Celebrating with Nancy Herriman: Her First Sale!

Nancy Herriman writes inspirational historical romance and is represented by the fabulous Natasha Kern of Natasha Kern Literary Agency. Natasha recently sold Nancy’s debut novel, set in 1830’s London, to Worthy Publishing. The Irish Healer will be released Spring 2012 with a second, as-yet-untitled work to follow.

After 20 years spent in Arizona, Nancy has returned to Ohio and now lives in the Columbus area with her husband and two very busy teenaged sons. She earned a degree in Chemical Engineering and thinks her former career and her current one have only one thing in common: the amount of hours required to do the work. Nancy is fortunate to be able to dedicate most of her time to writing, although she could always use a few more hours in a day.

When Nancy isn’t writing—or watching history shows on cable TV—she is most likely singing. A member of her community chorus, she is a regular soloist at church and loves to sing everything from gospel to Mozart to Broadway tunes. Nancy enjoys traveling to distant cities, gabbing with her friends over lattes, and eating at ethnic restaurants. Years after leaving the desert Southwest, she admits she is still in search of a decent Mexican restaurant in the chilly Midwest.


Nancy, I was thrilled when I saw your critique partner’s announcement of your First Sale on Twitter. Congratulations on your BIG news!

You’ve received a number of important calls on your writing journey, from contest coordinators informing you that you were a finalist to a highly respected agent offering representation. While those are wonderful, every novelist with a goal of publication is anxiously awaiting The Call.

And yours has come! Please tell us about it, complete with the sensory detail we writers love. Were there ear-piercing shrieks, salty tears coursing down your cheeks, or shivers shimmying up your spine?

The Call came when I was preparing to leave for choir practice. As the phone rang, my first thought was: I don’t have time for this. Thankfully, I answered and heard Natasha’s excited voice on the other end. I had received an offer from Worthy Publishing! Too numb to squeal, I dropped into one of the kitchen chairs before my knees buckled while my thoughts ricocheted between ‘Thank you, God!’ and ‘Is this really happening?’

After ending my conversation with Natasha, I did a quick happy dance with my husband and kids and called my fabulous critique partner, Candace Calvert. The next day was spent firing off e-mails to fellow writer friends and responding to Facebook posts. And, yes, I’m still numb.

You won the 2006 Daphne du Maurier award for Best Unpublished Mystery/Romantic Suspense back in 2006, so you’ve been writing for some time. Who or what motivated you to keep on keeping on all those years?

I started writing seriously when my oldest was in preschool, so I have been on this journey for more than 10 years. In that time, I have written some manuscripts good enough to win awards, like the Daphne, and some truly unpublishable ones. Rejection letters are never easy to receive, but I’m either too thick-headed to let them bother me for long or too stubborn to quit! Most importantly, though, I have been blessed with the unselfish support of other writers. I doubt that any of us can do this job alone and stay sane.

So, heartfelt thanks to all my friends at Central Ohio Fiction Writers, especially Donna MacMeans, who never let me give up. To Natasha, who I half-expected to start her own publishing house in order to see The Irish Healer in print and has always believed in my writing. And, most of all, to Candace, who has been with me since an on-line Writer’s Digest class brought us together and has read (no kidding) every single word of every single manuscript I’ve ever written. Most times, more than once.

The book that sold is an inspirational historical romance, and yet you were a Daphne winner. Does that mean your readers can expect some mystery or suspense in your debut novel?

Actually, no, although the germ for the book idea was born during a research session in the Old Bailey website. When I discovered the transcripts of a murder trial that concerned a young woman accused of killing a child she’d been tending, Rachel Dunne and The Irish Healer came to life.

Here’s a little blurb to give you an idea of the story:

Rachel Dunne is an Irish healer accused of the death of a child under her care. Acquitted but shunned, she flees to England searching for a new life. She vows to never sit at another bedside again…or trust a God who abandoned her when she needed Him most.

London physician James Edmunds is wearied by his failures, especially his inability to save his wife, who died from childbed fever. He has decided to abandon his practice and lose himself in the running of his family’s small country estate. Until a red-haired Irish servant girl with a deep and mysterious strength makes him think about living again.

When cholera sweeps through London, and the life of James’ young daughter hangs in the balance, Rachel and James must face their darkest fears. And learn that true faith in God—and love—just might heal both their hearts.

Wow! Your story sounds intriguing. I can see why it sold.

Of all the advice you’ve read or received as you worked toward this milestone First Sale event, what did you find the most helpful?

Never give up! If I can get published after 10+ years of trying, so can anyone. Write, write, write…submit, submit, submit. That’s my mantra and the only way a writer can hope to become published. If you don’t put your work out there, it’s not going to get much farther than your own computer.

I also have taken to heart the advice to write that first draft all the way through without editing, as much as is possible. Resist the temptation to polish—and re-polish, and polish once more—those opening chapters. Too many manuscripts die without getting past the beginning. There is so much to be learned by reaching ‘The End’.

Also, try to write every day, even if it’s only ten words and you’re not certain you even like those ten words. Cultivate, nurture a habit of writing. To quote Octavia Butler – “Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

Questions for Nancy

Nancy, it’s been wonderful having you at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your exciting news with us. Congratulations again on your First Sale!

I invite your visitors to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novel, and what life is like after receiving that long-awaited first contract. And, of course, feel free to squee with Nancy all you’d like.

Learn More About Nancy

Visit her website ~ www.nancyherriman.com

Friend her on Facebook ~ Nancy Herriman

Follow her on Twitter ~ @NanHerriman


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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36 Responses to Celebrating with Nancy Herriman: Her First Sale!

