The Dames would like to welcome author Nicola Furlong to the blog today. Tell us about your latest book, Nicola.
My latest novel HEARTSONG, is the debut in my new contemporary women’s fiction series the Sisterhood of Shepherds.
Some families have hope. Others have faith. The Shepherds of rural Oregon have Faith, Hope and Charly, three quirky sisters whose lives change forever when they reluctantly answer a personal calling to help others make amends.
In HEARTSONG, thirty-something single parent Charly Shepherd is satisfied with her life raising two children and thousands of plants in her family-owned Sweet Shepherd Nursery. Then, tragedy strikes. As she and her siblings struggle to keep the nursery going, Charly begins to believe her family’s destiny is greater than raising flowers. When the three sisters reluctantly delve into family secrets to help their ailing father fulfil a promise, their lives change forever as they pursue a new inspirational path of discovery, heartache, humor and redemption.
Tagline: Experience friendship, family and forgiveness – Join the Sisterhood of Shepherds.
What great names and what a great idea for a series. Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
I’m writing the first draft of HOMEFIRES, the next novel in the Sisterhood of Shepherds series. It’s Halloween in rural Oregon and Faith, Hope and Charly Shepherd delve further into their personal calling to help others atone for past misdeeds. The family’s Sweet Shepherd Nursery is also hosting a ‘haunted greenhouse’ event, so everyone is tooling up their ‘thriller zombie’ moves.
Love it! What is a typical writing day like for you?
Wish I could say my life orbits around writing, but it really spins on food, especially chocolate. A typical day depends on the season.
The routine in spring and summer is easy: up early for breakie and in the garden for an hour, write new stuff from 8:30 to noonish, eat, exercise for an hour (bike ride or Nordic pole walking) while pondering my next scene, then take the dogs for a walk, back to being slumped over the computer for an hour or so of marketing and promotion before dinner and then more fun with family, friends or the plants. Fall and winter writing schedule is similar, but revolves around my playing Old-Timer’s hockey three mornings a week and not so much in the gardens.
Sounds like you lead an active life! Dogs and gardening – two of my favorites. Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
Oh, I really despise promotion, but I shamelessly plug away. I have a blossoming website/blog, dig in and out of Facebook and GoodReads, and am now sprouting on Pinterest, as it really suits my gardening photos. I also teach writing and self-publishing, am an active public speaker, and attend some writing events.
I’m really lucky to live and garden in a small seaside town on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. We boast the best climate in Canada and my gardens are chock a block with plants and blossoms. I’m currently haunted by striking bamboos, Himalayan blue poppies and fairy and vertical gardens.
Sounds beautiful. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
The Sisterhood of Shepherds bloomed when I decided to dodge out of the mystery genre and plant myself in contemporary fiction. I realized I wanted to write something heart-warming rather than heart-breaking, and two themes naturally occurred to me: family and gardening.
I have five sisters and two brothers and felt it was time to explore the joys, trials and noise of family life. I am also passionate about digging in the dirt and drawn to all the thematic ideas, like life, death and seasons, surrounding gardening. So, putting my family of Shepherds into the plant nursery business seemed an ideal fit.
Love that answer. If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?
I would cherish the opportunity to meet Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful novel, focused on family, truth and hope. As a tomboy with an older brother, I identify directly with Scout and her challenges to please her family, her society and yet be herself. I understand that the author had many challenges, some personal, some writing and some societal, in creating the final version. Her perseverance is inspiring.
That’s absolutely my favorite book. Although I understand she’s a bit reclusive, it would be a great coup to talk to her. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
This is an appealing question because I’ve recently completely changed my attitude towards this old chestnut. When I was writing mystery and suspense novels, I thought one should write about what interests you, what you don’t know but would like to explore. With this in mind, I dug into many things, including forensics, professional golf, opera singing and being a stigmatic. Now, with the Sisterhood of Shepherd series, I’m using what I know about sibling rows and reconciliations to grow a new fictional family.
What is your VERB? (This is a big poster at a local mall)? If you had to choose ONE verb that describes you and you behavior or attitude, what would it be?
Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
Yes, books and reading played huge roles. Both my parents were highly educated and voracious readers. We all read from an early age and several of my siblings have had books and articles published. My father devoured murder mysteries and introduced me to some terrific writers, like Carter Dickson, Rex Stout, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Ellery Queen and Raymond Chandler, not to mention the greats like Christie, Conan Doyle and Collins.
Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
I’m into electronic publishing big time. In 2008, when I learned that Japanese readers had downloaded millions of books to their cell phone screens, I realized I could self-publish my backlist and find a new audience. It was a tremendous challenge and a steep-learning curve but within a year, I had several ebooks available for sale online, awake and alive in the world again, rather than snoozing in drawers or on disks. I now regularly teach electronic publishing at a local college and have had many students succeed in publishing their own work and beginning to manage their career as writers. How cool is that?
I think it’s wonderful. Ebooks are definitely the way to go. Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?
Write something, anything, everyday. Don’t edit, don’t second guess, and don’t stop.
Thanks again for joining us today, Nicola. For more information, visit:
HEARTSONG is available in paperback and ebook at:
Barnes and Noble:
TEED OFF! is in trade paperback and ebook available at:
Barnes & Noble: