Category Archives: Cross Current
Today’s word count: 3,009
Total word count: 15,364
Approximate words to go: 64,636
So, today was surprisingly productive, despite the fact that every single member of the J Crew insisted on sitting on me at some point during the day. Which is fine, now that I can dictate, but Jasmine likes to squirm around while I stroke her ears, Jeremy insists on resting his big head on the keyboard, Jessie leaves me with one hand, and Jemma wants to be combed (and believe me, she needs it). JJ is the only one who’s content to just sit on my boobs/belly like he’s doing right now, unbothered by my hand movements as I type. If they were all like this, my writing life would be a lot easier. As it is, I’m going to go out on the patio tomorrow so that I can get a couple of solid hours in without a furry little feline trying to grab my attention or demand that I put kibble in his bowl (to be honest, that’s all JJ, but he’s an old guy who needs to keep his weight on so I’ll feed him separately if he wants it).
I also decided to be a complete loon, not learn a damn thing from Shadow of the Swan, and put King of Blades up for pre-order at Amazon. The release date is October 27, so as long as I stick to my writing schedule more or less and maybe have a couple of 5K days in there I should have the first draft finished on October 5, which will give me more than enough time to get everything through edits, polished and in publishable shape by October 23 (aka Upload Day). Once they finish chewing on it and give me a link, I’ll add it to the new King page here and make it available on social media.
And once the first draft of King is finished, I go back to Cross Current and start work on that. I said I was going to publish three more novels by the end of the year, and by God I intend to stick to my word.
So Shadow of the Swan is out there on all online markets, earning money and reviews, and I’m happy with that (as of this moment I’ve sold 143 copies on Amazon). I’ve even uploaded a free short story titled “A Gentle Fall of Show” about Henry and Louisa’s first Christmas at Bookfunnel (all subscribers to my newsletter got the link; if you want to subscribe, click here, enter your email address, and you can download “Snow” in MOBI, EPUB, or PDF format).
So what’s next, Nic? I’m glad you asked.
Since it looks like we’re going to be stuck in COVIDland for the foreseeable future, I am setting up some structure for myself for the rest of the year. And I know I’ve said that before, but this time I’m doing it partially for income and partially because I really need it to stay sane.
So — today, I am wrapping up the re-edit of Deep Water and uploading it to Amazon, B&N, et al. Tomorrow I go back to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4) with a goal of finishing it by Monday, October 5. If I do 3,265 words a day, I’ll make that easily. Moreover, I KNOW I can write that many words a day easily (I knew it before, but 2019 kinda shook my faith in myself). Even better, now that I’ve been testing my lavaliere mike, Scrivener’s dictation function, and Otter.ai (oh, Holy God, dictation is a fricking godsend to anyone who needs to write fast and can handle saying stuff out loud), I should be able to crank out that amount within two hours, then spend another couple of hours editing it into shape. The rest of the work hours will be taken up with promo, cover design, et al, and outlining the rest of the books I’ll be writing this year.
On October 6, I pivot from King and let it cool for a week while I fire up Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4). People have been waiting VERY patiently for this book for about five years, so now that I have the rights back for all of the Olympic Cove books I want to reward them for their patience. The goal is to finish Current on November 2. On October 12, in parallel with my work on Cross Current, I will start editing King with a goal of getting it out to my editor and the betas by October 16. After I incorporate their changes and do the final polishing stages, I’ll publish King on Tuesday, October 27.
On November 3 I let the completed Cross Current rest for a week while I go back to work on Uncertainty Principle (and by then I’ll actually have an outline, please God — this book has been frustrating me for the better part of two years) with a goal of finishing it on December 4. Once again, I’ll edit Cross Current in parallel with writing Uncertainty, with a goal of publishing Cross Current on November 24. Uncertainty Principle will be published on December 22, and I am taking the rest of December off to let my brain cool down and get in some well-deserved relaxation by that point.
IF I HAVE TIME AND INTESTINAL FORTITUDE, I will work on The Crimson and the Black in December once Uncertainty Principle is finished. I am not going to promise anything at this point because, quite frankly, I may need to collapse at that point. Much will hinge on how well the dictation goes, how quickly I can edit, and whether or not I still have extra processor cycles available. If I decide to put it off until 2021, it will be the first book of that year.
I’m not going to post my planned schedule for 2021 yet because it’s still kind of soft and I want to get some details firmed up. But my goal is to release at least four full-length books that year (I’m telling you right off the bat, two of them will be the final books in the Olympic Cove series), along with a handful of novellas and free short stories.
And yeah, I know it looks like I’ve bitten off far more than I can chew, but King, Current, and Uncertainty are all partials so it’s not like I’m starting from square one on any of them. If I can get all of them done and out the door, I will have cleared my backlog and can start 2021 with a clean conscience. Let’s see if I can get this done.
