Welcome, Nan Dixon, 2013 Golden Heart Double-Finalist!

Nan DixonToday’s interview is with Nan Dixon, a rare double-finalist in Romance Writers of America’s 2013 Golden Heart® contest for unpublished manuscripts. This is the premier contest (worldwide) for writers of the romance genre. Clean Sweep a finalist in the Contemporary Single Title category, and Southern Comforts a finalist in the Contemporary Series category. Welcome, Nan!

Tell us a little about yourself.

My hubby, I, Waldo the cat, and one of my five children live in a suburb of Saint Paul.  (We will be empty-nesters when he heads off to Chiropractic school next fall.)  I’m first generation; my father was born in Canada but moved to Minnesota when he was young.  He met my mother in England during WWII.  I’ve been an actress, singer and dancer.  I love to ski, both water and snow, and was the captain of the University of Minnesota golf team.  I’m ecstatic that I’m no longer consumed by the world of business where I was financial executive at a pharmaceutical company.  I’m the president of my local RWA chapter – Midwest Fiction Writers, and the Treasurer of a local dance company.  Until I received an offer of representation from Laura Bradford last fall, I was a contest junkie.  I received the Contest Diva tiara for the 2009 contest year most finals—18.  (It’s so shiny and pretty.)Nan Dixon's tiara

Tell us about your manuscripts that finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart® contest!

In Clean Sweep, Undercover Boss meets Music and Lyrics when Kate MacBain is forced to clean houses.  This dedicated executive plans to be CEO of the family business—not a maid or even a girlfriend.  But Alex, a composer with writer’s block, refuses to be swept out of her life.

In Southern Comforts, Gray, a cynical Boston developer falls for Abigail’s brandy pecan bars and then Abigail, but is the struggling Savannah B&B owner attracted to Gray—or his money?

How do you feel about the Golden Heart® experience?

This is my third time to the dance, and I’m so excited.  The Lucky 13s are such a fun group and I will get to see the Unsinkables and Starcatchers at the conference.  Besides, who wouldn’t want to be a princess for a week?  This year will be different; I won’t be out stalking agents and editors like in prior years.  (Last year, I went home from the conference with 8 requests.)  I have the wonderful Laura Bradford as an agent and I am out on submission with a non-Golden Heart manuscript.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories? And/or for this story, in particular?

The idea for Southern Comforts came from a trip I took to Savannah with my sisters.  (I have 3)  We take an annual trip together and one sister is social director.  (No one knows where we are going but the social director.)  I picked Savannah and Tybee Island and we had a ball.  I thought it fun it would be to write about 4 sisters trying to make a B&B out of the Fitzgerald family mansion and of course they are struggling with money.

I can’t remember where the idea came from for Clean Sweep, but again it is based on a family, the MacBains are Minneapolis real estate moguls.  There are three brothers and one sister in the family and Clean Sweep is Kate’s story.

The ideas for my stories seem to come when I’m driving.  And that is the only reason I miss working.  I used to do a lot of brainstorming on my up to an hour commute.  (I used to travel over the 35W bridge that went down.  But that near miss is probably the subject of another blog.)

What has your writing journey been like?

I was a closet writer for years and years and years.  (I was the dancer, singer, athlete in the family.  My mother and sister were the writers/poets.)  I wrote five hot mess novels before starting to learn the craft.  Then I took classes, joined two critique groups, and with their help, starting finalling in contests.  The second year I entered the Golden Heart, Steel Hearts was a finalist in Single Title.

What’s your ideal writing environment?

As a mother five kids, I have the ability to concentrate through chaos.  I have an office (one of the kid’s bedrooms), but I can write on planes, in cars (where I am cleaning up this blog), at the beach and in front of the TV.

How can fans reach you?

Website:  www.nandixon.com

Twitter: @nancyevertz

Facebook nan.dixon.7@facebook.com

Blog:  http://nandixonblog.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Nan, for visiting Leslie Lynch Writes – and we wish you the very best in your publishing future! Is there anything you’d like to add?

I believe in the 10,000 hour concept, that it takes that long to become an expert.  (I think I’m edging up on 7,500 hours of writing.  Yes, I keep a log!)  How long have you been writing?

