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Monday, January 09, 2017


Readers, today please welcome Nan O’Berry. Nan and I met while working with Debra Holland on her Montana Sky Series for Kindle World.

Nan O'Berry, Author

Please tell us about growing up. Siblings? Locale?

Thanks for having me, Caroline. I can tell you that growing up as an only child along the Elizabeth River, in Virginia Beach that I loved books. A lot of my books were, of course, about horses.  I think I’ve been in love with them ever since I was born. Somewhere in my mother’s photos there is a snapshot of me on a pony with a huge French bonnet.

I grew up in a small neighborhood, where everyone knew everyone. Our parents would sit on the porch and watch us move from yard to yard in play. It was a great place to live. I have so many fond memories of it. But, in 1968, we moved west. Not far, but to a tiny town in western Tidewater. Why? Well, we bought the second horse. My dad figured, the neighbors didn’t mind the first one, but the second one in an acre lot would be hedging our bets. So, we packed up and on January 1st of 1968 we moved to a five acre site complete with a two stall barn.

I always wanted a horse, but that’s because I didn’t realize how much care they required. When our daughters got horses, I learned. ☺Were you the shy kid or the tomboy? Married, single? Children? Share anything that lets readers get to know the real you.

I think for the most part I was more of a tomboy than my mother would have liked. I climbed trees, played ball, but at 5 p.m. I had to come in bathe and put on a dress for my dad’s arrival. When we moved to the farm, I did the grass cutting, the hauling of the manure, painting, etc. But I was still in charge of making sure my room was cleaned.

I tried to make sure my children had that same understanding as they grew up. I have three children, a daughter and two sons. We’ve raised dogs and cats. My youngest boy was in FFA and we have bottle fed cows. Right now, our small farm houses 2 horses, some 30 chickens, 8 ducks, 4 dogs, 2 cats and one very spoiled bovine named Esmeralda.

Some days, I love sitting out in the pasture just watching the horses and cows in the field. For me, that’s relaxing.

Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

On those rare days when I’m not writing, I like to curl up with my favourite authors. Marin Thomas, Debbie Macomber, Hope Ramsey, Lori Wilde, for contemporary company.

 When I’m in a historical mood, I journey over to Paty Jager, Debra Holland’s Montana Sky series to read and dream.

I’m not much on horror, but I do enjoy a good cozy mystery from time to time. I read Nancy Naigle and Grace Greene. Love those small town settings.

When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
For me as a writer, it’s hard not to be engaged in something. But my grandchildren keep me entertained. I enjoy knitting, crocheting, and quilting when I get the chance. Sometimes it’s best to sit and talk to good friends over a cold glass of sweet tea.

Getting together with friends always energizes me. How long have you been writing?

I really can’t remember not writing. I loved Nancy Drew and the Black Stallion series growing up. So I’d play at writing and make up silly stories. Then in high school, it really started getting serious. I would write stories for my friends to read and we’d giggle and think of outlandish plots for the characters to be confronted with. Then in 2000, a friend of mine suggested that I really strive to be published. With her urging, I began to pursue this side of the arts.

I really do enjoy creating characters. I am as excited as the reader to see what will happen and were these ideas will go.

Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

I can say I write anywhere. I take a notebook with me wherever I go. But when I transcribe my work, I’m usually sitting at my kitchen table or at my desk in the den. I had a PC but I wore the poor thing out. I’m saving now for a new one. I am using a lap top at the moment.

But all of my stories are handwritten in notebooks. I pack those notebooks away in boxes labelled year and genre.

Are you a plotter or a panzer?

I’m a hybrid. I have to begin by writing the back flap, what I want the reader to know. Then I begin to think in terms of length, what will happen where. How to weave in my clues and where to put those important black moments. As we all know, true love doesn’t run smoothly. I have to think in terms of what might keep them apart and how they would go around it to find their happy-ever-after.

Do you do your research before you begin a new project, or as you go along?

