Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guest Author, Nancy O'Berry

Our guest today is Nancy O'Berry, author of the Sweetbriar Academy Series with Red Rose Publishing. Find out where Nancy does her best work, what authors she enjoys reading, and why her heroes have always been cowboys. Welcome, Nancy, and enjoy your day.

Who are you?

I am a dreamer by nature and a writer by trade. I didn’t start out to be a writer, all though I have kept a journal all my life. I have a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies where I majored in Social Studies and Science and can teach school which I did for twenty years in any grade pre K through 6th. I am a member of a local chapter writing chapter and a member of RWA and Hearts through History. I have published with epubs and currently I have a series of books out with Red Rose Publishing set in the Wyoming Territory of 1870.

I make my home in Tidewater Virginia with in 30 miles of the first permanent English Colony, near the beautiful plantations along the James River, and a two hour drive of the heart of the Confederacy – hence my overwhelming since of history. My small farm is in habited by two bovines who think they are dogs, an Australian healer, and two cats along with a husband and son.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I became a writer because I was often not satisfied when the book ended. I wanted “MORE”. I wanted the author to extend the lives of the characters I had come to love and feel a relationship with. I wanted further adventures. Then, I played what if and my own characters began to emerge from the shadows. They're make up bits and pieces of movie heroes, tv heroes, and just characteristics I admired in people and strive for myself.

I love westerns. Yes, my heroes have always been cowboys. I admire their grit, their determination in the face of adversity, and their devotion to their job, their ranch, and their women. I think we still have some of the same issues they faced only with a modern twist. Human nature being what it is, we often do not learn our lessons from history and repeat. I love the idea of exploring these lofty goals and telling a good tale.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

Anything and everything I can get my hands on. I love a good western. I am so glad they are beginning to make their comeback. Cheryl St. John blew me away in her latest novel. Also Katherine Albright’s story of the three battle for Texas were spellbinding. When I go on that Regency kick, I pick up Cathy Maxwell, Delilah Marvelle and Andrea Pickens. A good fantasy series that I read and re read come from Judi McCoy who wrote a Goddess series. Zeus on a computer sending emails breaks me up every time. Of course J.K. Rowlings, I am a “Potter head”. But when I want to sit down and come to touch with hometown life, I pick up and devour Debbie Macomber. The stories from Blossom Street are wonderful.

When do you write?

My morning routines are rise between 5:30-6 a.m. open one eye long enough to fill the pot with water and find a tea bag. Then listen to the morning news make notes and get the men folk off to work. The notes are something that catches my eye whether locally, nationally or internationally that might work in a story. Then after one sweep around the house I write from 10 to 12. Then it’s a break, lunch, dust, fold laundry, come back at 2 and work till 4 when the computer cycles through its update and I get back to writing checking emails 8-12 p.m. Because I’m not working “outside the home” I needed to set up my own schedule. I keep a log of stories I’m working on when submitted etc so I try to stay focused. But like with all writers there are days...just days I get sidetracked.

When do you read? Where?
Ok, so this is going to sound strange. We all know that water conducts electricity. So I take my books, notebooks and pens fill up my tub with warm water and plenty of bubbles and soak, read, and make notes. Yep, in the bathtub. Other than the cat opening the door cause I’m out of his eyesight, no one bothers me. My family actually calls the bathroom the “library”.

Where did you get the inspiration for your current book?

Oh my, this one came out of my subconscious. I think we all grew up looking at Miss Kitty and wondering what sort of life she leaded. She was sort of the bad girl gone good. So I started thinking, what if? I already knew life was hard for women after the Civil War. If you were alone, you were fair game for marauders coming through the country side. So who took care of these women after their downfall? Sometimes women had to live on the streets for losing homes, an awful experience, and that song by Reba McIntire about “Fancy” played on and on. So I did a bit of research and set my story in Pather’s Landing, a mythical town at the end of a railroad spur where big rollers come to enjoy the company of high-end courtesans. So far I’ve done three stories about my “ladies,” each not afraid to love and finding that love enough to last the years and grabbing the brass ring.

Where do you go to think?