This entry was posted in Creative Process, Creativity, Golden Heart, Leslie Lynch, Romance Writers of America, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice, Writing Tips and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Welcome, Nan Dixon, 2013 Golden Heart Double-Finalist!

  1. Piper says:

    Very enjoyable interview and both books sounds great. However, my question is, where is the brandy pecan bar recipe? 🙂

    • Nan Dixon says:

      You know – I made it up. My mother and now I made a brady pecan pie that is to die for, but becuase Abby is making things for the afternoon teas at the B&B – I figured it needed to be in a bar form. I think I will create one though, using a pecanm flour and butter base for the bar and then the wonderful pecan brandy mix on top. What do you think??

    • Nan Dixon says:

      The pie is incredible – and with all the butter — so rich. I am going to have to make up the recipe. Maybe I’ll bring them to Atlanta!!

  2. Leslie Lynch says:

    Good morning, Nan! So glad to have you here today! I have to ask…is the Contest Diva tiara a tradition of your writing group, Midwest Fiction Writers? It’s a great idea. We, at Louisville Romance Writers, have a similar tradition: Gerard, the sock monkey, who goes to live with the member who has written at least 20,000 words during our March writing challenge. (I wrote a post about him in March, if anyone wants to scroll down.) Gerard kept me company last year, but he’s moved on to Lisa Tapp’s home. For now! It’s fun to see how other groups keep the fun in what sometimes can be an arduous process.

    But I gotta say, that sparkly tiara has its own allure!

    To answer the question you posed: I’ve been writing book length fiction for…hmmm…about thirteen years. I didn’t begin to learn HOW to write book length fiction until I joined RWA and LRW eight years ago, though. 😉 I don’t keep a log of writing hours (I should!) but I’m sure I’m in the 7,500 range, too.

    Thanks for visiting, Nan, and for posing a thought provoking question!

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Thank you so much for having me here, Leslie! It is so fun to get to know the rest of the Single Title Ladies.

      Go Gerard! What a great idea. The tiara is from the Contest Divas. http://contestdivas.blogspot.com/ They track all the Romance writing contests. If you sign up, then they will track your finals.

      It is interesting that some of us put in many clueless years of writing before we connected with RWA. I am so glad I found my local chapter and then took advantage of the class 2 writers were conducting at a place called The Loft here in the Twin Cities. (The Loft does classes for writers.) Kathleen Eagle and Mary Bracho started me on this path and I also met some of my critique partners there.

  3. Kay Hudson says:

    I’m still doing that hour-each-way commute thing, and thinking is about all it’s good for–although I’ve been known to miss a turn or even an exit when I get too deep into plotting. Good to see you here, Nan, and I’ll see you in Atlanta (where I’ll still be stalking agents and editors)!

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Kay.
      Yeah – missing a turn– I don’t know if I could always blame it on plotting, but that commute — which after the bridge went down–could sometimes be really, really long. It let me really think about my characters. I use car trips now. But I have to force myself to think about my stories. When I was working, the characters were always clamoring to get out. Now that I have the luxury of doing this full time, I’m a little more balanced. (At least in my own mind. My family says I’m still drifty!)

  4. kimmaccarron says:

    Diva Nan,
    Always a pleasure visiting you anywhere, tiara or no tiara. Your books sound amazing, and I’m sure your feisty nature and fun outlook shine through in all of them.
    I get you with the chaos! As another mom of five, sometimes I feel like I can ONLY write in chaos. I was trying to do some revisions last weekend, and I was typing away on my phone on the bleachers during one of my kids’ soccer games, but when my friends took my kids for the night so that I could write in peace and quiet, I wrote…NOTHING! I seriously cried and went to bed early. The next day, when they were all home and fighting and running through the kitchen, I wrote more than 2,000 words. I guess I’m made for chaos. 🙂

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      Oh, Kim, that’s so funny…and so NOT funny! I’m like you and Nan; I write best when there’s ‘stuff’ going on around me. However, I haven’t mastered the art of doing much on my phone except receiving random calls from friends who wondered what I wanted, only to discover my new Smart phone had, ahem, butt-dialed them.

