Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Blogger: Nancy Wood

This is my first published book! It’s called Due Date. It’s a thriller about a surrogate mother, Shelby McDougall. Shelby is a reluctant, amateur, and very pregnant sleuth. Here’s the book jacket:
Surrogate mother Shelby McDougall just fell for the biggest con of all—a scam that risks her life and the lives of her unborn twins.

Twenty-three year-old Shelby McDougall is facing a mountain of student debt and a memory she’d just as soon forget. A Rolling Stone ad for a surrogate mother offers her a way to erase the loans and right her karmic place in the cosmos. Within a month, she's signed a contract, relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and started fertility treatments.

But intended parents Jackson and Diane Entwistle have their own agenda—one that has nothing to do with diapers and lullabies. With her due date looming, and the clues piling up, Shelby must save herself and her twins. As she uses her wits to survive, Shelby learns the real meaning of the word “family.”

What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on the second book in the Shelby McDougall series. In this book, the story picks up where Due Date left off. The working title is Stalking the Stork.

Why did you decide to write a mystery/thriller?
I’ve been writing for a number of years and have a variety of unpublished novels under my belt, including one that explores the relationship between a birth mother and the adoptive family. I took this manuscript to a workshop, where the leader and participants suggested I turn it into a much more marketable genre: a mystery. At first, the suggestion seemed so ludicrous, I almost laughed out loud: how could I possibly piece together a mystery or thriller that made sense? But by the time I left the conference, I had a 200 word pitch for Due Date that I pretty much stuck to the whole time I was writing it.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
In Due Date, there’s not a lot of my personality or life experiences. I did place the book in Santa Cruz County, where I live, which provides an amazing variety of landscapes to use as settings.

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
It took my five years of stops and starts to write Due Date. I just finished with the first draft of the second book in the series. I am working hard on it, and will get the second draft finished this fall. At this point, I’ll send it out for review to my editor and readers, and will do one more rewrite after that.

What's your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
Every morning, before breakfast, and before other family members get up, I’m at the keyboard. I try to write for an hour first thing, every day. I sometimes sit on the sofa with my laptop, lately I’ve taken to writing in my office. The window looks out on the huge palm tree in our front yard (yes here in Santa Cruz in Central California, there are palms), and I can watch the day begin. On good writing days, I’m reluctant to switch computers (I have two – one for writing, one for work as a technical writer/editor) and start on whatever technical documentation is at hand. On bad writing days, I’m so thankful I can get
to something that’s structured and known and knowable!

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
I like to walk and talk with friends, watch baseball (I root for the Giants, my husband roots for the As!), exercise, bike ride, motorcycle ride, hang out with family and friends. Between work and writing, I spend a lot of time at the computer, so when I get a breather, I like to get outside.

What kind of research do you do?
For Due Date, I did a lot of research on surrogacy, adoption, guns (which I knew nothing about), and medical issues around pregnancy.

Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)
I’m married—my husband and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary. I have two wonderful children, one of whom is a young adult, the other a high school senior. I graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, a long time ago. I grew up on the east coast (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland), and am now proud to call Santa Cruz, California my home.

Do you ever ask your husband for advice?
I do. I ask my husband about plot ideas. He came up with the twist that is the focal point of Stalking the Stork. He had a great idea for Due Date that involved a skeleton and a femur, but I couldn’t figure out how to work it in!

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In terms of writing, my goal in five years is to have the second and third books in the Shelby McDougall series out and in the hands of readers.

Do you have a favorite author?
I have many favorite authors. Laurie King, Tana French, Cornelia Read, Gillian Flynn, Sue Grafton are a few authors I love to read. All of these authors created memorable, compelling protagonists and developed engaging plots. Most importantly, the writing sparkles. By reading these authors, I learned that the thriller or mystery genre can go wherever the author wants to take it.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Keep writing! Just keep plugging away – your writing will improve, your words and sentences will flow. And keep reading in your favorite genre. I truly believe this helps your writing.

How do we find out about you and your books?
Check out the following links:
Twitter: @NancyWoodAuthor Facebook:

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