Nancy is the bestselling and award winning author of the four Bella and Britt Series books for children: One Pelican at a Time (eighteen weeks on Amazon Bestselling List), Sea Turtle Summer, Bella Saves the Beach and Mystery at Manatee Key. Her newest book, Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage, is the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins. All are published by Guardian Angel Publishing.
One Pelican at a Time and Nancy were featured in the PBS Tampa special, GulfWatch. Pelican has won the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite Five Star Award and was nominated for a Global eBook Award.
Nancy is a frequent speaker and presenter at writing conferences throughout the United States. She conducts workshops and seminars and speaks to school children on writing and helping save their planet. A blogger with a worldwide audience, she writes of all things pertaining to writing for children.
Nancy’s travels take her extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education.
She and her husband live in Tampa and St. Louis.
Now on to the FIVE QUESTIONS
1. How did you come to write Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage?
My husband and I bought a condo on Clearwater Beach, Florida four years ago. One day I happened to see what looked like an aquarium situated on the Inter Coastal. I visited and found it to be Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a rescue and release sanctuary for marine animals. It was there I “met” Winter, the tailless dolphin (now of Dolphin Tale Fame). In watching the video on offer, I was mesmerized by a little girl, Katrina Simpkins, who must wear a prosthetic leg. When she met Winter with her prosthetic tale, Katrina’s life changed forever. I thought, “How wonderful and touching,” and left.
About a year later, I received a phone call from a woman named Maria Simpkins. I couldn’t place the name but somehow knew I’d heard it. It was, of course, Katrina’s mom asking me if I would write the biography of her daughter. I was flabbergasted, as the request came out of the blue. “Yes,” I said. “I’d be delighted.” And then I really began to think about it. This was serious stuff. It had to be done correctly and well. It was a big task. An important task. It had to be the best I could do for Katrina. The book quickly became personal to me and then became a labor of love. Katrina will always be my hero.
I found it to be totally and challengingly different. With fiction, the author can go anywhere and have their characters do anything, as long as it creates a reasonable story for the age group. With biography, one is totally at the mercy of the incidents at hand. By definition, it’s a bit more journalistic but must be told in as true a way as one can get to the subject. I did, in the end, go with narrative non-fiction, but it is the true story of Katrina and her relationship with Winter. (I was fortunate to have spent a weekend with the Simpkins family and was able to take copious notes, record conversations and get to know them, particularly Katrina.)
3. What’s next on the horizon?
I’ve just completed a Middle Grade novel called Lost on the Skeleton Coast. It’s a mystery set in the country of Namibia, next door to South Africa. A brother and sister, Olivia and Andy, are on an archaeological dig with their Uncle Blake, the lead site archaeologist. With diamond smugglers, kidnapping, an encounter with desert-adapted lions and the kids’ getting lost in the desert, I’m hoping it will be a delight to readers ready for a full-flung adventure!
4. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
This is a question near to my heart! The first is to read the genre of your choice. Go to the library, bookstore, online and get the books. Choose fine books. Look at the Newbery winners, (Caldecott, if one is an illustrator). Take notes as to what makes the book/s good. Second, join a critique group. One cannot and should not write in a vacuum! Critiquing is part of the creative process and a necessary part. Third, create a platform. Unless you win the “book lottery,” and your book is immediately snagged by a top publisher, you have to work on a platform. Create a web site, begin a blog, put yourself out there to guest post on other blogs, offer to do blog interviews, etc. Little by little, a platform is created. It takes time and perseverance, but there is no way to do it but just go through the process. Fourth, do not let rejection paralyze you. Being rejected is as much a part of this profession as the writing. Embrace it, and learn from it and move on. Never stop writing and rewriting. You and your work will become stronger because of it!
5. Finally, Beatles or Rolling Stones?
Rolling Stones, always and every time.