      Maybe we should have named ourselves something related to Chaos rather than the Lucky13s! 😉

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Hey Kim!
      It is so weird that chaos help with creativity. I always write with music on, but the house is really quite now. (So much fun when the kids come home, though.)
      I don’t think I can write or revise on a phone. Kudos for you. Although I do remember spending a lot of time on the phone with attorneys during soccer and lacrosse games and track and cross country meets while the company I worked for was doing mergers.
      I’m not sure if I agree with the researchers that say multi-tasking isn’t good. It kept my adrenline going.
      Go chaos!! I think we get our energy from all the chaos.

  5. Jackie Floyd says:

    Hi Nan! Your books both sound great and I thoroughly enjoyed your comments. Congrats on the double nomination too. This is shaping up to be a great year for you! I’m looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta. I haven’t kept track of my writing hours–I should have! If I had directed my time elsewhere I could have cured the common cold by now!

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Hi Jackie!
      See you can’t take the analyst or accountant out of this writer! When you figure out that common cold thing, can you move on to cancer?? It sure seems like it takes a lot of hours to get this craft down. The stories of a peron’s 1st book being the one that sells seems so rare. Tells you there’s a learning curve out there.
      Can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta!

  6. Sonali Dev says:

    Hi Nan,

    Each time I read your bio I am awed and humbled. Can’t wait to read your books and meet you in Atlanta!

    Congratulations again!


    • Nan Dixon says:

      Thanks Sonali!
      I can’t wait to read your books! So exciting that you’ve already sold. I figure my life was getting me all those experiences, just so I could be a better writer!
      Looking forward to Atlanta!

  7. Greta says:

    Oh, I missed this one! Love to hear about the brainstorming on commutes … for me, driving time is daydreaming and radio time.

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Oh Greta — you didn’t miss this. I just put the wrong day in my note. I blame it on traveling this week. It always goofs up my concept of days.
      I think my plotting during the commutes was initially forced – or active directive thinking. But then it just became a habit. And the radio was always on.

  8. Sharon Wray says:

    Nan, I am soooo jealous of your crown! And I dare you to wear it at RWA this year. People may chuckle behind your back, but they’ll secretly want one too. LOL. I am so proud to stand with you this year as Lucky 13!

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Thank you Sharon! I just might pack the gorgeous thing. It goes with the whole princess for week concept and doesn’t everyone want a tiara? I think I did pack it for NYC – because a chaptermate and one of our fellow Unsinkables–Cat Schield –promised to bring hers. We were going to wear them in the bar. (She did not bring hers!)
      See you in Atlanta!

  9. Hi Nan and congratulations again on your double Golden Heart nomination and on all your other contest successes! Love the tiara!! When I see the results for a contest, I always scan the list for your name 🙂 Hope this is the year that you move from unpublished contest queen to published contest queen.

    Will always remember meeting you at the 2009 RWA conference in Washington, DC (when we were both newbies to conferences, and I was too shy — and at that point in the conference too exhausted — to say much and let my friend Mimi Barbour do all the talking). Then, the very next year , we were Golden Heart finalists and Unsinkable sisters. So happy to be sharing the Golden Heart roller coaster rider with you again this year!

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Hey Jacqui!
      That was so much fun the night of the awards ceremony in DC. There was no way I could forget you or your gorgeous hair. (I have serious hair envy) Of course, I didn’t get any dessert that night. Couldn’t get to the tables. And Mimi is such a livewire. Since that was our first conference together, and now we have been GH sisters so often – we might as well both sell this year!
      Congratulations on your double final!
      Unfortunately, I’m not submitting to contests anymore. (Other than Golden Heart) And boy do I miss the validation.

  10. Sheila Athens says:

    Fun blog post, Nan! Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself and your books.

  11. Okay, weird. I posted a comment about an hour ago, but WordPress ate it.

    I completely relate to writing anywhere and everywhere. In fact, that’s probably what my Rubies post will be about. But unlike you, I don’t thrive on it. I’d way rather write in a quiet study, cats snoozing nearby.

    (And five kids! My hat’s off to you! I’ve met a lot of women with four kids, and am always impressed. Good thing you’re so organized, I’m sure it came in handy!)

    I’m sure I’ve clocked those 10K hours, though largely on screenplays. Ten of them should do it, huh? Last year’s GH winner was my third novel, but hardly my third work of fiction.

