Interview with Nancy Fornataro

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I am originally from the East Coast. My dad always wanted to be a writer, and he was what I would call a "word" man!! He had a giant dictionary, on a pedestal, and every time he heard or saw a word he didn't know, he'd consult the dictionary. Up until his death :(he had a long, really terrible time with emphysema) he was mentally sharp. He wrote children's fiction, but never was able to publish. How I wish I could show him what I've done. Even my mother was not able to see my books before she died.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is Organize Your Clothes Closet, a non-fiction, really fun book I wrote this year. I had a blast, reorganizing and straightening and testing products for my closet.

However, after I started my second non-fiction book, the urge to write another romance struck!! I'm six chapters into yet another contemporary romance, which has been in process for over a year, with tons of research. I'm hoping to publish it next month.
Update: It is published. Romance for Angel - The Biker. A true biker story about 2002 Laughlin River Run, where two rival biker gangs fought, with devastating results. Actually, I worked at the casino where the rumble took place, and the morning after, couldn't get to work either way, through AVI or Bullhead. So lots of info in this book is what really happened back then, told to me via my co-workers the day after. And, actually, I ran into a bit of trouble during the writing and researching of this book, so try a chapter and see what you think!!
When did you first start writing?
I started in 1984 with a historical novel which is now almost totally lost (conversion from floppy discs). I'd read so many historical romances that I wrote one that, basically, I'd like to read!! In 1994, I wrote Nicky's Fire. I'd get up at 4 a.m., before the family, and write for two hours. Then, when I got home from work, I'd transcribe onto a word processor. I had a wonderful agent back then, but the big publishing houses said motorcycle books/romances 'didn't sell well.' Wow, how things do change...enter Kristen Ashley.
At any rate, I wrote three children's books, YA type, and several more romances that year. I became discouraged not being able to sell my books, so I quit writing for 8 years. I took it back up in 2002, and wrote Lacene Lords. Unfortunately, I lost one chapter along the way for Lacene Lords, and finished it up in 2012.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I cannot speak highly enough about Smashwords and their wonderful staff. By accident, I happened upon the Smashwords website, and published Nicky's Fire. While I was writing another one, and publishing other books, and while I was not looking, Nicky's had 22,000 downloads!! I didn't find that out until this year. After Nicky's, I wrote and published Romance in Vegas - Showgirl, Romance in Dallas - Tycoon, Romance in Hollywood - The Director, Romance for Luke, Romance for Matthew, Romance for Kinkade, From Above and all the Whirlwind Passing series, plus my YA books. I had a busy, busy year in 2012, and I credit Smashwords staff for keeping my head above water. Luckily, now, I don't have to bug them as much. At all times, they were professional, courteous and fast to correct any pricing or other problems I had from time to time.
With one exception, Romance for Kinkade, I made all my own covers. And, believe me, after typing in all those books, the covers were fun, fun, fun!!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
As I've said, Smashwords is WONDERFUL! I found, and use, multiple short cuts to publishing through them. And I've realized that the reason The Meatgrinder is a little picky is because of all the formats it changes when you publish your book, Mobi, Kindle, and all the rest of them come out wonderfully if you follow the tips from Mark Coker's books (and, best of all, they're free). I'm very satisfied with their reporting methods as well. I've never had a problem in my Smashwords books that couldn't be solved. And, as well, problems were fewer and far between the more I worked with Smashwords.I would HIGHLY recommend them!!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I write a fiction book, I always have a bit of an idea where I'm going, a very loose plot. As I write, characters not only appear, but evolve along with the plot line. They say and do things I'm not even expecting!!
A friend asked me one time, "Well, where do your books come from? How do you think of the plots?" And I can safely say, I don't know!! They just come to me.
For instance, in Romance in Dallas - Tycoon, I didn't know the owner of the physical therapy business would be black until I started writing. It worked out perfectly as a romantic partner (side plot) of the hero's best friend.
The complete joy comes when I publish my book. With the cover applied and the manuscript loaded, I just sit back and grin my fool head off!!
What do your fans mean to you?
They are everything!! And I've read every review, processed the info, and in the case of Romance in Vegas - Showgirl, I re-wrote the whole ending on the advice of a reader. Why? Because she was right in her review.

I love the fact that my books are selling all over the world, even in New Zealand, Britain, Australia, Canada, India, France, etc, and I shout out to them on Twitter all the time. I'm thrilled that they're reading my books.

