This next author’s caring heart knows no limit and it shines through in her answers to these questions. Nancy is a constant supporter and kind presence in the Debut Collective. I remember her speech during the closing ceremony’s annual open keynote very well. She touched everyone in that room as she shared her fears of rejection, but her commitment to press on and publish her words anyway.
I am honored that Nancy has chosen to make that pledge come true by participating in our anthology series. I have read both of her stories and can tell you she has a gift for channeling the underdogs and vulnerable characters you just cannot help rooting for.
The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.
I am pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, N. L. Byers!
Please share a little about yourself and your background.
I was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Ms. I went to high school in at a small Christian school in northern Mississippi called French Camp. After high school, I return back home and completed my undergraduate degree in English at The University of Southern Mississippi. Fiction writing was my favorite class. My professor told me I would publish but I figured she was just being nice and put the idea in the back of my mind.
I stumbled across a book by Quinn Loftis titled Prince of Wolves (Book 1, Grey Wolves Series). I fell in love with her books and I looked her up on Facebook. Quinn would be the first of many indie authors that not only introduced me to the world of self-publishing but ignited the desire to write my own book. There is one thing I have learned and that is the authors I love Quinn Loftis, Amy Bartol, Jennifer Armentrout, Raine Thomas, Mary Ting, Carol Kunz and many other amazing authors continue to inspire me make writing a book seem so easy.
When you sit down to write your first book if you aren’t looking at a blank document on your computer, if you actually get words down then you find you will face other challenges like self-doubt (Am I could enough, would anybody read what I have to say?), or Do I plot or do I write by the “seat of my pants?” (Pantser is a writer who writes by the seat of their pants), or if you do get words down and you find you aren’t happy with them so you hit the backspace key and delete them. It’s easy to be full of the passion to write a story, but if you get caught up in the cyclic thinking of these questions or whatever pertains to your writing journey you find yourself never getting off the “starting line.”
So when I came across the opportunity to write a short story or two for the Debut Anthologies Collective, I jumped at the chance. I could get my writing “feet” wet by starting small and if I had a crisis of faith my story would be bundled with over 40 other amazing authors so that any possible criticism might not sting that much or at least that was my initial thought. Writing the underdog story was really tough, but when I wrote it I found such an overwhelmingly supportive writing community with the Debut Collective. I found that writing and letting others read it might be scary, but that I wasn’t alone in feeling that way.
I continue to work on the first draft of my own book. I don’t have a title right now, but I can share that it will be in the Fantasy/Paranormal genre. My hope is to publish it later this year or by January of 2017.
Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?
I will be published in the Underdog anthology and the Love Against all odds anthology.
Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.
Underdogs – A shy, intelligent girl is bulllied daily, but risks staying at school even longer for a tutoring job to help support her family.
When Dani’s assigned to tutor the hottest boy on the hockey team, she finds an unlikely ally but fears her bully’s torments will increase.
A school dance provides her with both a challenge and an opportunity, if she can find the courage within.
Love Against All Odds – A sensitive writer steps outside her comfort zone and attends a book event. While there, she has a heated exchange with a book cover model. Will she overcome longheld fears and find love? Or like the fictional characters he portays, is he too good to be true?
Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?
Dani is a character that has lost her mom, and her dad works hard as a mechanic to put food on the table. So she is self-conscious because she doesn’t have the designer clothes are shoes and coupled with the fact that she is extremely smart she finds she doesn’t fit in anywhere. When she becomes a victim of the school bully, she hides because she doesn’t want to be a tattle tell and further ostracize herself from other students. She tutors a boy, with his help finds the courage to use her voice to stand up to the school bully.
I think sometimes when we are in a situation we don’t always see the way clear out of it or we don’t think we have the power to change our circumstances. Dani buries her head in the sand with the attitude, “If I don’t think about it or talk about it, then it doesn’t exist or it will all go away.” She finds the courage to use her voice not only to change her on circumstances, but to be an example for that one student who might feel trapped about their own problems.
There is amazing shirt that was created by Victoria Faye for the Utopia Con that says “Lift as you rise” and I think that is a key theme that I feel shines in this short story. We all have a voice, but sometimes we need a little encouragement to make our voices heard.
What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?
I am still at the beginning of my writing journey. Fantasy/Paranormal genre is a genre I have always loved to read, so it was no surprise to find that I love writing it. I like the idea that the “rules” of the everyday world and transform them into something that is beyond our senses.
Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?
I work full time at The University of Southern Mississippi. so finding writing time isn’t always a daily activity and there are times when I have to make time to write. I would love to write full time someday, but right now I fight to balance my day job with what I love to do and that is writing.
Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?
I have referred to this question in my background because it was Amy Bartol that first introduced the plotter and pantser style during a panel at Utopia con 2015. Hearing the term pantser changed my life. I have struggled with trying to outline but the idea that I would run with an idea left me with the doubt that I wasn’t a legit writer because I didn’t have a set plan. I prefer to run with an idea, but the more I write the more I feel the need to find a balance between plotting and being a pantser.
My goal is to be able to plot just enough to give me a rough idea of the overall structure of the story, but then to allow my imagination loose to run with its idea and see where it takes me. So the answer to this question, at least for me, isn’t easy to answer because I feel like I need to be able to do a bit of both and right now the only thing I feel comfortable with is running with an idea.
What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?
Andre Norton, Half-blood series: Elven born, Elven Bred, anything by Quinn Loftis but the Grey Wolf series will always be my favorite, The Premonition Series by Amy Bartol, and the Lux Series by Jennifer Armentrout.
What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?
Writing is the vehicle that allows our imaginations to communicate with the world around us. N.B
Tell us 5 random facts about you:
I can sing and I used to play violin when I was in junior high school.
I try to work out 6 to 7 hours a week.
I have two masters’ degrees in Instructional Technology and Higher Education Administration
I have a ‘thing’ for blond headed guys.
I’m a dog person/lover
Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?
Music and nature sounds have inspired my writing, but there wasn’t a particular song that inspired my short story. I took inspiration from my days in high school where I was often bullied and it took a dear friend to help me find my voice to stand to the bullies.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?
The advice I would give to inspiring writers is to let go of the pressure of “Hey, I’m writing a book! Oh crap, I’m writing a BOOK!” Many of my writer friends have said “You can’t edit a blank page.” But you might find you have trouble getting the story out when you are putting pressure on yourself.
Write because you need to, because the characters inside demand to be heard. Write because you want to escape the world you’re in so you create another. Write, not because someone will buy your book or give you a great review, write because it is as vital to you as the air you breathe. If people like your book, that’s awesome but the reasons you write are uniquely your own.
Don’t compare your writing skill, experience or lack thereof. Your journey is uniquely your own so you decide where you go.
Robert Frost said it best. It’s not about the writing “road’ or the path you take to write your first book. It’s is fact that the choice that is yours alone so revel in the privilege it is to be able to make that choice.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
I have an author page under my name Nancy Byers where I post about myself and my work. Future plans include developing a street team and increasing my visibility on social networking sites.