Nancy Parra interview with David Alan Binder

posted Jul 30, 2019, 4:49 PM by David Alan Binder

Nancy Parra interview with David Alan Binder


About the author:  Nancy J Parra AKA Nancy Coco AKA Nell Hampton is the author of over 27 published novels which include five mystery series: The Oregon Honey-comb Mystery Series (Kensington), The Candy-Coated Mysteries (Kensington), The Kensington Palace Mystery Series (Crooked Lane), The Wine Country Tours Mystery Series (Crooked Lane) The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime).  Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world.  Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime, and writes for the Killer Character Blog on the 8th of every month.


Her website:


1.     Where are you currently living?

I am most recently living in Texas, although I do move quite often for my day job. So in the last five years I’ve lived in Illinois, California, Texas, Oregon and now back to Texas.


2.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

I guess this sounds esoteric, but my books only come alive when someone reads them. Writing is an interactive art. So I love learning how others enjoy my books, what resonates with them, and which characters they fall in love with.


3.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk? 

I always start with one murderer and motive and then when I get near the end of the manuscript, I start to see how they are innocent and someone I never thought of as a murderer actually did it. As scary as that can be, I do like the surprise of it.


4.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I have written for several publishers and haven’t self-published. I admire self-published authors as it’s so much work. I think we’re living in a great time where authors have many options to get their work out to readers.


a.      Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located? I write for Kensington, Crooked Lane, and have books out for Berkley and Montlake. I think they are all located in New York.


5.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I love print books, but I also buy eBooks to read when I’m on the train or traveling. The latest trend is audio books which are great for traveling and commuting. I think it’s great to offer readers many forms of books from hard covers to trade to mass market to eBook to audio book to allow readers to use their favorite way to read or listen to your work.


6.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

Gosh I wish I could tell you the magic formula, but I don’t know it. It really depends on what you want from your publishing – do you want one dream book published or do you want to be a working writer? If you want to publish your dream book- then write the best book you can, and get it out. If you want to be a working writer, then I recommend you look at the books you love to read and the authors who are writing them and then write something similar only different. If publishers and books sellers know where to put your book on the shelf, it is easier to get published. That said, many authors have been super successful writing things that aren’t currently popular thereby starting a trend themselves.


7.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

Gosh, getting an agent depends on your journey really. I have a great agent now who helps sell my books. But I had four agents prior who didn’t sell anything. My first book I sold without an agent. So I think it all depends on your level of comfort with risk, working with contracts, and negotiation. If you choose to self-publish, you don’t need an agent.

How do you get an agent? Research. A great website to start your search is They usually keep track of who is looking for what types of books. Also you can look up authors who are writing things like you and see if you can determine who their agents are and go to the agent’s website to look for the rules of submission. Always follow the agent’s rules when submitting work.


8.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?

Understand and write to your market. As a writer, you are an entrepreneur and a maker. You should think like an entrepreneur and write what you love, but understand who your reader is and why they would buy your book over someone else’s book.


9.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I have found that at chapter 5 and chapter 15 I always hate my book. But if I understand that I’m at those “ugly” points and keep going, promising that I can change it in draft, I keep working. Later I work on edits and find that the chapters aren’t as horrible as I felt at the time. Funny that it happens in every book, every time.

10.                        How many books have you written?

I wrote 17 books before my 15th sold. Since I sold that first book, I’ve sold 28 others and have written at least ten others that still haven’t sold. So what is that? 27 plus 27 so…54? Even after I published, I’ve written books that didn’t get published. I just always thought I wanted to write multiple books a year and I do.


11.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?

I practice yoga, and what I like about yoga is that no matter how many years you study it, it’s always “practicing.” Why? Because every day is different and every best is different, so my advice is to write every day. Do your best and remember you are never done learning about writing – no matter how good you are. You are “practicing” writing. You are practicing storytelling. Thankfully there is always more to learn. Or we’d get bored, right?


12.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

I’m what they call a “pantser” I write my books by “the seat of my pants.” So, my twists and turns come day by day. How do I do it? The minute my character starts to feel safe, I ensure something bad happens. I ask myself, ‘what is the worst that can happen now?” and then make it happen. If it feels obvious, then I need to up the game. I might ask myself, “Why is the person they trust the most, the person they should trust the least?”


13.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

I think it’s subjective, really. I find the books that I write that I love get so/so reviews, while books I wasn’t sure about are loved by readers. So, I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask. That said, I believe the only way to stand out is to write the best you can and don’t try to copy anyone. Everyone has a unique point of view, and it’s unique storytelling that makes a book stand out.


14.                        What is one unusual way in which you promote your work?

I’m not the best at promoting my books, which is weird because my day job is marketing. I find it easier to promote others. Also, I spend most of my time writing. I think it’s fun to run contests and ask a question to learn more about readers.


15.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I would try to be more strategic in my writing. I’ve seen people who look at what is selling and where the trends are in publishing have quicker success. That said, I think I had to do things the way that I did to learn the things I’ve learned along the way.


16.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

There is humor, grace, and meaning in an ordinary life.


17.                        Anything else you would like to say?

Whether you are a reader or a writer, I hope you know you play an important part in the process of storytelling. It’s awesome to see how the power of story connects everyone no matter who they are. Thanks for reading.