The contract job is currently at a halt due to lack of work (hardly surprising) for at least May and possibly longer (seeing as a significant amount of Texans completely lost their shit and started crowding into public spaces on Friday during the state’s “partial” reopening, I’m bracing myself for a large spike in new COVID cases here in two weeks). But Ramón is still working, and I’ve spent the last eight months paying off almost all of our debt, so we should be able to weather it financially. And frankly, I need a break after the non-stop pace of the last four months.
What this also means, however, is that I can — ta da — go back to being a full-time writer for the foreseeable future! I sat down and worked out the following schedule (which may have to be adjusted if the contract job restarts at any point):
- May: Finish Shadow of the Swan and Shifter Woods: Growl (Esposito County Shifters 4).
- June: Let SotS cool, finish King of Blades (Two Thrones 4), edit and publish SW:G.
- July: Let KoB cool, edit and publish SofS, finish Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2).
- August: Let UP cool, edit and publish KoB.
- September: Edit and publish UP.
That would give me three 80+K novels and one novella for 2020, which is not bad. And yes, I know my timeline seems insanely short, but all those books are partially finished (21K on SofS, 4K on KoB, and 5K on UP), so it won’t take as long as it would do to finish a brand new book. Hell, SotS is supposed to be 80K and I can finish the remaining 57K in three weeks if I push.
But wait, I have stretch goals!
- September: Edit Deep Water (Olympic Cove 3) for re-release at the end of December, finish One Sweet Christmas (novella) for holiday sales.
- October: Finish Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4), edit and publish OSC.
- November: Let CC cool, finish Windrider and the Deuce (Two Thrones Novella 2), release all four Shifter Woods novellas as a box set.
- December: Go on a fucking cruise and let my brain relax, edit CC and WatD, release DW once I get the rights back, release CC and WatD a week later.
Which would give me four new novels (SotS, KoB, UP, CC), one re-released novel (DW), three novellas (SW:G, OSC, WatD), and a box set (Shifter Woods) for 2020. Kinda challenging, but I also have to make up for the dumpster fire that was 2019 so I may as well go for it.
And in case you were wondering, yes, the flu strain that’s going around this year is indeed a stone bitch. Next year I’ll get the shot, I promise.
But I’m back, and upright, and I’m even banging out words on the keyboard. That being said, I was supposed to have To My Muse finished by the 26th. Ho ho ho. So now I’m looking at 2/15 as a finishing date with a release sometime in March. Sorry about that, but it’s hard to write when you just want to stare at your bedroom ceiling and die quietly. Once Muse is done, I’ll get to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4). In fact, here’s the schedule for the year:
- To My Muse (contemporary romcom novel – standalone)
- King of Blades (fantasy romance novel – Two Thrones)
- Cross Current (fantasy romance novel – Olympic Cove)
- Uncertainty Principle (SF romance novel – Pacifica Rising)
- Shifter Woods: Snarl (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
- Shifter Woods: Scream (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
- Untitled holiday story (fantasy romance novella – Two Thrones)
So that’s four full-length novels and three novellas, which is pretty good output if I do say so myself. And of course there’s one half-finished novel and two that I have covers for and still have to plot out. Sleep? What means this word, sleep?
Did I mention I’m also making more jewelry? We’re talking stuff that needs to be soldered and polished — two amethyst cabs and one green turquoise one that will be made into a bracelet for my BIL. So many sparklies!
And in case anyone is wondering, making stuff is part of my writing process. I’ve learned that if I do nothing but write, I jam up and can’t get anything done. Thus, crafts. Also another income stream, which is always good.
As of this afternoon the final line edits for Lady of Thorns were finished and it is officially ready for release next week on Halloween. Not only am I bloody well delighted about that, but I am really, really happy with the way this book turned out. It has a thoroughly solid emotional basis, both characters and plot are fully fleshed out, and it feels like one of the best books I’ve written to date. Also, as my beta Peter said, “Yay for fun books where antagonists are inner demons!”
Yeah, I do a lot of work with inner demons in this one. Amelie and I share a couple of problems about body image and growing up feeling unattractive and insecure about our looks. It was interesting to do a deep dive into the mindset created by that and, in effect, psychoanalyze my own issues by projecting them onto Amelie. Granted, I didn’t have a sexy Alain to walk me through that particular psychological minefield, and I’m still working on said issues and probably will be for the rest of my life. But I think I’m getting a better handle on loving myself and my wacky body the way it is, instead of pining for some impossible ideal.
It also helps that Ramón thinks I’m gorgeous and says so every day. He’s so sweet.
So, yeah, Lady is done, and Cross Current is back on the Scrivener screen and will be my NaNo novel this year. I’m currently at 13K on it, and hope to get it done before I have to report for jury duty on November 29th. And if not, I’ll just bring my iPad and write while I’m waiting in the jurist holding room. I’m hoping to get the last two Shifter Woods novellas knocked out as well so that I can release all four novellas as a boxed set before 2018.
