Friday, May 7, 2010

Nancy Pirri -- today's Friday Friend author and editor

Nancy Schumacher aka Nancy Pirri, and Natasha Perry, started writing fourteen years ago while raising four children. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America and local Minnesota chapter, Midwest Fiction Writers. She is also one of the founders of the second Minnesota RWA chapter, Northern Lights Writers(NLW).
Nancy is also one of twelve authors (writing as Dame Sapphire) in the author-promo organization, Jewels of the Quill,
Her latest release is an erotic historical, RUINED HEARTS, writing under the pseudonym, Natasha Perry. Visit Nancy at or at

Welcome, Nancy. Thank you for being here today!

1. How and why did you start writing? Your website said you started writing 11 years ago as a mom with 4 children. How did you find/ make the time?

My mother is a huge romance reader fan and she rubbed off on me, starting of course with The Flame and the Flower. I wrote whenever I could find time – early morning before kids woke up, when kids were napping and after putting them all to bed. For several years, I kept up that pace. Most of my leisure time was behind the computer. I can’t even tell you what shows were on television during those years a I never watched any.

2. You have placed in contests since 1999. What have you learned /earned from entering contests? Do you think they are a good venue for an aspiring author?

When I first started entering contests, about two years after I started writing, it was to gain feedback. I had joined RWA so I would get the monthly report magazine, page through the chapter contest offerings and enter one or two every few months. I didn’t belong to any critique group and while I was a member of Midwest Fiction Writers, I rarely had the time to attend meetings. So I counted on contest judges for feedback. Over a period of time I must have grown as a writer because I began placing and winning some of those contests. Contests are good place for aspiring authors, especially if you don’t have other writers to read and crit your work. But don’t become an addict about entering them as the cost can add up. There will come a time when you feel ready and confident about your work to leave contests behind. Also, don’t take a contest judge’s criticism to heart. This is a good phase of your writing career to develop a thick skin.

3. You write historicals, erotica, contemporaries, and have been published in 10+ anthologies. Are you living proof that a first-time author does not need to stick to one genre to create her ‘brand?’

Absolutely. I write historicals and contemporaries under Nancy Pirri and erotica under Natasha Perry. I think changing genres is good experience for an author and it helps an author actually develop and find their voice. Because I’m a member of the writer’s promo organization, Jewels of the Quill, we write in several genres. What’s interesting is if I write a contemporary for a jewels anthology, my fans who love historical will tell me I have to write an historical next time, and vice-versa. Hard to please all the readers all the time.

4. My first WIP was a western historical. I love the classic themes and settings of westerns. Is there a market, in your view, for western romance? Are they worth writing?

Yes! American westerns, in my opinion, never go out of style. If you, as an author, enjoy doing the research and bringing to life your cowboys and their women, by all means, do so! Your enjoyment and accomplishment will shine through and be apparent in your story-in your voice, and readers will love that.

5. Your novella, “Winning Sylvia’s Heart” was published in the latest Jewels of the Quill anthology, “Magical Kisses.” It is a fantastic read, and was a finalist in the 2010 Epic’s. Congratulations! (Were you at the award ceremony?) I was impressed by your character development, plot and backstory, setting… all the elements of a novel in fewer words. How did you develop the technique to write them? Do you write, then pare away to a word count?

Thank you, Ana, for your very kind words on my story. Winning Sylvia’s Heart is one of several stories in the anthology, Magical Kisses, and it did end up winning the EPPIE in its category. This is a second EPPIE win for me, and I am very lucky to be associated with the Jewels of the Quill authors. We are our own little critique group who happen to write anthologies together for Whiskey Creek Press. I had written 3 full length novels before I ever tried to write a short story for the jewels and it was hard! I am wordy, as you can tell from my interview replies here. I write the entire first draft the same way I write a novel. Then I check it against the required story or novella word count and pare away. It’s easy to do because you can actually see the unneeded words, sentences and paragraphs as you go through it line by line.

6. Tell us about your e-pub Midnight Showcases. You said you love editing authors, especially new ones. (This is so refreshing to hear!) What do you look for in a new author? What are you looking for in submissions? What do you need/want from your authors in promotion? Are you accepting?