Well I’ve already stated I do it soaking in the tub. But when the weather is nice I go out to my deck and sit with my feet propped up on the rail and dream…

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Character names have to fit the story. I can’t have a girl named Bambi in a story set in 1870. So, I look at the character points. Is she independent, no fluff, a wild child, and then the names come. I do have problems at times with last names but thank heavens for the phone book.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I began writing fan fiction back in 1969 and then it progressed. But I put it away for a bit when the children were coming along. I told them the stories instead of writing them down. However, in 2003 it was like a blocked volcano. Suddenly the stories erupted. I wrote and wrote and wrote but never showed it to anyone because I didn’t think I was good enough. I wasn’t a writer. I was a mom, a teacher, a wife. What did I know about life? I did however join a local writing group. Here I listened and practiced until I got my nerve up to show one of my stories. I sent it to an epub where it was accepted two years after it was written and in 2007 it was published. Now in 2009, I am with Red Rose Publishing and I hope a much better writer. I am also learning so much from the other talented authors in the group. I have other work out in submission and hope to be announcing that soon.

Why do you write?

Because I have to. Writers don’t write because they are good at it. Writers write because the story, the characters, and setting tell them to. I am often blank to what my fingers will do. I sit down I know the characters names maybe the premise then suddenly my fingers take over. I am but a passenger on this long ride just like the reader. I never know what will happen. I know that I zone out and suddenly on the screen I have mayhem, mischief, girl in danger, man against nature, or lust going on. I can tell you the lust is the most surprising. Cause I’m easily embarrassed and can’t imagine writing those “Things”.

Nancy O’Berry lives in Suffolk, Virginia with her family and a ménage of animals on five acres situated between the James River and the Nansemond River. She lives and breathes stories. Her works Sweetbrier Academy Book One Having Faith, Book Two Holding on to Hope, and Book Three Giving in to Charity are all with Red Rose Publishing.

Book One Having Faith is out in print and coming soon to Amazon so check the link below for its release and that of Book Two Holding on to Hope the second in the Sweetbrier Academy Series.
You may contact Mrs. O’Berry at or feel free to join her authors group at


Kathy Otten said...

Good morning,
Your cover for Giving to Charity is beautiful. Sounds like an intriguing premise. I'll have to check it out. I love cowboys too, and I hope westerns make a stronger comeback so you'll sell lots of books.

Obe said...

Thanks Kathy,
I do to! There's something quite romantic about a man at odds with the elements and the nature of beast. Charity is my first stab at writing a story that hinges in the multicultural aspect of southern life after the Civil War era. The term was Passa Blanc for children that while had different ethnic backgrounds could pass for "white". My cover artist is a remarkable woman. She did do an absolutely fantastic job on it. I agree. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Franny Armstrong said...

You sound very much like me, Nancy! I'm into paranormal romantic suspense though I've read just about everything but horror and a few erotic categories that I shy from right now.
I have yet to set a daily schedule like you do as it comes to me whenever, similar to you, in a burst and then I write, write, write until it's all out.
Great blog. I'm heading out to the bookstore today so will definately pick up a Charity book. Cowboys are so hot!
Franny Armstrong
aka ParaNovelGirl

Obe said...

Thanks Franny,

Charity will be out first of July. Right now I have print copies of Having Faith, eformat copies of Holding on to Hope, and soon to have copies eformat of Giving in to Charity. Feel free to contact me if you want a signed copy of Faith. If you join my authors group and send me your snail mail, I'll gladly send you some Sweetbrier Freebees.

Kaye Manro said...

Hi Nancy! This is a wonderful interview. You've given such good answers. Your books are fantastic! You deserve to sell a bunch for sure.

It's been a while-- miss you-- email me...

Obe said...

Hi Kaye,

Yes, it has been awhile. LOL. Good to hear from you. Thanks for those kind words.

I hope publishing is treating you well. I seem to remember a very love starved alien! Yes, we need to get together soon.

Lisa L. Leibow said...

This is a fantastic interview! I loved learning more about Nancy O'Berry. I have the first two novels in this series, already. I can't wait for the third.

Obe said...

Hi Lisa,

Oh my you've already read those two. Gracious! Charity will be here soon around the first week of July. She'll be quite a different cat! Thanks for stopping by and I'm humbled by your kind comments. I sort of hate to see these stories come to an end but I can say for this year. Perhaps the muse will strike and we'll find out what Grace, Tempest, and Miss Benedict are up to in 2010? Can you tell I'm batting my lashes at you. :o)

glenys said...

Great interview, Nancy - I wondered about 'Miss Kitty' too - and your cowboys sound delicious!

Obe said...

Hi Glenys,

Thanks. When I do characters I think of all the actors I know and try to listen to the words the Hero is saying. Sometimes it works well with the discriptions. In Faith, Thaddeus Oakley sounded to me like Matthew McConaughey. In Hope, Dr. Norris's voice was none other than Sam Elliot. With Charity, Tobias Meriwether came across as Chris O'Donnell. Nice dreams to think about. :o)