What a treat. Today I’m introducing you to Nancy Sartor, a Nashville born writer with twenty years experience. We met in August at the Killer Nashville Conference where we both served on a debut novel panel. She is a charter member and current president of Word Spinners Ink, a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She is an enthusiastic graduate of Donald Maass's Breakout Novel Intensive Workshop, Don Maass's workshop on micro tension and the Writer's Police Academy. She is a member of the prestigious Quill and Dagger writing group in Nashville. Because her favorite books always do, Nancy believes a novel should enlarge understanding, raise awareness, plead for the less fortunate, define a better way of life, and provide a personal story so poignant it brings tears to every eye or in some way contributes something of substance to the reader.
Why did you choose to have your character work at a funeral home as a face reconstruction artist?
I rose (as I do each night) for a bathroom trip and was about halfway across the bedroom when a voice whispered, “My name is Neva and I fix the faces of the dead.” I stopped right there and whispered (so as not to wake the husband), “Oh, really? And what else do you do?”
Human trafficking is a hot topic right now. Why did you choose to tie this into your story?
Trafficking was just becoming a hot topic when I began the novel. I wasn’t interested in writing a murder mystery and drugs had pretty much been done to death. My aim wasn’t to write a book about trafficking as much as it was to write a book about the abuse of women.
Tell the readers how it is that you turned to writing? Is it something that you've always done?
I've always written. My mother, whom I adored, was an avid reader and a writer. My first novel snagged an agent on my first submission. He wasn't a good one, but with that tiny bit of encouragement, I soldiered on. Until the advent of the Internet, I had no real idea how to go about writing. I stumbled across a nationwide network called GENIE, which was the General Electric network for its employees. At six p.m. eastern time every day, GE turned that network over to the general public. It was a bulletin board, text only, primitive by today’s standards, but at the time, it was magical and golden. Again, as luck would have it, I found a small group of dedicated writers in various stages of development. Together, we formed WORD SPINNERS, INK (Inkies), hailed today as the first Internet writers group. Inkies is pretty much defunct, but at the time we formed it, we spoke with agents and editors. The more advanced members of Inkies taught me enough about writing so I thought (foolish girl that I was) I knew it all.
I love hearing about the things that writers do to create. What makes things happen for you?
Editing. Strange as it may sound, when I edit someone else’s work, my Muse springs to life and begins to sing at the top of her lungs. Doesn’t happen when I edit my own work, more’s the pity.
The publishing world is a tough nut to crack. What advice would you give writers trying to break into traditional publishing today?
I would say a couple of things. First, of course, don’t give up. But with that advice comes this: your book may not be ready for publication. Agents/editors know what will sell and while every novel is not right for every agent or editor, if you’re receiving the same comments from everyone to whom you submit, fix what’s wrong before you send it out again. We get a lot of advice about being true to ourselves and not making a big deal out of rejections. I agree with that advice. But, if the market is consistently telling you why your book can’t be published, change it.
My second piece of advice may fly in the face of conventional wisdom as well. Don’t worry about genre. Don’t decide your novel is a suspense or a romance or a thriller. Send it out to agents who handle all genres and let the agent pick one. Agents will disagree with me, but I didn’t write a romantic suspense. I wrote suspense, or so I thought. My editor bought it as a romantic suspense.
Nancy, thank you for sharing your story with us. How can my readers contact you or buy your book?
You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nancysartorauthor BONES will be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. It debuts November 18, 2014. I don’t have the URLs yet, but will be posting and tweeting those as soon as I have them.
Give us a hint of what we can expect when we read your book.
Neva Oakley is a funeral facial restorationist with a legendary skill at making the dead look alive. But for all her talent, she can never bring back Gray Ledbetter, her first love, who took his own life ten years ago.
Davis Pratt, too, is consumed. Long ago his younger brother disappeared, and Davis won’t give up hope. Perhaps that’s why he and Neva are such a good couple. Or perhaps that’s why they can’t move forward. Then the search leads them to the Oakley cemetery and a murder tied to a human trafficking ring. Suddenly, impossible crimes threaten both family and friends, crimes that cannot be ignored. Not even the Nashville PD can keep Neva safe, but if she and Davis succeed, together they just might solve all their mysteries and free each other to embrace their future.