Author Interview: Nancy Christie

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Learn your craft. Get good feedback and strive to improve with every piece you do. No matter how long you have been writing, every day you should move the bar a little higher and try a little harder.

Be part of a writing community, however small, to keep the isolation from getting to you and to get feedback on your work.

Stop making excuses why you can’t write and just do it. Expect to have your work rejected, because that is just a fact of the writing life, but don’t let it stop you. Make time for writing, get it on your schedule, and then sit down and write.

Have you ever traveled as research for your book?

Yes—once for the title story in my second collection, Peripheral Visions and Other Stories, and once for my next novel, Finding Fran. In the first instance, while I had written a story about a character who drives from northeast Ohio to St. Augustine, Florida, I couldn’t complete it without actually retracing her trip so I could get the geographic details correct. I finally took the trip in the spring of 2016, a few months after my father died, which also served to help me process that loss and grief. The collection was published May 2020 by Unsolicited Press, although due to the pandemic, I wasn’t able to give it the big launch in St. Augustine that I had planned.

Finding Fran was also an after-the-writing trip. I had written my novel about a romance novelist who lived near San Francisco, California, but again needed the details to make it accurate. I traveled there in 2010 and spent a week in Half Moon Bay, which gave me plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere and meet residents who gave me all the information I needed. That book, the second in my Midlife Moxie Novel Series, will be published in 2024 by BookBaby. (Yes, I know—14 years later? In my defense, I was working on other book projects and client projects as well as handling some family duties.)

How do you use social media as an author?

Several different ways, although I know I could do a better job! Obviously, I post information about my books and upcoming events. I also post about interviews I do with other authors on my blogs and my Living the Writing Life podcast as well as my reviews of books by other authors—both fiction and nonfiction.

I also follow bookstores and libraries where I’m doing events, and make sure to post about the events and tag them before and after each appearance.

Finally, I try to comment on posts by other authors, although I don’t do that as much as I should!

How important was professional editing to your book’s development?

Critically. This isn’t an area where a writer should skimp. I have used both beta readers and professional editors—the beta readers to learn if what I wrote resonates with my audience, and professional editors for input on areas that need improvement: character development, plot lines and so forth.

Both betas and editors also catch those irritating stupid mistakes—a homophone error, incorrect punctuation, or a missing word—all of which occur and get missed no matter how often I re-read my work!

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have published six to date—two books for writers, one inspirational book, two short story collections and one novel—and have a third collection coming out in December 2023.

A favorite? That’s like asking a parent which kid you love most! I love them all, although my first collection, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories, is the one that made me feel like a real author, even though it was my second book. Short stories had always been my go-to genre, and when Traveling was released and got great reviews and reader comments, I finally felt like I could legitimately claim the “author” title.

If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?

Hmmm… maybe Martha Saxs, the owner of the Whale Inn in Finding Fran. A widow in her late seventies, she is still going strong, despite her cancer diagnosis, and is just so quirky and entertaining that I wish I could find someone like her in real life to spend a week with!

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

Characters, although more precisely, it’s what they say: the dialogue. Usually, the way a story starts is some character I don’t know whispers a line or two in my ear. I’ve no idea who the character is or what the story is about, but I just let the conversation continue. And then it all unfolds. I always say that I don’t consider myself to be writing the stories so much as transcribing what happens. I just watch it all unfold and am often surprised at what happens and why.

What difference do you see between a writer and an author?

In my opinion (not that people have to agree with it!), all authors are writers, but not all writers are authors. I spent decades writing magazine articles and ad agency copy, but I wasn’t an author until I had a book published.

What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?

What helps is simply enjoying the writing process, whether or not I end up with a finished piece. I just like to write—I’ve been doing it since second grade!—so making up stories (short or novel-length) is the most fun I can imagine.

What hinders me is the need to make a living. As Ann Patchett wrote in This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, “The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of an artist, is that in addition to making art, you also have to make a living.” While I enjoy the work I do for my freelance clients and quite frankly need it as an income source, I’d gladly give it up to spend all my time writing fiction. Maybe someday…

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I was fifty when my first book, The Gifts of Change, was published in 2004. My first short fiction collection, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories, was published 10 years after that in 2014when I turned 60. Deciding that I didn’t have that many decades left for all the books I wanted to write if I was only going to release one every ten years, I put all my focus on advancing my author career and committed to working on book-length projects.

My plan is to release at least one new book every year, although this year (2023) I’ll have two: Reinventing Rita and my third collection, Mistletoe Magic and Other Holiday Tales.

Brief bio: Nancy Christie is the author of six books, including her most recent, Reinventing Rita (the first in her Midlife Moxie Novel Series™), which was released in 2023 by BookBaby. Her two award-winning short story collections are Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and Peripheral Visions and Other Stories, both published by Unsolicited Press. Her third collection, Mistletoe Magic and Other Holiday Tales, will be published by Unsolicited Press in late 2023. She is also the author of The Gifts of Change, and two award-winning books for writers: Rut-Busting Book for Writers and Rut-Busting Book for Authors. Christie is the host of the Living the Writing Life podcast and founder of the annual “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day. For more about Christie, visit her website at and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Book Cover: Reinventing Rita ReinventingRitabyNancyChristie.jpg

Headshot: NancyChristie.jpg

Social media links (Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, etc…)





Books by Nancy Christie on YouTube:

Midlife Moxie Novel Series™ on YouTube:

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