You cannot imagine how much I’ve learned about my own writing when editing another author! As I’m editing I’ll come across things that make me pause and think, ‘Darn, I do that too, and that’s a no-no!’ There are so many new authors with gem stories that shine, really shine. I’m not on the acceptance end of publishing so I don’t get to pick and choose but being an editor is highly fulfilling.

There is no better feeling than helping a new author see what works and what doesn’t. For example, point of view is something some authors just cannot pick up, initially, though, over time they will. If a story is good and holds my interest for much of it I can overlook things such as incorrect use of tenses and other technique errors, knowing those can be edited.

At Midnight Showcase, soon to be MS Fiction (we’re changing our name), we have a submissions page that lists what we are looking for. In particular, right now, we’re looking for paranormal stories for our Weres in the City – three anthologies that will be released over the next several months. ‘Weres’ can be any type of ‘shape-shifter’, and the stories must take place in a city, not a small town or rural area. Our house is always accepting stories for our themed digests and single-title novellas and novels. Our house has been steadily growing over the past two years and we now have close to 200 published works available to purchase at MSFiction’s website, Fictionwise, All Romance Ebooks and online at Amazon, Lulu, and Barnes and Noble.

Promotion is one of the most difficult things for an author to do, but he or she must in order to make sales. Many authors believe all they have to do is write the book, get it published, then sit back and watch the $ roll in. Uh, it doesn’t work that way. While we at our house send our authors’ books out for review at several places, we depend on the authors to have a visible face and to promo as well. Having a website is mandatory, and or a blog. Putting out a bit of money to have a cover ad at review sites, and other places that accept romance ads. Participating in interviews such as this one. Attending writer conferences and introducing yourself to other writers. There are a lot of free things authors can do and I tell them that when they lament they don’t have the money to spend on promo. The web age has been a godsend for authors, and there are several free and inexpensive opportunities available.


  1. Hi Nancy!

    Welcome! WOW! You sure are a woman of many talents and faces....

    Learning what to do about promotion was an eye-opener when I first got published. Great tips.

  2. Great interview! Since you mentioned promo, I am in the middle of having bookmarks and t-shirts printed.

    How much money do you recommend an author spend on promotional items? Would you go by a percentage of what you make?


  3. Hi Nancy - what an interetsing interview! Regarding promo, here in the UK there don't seem to be as many oppostunities as you have in the States, therefore I shall be dependent on the web when my book is released. But I do wonder whether all the web promo actually persuades people to buy books!

  4. Nancy will be at work until 4:30 this afternoon. She'll post comments and answers to our questions then.

  5. Hi everyone and thanks for stopping by and reading my interview. I appreciate it. I work a day job which I like but look forward to retiring and editing full-time as I mentioned in the interview. So I'm just getting on now to reply.

    Particular response to Toni Lynn:
    Hi Toni,
    If you publish with a small press start small because most small presses do not give advances. I would advise doing interviews like this, having a good blog and a website and building a fan base email list. I have a large one that I send out promos to plus I always offer a monthly contest to win a copy of a trade paperback of mine. So I spend the most money buying copies of my books at author price to offer a monthly contest which I feel is well worth the money. There's no better way to get your word out than to offer either a free paperback or download (ebook) a month. I've gained a large fan base that way.

    As for bookmarks, I've not had much luck gaining fans that way. I do however send out a promo postcard upon the release of a book - I purchase them at Vista Print. Once you've placed a few order with them they send me free 100 postcards like twice a month. Great place!

  6. To Paula Martin:
    Ah, UK writers, gotta love them. We have several UK authors at Midnight Showcase and they're excellent writers.

    Believe me, promo on websites, and on wonder blog opportunity spots like Heroines With Hearts does help you build a fan base. Though another way is to actually pay for an ad at Romantic Times and get a review. I was lucky enough, with my first book, to receive a 4-1/2 star top pick back in Oct. 2003 and that book, an historical scottish romance, has gone on to sell quite a few books. I feel its due to the promo in the mag and the rating.

  7. Congratulations, Toni Lynn, on your upcoming release from Highland Press! Highland Press has an excellent reputation, and are fine people to work with. I'll keep an eye out for your release!

