Nancy Raven Smith is a fellow Kindle Scout winner and member of the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She says this about herself: I am an avid reader and former screenwriter who came to writing novels late in life. Mysteries and suspense with some humor and romance are what I love to write.
You have an all-expense-paid long weekend to spend with three guests. The Starship Enterprise has agreed to beam you to the place of your choosing, so travel time is not a consideration. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you staying (and why)?
The Starship is going to have to use the time travel beam. Two of my choices have passed away.
This might get mushy, but first would be my parents. I’d like to meet them in Bermuda or St Thomas, two places they enjoyed visiting when they were alive. I’d like the opportunity to share a heartfelt thank you. With the hubris of the young, I never truly expressed my appreciation for all they did for me.
My third guest would be Janet Evanovich. I’d love to talk with her about writing. Maybe she’d enjoy my parents and the Caribbean, too.
Are you a plotter, pantser or something in between and why?
I’m a long time pantster. If I were to outline a story, I wouldn’t finish it because once I solve all the problems, the story wouldn’t interest me any longer. That said, when I start, I think I know what the ending will be and sometimes an act break and maybe one of the themes.
But I’m open to changing all of it. I allow myself to go where the characters or the story leads me. I love ‘discovering’ things as I go along. I also realize that I probably do more drafts then people who outline in order to reorganize the material into a three act structure. My writing has been called ‘quirky’ (in a good way), and I like that.
When you start reading a book do you always finish it? If not, what causes you to permanently put a book down?
I try to finish any book I start, but I frequently sample writers I’m not familiar with and won’t continue if the characters are unfeeling or have no moral compass.
Name three not-well-known authors you would recommend and tell us what you like about their writing.
Well, I know of two whose work I love. Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon. They are two writers based in Italy with a little following in the US. They both write detective stories with a very human touch. Their work has been excellently transferred to Italian MHz television series. Their books are available in English.
Do you read reviews of your books? Why or why not?
I’m a debut author so I do. I realize not every book is for everyone, but feedback from readers can be a help.
What do you do that you suspect causes your copyeditor to pull her/his hair out?
All my manuscript typos and punctuation errors. When I get writing, I tend to create in the moment and I figure I’ll go back and clean up the manuscript later. Which I do, but somehow the pesky errors persist. Sometimes I think they propagate when I’m not looking.
When you compare your first draft to your final draft, do you net add words or subtract words? In general, what is it that you add or subtract between first and final draft?
That’s a very interesting question. My intent is to tighten, clarify, and eliminate extraneous things, and that’s what I’m sure I do. Yet when I get to the end, I always have more words than I started with. Honestly, I have no idea how that happens.
What language error, when you hear or see it, grates on you like the screech of fingernails on a chalkboard?
Misuse of homophones - words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and have different meanings
Name three writers from whom you have drawn inspiration and tell us why.
There are so many writers. Three is hard.
Janet Evanovich for her tone and for her light blending of mystery, romance, and humor.
Dick Francis who wrote two of my favorite books – Danger and Blood Sport. For me, both are intricate, suspenseful stories with great characters as are many of his other books.
Andrea Camilleri for creating Detective Montalbano and for writing detective stories permeated with humanity, heart, and humor.
What is a piece of writing advice you think is worth sharing?
The writing advice I’d like to pass along is one I learned from a screenwriting instructor at UCLA. It’s to always finish the first draft of any project you start, even if it’s bad, even if you hate it. A screenplay or book that’s half finished is useless. There’s nothing you can do with it. If you struggle on and finish the project, then there are lots of ways to get help, including beta readers, instructors, and editors.
Thank you, Jim. It’s been a pleasure to visit My Two Cents Worth. I always enjoy talking about books and writing.
To find more information about Nancy Raven Smith and her writing go to http://www.NancyRavenSmith.com and/or http://www.Facebook.com/NancyRavenSmith
To learn more about Land Sharks – A Swindle in Sumatra, go to
The Ebook for Land Sharks – A Swindle in Sumatra is on a promotional sale until April 14, 2016 for $0.99.