Yes, I do research. I think any writer worth their salt feels they have to know something about the subject they are writing on. I will let the readers know that I write under a pen name as well as my own. Tessa Berkley has a few contemporary and historical books out but they are a bit more sensual.

Right now, Tessa is working on a romantic, mystery, historical based on the Texas Rangers. I have two notebooks full of information that will be weaved into 4 novels for The Wild Rose Press.

For Nan, I’m working on two historicals that involve the pony express as well as some contemporary romances. So it’s a very busy day and often requires more than one hat.

You sound incredibly busy. Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

Writing is a verb. So, yes, I do write daily. I set goals for myself at the end of every year. I spend a week with my mentor and over the phone and through emails, we discuss what we want to accomplish for the year. She keeps my nose to the grindstone. She taught me how to look at the length of a novel and divide it by the number of days I want to spend working on it. Say I have a 45 thousand words story. I want that done in two months. I’d basically eyeball it and set my goal at 1000 words per day. That gives me some wiggle room for “interruptions” work to pay the bills job and helping the family. I also must remember that I want to put the work or story away for a few days before looking over it and sending it to an editor.

My pet peeve and I am guilty of it from time to time, is taking one more than I can chew. Sometimes I have to push right up until deadline in order to finish. That means, sigh, I don’t get the deep edits I so love.

I believe we’re all guilty of that, don’t you? Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.

I’m not sure what will surprise readers. I’m an old home body. I do love coming home. When I’m home, I’m in charge. I can work as long and as hard as I want too.  Perhaps, my surprise might be that I have been married for 42 years. Yep, got married at 19. We haven’t decided who gets the medal yet so, it’s a work in progress.

What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

To my readers, I hope to bring you a romance that makes you sigh. To give you a story that allows you to laugh and connect to the hero and heroine. I want you to feel as if you were part of the story urging them on to find true love.

Perfect Answer, Nan. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

To those who are unpublished. Never ever stop writing. No story is complete until the hero and heroine have had their final say. Don’t let anyone tell you that idea is dumb.  Read. Write. Question yourself. Learn in a community that supports your talent. But never, never ever, give up.

Great advice! Tell us about your latest release.

In December, I released a short novella for Debra Holland’s Montana Skies Series called ANGEL IN HIS POCKET.

A holiday miracle is needed to save the Angel in His Pocket.

Samuel McClure is content to work on the Circle K. When his boss, Preston Kincaid, sends him to pick up an Appaloosa mare and colt as a holiday surprise for his wife, he doesn’t expect to find the woman of his dreams riding the train to Cheyenne. While he reminds himself they are only thrown together because of the journey, his common sense cannot over rule the desire of his heart.

Angelica Jones has a hard task at hand. She knows how unpredictable life can be. Her sister passed away in childbirth taking the baby with her. Now, her brother-in-law has entrusted her to take her niece, Emma Donaldson to live with her parents in the Wyoming Territory. When a handsome cowboy joins them on the jaunt to Ft. Ellis, Angelica fears her heart may take a tumble.

When snow and ice block the path of the train, Samuel McClure knows he must come to their rescue. He will move Heaven and Earth to rescue the Angel in his pocket

Here’s an excerpt of ANGEL IN HIS POCKET for you to enjoy.....

