An Interview with Louella Nelson

RhysReprieve (3) FinalWhere do you get the ideas for your stories?

Ideas for stories usually arrive in my sleep/wake state at four a.m. Years back, I learned from my Harlequin editors that romance readers want the hero and heroine to meet right away, so my brain took care of that. In the opening of Rye’s Reprieve, mid-scene…

Reflexively Rye glanced her way. The redhead. She beaded down on him with a big-bore rifle. Naked, gleaming, and armed. She drew back the bolt with a snap. “I said—”

“I’m not, I’m not.” He reached for his stud’s trailing reins, took a step toward the stirrup.

Metal clicked when she shot the bolt. “Don’t you move,” she demanded.

He froze.

Missouri Harper and her three sisters had just come off four months of travel crossing the prairie and they were sprucing themselves up in, as it turns out, Rye Rawlin’s favorite fishing hole and reflecting pool on Morgan’s River, about five miles from the gold mining camp where Rye works. He’d been out hunting. The sisters hadn’t planned on a good-looking man in a western hat and boots showing up at their private bathing spot, toting a rifle.

Planning to meet their widowed aunt in town, they couldn’t wait to find safe harbor at Auntie’s luxurious home and ranch. But the luxury home the sisters were bound for? The place wasn’t exactly a mansion. I’ll leave you to discover what happens.

Back to how this novel came about…

I rose when the muse struck (with spurs). I wrote for several hours, until the scene was complete, including setting, the central idea of the story, and the key characters—the four Harper sisters, their prize horseflesh, Rye, and his stud Black Bart, named after a poet-outlaw from San Francisco.

The next event in my publishing adventure was life-changing. I sent the scene to my friend Debra Holland. She took it on the plane en route to a conference in Florida, where she met with the people from Amazon’s Kindle World. During that meeting, blame it on my muse, Debra’s Montana Sky Kindle World came into being. And now you can buy my first historical novel. I share this honor with 13 other Montana Sky Kindle World authors.

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

At book-signings, I used to sign my novels, “Go for your dreams.” I still ascribe to that advice.

Be willing to let others help you get there. I’ve found that writers in Orange County, California, where I live, are generous with their time to critique, advise, guide, share books sales figures, and more. The OCC/RWA group, one of the largest in the nation, is full of authors with 25-50-100 books to their credit. Seek a group close to you and reach out for the help and encouragement you need.

After you write your book, your success affirmation might be: Gather a team of brilliant people who are following the vision you create, and be definite about your purpose. Secondly, don’t focus on the fight, focus on the dream.

Do you have critique partners?

I run two professional critique groups, but I have no critique partners for my own writing.

However, New York Times best-selling author Debra Holland and I are long-time friends, I am her developmental editor, and she learned to write novels in my critique groups years ago. So while I was writing Rye’s Reprieve (The Harper Sisters, Book 1) at my dining table in Orange County, Debra was right there at the end of the table, working on her computer, writing her books. I say books because, during those months that I wrote Rye’s Reprieve, she completed two projects, the upcoming Mystic Montana Sky (on pre-order for June 28, 2016) and the novella Mail-Order Brides of the West: Bertha, which released in February 2016.

As she completed sections of her projects, I developmentally edited them along with working on my book, and she also edited some of the chapters of my book. In addition, I had my novel professionally copy- or line-edited for typos, misspellings, etc.

This was the first time in my writing career that I enjoyed the pleasure of good company while I wrote; and the first time I hired a copy editor prior to publication. In years past, my contemporary novels were edited by my former publisher, Harlequin, and the process was much more lonely.

By the way, the days of in-house editors working on your book are slipping away….

Give us an elevator pitch for your book.

Log line for Rye’s Reprieve:

In 1886 Montana Territory, a surgeon’s secret keeps him from the rancher he loves—a woman who must remain a spinster to protect her land and family.

My elevator pitch for Rye’s Reprieve:

In 1886 Montana Territory, gifted surgeon Rye Rawlins is trapped by a tragic secret so painful that he denies his profession and buries himself in a gold mine. Veterinarian and horse rancher Missouri Harper endures dangerous storms, privation, and wild predators to protect her three beautiful sisters and an ailing aunt. As they fall in love, Rye’s secret and Missouri’s promise to remain a spinster to protect the land for her family force them to look within to discover the cost of love.

Do you have a view in your writing space?  What does your space look like? 

I have a view, and it’s pastoral. In my yard: orange, peach, apricot, and pomegranate trees, grass, and a white picket fence. Down over the slope: a creek with ducks and a family of white egrets that frog-gig at dawn, a running path to the ocean, a meadow of grass, ornate slides and other playground equipment, and sycamore trees. I sit at my dining table to write, and when I need to rest my eyes and my mind, I gaze to my right through the patio slider and see this view, with kitties in the foreground. I was once a photographer. A view is everything.

Tell us about your hero.  Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.

In the mining hamlet of Morgan’s Crossing, nobody knows Rye Rawlins is a gifted surgeon. They think he’s a gold miner with a penchant for mending broken fingers and dispensing herbal remedies. He’s hard-working, warm-hearted to people and animals, fond of his favorite fishing hole, and cannot turn away a person in need.

But he tells lies, too. Those lies protect him from a painful, tragic past. He is unaware, though, that his boss, powerful mine-owner Michael Morgan, knows more than Rye thinks he does and can use that knowledge to his own advantage.

Tell us about your heroine.  Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.

Because Missouri Harper is so focused on protecting her sisters and their legacy of the horse ranch they have come to Montana Territory to establish, it never occurs to Missouri that she can accept a proposal AND prove-up the land.

