Category Archives: Uncertainty Principle
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.
Hoo boy. So I’ve spent the last two weeks working on the front and back yards in a last ditch attempt to stop our place from looking like the “After” pic of Coachella. I’m not joking — the front left yard is badly eroded due to the tree that was there until January, the flower beds are weedy disasters, and I have an overgrown rose bush that someone decided to plant underneath the kitchen bay window so it has to reach out into the sunlight to get any Vitamin D. What can I say — yard work is not my favorite thing.
But it needed to be done, so a few weeks ago I hied my way to Calloways and Home Depot. One wheelbarrow, ten bags of mulch, seven bags of compost, one bag of bermudagrass seed, and a bunch of bacon and eggs lantana and varigated verbena later, and … well, it’s not done.
So what has been done, you ask. I’m happy to answer:
- The enclosure around the now-gone tree was filled with mulch and planted with lantana and verbena. In hindsight I should have layered topsoil in it before adding the mulch, but the plants seem to be doing okay. if they start failing, I’ll transplant them into one of the other full sun flower beds and we’ll have the whole damn thing ground out in the fall.
- The badly eroded front left yard has been reseeded and covered with compost (why compost? Because I read an article where a rancher had brought back all the grass on his almost dead land by spreading compost. Not only does it fertilize everything and encourage grass growth, but it locks higher amounts of CO2 into the grass than if you just use regular grass fertilizer or topsoil. Works for me).
- The right front shrub beds have been mulched.
- The little breakfast nook window bed has been mulched, and begonias and orange celosia have been planted.
Still to do:
- Mulch the left front shrub beds (five bags)
- Reseed gaps in the back yard grass along the pool and cover with compost.
- Mulch the garage flower bed (two bags) and plant more lantana and Mexican heather (the lantana has already been purchased and is sitting on the bed ready to go).
- After a thorough weeding, fill the side flower bed with two bags of topsoil and three bags of mulch, then plant salvia and yarrow or perennial wallflower.
- Trim back the rosebush. In February, prepare the shady corner of the yard and transplant it there.
- Add three bags topsoil and three bags of mulch to the shrub bed that hides the pool pump equipment. This will also require reseating six stepping stones.
- Trim back the decorative grass plant next to the pool heater, which will require digging into the roots to pull the damn thing out
- Add a rotating composter to the front corner of the yard. The ground there is rocky and won’t grow anything, so I may as well stick the composter there.
- Install a butterfly garden in the opposite corner next to the pool pump. It’s a weird little triangle of meh grass — I’m sure I can do something more creative with it.
So, yeah, kind of busy. But I’ve been writing along with all the yard work so I’ve got that going for me. As you may have noticed, Grading the Curve was finally finished and re-released, and I’m currently working on Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2) and King of Blades (Two Throne 2). And er, I may be writing a wee GoT fanfic because, well, I want to.
And I didn’t expect it to, if I’m being bluntly honest. But I did get a call from Houston this morning and my heart leapt into my throat until I saw the words SCAM LIKELY on the screen. Damn you for getting my hopes up, scammers. Congratulations to all the RITA and Golden Heart finalists, and best of luck!
Anyway, I’ve been quiet here lately and I’m sorry about that. It’s been a combination of problematic health due to allergies, trying to get various projects done and out the door, trying to get my office set up so that I can write up there (long story short — I prefer to write on my laptop, but there’s no comfortable place to do that in my office. After ten years of living in this house I have finally rectified that by consolidating all the printers and computer equipment onto one shelving unit and moving my wing recliner into my office), and general ennui. Oh, also, the climate is going to hell, US politics are a dumpster fire, UK politics aren’t much better, and I wish my ovaries would just die already.
So there’s that. But spring is officially here, I’m close to finishing the massive rewrite of Grading the Curve (oh, man, that needed work and way more backstory) and getting that re-released, and then I can get back to work on King of Blades, Uncertainty Principle, and the still untitled romcom (I’m trying to come up with an amusing marriage-related pun, but nothing has worked so far). If that wasn’t enoigh to keep me busy, I’ll also be signing books at the Home Run Author Event this Saturday in the Jack Daniels Club in Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX. VIP tickets are already sold out, but tickets will still be available at the door for $20 and parking is free.
Also, I’ve been busy creating graphics for the various book series, which I’m making available on mugs, t-shirts, and stickers because 1) it’s cool and 2) everyone needs a Trickster Tech t-shirt. So in addition to the Olympic Cove merch I now have the Trickster Technologies company logo/tag line, the Mayhew Plants and Nursery company logo/tag line, and I have an idea for a very cool graphic for the ship/AI from Two to Tango (which will be renamed Stealing Dmitri when I get the rights back this summer). What can I say — it’s fun for me to come up with logos for imaginary companies.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work, tra la…
Yesterday my MMF historical romance Behind the Iron Cross released on Amazon and Smashwords, with Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes to follow soon. While it’s my tenth full-length novel to be released, it’s also the first romance novel I ever started, back in April 2012. I quickly realized that 1) I would have to do a buttload of research on the period, and 2) I really didn’t have the novel writing chops necessary to do the story justice. While working on my assorted series over the next six years I wound up picking at Iron Cross on and off, doing research when I could and picking up information that would add to the background and worldbuilding of the story.
