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Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. A world traveler and lover of history, she lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks with independent publishers. She co-authored Writing in a Changing World. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.
Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.
Two short stories: “A Risky Christmas Affair” and “Dreaming of a Christmas Kiss,” have been released as E-books, and the latter, along with two Christmas poems, has been included in a Christmas anthology, Annie Acorn’s Christmas Treasury 2018.
Her latest novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a Western Historical Romance, has recently been released from Prairie Rose Publications.
What was your inspiration for writing this book?
I actually started this book, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, as a short story with a different title for a graduate course I was taking at Florida International University. I had read a poem by Elizabeth Bishop and it inspired me to write the beginning. I wanted to incorporate a description of a town I’d never been to—so I invented Parcel Bluffs. I decided to give the character, Darby McPhee, an occupation from another era—the book starts out in 1874 and Darby works in a Mercantile. I had the story published way before I ever conceived of it becoming a novel.
Who is your favorite and least favorite character in this book and why?
My favorite character is Cayo Bradley. Darby falls in love with him, but so did I while writing about all the adversities he overcomes. He’s a cowboy who was raised by Jicarilla Apache in New Mexico and who tries to resettle into the white man’s world after he leaves the tribe.
Every novel needs some antagonistic character, and in this novel, it’s Hanna Pederson. She’s a spoiled, rich, Daddy’s little girl.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about writing?
That writing is easy. That to writing a story is facile. That anyone can write a novel. Just because you read a tremendous amount of books, doesn’t mean you can write one. It certainly helps you learn a great deal about writing, but I don’t think the average reader reads a novel the way a writer does on several different levels. For instance, I read for the absolute pleasure of reading a good narrative. However, I look at characterization, motivation, cause and effect, setting, language, plot devices, reversals, and several other techniques as well. Pretty much, if I’m interested in a writer or his/her novel, I dissect it.
I don’t think the average reader, even one who might be interested to write a novel, considers all or many of these elements. That comes with training. I’m blessed because I was a poet long before I became a novelist, and narrative, language, rhythm, metaphor and similes—all the things that comprise poetics were always important in my writing. My novels are written lyrically and poetically. I also consider myself blessed because I had two university degrees before I earned a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. So I think I have a very good solid, established background for an author.
I took many workshops to learn craft and technique. I also learned how to critique poems, short stories, novels, and how to line edit.
What advice would you give another author on writing, editing, publishing, or marketing?
Writing is the creative part, editing is the cerebral part, publishing is the tenacious part to get your work out into the reading public, and in today’s world, marketing is guerilla warfare.
Do you prefer writing poetry or novels? Which did you start writing first?
Poetry is, as we say in Italian: un dono di Dio, a gift from God. I’ve always written poetry. Always. I never suffered to write it because it always came naturally to me. It never crushed my spirit if someone critiqued one of my poems—I’d simply rewrite it. Apparently, I have a very good ear because while studying poetry with Campbell McGrath in Grad School, he assigned the writing of a poem in the style of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. So after reading out loud, and reading out loud many of Coleridge’s poems, I wrote a long ten stanza poem entitled: “Storm in San Felice Circeo” –for Samuel Coleridge.
I handed in the assignment. Campbell read it, looked up at me, shook his head, and said, “Nina, you can’t do this.” I asked. “Why not?” He said, “Because this is Coleridge.” How I love that poem! It was published in my second poetry collection, Coffeehouse Meditations.
Unfortunately, Anne Petty, the wonderful publisher passed away. Although the collection is still listed for sale on Amazon, there are no new copies available there, however, I still have new copies for sale.
Fiction is what I strive to do and I work the hardest to achieve. I’m a perfectionist—not a good quality in a fiction writer because you’re never completely satisfied with the work. At some point, you have to say, it’s done. Finished. Completed. When I was at FIU, if I wasn’t absolutely thrilled with some of my stories or novel chapters, I used the expression: “Done is better than perfect.” My friend, advisor and mentor, John Dufresne, adored and appropriated it, and said it often to his students. I think he still uses it in his writing workshops.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you outline your books beforehand or just go with the flow?
I’m not a plotter in the sense that I don’t write outlines. I’m no good at it and find it’s a waste of precious time. For my third novel in the Wayfarer Trilogy, I wrote a treatment for In America. I had only one year to write the book as I was under contract to Turner Publishing, and had to present something to them on paper as to what the conclusion of the trilogy would encompass.
I detest and despise the word: “panster”—it makes writing sound like some ignorant pun when, to me, it is a serious profession that takes time and dedication. With fiction, I start with characters. I follow them around to learn where the narrative will lead, what is going to happen in the story or novel.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Poetry is, as we say in Italian: un dono di Dio, a gift from God. I’ve always written poetry. Always. Read Nina Romano’s @ninsthewriter full interview here ” quote=”Poetry is, as we say in Italian: un dono di Dio, a gift from God. I’ve always written poetry. Always.” theme=”style3″]
by Nina Romano
Publisher: Prairie Rose Publications
Genre: Western, Historical Romance
When Darby McPhee falls in love with Cayo Bradley, a wild cowboy from a nearby ranch, her world is ripped apart. Caught in a lifeless existence of caring for her father and brothers since her mother’s death, Darby does little else but work. But a death-bed promise to her mother to get her education now stands in the way of her heart’s desire to belong to the rough-and-tumble Cayo Bradley.
Darby is Cayo’s redemption from a horrific act in his past that torments him. After being captured as a young boy by the Jicarilla Apache, he now tries to settle back into white society—but how can he? If he loses Darby, he loses everything.
Darby is determined to keep her promise to her mother, but will Cayo wait for her? In this stunning tale of love and loss, Darby comes to understand that no matter what happens, she will always be THE GIRL WHO LOVED CAYO BRADLEY…
Praise for The Secret Language of Women ( Book 1 in the Wayfarer Trilogy)
“The Secret Language of Women is a powerful and enchanting read. A brilliantly well-written tale that takes readers on one woman’s journey. For fans of Romeo and Juliet fans this is a must read […] I loved reading Nina Romano’s stunning piece, and I recommend it to readers world wide.” – San Francisco Book Review
“This is a beautiful story of hope and love stronger than any adversity. Very special historical fiction that is highly recommended!” – Historical Novel Society
“A stunning look at China at the turn of the twentieth century, this is a love story that crosses boundaries both cultural and geographic.” – Foreword Reviews
Set in China in the late 1800’s, The Secret Language of Women tells the story of star-crossed lovers, Zhou Bin Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, driven apart by the Boxer Rebellion.
When Lian is seventeen years old, she accompanies her Swiss father, Dr. Gianluca Brasolin, fluent in Italian, to tend the Italian ambassador, at the Summer Palace of Empress Dowager, where she meets and falls in love with Giacomo.
Through voyage and adventure, their love intensifies, but soon is severed by Lian’s dutiful promise as the wife to another. Forbidden from pursuing her chosen profession as a healer, and despised because she does not have bound feet, she is forced to work in a cloisonné factory while her in-laws raise her daughter, Ya Chen. It is in Nushu, the women’s secret writing, that she chronicles her life and her hopes for the future.
Rebelling against the life forced upon her, she empowers herself to act out against the injustice and becomes the master of her own destiny. But her quest for freedom comes at a costly price: The life of someone close to her, lost in a raging typhoon, a grueling journey to the Yun-kang Caves, and a desperate search for beauty and love in the midst of brutality.
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