And yet, she’s right to hesitate where the handsome gold miner is concerned, because she doesn’t know he’s a gifted surgeon from a leading San Francisco family, a surgeon who has good reason to run from his past. She’s loyal and driven. Sometimes those qualities blindfold her to life’s possibilities.

What genres are you drawn to as a reader?

My reader-meter is related to my demanding eclectic writing-muse. They are brothers. I read suspense, romance, historical, contemporary, literary, gardening and fishing nonfiction, and any old thing that looks good. See my answers about my muse….

Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?

My muse is an eclectic little brat. It wants me to write contemporary fiction (the best-selling Mail-Order Mate and others); nonfiction (a handbook on Point of View that is written but not yet released, many trade magazine feature stories, press releases, and technical reports); literary fiction (“Cora Lee” made it to #5 in Amazon’s Top 100 Short Fiction in January 2015); fantasy sci/fi (“Atlas Shrugged Again” takes place in a fantasy-generating lab at a space station), and now historical romance (Rye’s Reprieve, set in Montana Territory in the late nineteenth century).

My muse lives in chaos and is extremely demanding, and I am its slave. Because if you’re a writer, you can’t just not write. The muse will bug you till you do, often with spurs.

What are you currently working on?

Next on my plate is Book 2 in the Harper Sisters Series, planned for launch in August 2016. Help! I need a title. If you’re commenting, please leave me a few ideas!

The heroine is a slight woman with suffragette leanings, a writer with midnight hair and blue eyes. Jessamine “Jess” Harper was raised by an independent-thinking Presbyterian mother.

Her hero is a very large, strong, bearded fellow with the unusual name of Bethesda “Beth” Janes, a Jewish man of Polish roots who works in the gold mine in Morgan’s Crossing. He is Rye’s best friend. The hidden side of Beth Janes is that he’s an artist-metalsmith, working with wrought iron and gold, and he loves music.

Jess and Beth meet in Rye’s Reprieve at a dance to welcome Bertha to the mining camp.

As soon as we come up with a title, I’ll post more about this book on my website,

Other avenues for conversation:
Twitter: @LouellaNelson
Facebook: Louella Nelson Author/Louella Nelson

Do you or have you belonged to a writing organization?  Which one?  Have the helped you with your writing?  How?

My key organization is the Romance Writers of America. My local chapter in Orange County, California, is filled with supportive, loving fellow writers such as Debra Holland as well as Linda Carroll-Bradd and Patricia Thayer, authors in Debra’s Kindle World.

Many of my writing students end up becoming members of OCC/RWA, so the monthly meetings are an opportunity to be among friends, talking shop and learning tricks of the trade. I served as chapter president and I also served as conference chair for one of our illustrious national conventions. The organization provides a foundation for everything I do in publishing, including enjoying the honor of being part of Cynthia Woolf’s blog.

Rye’s Reprieve Amazon Link:


Rye’s Reprieve
(The Harper Sisters Book 1)

by Louella Nelson

In 1886, gifted surgeon Rye Rawlins is trapped by a tragic secret so painful that he denies his profession and buries himself in a gold mine in Montana Territory. But saving people is second nature, whether it’s doctoring a man mauled by a mountain lion or battling a wolf to save a child.

Veterinarian and horse rancher Missouri Harper suffers through the worst winter in Montana history to provide for three beautiful sisters and an ailing aunt. Dangerous storms, privation, and wild predators make survival precarious.

Rye comes to Missouri’s aid, putting his life in danger and Missouri in his debt. As they fall in love, his secret and her promise to remain a spinster to protect the land for her family force them to look within to discover the cost of love.

Louella Nelson’s Bio61wv6oC41WL._UX250_

Louella Nelson is an award-winning University of California instructor, best-selling author, and developmental editor for Amazon and numerous best-selling and aspiring authors.

A writers’ mentor, teacher, and editor, Louella Nelson writes romantic fiction, literary fiction, and nonfiction such as BestSeller Secrets for Novel and Memoir Writers (a series of handbooks in development), blogs, and other instructional materials.

Her novel-writing credits include Rye’s Reprieve (Feb 2016) and the best-selling novel Mail-Order Mate, among others; the Amazon best-seller “Cora Lee: A Short Story” and other shorts; and poetry as well as scholarly works for the journals Onyx and Calliope.

She is a former president of the Orange County RWA and coordinator for the national RWA conference. In addition to speaking regionally and nationally, she hosts seminars, class series, editorial consulting sessions, and critique groups for fiction and creative nonfiction/memoir writers.

On the personal side, Lou enjoys nature in all its wildness, danger, and beauty, especially cats and horses wild and tame; fishing; bears, oceans, rivers, lakes, woods, the desert if it’s not too sizzling–and all the creatures therein except scorpions and spiders, which she leaves to the expertise and appreciation of the entomologists

2 thoughts on “An Interview with Louella Nelson

  1. OMG! Louella you were chapter President of Orange County RWA. OMG! That’s a huge chapter. I was chapter President of DARA. I can’t wait to read your story. Hope you sell many many copies.

  2. Sylvia, thanks. Gosh, I didn’t know service in RWA could win me celebrity status. 🙂 We have another in our Montana Sky series, Patricia Thayer, who also served as chapter pres. Had to do a little research on DARA: a Kresh language, a Denver chapter? Nope, Dallas! So, Sylvia, you know what it’s like to lead a large RWA chapter, too. Gotta give back, right? Thanks for the comment. Can’t wait to read Faith:

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