Assuming the cats allow me to work. Seriously, how can a small creature one fifth my size be that annoying? I ask you.
Which is why I haven’t posted since last Friday, sorry about that. The Sister arrived yesterday and I’ve spent the last week digging out this house and making it look like grown-ups live here (because deadlines + five cats = FUR EVERYWHERE). I still have to clean out my office in preparation for the mutual HS friend who will arrive tomorrow for a girl’s weekend, but after that I am DONE, people.
And oh, I am full to overflowing with the need to write. I completely overhauled the first few chapters of Cross Current in my head, worked out a great subplot for Lady of Thorns, rearranged some plot points in Uncertainty Principle, and even roughed out the outline for Shifter Woods: Snarl. Y’all are going to be inundated with new Nicola stories over the next few months, I promise.
So I spent the first two days of July working on the first chapter of Lady of Thorns (Two Thrones 3). The plan is to split my time between finishing Cross Current and LoT and have CC off to Evernight by mid-July and LoT up by early August. And if I can maybe get some work in on Shifter Woods: Snarl during then, all the better.
BTW, this all took place while Ramón was using the dining room across from me as a staging area for his desk base construction. Since he works full-time at home now and really needs a better setup in his office, he’s been buying IKEA desk parts for the last two months with a plan to create a U-shaped modular desk with hutches to hold his multiple computers/laptops/monitors/what have you.
Unfortunately for him, this required him first to disimpact his office, which … yeah. Let’s just say that he could probably build a time machine from the bits he keeps in there and leave it at that. Much vacuuming and cursing came from the office wing over the weekend, I can tell you. But the initial construction is done and looks pretty good (he had to call a temporary halt since he’s actually working today and needed his work stuff to be up and running), which means that all the IKEA boxes that have been stacking up since May will soon be broken down and put into recycling, selah.
But going back to Lady of Thorns — want to see an unedited snippet? Please note that this story will NOT be about Danaë and Matthias (their parallel adventure will be in Book 4), but it does feature Lady Amelie LeClerq, the young, prickly Terra magistra and heiress to the Lady of Lierdhe, and the eminently sneaky Counselor Alain LaPorte from Palace of Scoundrels. The best way I can explain it is, imagine Lady Mary Crowley from Season 1 Downton Abbey and Alan Shore from Boston Legal going head to head. So to speak. Ahem. And hijinks ensue!
And, yes, I jumped ahead and wrote one of the love scenes. Some background — Amelie has never fit the Lierdhan standards of beauty. Whereas the average Lierdhan maiden is short and deliciously round in all the right places with masses of curling russet or blonde hair, Amelie is tall, hippy, and small-chested with straight dark hair and eyes, to her mother’s eternal exasperation. In an attempt to shed her prickly, standoffish Lady of Thorns reputation and gain a sense of comfort with her sexuality and self-image, Amelie decides she needs a positive experience in physical intimacy. Since LaPorte is in Lierdhe working with her on a business agreement with another duchy, has a good rep in the area of bow-chicka-bow-bow, and has shown evidence that he finds her attractive, she asks him to help. Her plan is really rather logical. Too bad plans never survive first contact with the enemy.
“You don’t believe that I want to take you to bed, do you?”
Her eyes stung, and she blinked to hold the water at bay. “I believe that you’re willing to adhere to our agreement, which is kind of you.”
“No, it’s not. I’m afraid you’ll find that I’m not a kind man, not in the slightest.” His voice lowered, developing a vibration that went through her like thunder. “The thing is, my lady, a man may lie about his wealth, his occupation, even his family name. But one thing he cannot lie about is when he’s attracted to a woman.”
His hand slipped around hers and drew it down. She knew instinctively what he was doing but still gasped in shock when he pressed her hand against the heavy, warm length in his leggings. The muscles between her legs contracted in a unexpected, greedy clench at the physical proof of his desire.
He folded her fingers around him, keeping her palm pressed against his hardness. “I wanted you from the first moment you walked into the king’s study, travel-stained and exhausted as you were. If we hadn’t had other matters to attend to, I would have pressed my suit then and there.”
Other matters. Namely, the rescue of her younger sister Sibeal from an unwanted wedding ceremony. Amelie could still remember the acrid stench of the privy that had been the only avenue of escape from the mage-proof chamber where her mother had jailed her. With only enough time to crop her hair short and change its color, she had spent a sleepless night riding across country to reach Mons and plead for Matthias’s help.
“I was a fright,” she muttered. “How could you have wanted me?”
“You were stunning. A warrior goddess come to earth to claim fealty from the king.” His hand began to move hers, guiding it up and down the heated ridge. “Although I prefer your own hair color. The blonde didn’t suit you.”