Nicky's Fire was on the bestseller and what's hot category at Apple Store for 9 months. Romance for Matthew is still on the Religious Romance bestseller list, and I couldn't have done this without my readers. Thank you so much!!
What are you working on next?
A very hot romance, probably will fall under Erotica category. Can't say too much, just the hero is a hottie and I'm trying to figure out what type of tattoo he'll have. I've researched this one for months now, in depth, and I feel like my readers deserve that. A very unvarnished look at the biker lifestyle.
Update: Romance for Angel - The Biker
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My closet. I'm serious now. It's cleaned out, everything pressed and color coordinated!! It's the very first thing I see before I get out of bed. This isn't a plug for my book either. Just stating a fact. My desk also beckons me, with a very organized top part, along with my laptop just charged and waiting for me to type the next scene or chapter. Yousa, ain't life grand??
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, researching, walking my dog, and drinking coffee. I'm not much of a TV watcher.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Some are from Goodreads, which is one of the best sites around. Maryse's website is also wonderful. And sometimes I'll see a book on Apple or the other websites which has an interesting title or cover.
I think the cover is critical on a book, and if I had to do it over, I'd spend a bit more time on covers before I publish a book.
That being said, I have had tons of fun making my own covers.
Nicky's Fire had three different covers, as did Showgirl and Romance in Hollywood.
Death Kiss has significance as the type on the cover reminded me of the end, where Cap runs into the newspaper office, yelling, "Stop the press!"
With Lacene Lords, one of my free books, I originally had a skull on the front, but then found the perfect picture of my blonde heroine while looking for a different cover entirely.
And, according to reader preference, as there were several comments on my Romance for Angel cover, I changed from the picture of an actual biker (they didn't like it...) to another type. However, the biker is included at the very end, I just had to have him in there!!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, the romance in the 1980s. One of these days I'll resurrect it!!
What is your writing process?
I can write anytime, day or night, and sometimes until two o'clock in the morning. I have a book where I write all the characters and their details, along with plot ideas. Sometimes I'll save a newspaper clipping and write based on that (but fiction).
In my most recent romance, I'm researching first. But sometimes I research while I'm writing.

It helps to have silence, but sometimes I put on earphones and listen to my favorite songs.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
This would be Gone With the Wind. I would read it, then go back from the beginning and read it again. Something about that book fascinates me. I always want to go back to when Scarlett is young and happy.

I also used to read books about Marilyn Monroe, as I found her fascinating, and Edith Head (a dress designer in Hollywood). Other than that, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I was a true face-in-book type, and paid lots of library fines back then.
How do you approach cover design?
I find a picture first, anywhere I can find it. I use Gimp and add lettering, and save in stages in case I want to make changes. As I've said, covers are critical, and can impact potential readers.
The new romance cover (due out around November 2013) I'm making has special meaning for me, as a biker event took place where I worked. I took the picture before it all happened, with bikes parked and lined up all in a row at the front door. I've researched this book extensively, and the cover has to be right there!! Stay tuned...
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Gone With the Wind - I loved Scarlett's drive to succeed, along with Rhett's determination to really have her.

The Firm - A true action story, I loved the different characters in this one, along with the unusual plot.

Motorcycle Man - An awesome hero.

Any of Alexandra Stoddard's books because she makes life so beautiful!

Any of Luke Romyn's books, as he takes me away from it all and they're action-packed.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly romances, but some self-help also.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle HD, although they've recently changed the screen and I'm trying to get used to it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm really bad about promoting my own books. Usually, I Twitter messages, and try to build a base of readers only, preferably romance readers. And I try not to Twitter too often, as that can be annoying.
Describe your desk
Spotless. Neat. Computer right in the middle. Pretty storage boxes, along with a good light. An organizer on my left, keeping track of un-author-like dates and times. I recently gave the heave-ho to scads of hard copies of books I'd written (realized they were all on Smashwords, so why keep them!!).
What makes you want to write a book or story?
I am ALWAYS challenging myself. Can I write a non-fiction book? Can I write about a blind hero? Can I write a Cinderella story? Can I write a book for teens? Can I write a paranormal mystery? Can I write a detective story? Can I write erotic story lines without sounding like a sex textbook? Are my characters likeable? Are the contemporary women strong, yet sexy? Can I write about historical time periods accurately?

In Lacene Lords, I wrote about being a Catholic and I've never stepped foot in a Catholic church and never been to a Catholic service. In Romance for Kinkade and Luke, I had to research the time periods extensively. In Romance for Matthew, it was very special creating a blind hero and 'seeing' the world through his (lack of) eyes. In the Whirlwind Passing series Rebecca is a brilliant detective but she deals with borderline depression, along with Dinah in Romance for Kinkade. Nicky's Fire was difficult in that I had no clue what a biker club was like, so I researched that. Pyro dealt with a fire-setter, and the background I had to create for him was very hard, truly hideous.
I suppose it all boils down to research, weaving time periods and types of people together so it's natural and flows properly. But, without that first question in my mind, I wouldn't get anywhere!!
What has been your best moment in your writing career?
That's a tough one!! Publishing my novels on SW was great. But I think this tiny moment in time: I arrived back from lunch, to my accounting job in the 1990's, and my friend/co-worker gave me a message: 'Jean F. from Jay Garon's office called and wants to see your Death Kiss manuscript.' My heart almost stopped!! When I explained to my friend that this was John Grisham's agent, she said "Nancy, I hope you make it BIG!!" I think it was my friend's comment I remember most of all. What a lift. I often take out that memory when my writing gets tough.
Published 2014-12-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.