Wednesday, October 26, 2011

REV UP WEDNESDAYS - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with NINA PIERCE

How many times in life have we given up on something we wanted to do or be? How many times do we make excuses for not completing a task? I have gone through moments when something gets so hard that I want to call it quits. The reason I hold on is because I'm stubborn and yes, a little masochistic. But, sometimes a little masochism helps, doesn't it? Or you can call it dogged determination - to get through a challenge despite any pain and discomfort it may cause because the ultimate goal is so totally worth it.

Yet, when I come across people like Nina, I realize how my everyday challenges may be petty in comparison. Six years ago Nina had to let go of a job she loved because she was diagnosed with MS. From one moment to the next, she was faced with an affliction for which there is no known cure. What did she do? Give up on her dreams? No. She found a new purpose. She started to write.

For every challenge we are faced with there is a solution. It may not be a direct resolution to the problem, but giving ourselves new goals and ambitions is always a good way to keep us in touch with the positive aspects of life. It allows us to remain connected to our innermost desires. By building new thresholds to walk through rather than let problems overpower us, we can claim a complete and purposeful existence.

So, here's how Nina celebrates life...

How long have you been writing?

I began writing in 2005 when my multiple sclerosis made it impossible for me to keep teaching. Not one to sit idle, I needed to find something I could do sitting. An avid reader my whole life, I decided to try my hand at writing romance and a career was born!

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

My family is very supportive and they also knew I could make a go at anything I put my mind to … I’m pretty determined that way. There are a few that aren’t happy about the genre I’m currently writing, but all of them support me.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

In both cases it’s romance, hands down, though I’m very flexible about the setting whether it’s contemporary, historical with paranormal elements in or in the future. Currently my TBR pile seems to be filled with paranormal stories.

My writing bounces around genres. I’ve written contemporary and futuristic. Dystopian societies and paranormal shifter worlds. But I always enjoy putting an element of suspense/mystery in my stories. There’s a challenge weaving it in to a great romance. I have attempted to write an historical, but I never say never. 

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

My last year of teaching I took a course at the local university on “Writing Fiction”. But as I learned later the professor didn’t teach many of the basics of novel writing. I sat down to write my first story knowing nothing about point of view or story structure. But pushing through that first story was trial by fire. With the help of some more experienced authors and some wonderful contest judges, I learned the craft of writing.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

Within the first year I found some newbie writers who were in the same place as me. We swapped stories and critiqued each other’s work. I continued to take classes online which really taught me a lot.

I recently moved and don’t have a crit group right now, but I’m hoping to hook up with some local writers and form a group. I need less critiquing these days and more time brainstorming. I always think it’s nice, no matter where you are on your journey, to have the support of other writers.

Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

I do have a pen name. When I first began writing I found my real name was all over the internet already and most of them were realtors! I knew I’d get lost in that if I wrote under my name. So a pseudonym was born.

Mine is actually my stripper name. LOL! I was sitting with my mom in a restaurant trying to come up with a good pen name and she kept rejecting them all. When I suggested using my stripper name … name of the first pet you had as a kid—I had a cat named Niki … and the street you lived on—Pierce Avenue … my mother jumped. We tweaked it a little and I became “Nina Pierce”. But I always tell people it’s “mother approved”. LOL!

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

I began sending out manuscripts the first year I wrote. Thank goodness they were all out to contests. I had some wonderful judges who gave great advice and writing tips that helped me improve my writing. I wrote three manuscripts before I sold the second year of writing.

And what did I do? I cried. Great sobbing buckets of joy. Then I told all my friends and cried some more.

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

Nah. As much as I love that story and it taught me a lot writing it, I’m not sure it can be saved from itself. It’s full of clichés and newbie writing mistakes. But it sits quietly under my couch. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it. It’s kind of like an old friend that taught me the ropes.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

When I first started writing and people were talking about being on their second or third draft I got very worried. I write my books and submit. I don’t generally do drafts. It took me years to realize everyone’s process is different. I can’t just spew out a first draft. I wish I could. I bleed words on to the page, fussing over every single one and continuing to tweak as I go. What many people do in their second draft, I do as I’m going.

It doesn’t work for everyone, but that’s how things come together for me. Some day I’d like to get my muse to just run away with a story. So far, that hasn’t been the case.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

I did seek out an agent at first, but then my patience wore thin as I continued to 1) not hear back or 2) didn’t get a response. At first I began researching publishers and submitting directly to them. There are many online resources of publishers that accept unagented manuscripts.