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Thanks for stopping by Talia!

      I think WordPress ate one of my replies earlier, too!
      I was hoping that all my contracting and merger and acquisition work on legal documents would help too – but I think I’m being delusional. Screenplays on the other had would be the right experience.

      I do have 5 kids – but the last 2 came as twins. (kids 4 and 5) The older kids were lots of help – but at the time I had them, I was CFO of a medical group. A medical group under a lot of pressure — as they all were trying to figure out the new pardigms in serving patients.
      Not a fun job to have just had twins. I had a lot of sleep deprivation in their first 2 years of life. And it was an 80 hour a week kind of job. At least as the twins grew, they didn’t mind coming to the office with meon Saturdays and playing on my white board or the calculator. Opening up the board to find their drawings always thrilled my staff.

      I have to run to an appointment — but I will be back!

  12. Great interview, Nan!

    Five kids and the Contest Diva tiara? You’re my hero! Now that you have an agent, I do hope you’ll share your agent-stalking skills with me in Atlanta. Congrats on your double final!

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Hi Bonnie!
      The fine art of stalking agents and editors. Maybe there’s a workshop in there.
      I spent a lot of time researching and printing pictures. Then I matched up if they were parts of RWA panels or workshops. I spent more time in the bar than any of my previous conferences. And I had an approach for each of my targets. For example, I introduced myself to Jill Marsal in the bar because she was the 1st agent to personally call and reject me I thanked her for the call and she asked me what I was working on. Then I gave my pitch and she requested.
      A lot of work to make each contact personal, but it paid off!
      See you in Atlanta!

  13. Hi Nan! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you a little through our loop, and I loved your interview. Did you actually manage to write WHILE working as a CFO/mom of five or did you do most of your writing after you left your job? I started writing right after college then let my career take me away from it entirely until I “retired” to stay home with my boys. I wish I’d started logging my writing time four years ago when I began writing seriously. I’ve only started logging writing time recently, and wow– what a great thing to actually KNOW how long it takes you to write a book, revise, etc. Oh well, I’m getting there step-by-step. Thank God for writer blogs like this one.
    Congratulations on your double final- your books sound like something I’d really like to read. See you in Atlanta!

    • Nan Dixon says:

      Hi Amy! It is so great making all these wonderful new friends!

      Yes – I actually was writing when I was the CFO. I wouldn’t start until after 10 o’clock, normally with a laptop in bed. The good news — I don’t require a lot of sleep — the bad news – I’m left-handed and left-handed people have a stronger disposition to insomnia – so I decided I might as well write. Boy, were those manuscripts hot messes!! But that was becuase I knew nothing about the craft.

      I would write on planes if I was traveling for work – but I used to work for an hour or two on the plane and then do my writing. And that was only if it was after work hours. When I worked for the pharmacuetical company – I had staff in Baltimore – so I used to take the last place from Minneapolis to Baltimore — so I could get a full day in the office before traveling. What was I thinking?? Sometimes I wouldn’t get into the hotel until 2 in morning. Dumb, especially when I would set up 8:30 meetings. (Can you say work-a-holic?)
      Can’t wait to meet you in person in Atlanta!

      See you in Atlanta!

  14. Leslie Lynch says:

    Wow, Nan, what a day! Thank you SO much for visiting my blog and bringing all these wonderful people into a great conversation! I gotta admit, you make me tired just listening to you… 😉

    Looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta! Maybe I’ll borrow my daughter’s tiara from her pageant days and wear it in solidarity with you! Although I can’t come close to your Contest Diva record. Best of luck in your publishing career!


    • Nan Dixon says:

      Thanks for having me, Leslie! It’s been so much fun and I appreciate all your work in pulling this together.
      Yu should definitely bring your daughter’s tiara to the conference. We’ll wear them together! Maybe all the Single Title should bring one! How can we make that happen??

      • Leslie Lynch says:

        Hey, Nan, if nothing else, I’ll stop by a party store and bring tiaras for all of us Single Title nominees! What a fun way to celebrate the Golden Heart experience!

  15. Katie Graykowski says:

    Nan, so sorry to stop by a week late, but…well I don’t have an excuse. I’m jealous of your crown. I want a crown. Can’t wait to read your books!

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