Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers

Well, I have to admit that winter has arrived. It snowed last night and when I went out for dinner the roads were that a word? Anyway blech! to winter. I'm ready for spring.

That's why I was so happy to get away from the cold Midwest with this week's featured author. I picked her up in my transporter, set the controls and soon we're enjoying an evening in Carcasonne, France. All around us are signs that this city has survived the ages. Ms. Jarvis is 'suffering' after a cassoulet dinner that tasted so good she over indulged. In between stomach cramps she tells me that the city covers approximately seventeen acres, the only road in closes at night, and during one of the sieges it endured throughout the centuries the townsfolk threw a pig over the walls just to show the enemy they weren't starving and could resist for months if needed.

Ms. Jarvis says she feels can connect to this town so much she feels like royalty...then asks me for some antacids. Sigh! Onto the interview.

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I’m hardly the most fascinating person in my city, maybe in any room, which is a good thing because it means I enjoy listening to other people tell their story. I’m provided by endless material to use in books by listening and observing.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I’ve become completely schizophrenic when it comes to public speaking. Nancy Lynn Jarvis is the name I use whenever I’m online or doing anything related to writing (don’t tell Facebook, please). When I’m not her, I’m terrified speaking in public, but when I am, I’ll knock people out of my way to get to a mic. I absolutely love public speaking as Nancy Lynn Jarvis.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a movie star?

I never intended to become a writer. I was a successful Realtor enjoying my career when the real estate market collapsed worldwide and I decided to take a time out and wait for things to get back to normal. With time on my hands, I got bored, and decided to try to write a mystery as a time-filling mind-engaging game.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

I’d like dinner with Antonia Fraser, not because of the mysteries she writes, but because of her British monarch histories. I’d like to sit down with David McCullough, too, and especially with Doris Kearns Goodwin. If you notice a theme here, it’s because I love reading historical works. I’d add Amy Tan to my list for fiction because I so enjoy her books, but having heard her speak, I’m afraid we might both be quiet over dinner and that could be awkward. Now, if you’ll allow me to add dead writers, it would be Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers so we could talk mystery structure.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company.

Funny you should ask. I always intended my books to work well for two audiences: Realtors reading between meeting with clients, and people getting on an airplane flying from San Francisco to New York. The books I write probably take about four-and-a-half to five hours to read. The plan was the flyer would finish reading as the plane landed, say, “That was a fun way to spend my flight,” and toss the book after deplaning…or better, yet, leave it in the airport for someone headed west to grab.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I know the plot before I start writing and have done a psychological profile for all of the characters because I have to understand them and how they think before I can write about them. My books are set in Santa Cruz, even though Santa Cruz isn’t mentioned in the one-off comedy I did called Mags and the AARP Gang, because I’m a visual writer who needs to see the settings she uses.

I do a great deal of research for writing because, even though what I do is fiction, details need to be correct. Since I write mysteries with a body in the first chapter, I spend a fair amount of research on how to kill people. You should see the email I get; at least I’ve never blown anyone up in a book so Homeland Security hasn’t contacted me.

I have no set writing schedule and no set editing or number of edits schedule. I write when details are clear I my mind, but I often run dialog in my head when I’m driving which is probably dangerous. I can’t edit my own work so pros have to do it with me kicking and screaming the whole time.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don't know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

It is always daunting sitting down and starting a new book; I can never remember quite how to do it. My advice is to try writing the second chapter first. Since you are already in the midst of the story that way, it’s easy to keep going.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

I learned my philosophy after loving a series of jobs and solidified it watching a near-retirement-age English professor fly on stage as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’ve worked for the San Jose Mercury News, as a librarian, as business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz, and as a Realtor. Now I write. I think people should try something radically different every few years.

9. Please tell me you're not going to stop writing? What's next for you?

After four Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries, I took a break from mystery for humor. I loved writing about Mags and her gang, but missed amateur sleuth or meddler as her police officer friend Dave calls her Regan, and her husband, Tom, so I’m working on book five in the series. It’s called The Murder House and should be out (very) late this year.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

People can go to my website http://www, to read opening chapters of the books and pick up a free recipe for Mysterious Chocolate Chip Cookies that goes along with the books or they can stop by Facebook at

Of course, I would love it if readers went to my Amazon author page because they can order standard print, large print, and e-books there.

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