I come from a family of writers. My father was a writer, my sister is a writer. Writing is what I should have been doing from the very beginning, I suppose, but life sometimes gets in the way of our passions.
I began my first novel at the age of 14, a frothy piece entitled The Summer Saga. A grand title for a small story, it featured a place I loved, and the people who lived there. Lots of people — over 30 people in all. I quickly discovered how difficult it was to juggle all of these characters, but couldn’t decide who to cut out of my book. I don’t believe I even finished the first chapter.
Fast forward to the year 2000. I picked up my pen again — or rather, pulled out my keyboard — and began to write another novel entitled Undercurrents, a romance mystery about a cop looking to avenge the murder of his partner while falling in love with a woman desperate to save her son from evil people. If this plot sounds familiar, it probably is. The story wasn’t all that original, and I know nothing about cops or murder. I had no idea what I was doing and had never taken a creative writing course. But I was determined, and writing was fun, and besides, Undercurrents was the first of a trilogy.
I finished Undercurrents, sent the first three chapters off to a writing contest in Seattle (where the novel was set) and began to formulate my acceptance speech for First prize, which I was certain I would win.
I didn’t win.
Instead, I received three very nice letters from judges who critiqued my work. One loved my writing style, but gently pointed out that I should take a writing course. The second judge agreed. The third judge told me I obviously knew nothing about cops or crime scene investigation, so why in hell was I writing about it?
She advised, “Write what you know.”
I didn’t listen.
I started to write Undercover, the next in the series, about the first cop’s friend, also a cop, whose brother is killed under mysterious circumstances. He must travel to Chicago to his brother’s home, where he is informed via the will that he is now the guardian of his brother’s two young children, whom he barely knows–it’s complicated. His brother’s inlaws are not at all pleased at this news, believing themselves to be better equipped to look after the kids. His brother’s wife is caught in the middle. Of course, they fall in love whlie battling evil people who threaten the children.
I finished this book, sent it to a contest, and didn’t win that one, either. I decided to enroll in a writing course.
Next came Undertones, the third in the series, about a small town sheriff — a friend of the cop from the last book — who must solve a baffling mystery at his old friend’s ranch, while falling in love the rancher’s daughter. I finished Chapter 5 of that book, and ran out of gas. I had no idea where to take the story. I stopped caring about the characters. What did I know about ranching in Texas? Nothing.
Before beginning my 4th novel, Bad Hair Day, I thought about what I knew — that I loved books, I loved mysteries, dark comedies and romance, and I loved Nancy Drew. Hey, what if Nancy Drew wasn’t so perfect? What if her father was a loser and her mother was a kook and her love life was a disaster and she hated her job?
I finished Bad Hair Day, and sent it off to Harlequin publishers, who had just begun a new line of books called Flipside. They were looking for funny, quirky novels with kickass heroines.
And they really liked Bad Hair Day. They requested the full manuscript. An editor sent me a list of small changes they wanted me to make, and I obliged.
Around that time I began another novel, my 5th, called Jordan’s Mountain, about an ex-con who is hired on at a construction site and falls in love with the female architect. I can’t remember the rest of the plot. I reached Chapter 7 of that book, but realized it bored me, and would probably bore the reader, too. I gave up.
I learned the UK division of Harlequin, Mills & Boon, were looking for medical romances. I figured I could write a medical romance in my sleep, since my background was in nursing. I quickly pulled out my keyboard again and knocked off No Doctor in the House, my 6th novel. I wasn’t crazy about the story, or the characters, but figured none of that mattered.
It mattered. Mills & Boon didn’t want my medical romance. I can’t say I blame them.
I heard back from Harlequin in New York. The Flipside line was closing. They couldn’t use Bad Hair Day after all, even though with the new revisions it was really, really good. They were really, really sorry. So was I. But I had learned something very important. Of all my manuscripts, I believed that Bad Hair Day was the kind of novel I should be writing.