When several publishers offered me contracts for my manuscript I randomly emailed some of their authors and asked about editors, publishing staff and royalties. Authors are wonderful that way. Don’t ever hesitate to email someone with a question. I got some great advice and information and was able to make an informed decision about where my book fit best.

Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

Many times! Rejection is part of the world of publishing. Not everyone, editor, agent, reviewer or reader is going to love your book. It’s a kick in the pants when they do, but rare when you have a story absolutely everyone loves.

When I received a rejection I let myself be disappointed and feel sad, but I knew just because my book wasn’t right for one publisher didn’t mean it wasn’t right for another. I dusted myself off and kept sending my manuscript out until I found an editor who fell in love with the story.

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?

Wow, that’s a loaded question. The problem with a trend is that if you’re not the one starting it, it’s hard to find room on the train before it leaves the station.

The truth is, agents and editors want to love your story. They want to fall in love with your characters and get carried away by your story. Regardless of genre, they want to be left breathless when they’re finished reading.

What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?

I was leery of submitting my book to an e-publisher five years ago. I thought I’d somehow “settled”. But the digital industry has exploded! The truth is, with all the readers buying electronic books I think an author would be losing a huge share of the market if their book wasn’t also available in digital formats.

Do I think they’ll replace paper copies of books all together?

I’d like to say “not in my lifetime”, but I expect to live a reeeeeally long time *flips hair and bats lashes* so it could actually happen where the big guys are no longer offering contracts for print books. That being said, they will then need to develop a new model of offering advances and change royalty percentages.

As it is right now, digital publishers don’t offer an up-front advance with a book contract, but the percentage of royalty on each sale is high. I think more authors will be looking for money up front and perhaps less of a percentage per sale in the future.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

There are many public figures, John Locke and Amanda Hocking to name a few, who have made it really big on their own releasing books directly to Amazon. But that doesn’t work for everyone. It is important that an author considering self-publishing should find a good editor to edit their manuscript. There would be nothing worse than a new author publishing an unedited book and losing future readers.

On the other hand, I’m re-releasing some books from my backlist that were published and the rights reverted back to me. They have already been through the editing process. Many authors are finding great success through the self-publishing venue. It’s just another arm of your writing business IMHO.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

My books are all available in digital format with one currently in print.

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

Write what inspires you and makes your heart sing. Yes, I do think it’s possible to write for the market, but if you’re not enjoying it, why bother?

What are you working on now?

I’m currently rewriting a book that was previously published. The rights reverted back to me and I’d like to expand the story and offer it out as a longer piece of fiction. I’m also finishing up my XTC Resort series through Ellora’s Cave and hope to have the third and final book out before the end of the year. Then there are all those other story ideas percolating in the back of my brain. Sometimes it’s a matter when I sit down, of what book is begging loudest for my attention.

What is/are your favourite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?

My favorite book is the first one that was published “Healer’s Garden”, available now through Ellora’s Cave. I fell in love with these characters years before I actually sat down to write the book. It’s a beautiful love story between a man and a woman, but I think people are a little shy about buying it because it does have a very matriarchal society flavor.

It’s definitely some of my best storytelling to date.

Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

I do. I know a lot of writers don’t for fear it will influence what they’re writing, but I don’t feel that way. Reading romance was my first love before I put pen to paper. Since I write all the time, I couldn’t give that up.

Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?

I don’t. When my children were in high school I did. I got up early and wrote until they were moving around and went back to it when they left for school. I usually wrote until early afternoon and then went on with the rest of my day.

These days with all the marketing and social networking I find I do that in the morning and then settle down to write in the afternoon and into the early evening. I have another burst late in the evening that can carry me to the early hours of them morning.

I wouldn’t recommend my method. I strongly encourage an aspiring author to find a time that works for them and write every day. You’ll be amazed how that habit catches and takes hold.

Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?

On the NYT Bestseller list. LOL! Isn’t that the dream of every author? Seriously, though. I’d like to be writing 2 or 3 books a year and be making a good living at this career.

What's your website URL?

Are you on Facebook?

General page:
Fan page:

How do you connect with readers?

I love to hear from readers. They can contact me through my email

About Nina:

Award-winning erotic romance author, Nina Pierce, grew up in a house full of readers. So becoming enamored with books was only natural. She discovered romance stories in her early teens, falling hopelessly in love with knights in shining armor and the damsels who saved them.
Eventually, reading about alpha males and the journey to find their happy-ever-after endings wasn’t enough. She needed to pen her own stories of fated loves and soul mates. Nina’s discovered the passionate side of romance with her sexy stories. For her, it’s all about the sweet scent of seduction mixed with the heart warming aroma of romance.
Nina resides in the northeast with her high school sweetheart and soul mate of twenty-seven years, their three grown children and several very spoiled cats who consider her “staff”.