  1. Lisa Cooke says:

    Hi Nancy–Congrats on your first sale! Was there ever a time you wanted to give up? What kept you going?

    • Wait, Lisa, haven’t you been at events where I was banging my head on the table? Fortunately for me, I have wonderful writer friends who encouraged me at every step. I am blessed!

  2. Becky Barker says:

    Huge congrats on your sale, Nancy! It’s rarely an easy path to publication, but I’m glad you kept on trying. Wishing you bunches of sales:-)


  3. Nancy, your advice is excellent! I especially agree with the part about resisting the temptation to go back and polish those early chapters, because I do that so often. And writing every day–that’s key. And of course, never, ever giving up.

    You’re an inspiration, Nancy. The Irish Healer sounds like a wonderful story–I can’t wait to read it.


  4. Congratulations, Nancy! Your first sale story is inspiring–proof that detemination will win the day. The Irish Healer sounds wonderful, so full of deep characters and a chance to watch them really grow. Do I truly have to wait a whole year?!

  5. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Nancy! It’s great to have you here at Romance Writers on the Journey. I’m delighted to share in the celebration of your First Sale.

    I have another question for you. You love to sing, so if you were to choose one song that best describes your writing journey, which would it be?

  6. Hi Nancy! Congratulations! I think it’s funny that you and I switched regions. I used to live in the Columbus area, and now I live in the desert southwest. 🙂

    Your novel sounds intriguing. I love a good suspense novel and 1830s London is a less common setting, so I like that too!

    A s a side note, my book launch party is in Westerville on May 9th, from 4-6pm at Everal Barn. I would be delighted to see you or any of the other Central Ohio writers! It should be a pretty big deal as book launches go, with historical music and people in historical costume, plus Historical Society attendance.

  7. Well – I signed on to squeal for Nancy, but Rosslyn – as I live in Westerville, I’ll have to stop by your launch party! Very cool historic spot to launch a book. Congrats!

    Nancy – I’m so proud of you. The book sounds fabulous and I know the difficulty you went through to find it a home. It’s funny – when you’re so close to publishing, the rejections are so full of compliments that it hurts all the more. So happy that Worthy Publishing had the good sense to snap you up. Now you get to experience the whirlwind of publishing. Take a deep breath. It’s a crazy business, but one that I love. I know you will too.

  8. Hugh congrats, Nancy. Your journey to publication is inspiring. Thanks for the words of advice, too. Your debut sounds like a story I’d enjoy reading.

  9. Keli: thank you for this wonderful feature!

    And Nancy: you KNOW I’m busting- my- buttons proud of you! I’ve had the rapt pleasure of reading your work for more than a decade . . . and soon I’ll have the joy of holding the Irish Healer in my hands. Hugs, hugs and hurray!

  10. Margaret says:

    This is a big GIANT squee for Nancy! Congratulations. It sounds like a wonderful book.
    Never give up, Never give in!

  11. Kat Sheridan says:

    Many, MANY congrats, Nancy, and wishing you fabulous sales! I love the setting of your book, and your story of how you were inspired! And what an inspiration you are to those of us still aspiring. Do you have a favorite scene in the book, one you just loved writing the most?

  12. LoRee Peery says:

    Congrats on your sale, sounds like a great read. And congratulations on your agent. I’ve heard nothing but good about her.

  13. Janie Mason says:

    Congratulations, Nancy!
    How did I not know that you’re a songbird? Something we have in common besides having awesome COFW friends.
    Can’t wait to read THE IRISH HEALER.

  14. Jill W says:

    Yeah, Nancy! Congratulations! Your book is sure to be a great read. I’ll look forward to the release. Thank you for your words of wisdom when it come to persistence and perseverance. I love the quote, “Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable.” I’m taping that to my computer!

  15. Libby McCord says:

    Nancy, the squees are coming from SOUTH of Ohio–yeah, okay, northern Kentucky, but huge squees nonetheless. Your characters and their journeys sound wonderful; I can’t wait to read the book.

    As someone who’s now having to squeeze her fiction writing into very small amounts of time–but who wants to keep that produce-words-every-day as you advocate–any tricks for keeping me at it?


    • I don’t know if I have any tricks other than simply forcing myself to dedicate time to the writing and chugging out the words. It’s just that simple and just that hard.

  16. Congrats on the sale, Nancy!!!! The book sounds great! Love your first call story. YAY!!! LOL

  17. Caroline says:

    Nancy, so very happy for you! I’ve enjoyed re-living those special moments when you got the call. I had to laugh when you said you thought you didnt’ have time for it. LOL

    Your book sounds very interesting and I look forward to reading it.

    Congrats again!


  18. Jill Wilson says:

    I am so proud of you Nancy! From Chemical Engineering to a published writer! You have always had determination, but this proves how being strong willed prevails! Congrats again! May there be many more publications in your future!

  19. Nancy, I’m thrilled at your success! Your story proves that it takes determination and perseverance and a never say never attitude. I didn’t know about your joy of singing! Thanks for sharing your story and I will be one COFW member who is standing in line to buy THE IRISH HEALER the day it hits the shelves! Woo hoo!!

  20. NANCY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The book sounds wonderful. And I am with Natasha too, she’s the BEST!!!!!!

  21. Big congrats, Nancy! It sounds like a really interesting read. 🙂

  22. Thanks so much everyone for all the congratulations. You all warm my heart.
    Best, Nancy

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