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Nancy Naigle to release her latest book “The Shell Collector”
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Nancy Naigle to release her latest book “The Shell Collector”

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Naigle

Author Nancy Naigle displays a copy of her newest novel, “The Shell Collector,” in Kernersville.

For each book she writes, Nancy Naigle does her research, exploring all sorts of things from different places to occupations.

Along the way, she said she sometimes “picks up cool, useless trivia.”

She has written or co-written more than 30 books.

Typically, she works on several projects at a time in one stage or another.

Naigle lived in Advance until recently. Although she is moving into her new home in Patrick Springs, Va., she still has family in this area.

Her latest book “The Shell Collector” is inspired by a true story and is set in North Carolina. It will be released May 11 from WaterBrook Press.

“My cousin once shared a story from a family friend who found special shells along the beach in Kitty Hawk, N.C., where she lived,” Naigle said. “Each one included a scripture written inside. She found more than half a dozen of those shells over the years. Each of the shells came to her when she needed it the most.”

In “The Shell Collector,” “there are mysterious shells popping up along the coast of a small town and inside there’s an inscription on each one that’s leading these people through their journey,” Naigle said.

Among the people who receive the shells are a widow, a mother of two children and a veteran.

For her new book, she chose messages to put in shells that she thought would appeal to people. Her favorite: “Interrupt worry with gratitude.”

Naigle said the book is filled with community, sharing, hope and kindness.

Q: How would you describe your writing?

Answer: I didn’t start out wanting to be a writer. It wasn’t until I turned 40 when my responsibilities as a Senior Vice President with Bank of America included offshoring technology positions, that I found myself wondering if I could write a book. I was under a lot of stress, reading like crazy, and it occurred to me that if I wrote one book, that helped one gal through one bad day, that would be really special.

Well, that was over 30 books and a few Hallmark movies ago. In 2014, I took an early retirement from the bank to write full time. I have the best job in the world, writing books that give people an escape from their problems for a little while, and hopefully making them smile, laugh or even shed a tear.

“The Shell Collector” has been in my heart for a long time. I’m so excited that it’s finally going to be available to readers. I lost my husband in 2014, which is partly why this book took so long to write since it features a special friendship between a young widow and a woman in her 80s who lost her husband years ago. This unlikely friendship sort of rescues them both in different ways. It might sound like it would be a sad story, but there’s hope, fun and delightful traditions sprinkled throughout for an uplifting read.

“The Shell Collector” in a nutshell: Widowed two years, Amanda Whittier is still trying to put her life and her children’s lives back together when she moves to a seaside town. There, she makes new friends and begins finding shells with inscriptions that help her face her fears — and maybe even find love again.

Q: How have you evolved as an author?

Answer: I planned to write just one book. I had no idea how hard writing a book was, or even once it was finished, how long it took to find someone who loved it enough to publish it. I sold my first book, “Sweet Tea and Secrets,” in a three-book deal. Those novels were romantic mysteries and the six-book Adams Grove series is still very popular.

My writing has become more focused on the love story over the years. What you can count on in every book I write is that it will be set in a small town, with a focus on community and a glimmer of hope.

In 2018, two of my Christmas novels were made into Hallmark movies. Since then, I’ve done other projects with Hallmark including the “Christmas in Evergreen” series and “The Secret Ingredient” which airs May 16. Hallmark is shooting on location in Connecticut on the movie based on my novel “Sand Dollar Cove.” Being so close to the book-to-movie process has definitely influenced the pacing of my stories. It’s been a wonderful hands-on education.

Q: Who has influenced your writing?

Answer: That’s such a hard question to answer. Among the most significant are probably Nicholas Sparks, Mary Alice Monroe, Debbie Macomber, but there are so many more. I love character-driven stories that draw me into the setting and make me feel like I’m there. I have a lot of writer friends so I’m lucky to never be short of wonderful stories to read.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Answer: Writing fast enough is the biggest challenge! I have so many story ideas that I’ll never get them all written. Right now I’m marketing my newest novel, "The Shell Collector," while working on revisions on "The Wedding Ranch" (2022), and editing "What Remains True" (2022).

Q: What does writing do for you?

Answer: I am so blessed to be able to write for a living. It’s hard work, but it brings me such joy to write stories of hope and joy. When I receive mail from readers telling me that my story tickled a memory, made them cry, or inspired them to take action, I am so honored to have been a tiny part of their journey. I love the opportunity to meet with readers. Although events slowed drastically last year, they are beginning to gear back up. I keep them updated on my website and am always happy to meet in-person or through Zoom with book clubs.

Q: Any advice for someone who wants to write a book?

Answer: Start writing. Even 20 minutes a day will get you there eventually. Don’t let others change the tone of your story. Anyone can write a book. What’s special about your book is your voice. No one can bring that to the table but you.

Fran Daniel writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in Relish. Send your story ideas to fdaniel@wsjournal.com or call 336-727-7366.

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