Latest and upcoming releases:

Invitation to Ecstasy

A woman unwilling to trust…

Sara Lancaster isn’t sure accepting her invitation to a BDSM weekend at XTC Resort is a good idea—though she does have something to prove. Years of abuse at the hand of her former Master have taken their toll. Now, two years later, Sara believes she’s ready to embrace her submissive side once again and enjoy the carnal pleasures of a younger Dom.

A man testing his limits…

Derek Thomas has lost belief in his abilities as a Master. Accepting an invitation for Dom training could be exactly what he needs to regain his self-confidence. Challenged with an experienced older woman, he soon realizes wielding a flogger isn’t always enough to break down the emotional walls and heal a damaged submissive.

Two people with something to prove…

Sara and Derek sizzle with sexual heat the moment they step into the dungeon. The mind-blowing sex and physical pain may satisfy their bodies, but wounded souls and broken spirits just may require something even more intimate—their hearts.

Love’s Bounty

A woman determined to protect her heart...

Landscaping in Delmont, Maine hasn't been DEIRDRE TILLING's only passion. Up until two months ago, it had included a live-in lover. Jilted for the third time in as many years, Deirdre's decided to give up on love. With her feet firmly planted on the path of one night stands, she finds herself heating up the sheets with a dark haired stranger she met at her new employer's party. But one night with the man who is both sexy as hell and compassionate, may not be enough.

An agent hell bent on proving himself…

DEA agent, AYDEN SCOTT, has a lot to prove after a disastrous drug bust in Miami three years earlier that left a member of his team dead. Working undercover as lead investigator, he's determined to bring down an elusive drug cartel smuggling heroin into central Maine. He'll use any means necessary to complete his objective, including sleeping with the suspected drug Lord's landscaper, Deirdre. He just hadn't expected the feisty redhead to be so much more than long legs and dangerous curves.

One night neither of them can forget…

Deirdre and Ayden both thought one sexually explosive romp in the sack would be the end of their relationship. But Deirdre's arrest for heroin possession and her father's near-fatal heart attack prompts Ayden to confess his true identity. When Deirdre is kidnapped by the drug cartel and used as a pawn, Ayden is forced to choose between his heart and his mission. The question is...who will survive his decision?

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.


Nina Pierce said...

Angela, thank you so much for having me here today. You had me tearing up with your introduction.

Life is what we make of it and sitting around stewing in misery gets you nothing but puffy eyes and red cheeks. Truly not a good look for me. LOL!

Thanks for giving me an opportunity to chat about writing!

Angela Guillaume said...

Nina, thank you so much for being a guest on my blog. I'm down with the flu today but I will do my best to pop in from time to time. Yours is such an amazing story - inspiring! xoxo

Nina Pierce said...

Oh, Angela, feel better. And thank you for the compliment.

Renee Vincent said...

Nina, I don't know if you recall meeting me in the elevator at Lori Foster's event two years ago, but I've not forgotten it. I remembered you being in a wheelchair, though I didn't know why. After reading this interview and finding out you have MS, I was deeply touched. I was also deeply moved that you cried after getting the call to be published.

You are an amazing woman and I give you all the credit in the world for overcoming your hardships and making the most of them. Kudos to you for striving onward and writing great romances.

Wishing you all the best,
Renee Vincent

Nina Pierce said...

LOL! I do remember Renee. I was a bit overwhelmed with all the wonderful authors I got to meet that weekend and I was so pleased you introduced yourself.

LOL! The wheelchair. That thing was both a blessing and a curse. I kept leaving it in weird places and forgetting about it.

Liz said...

What an amazing in depth interview! Nina you are amazing. I think I knew that already. But now I am certain. Thanks for the advice and inspiration

Angela Guillaume said...

Renee, it always amazes me to hear stories of people who have achieved great things against the odds. I hope I'll get to meet Nina in person one day.

Angela Guillaume said...

Thank you for the well wishes, Nina. Just a bit of fever and crappy feeling but it will all be over soon :-D

Liz, thank you for the compliment. So happy you liked the interview!

Adele Dubois said...

Nina is one of my favorite author pals. She's just as nice in person as she seems online. Great interview, Nina! Good luck with your releases. Keep working toward that NYT Best-seller goal.


