gas tank is filled, but you resist starting the engine and heading down the road because you don’t know if you have what it takes to complete the journey.

So instead, you talk about what you’re going to do for weeks or months (or could it even be years?), but talking is all you have to show for it. You’re excited by the idea of it but overwhelmed as well. It’s just so darned big! Whatever it is, there is something about the project that makes it seem more than you can handle, and so you look for ways to avoid doing it and settle for talking about doing. And the only way to get out of that talking-not-doing rut is to take the leap.

Just pick one small task and start working on it. Tell yourself that you’ll spend a half hour or so taking a little writing “journey”: draft some dialogue or outline the top-line plot points, research markets for your article or clients for your copywriting service. You aren’t trying to do everything—the book, the article, the business—all at once. You’re just completing one leg of your trek.

The next time, you “drive” a little farther toward your destination. Eventually, as you get deeper into the project, you spend longer periods of time and work on larger chunks until one day you realize your goal is in sight.



Book page:

Twitter:  (@NChristie_OH)



Make A Change blog:

The Writer’s Place blog:

One on One blog:

Focus on Fiction blog:


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