“Look! Cowboys!”
Angelica Jones bent her head down next to her niece, Emma Donaldson and watched the movement of riders and buggies that lined the dirt filled Main Street of Sweetwater, Montana. They were a long way from the Olympic Peninsula that Emma called home. The train rocked as the engineer applied the brakes and slowed the great iron beast to a stop in front of the low yellow building that held a sign proclaiming the town’s name. A hiss of steam followed. It’s dense white cloud obscuring their vision.
“Can we get out and walk around?” Emma asked?
Angelica reached out and stroked the thick dark hair so reminiscent of her late sister. “I don’t know, Emma. There may not be enough time?”
Emma’ deep blue eyes bore into Angelica’s. “You can ask the conductor, can’t you, Aunt Angelica?”
Caught between a rock and a hard place, Angelica could only surrender. “Wait right here.”
Rising, she made her way down the center aisle to the rear of the coach where the conductor stood, looking at his pocket watch.
“Pardon,” Angelica interrupted him.
The conductor turned. His dark suit and hat in contrast to the snow white hair that showed beneath his cap. Seeing her move toward him, the he doffed his cap out of respect and his face broadened into a smile.
“Miss Jones, everything all right with the little girl?”
Angelica glanced over her shoulder to check on her niece.
“Yes.” She turned back. “I was wondering how long our layover at Sweetwater would be? I thought I might stretch Emma’s legs a bit.”
His smile faded just a bit. “I am afraid we are stopping only long enough to pick up some passengers. Our schedule is very tight with the holidays coming up so soon.”
“Not to worry.” Angelica smiled. “I completely understand. I admit I am in a hurry to get home to Cheyenne. There is no place like home for Christmas.”
“No ma’am, there sure isn’t.”
“Well, thank you again.”
“My pleasure.” He gave a nod and using his thumb closed the lid on his pocket watch, and then slipped it away into his vest pocket. Opening the door that connected to the platform and the next coach, the conductor disappeared.
“Well, can’t blame me for trying.”
Angelica made her way back to Emma.
“Can we? Can we?” Emma seemed to bounce upon the plush upholstery of the Pullman car seat.
“I’m sorry, Emma. The conductor says out stop won’t be long, maybe next time.”
Emma’s crestfallen face looked to the floor. Angelica’s heart ached as she watched the little girl’s mouth turn down. She scooted back against the plush seat and sighed audibly. “Next time.”
“That’s right,” Angelica whispered. “We’ll just look out the window and see lots of cowboys. There will be more when we get to Grandpa’s.”
Emma glanced back and smiled. “I’d like to see more cowboys.”
“Me too,” Angelica replied.
She watched as Emma pressed her forehead against the glass, to stare out at the movements beyond the coach and for once in her life, Angelica wished there was a magic potion that cured the loneliness in the child’s eyes.
Feeling her pain, she concentrated on the images beyond the coach’s windows. An elderly woman in a gray dress, her dark jacket pulled closed against the wind, carried a wicker basket from the station house. She spoke to the conductor who pointed to the train. She gazed at the windows, her wire-framed glasses perched precariously on the edge of her nose. For a moment, their gazes locked and Angelica was given a warm and gracious smile. She couldn’t help but smile back for the expression was so similar to her mothers.
As she made her way toward the steps, Angelica noticed the skeins of brightly colored yarn protruding from the safety of the basket. The image reminded her she could have passed the time by engaging her fingers on a worthwhile endeavor such as crocheting or knitting. “Ah, well, lesson learned,” she whispered aloud.
Two cowboys drifted toward the platform. One tall, his fleece lined jacket broadening his shoulders. His gray hat pulled down low across his face leaving only his square jaw visible. Yet, for so little to be seen, he appeared to have complete control of the scene. His sauntering motion gave a hint to his confidence. He inclined his head toward the second man beside him as he listened to the instruction being departed. They paused. She watched his jaw muscles tighten. Then, he gave an understanding nod and the second cowboy handed over the carpetbag valise. They exchanged a firm handshake. The tall cowboy nodded and moved along.
“Is he coming with us?” Emma’s voice broke through her thoughts.
Angelica shifted her gaze to the tiny face of her niece.
“I’m sorry, what did you ask?”
“Is he coming? The cowboy, is he coming with us?” Emma whispered her excitement barely under control.
“I don’t know,” Angelica replied.
Emma brought her hands together in delight. “Oh, I hope so. He can sit right here.”