Marie Rose Dufour said...

Great interview! I love learning more about author's lives!!!

Nina Pierce said...

Liz - Thank you for stopping by. The truth is we all have burdens we carry, there are just some of us whose load is more obvious. I have no doubt there are people who are mcuh stronger than me for all they're going through.

But I'm glad you found some inspiration in the middle of that.

Angela definitely asked some great questions.

Nina Pierce said...

Adele - I feel the same about you! It was so much fun meeting you at Romanticon. I hope we have an opportunity to spend more time together soon.

Nina Pierce said...

Marie - Thanks so much for stopping over. I enjoy author interviews as well. It's amazing the intimate information we find out about each other.

Angela Guillaume said...

Adele, Marie Rose, thank you for stopping by!

Nina, it is so great to get to know you better! xoxo

Desirée Lee said...

One of my closest friends has MS and it breaks my heart to see her struggle with longing to do things she used to be able to. You are an inspiration. You did not let your MS overcome your desire to become an author and I greatly respect your determination. Wishing you tons of sales.

Carpe Noctem,

Author Desirée Lee
Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy

Angela Guillaume said...

Thank you, Des. Despite what Nina said, I do believe that what she's doing is extraordinary. I've seen too many people give up...

Marianne Stephens said... I know how you got your pen name! Great that your mom helped you decide...and using your stripper name...funny!

Angela Guillaume said...

Yeah, Marianne - the stripper name. That had me rolling on the floor, but forgot to point it out. Thanks for mentioning that one! Lol.

Zee Monodee said...

I loved this interview! Nina, you are definitely an inspiration!

We often complain about this and that but don't stop to ponder about people who have it harder than us but who keep forging on ahead and not taking "no" for an answer. I think that's a perspective most of us, writers and non-writers alike, need to remember when we look at life.

Great job, ladies!

Angela Guillaume said...

Thank you, Zee! But you, of all people, have a lot to be proud of. We both know that. xoxo

Nina Pierce said...

Desiree - My life is not longer "I used to ..." but "I can NOW." Thinking that way has made all the difference in my life.

There are times I give myself 20 min to feel bad for myself. That's it 20 min. Then I'm done.

I hope you can continue to be support to your friend.

Nina Pierce said...

Marianne - I think it's even funnier considering I write a lot of erotic romance. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Nina Pierce said...

Zee - Thank you. But honestly, I think there are so many who are able to carry so much more than me. I just hate being bored ... I had to find something to do all day! LOL!

Zee Monodee said...

Lol, Nina! I so understand what you mean by "not being bored". It's as if when life b*tch-slaps you across the cheek, you jump to your feet and go, "I'll take you on, anytime, anywhere!"

That's what it felt like for me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago - like you say, it's not about "I used to" but "I can NOW". "One day I will..." that'll never come, because "one day" is right now - we just have to convince ourselves of that!

Angela Guillaume said...

I think that life's too short. When bad times come, we have to deal with them but not focus on them. Otherwise we lose all the good parts. I really loved posting this blog - thank you all for your comments!

Zee Monodee said...

Wise words, Angela!

Angela Guillaume said...

Thank you, Zee. xoxo

Nina Pierce said...

Zee - You're a prime example of why I feel I don't have it so bad. People who battle a scary disease like cancer and knock that sucker to the ground are really amazing.

And it truly makes one grateful for every day!

Angela Guillaume said...

Nina, Zee battled it not once, but twice. And she's only 28. And she's the most positive person I know. I think she deserves a meltdown every now and then. What do you think? You guys are awesome. My challenges, well, were mostly lived in childhood. I can say I'm blessed, now. I'm surrounded by such wonderful people! xoxo

Zee Monodee said...

Lol, Nina. Cancer leaves some scars and setbacks, but eventually your day to day gets to be bearable and pretty okay once you're done with treatments and stuff. I say it's people like you who live with a chronic condition that inspire more respect because you're living your life and making no excuses for it. That's commendable. :)

And Angela, being surrounded by wonderful people is really a huge part of helping us all to rise above ourselves and get on with life. I'm glad you have such folks in your life, because you so deserve to be happy and content.


Angela Guillaume said...

Love ya, Zee xoxo

Rae Lori said...

Awesome interview indeed! And very inspiring. I love how writing touches different people and gives so much power to keep going forward no matter what. Despite all the rejections, all writers have that passion to keep sharing their stories with the world. I love it! :-)

Angela Guillaume said...

Thanks for popping in, Rae! xoxo