Champagne Books, October 2005
Champagne Books, December 2006
I started my 7th novel, Here Lies Love. It was really, really good, and I was very proud of it. I sent it off to a small press publisher in Alberta, Champagne Books. The editor loved it and by October, 2005, I had my very first publishing contract. I used a pseudonym, Nancy Darryl, instead of my real name, as a salute to my father, John Darrel Brown, the writer. Champagne Books wanted another novel from me, so I offered them Undercurrents, but then realized I hated my original cop/vengeance/desperate woman story, so I wrote another story but kept the title of Undercurrents. I intensely disliked my cover, but it was a little better than the original cover I was given, which was truly horrible. My publisher and I parted ways in 2007 — mostly because of our opposing views on what constituted good cover art. They thought a bulging red orchid that resembled a testicle was a good idea for a front cover graphic, and I didn’t. Technically both of these books should be out of print and not available in download. If you find them online, it means somebody pirated them and I’m not receiving royalties, but that’s all part of this crazy world of publishing. It’s very difficult to delete anything once it’s out there in the online universe. There are a few copies of Here Lies Love, Undercurrents and Bad Hair Day in my local library, but that won’t help you if you live in Knob Lick, Missouri.
Treble Heart Books, March 2006
Later in 2005 another publisher, Treble Heart in Sierra Vista, AZ, bought Bad Hair Day. It was published in March, 2006. I didn’t renew my contract with them, either. Small press publishers give you no budget for marketing but still expect you to sell books. Around that time the bottom dropped out of the publishing industry, and mid-list authors (and bottom feeders, like me) were dropped by most larger publishing companies, who were struggling financially thanks to the new e-book phenomenon and an upstart company called Amazon. Publishers grew more specific about what they wanted, mostly anything written by celebrities or mass murderers. They weren’t looking for romance mysteries. You couldn’t get near any editors unless you had an agent, and agents didn’t want to know you unless an editor was sniffing around.
After five years of banging my head against the New York brick wall, I finally got tired and decided to go indie. It was either that, or give up writing.
a.k.a. Here Lies Love
I dropped the pseudonym and used my own name on the books. I revised the titles. I hired an amazing cover artist, Lisa Desimini, who does the covers for Charlaine Harris. And in 2011, I self-published my three previously published novels.
Here Lies Love became Gone Groom Gone;
a.k.a. Bad Hair Day
Bad Hair Day became The Good, the Bad and the Hair;
Undercurrents became The Haunting of Haley.
What happened to my other 5 manuscripts — 3 completed and 2 uncompleted? I deleted them. Some authors save all their work, even their early stuff that sucks. I’m not one of those authors. I may have a printed copy of the manuscript for Undercover kicking around somewhere … who knows, and more importantly, who cares?
I started selling more books than I ever did with small press publishers, for two reasons: 1) the covers were more professional and attractive and 2) I was in control of my own career, having cut out the middle man.
I published my 4th novel near the end of 2011 — A Few Dead Men. My 5th novel, From Away, was released in October 2014.
So that’s the rocky road of my career so far. These days I simply tell people that I write romantic comedy mystery fiction, inspired by a lifelong love of Nancy Drew. My writing has been called funny, quirky, and entertaining.
Here’s what people are saying about my books:
Praise for Gone Groom Gone:
“I found this a fun, quirky story. A very enjoyable read. A wonderful mix of characters…” Jean Patton, reader
“This was a funny, romantic mystery that made me laugh till I cried. I stayed up till 2 a.m. to finish it–couldn’t put it down.” Ellis Vidler, author
Praise for The Good, the Bad and the Hair:
“Hannah is a character whose voice you will enjoy, and who gets herself into and out of trouble the way most of us change our clothes. The dialogue is snappy and you’ll gobble this one up!” AuntieEmWrites, book reviewer
Praise for The Haunting of Haley:
“Nancy Lauzon blends the right amount of mystery, romance, and sprinkles it with a good balance of eccentric, quirky, fun and mysterious characters.” Selena Robins, author
Praise for A Few Dead Men:
“I love a good mystery especially if it is as witty as this one. Great book.”