  8. Hi Nancy,
    Great interview. You sure are a busy lady. Great advise about promo too.

    Best wishes

  9. Thanks for the feedback, Nancy. I'm going to be looking for all the web promo opportunities I can find when Whiskey Creek publish my book.
    Interesting that you suggested buying your books at author price and then offering them as prizes. I have an option with WCP to buy books (and thus guarantee a print run as well as an e-book run) so maybe it would taking up this option.
    Here in the UK the e-books haven't caught on as much as in the States, it seems.

  10. Paula,
    You know I'm published with Whiskey Creek Press as well, as one of the Jewels of the Quill I'm Dame Sapphire. I just think its worth spending the money on books and offering them as a contest win on your site. It does bring in readers and helps you build that fan base.

  11. Margaret, Congratulations on your upcoming release! I love the cover of your book!!

  12. Nancy,
    How does the author buy of books work? Do you get a discount or pay a percentage of the publisher's selling price? Is there a quota or a limit to meet?
    Thanks again for being so supremely open and helpful.

  13. Hi Nancy,
    I'm late to the party after being in and out most of the day, but it was worth the wait for me -- wow, you are one impressive lady! I particularly loved hearing you talk about editing -- your own work and that of new authors. I, too, have worked as an editor -- but not of fiction. I love the process of cutting and trimming. I like the first draft process, but I'm always looking forward to the revising and tweaking, because I am definitely wordy too!

    I'm so impressed that you have time and energy to keep an e-publishing house running. I wish you the very best of luck with it and with your writing -- and I can't wait to see you at our meetings! Great interview!! It was fun and informative.

  14. Hi Ana
    The cost for an author to purchase his/her own books varies from publisher to publisher. While Midnight Showcase offers 45 percent in royalties, to purchase author copies you purchase an author copy for around 3-4.00 less than the price when a story purchases it. Yet, for another small press, you might only receive 35-40 percent on royalties but pay a cheaper cost for the trade paperback. Generally, that means, in all likelihood, that that press has its own 'press' and prints the books on demand themselves.

    Hope that answers your questions.

  15. Sorry Ana, need to read the preview first! I meant $3-$4 less than the price for when a fan buys the book from the vendor.

  16. Thanks Liz!
    Sorry I cut out early last night. Just bushed. LOL. I look forward to meeting some of you. I think you mean at an MFW meeting, right? I live in the northeastern part of the twin cities area - not all that far away - but maybe one of these days I'll attend the meeting. I' m a member of Northern Lights Writers. We meet up in the Wyoming-Forest Lake area on the 4th Saturday of the month at the Wyoming Branch Library. So if anyone ever wants to drop in, do so! We welcome new members.

  17. If I'm not too late or keeping you too long, Nancy, can you advise on submitting to smaller publishers? Should a hopeful writer submit to multiple small pubs (e-pubs)? Or pick one after due research and wait for a response before trying elsewhere?

  18. Hi Ana,
    I think it depends on the 'career path' you choose. Because I was raising a family of four and working, too, I didn't really think about securing an agent or ever submitting to New York. One the internet came into existence (okay,yes, I'm that old-lol) it opened up an entire new world for me. I had been writing for years until one day, in 2001, Time Warner, for a short while, ran an online opportunity for writers - a site called Ipublish.

    It was a place where you could submit excerpts and a colony of people from all over the world, and Time-Warner editors viewed your writing and commented on it. So, really, that was my first foray into a crit group. The feedback was invaluable. I got to know several authors on the site until Time-Warner closed it down, deciding they didn't want to venture into the ebook market after all, which was their original intent. But I followed the career path of some of the authors on the site I'd gotten to know and, once I wrote my first book, a scottish historical, I decided to submit it to Awestruck Ebooks.

    They accepted it. I was thrilled. Small presses are wonderful places to grow as an author, too. It's a good place to start a career. Several famous authors started out small, including Mary Janice Davidson, from Minnesota. She had sold to Ellora's Cave first before being discovered by mass-market houses.

    So for me I've always been with small houses. But I know of several authors who, upon completing a manuscript, submit to their first - fifth choices for instance, beginning with a mass-market house. The problem is there are less and less big houses that take on an author without an agent. Ah, and then there's that component to deal with. LOL.

  19. Hey Liz! I'll be stopping by for your interview next week. Can't wait to read all about you.

  20. Gee, I feel like a Minnesota matchmaker...

  21. Nancy, I definitely like the feel of the small presses. Thank you!