“I meant it as a disguise.” Her thoughts were fragmenting, split apart by the promise of his flesh against her palm. The growing ache between her thighs throbbed, making her wonder what it would be like to feel him inside her, filling her. Would it be as delicious as the gossiping girls promised, or would it be yet another disappointment?
It probably would be useful if I told you that Shifter Woods: Roar is now widely available at online retailers, huh? I blame exhaustion from repairing and reinstalling the pool pump motor; we spent most of Monday afternoon and evening trying to get it reattached to the pump, to no avail. After getting eaten alive by bugs and retreating inside in disgrace, Ramón did more research on Google and found some tips. The next morning he went out there by himself, and in his own words, “I just slathered everything in lube, and now that I could see what I was doing it popped right in!” Words to live by, folks.
Anyway, the pool pump is now functioning (ironically, the garage door opener failed that night, but more research indicated what was wrong and Himself fixed that as well), the second novella in the Esposito County Shifters series is out and selling nicely, and I’ve gotten a pleasing amount of reviews on it as well, so a huge Cameron thank you to everyone who’s bought a copy and left a review. And if you haven’t, just click on that link up there and it’ll take you to the book page where you can select your choice of ebook retailer. I’m all about making things easy for you.
And because I don’t think I told people about this, Shifter Woods is going to be a four-part novella series. The first two novellas will be followed by Shifter Woods: Snarl, which deals with cougar shifter Andrea Lochter, whose father Jim (the Alpha of their pack and a former Marine) owns a ski lodge on the mountain. When Caleb picks up John Rockwell, one of Jim’s itinerant service buddies, for vagrancy and drops him off at the lodge at Jim’s request, Andrea makes it a point to stay as far away from the homeless wolf shifter as possible. But the pull of a heart’s mate is hard to resist, especially when Andrea and John have to team up for a search and rescue mission involving a little girl.
The fourth novella, Shifter Woods: Scream, is about Deputy Jane Carey, the golden eagle shifter introduced in Howl. When drug dealers somehow “lose” their pet tiger while stopping for food and gas in Esposito County, Jane takes to the air to spot the big cat. But when she learns that the escaped animal is actually tiger shifter and FBI agent Eric Cho, things get particularly sticky, especially when a local zookeeper with a secret of his own gets involved.
Once all the novellas are done, I’ll be combining them at the end of the year into a box set and print version, and at some point early next year I’ll be doing a full-length novel set in Esposito County (first I have to finish the novellas, Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4), Lady of Thorns (Two Thrones 3), Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2), Do No Harm, and The Chevalier’s Dilemma). Yeah, the rest of 2017 is gonna be kind of busy.
I can tell that I haven’t worked on this series for awhile — getting back into the rhythm and the voices of the established characters has taken a bit of work, and I’ve also switched up the new characters for this book (my MC was originally ex-military, but that was making him a bit too hard-assed for the purposes of the book so I switched it out — he now practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which should be more than enough for the heroics he’ll be doing later on in the book). I think I’m solidly back in place now, and chapter 1 of Cross Current will be done by the end of the day. With a good tail wind and some effort I may have all of Act I done by the end of this week, which would be nice.
Now if the Sudafed and Tylenol I just took to relieve this damn sinus pressure would kick in, life would be a dream.
OH! One last thing — I’ve joined Instagram. Yeah, it was bound to happen eventually. Anyhoo, you can follow me and get an inside look at the life of a hybrid romance writer. A warning — cats will be featured prominently. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
This has been one fraught week, angels. Last week, Ramón learned that his mom had broken her thigh bone (ironically, it happened in the doctor’s office which she was visiting to determine why her leg hurt). She was taken to the hospital and received multiple scans, after which it was determined that she needed surgery to install a plate on the thigh bone to hold everything in place.
And then a consultant took a closer look at the scans to figure out what was causing the pain in the first place. He discovered a tumor. More were found, and suddenly we went into full “Get Ramón back home to see his mom NOW” mode, which was complicated by work duties and a very welcome house guest who just happened to show up at a difficult time. But the house guest is now on her way, the work duties have been fulfilled, Ramón is packed and I’ll be schlepping him to the airport in a couple of hours, and he’ll be landing in the UK tomorrow. Any good thoughts/prayers/white light/whatever you have directed to a very nice lady in Chesterfield would be quite appreciated at the moment.
In other news, I posted polls on Facebook and Twitter to ask people what series they would like me to work on next. To my surprise and gratification it turned out that Olympic Cove was the clear winner, so I’ve put the Pacifica Rising and Two Thrones books on hold and am back at work on Cross Current (Book 4). I hope to have that off to Evernight by the end of May, so for everyone who’s been waiting for the continuing adventures of the gods, mermen, disciples, and other residents of Olympic Cove and their battle against the Mad Goddess Thetis, you’ve got something good on the way!