She pointed to the vacant seat across from them.
“Well, that’s very generous of you, Emma. But, I suspect cowboys like to be alone.”
“Well,” she ignored her. “He might.”
Angelica grinned. “Yes, he might. Then, he can tell me about horses and Indians.”
At least, her niece’s optimism couldn’t be squashed. Deep down, she hoped the cowboy might take the seat too.
“He might.” She gave her niece a sobering glance. “If he does take the seat, you will not pester him. You will be respectful. Understand?”
Emma’s eyes widened and her face took on an innocent look.
“But if he wants to talk, I can listen, can’t I?”
Angelica couldn’t hide the giggle that left her lips. “Yes, you can listen.”
Emma turned back to the window. Her fingers clutched the window frame. “Oh, oh no!”
“What?” Angelica became alarmed.
“He’s gone.”
Angelica felt her heart sink as she scanned the platform. Disappointment made the thrill of the moment vanish like the morning mist. The cowboy had disappeared. Her gaze searched the platform to no avail. With a sigh, she sat back. “Well, I guess that ends that.”
The door to the coach opened and the swirl of cooler air slid past their ankles. Soft footsteps moved along the aisle and Angelica swung her gaze around. The woman with the basket of yarn carefully made her way toward them. Spying the empty seat, she paused to take a breath.
“May I?”
Angelica caught Emma’s beseeching look, urging her to say no. She gave her a sharp glance and the child gazed at her shoe tops.
“Of course, please join us.”
“Thank you.”
Angelica swept her skirts tight against her legs and allowed the woman room to settle in.
“Thank you again.” She said as she plopped her basket down beside her. “I’m traveling for the holidays.”
Angelica nodded. “We are too.”
“Oh, good. Visiting family?”
Emma nodded. “I’m going to meet my Granddaddy.”
“We’re traveling toward a small town near Cheyenne. It’s Emma’s first trip. My name is Angelica Jones.” She held out her hand.
“I’m Lucille DeWitt. Most of my friends call me Lucy. I hope you will too.”
They shook hands.
“Is Emma your daughter?”
Angelica shook her head. “My niece, Emma Donaldson.”
“Oh nice and your first train ride to boot. What an occasion.” Lucille smiled. “I’m going to see my first grandchild. Saved up my egg money for the ticket and brought along some knitting. I plan to make a sweater and some booties on the trip.”
“Booties?” Emma questioned.
The older woman chuckled then addressed the child’s question. “They’re similar to heavy socks and will keep her baby feet warm and toasty.”
“Oh,” Emma nodded as if she understood.
“How about I let you pick out a color?”
Emma sat forward. “Can I?”
Angelica caught the older woman’s wink, then, nodded. She watched as the little girl scrambled over to the seat and began to look through the basket. Maybe, she mused, this trip won’t be as bad as I thought.
The train jerked as the long metal flywheel caught the shafts that gave them a turn. Emma’s face turned to Angelica’s as her eyes opened wide.
“Hold tight,” the older woman whispered and mimicked Emma’s expression. “Here we go!”
The wheels jerked once more and the coach rolled slowly forward. Gathering momentum with a deep chug, the coach strained as if it didn’t want to leave the security of the station. A deep cloud of dark smoke rolled past their window followed by the low long whistle. The coach moved a bit faster. Behind them, the door opened once again. Thinking nothing of it, Angelica expected the conductor to walk past. As the footsteps grew closer, the hair along the back of her neck tingled. Something soft brushed past her arm.
“Pardon, ma’am.”
The soft southern twang did not belong to the conductor. Angelica’s mouth went dry as she gazed up into a pair of the palest blue eyes she’d ever seen. Her lips parted in surprise.
The cowboy she’d observed earlier on the platform tugged at the brim of his hat. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught Emma’s gasp.  She watched as he moved to the seat just behind Lucy and Emma. He tossed is bag onto the upholstery and settled in beside it.
“The cowboy,” Emma gasped.
“Sh.” Angelica hushed the child. Yet, her heart jolted with each bump of the rails. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him. She watched unashamed as he lifted his hand and tilted his hat forward, then drew his arms around his chest, seemingly to sleep. The temperature in the coach suddenly seemed to rise twenty degrees.

BUY LINK for ANGEL IN HIS POCKET: Should you like to read more, please feel free to check out this book on Amazon

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Caroline Clemmons said...

Nan, thank you for guesting on my blog. I'm so pleased to know more about you. Your cover is lovely.

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