And then this September something clicked and I decided, “Okay, time to finish it.” Which threw my schedule completely out of whack, forcing me to drop Uncertainty Principle until next year, but I felt like it was time to get Iron Cross done and out. The weird thing is, I wasn’t consciously aware that this year was the centenary of the end of World War I, which plays a big role in the story. All I can say is, the subconscious is an amazing thing.
This is also my longest and darkest romance to date. I don’t know if that’s because it’s a historical romance set in between-the-wars Berlin or what, but 105,000 words still amazes me when I think about it. As for the dark themes, well, 1923 Berlin was not exactly Disneyworld, although God knows there was a buttload of partying going on at the various clubs and restaurants if you had money. As for the concept of a German army officer turning to prostitution to support his family, that was actually pulled from real life reports. The economy was absolute crap, hyperinflation was rampant, lots of soldiers were decommissioned and unable to find even menial jobs, prostitution had been normalized in Berlin, and if you didn’t want to join the criminal gangs and the right-wing militias called Freikorps wouldn’t take you, you didn’t have much of a choice.
Like I said, not the happiest of places. That being said, I very deliberately toned down the harsher historical aspects because this is a romance, after all, and I needed these three very different people to fall in love with each other. According to my editor and betas I succeeded, but time will tell with reviews.
Next up on the writing table are King of Blades (Two Thrones 4) and Windrider and the Deuce, which I’m writing concurrently. Windrider should be finished in two weeks and will be released as my holiday novella following the adventures of Bardahlson son #2 Ewan and a lovely and dangerous messenger from Ghobos who find themselves joining forces to stop a blackmailer from ruining a priestess’s life during Frostfair. That should be out by mid-December and King of Blades should be out by late December, so you’ll have lots of stuff to read between Christmas and New Year.
As for 2019, my current schedule includes the to-be-named romcom about two actors who find out they were accidentally married for real during a movie and have to get a divorce, Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2), Shifter Woods: Scream, the yet-untitled Two Thrones 5, another romcom about Lily’s best friend Theresa, plus the re-release of Breaker Zone (Olympic Cove 2) and Two to Tango, which will be expanded and retitled Stealing Dmitri. So, yeah, busy year next year. But hey, it keeps me off the streets.
Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with the opening to Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2). It picks up a few weeks after the end of Degree of Resistance, and follows Evie and Ben as they try to adjust to life with each other outside the Pacifica Protectorate. Needless to say, their relationship is about to get complicated, particularly when Ben starts having flashbacks to his time as a brainwashed Osiris Corps agent. This teaser isn’t very sexy, but don’t worry — hot times are acomin’, yes they are!
Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!
The office wasn’t as nearly luxurious as visitors expected it to be. The walls were smooth white plaster interspersed with hand-width bands of stone ranging from olive to gold, all of it native to the West Coast. A few tasteful pieces of art had been placed here and there, lit by overhead LED spotlights; a Hopi Kachina figure, a shimmering beaded fiber sculpture from Keller’s Siren period, Bernini’s marble bust of Medusa. The floor was a prosaic pine that had been stripped and sealed with a polish that gave it nigh-diamond hardness. It looked more like the office of a corporation CFO, perhaps, or a Shareholder who had reached the age where she didn’t need to show off her wealth anymore.
Which was why John Ballardie liked it. Staying one step ahead of people’s expectations was not only something he enjoyed, but helped to keep both his political allies and enemies on their toes.
What he didn’t enjoy was having those same tables turned on him. “What do you mean, Song Lin’s body is still missing?” he asked.
His personal assistant Eve stood in front of his desk, unflappable in her custom business wear and red-framed SmartSpex. “Her body was never found after the attack on Gold Rush. It was assumed to have been,” she paused, making a polite face, “rendered unrecoverable. The investigation was closed when Song Dae-Jung had his sister declared officially dead. The park officials were eager to repair the damage and reopen, so they went along with Mr. Song’s wishes.”
This wasn’t the first time Song Dae-Jung had tried to sneak a private interest under the board’s nose. He’d thought the man had learned his lesson by now, but apparently that wasn’t the case. “Have the investigation re-opened. It doesn’t stop until they find a body. In fact, have them keep an eye out for her bodyguard and PA as well. I don’t care what Song says—I doubt his sister’s dead. She’s too damn smart for that.”
Eve’s SmartSpex flickered as the thin layer coating the inside of the lenses tracked her eye movements and translated them into computer commands. “There’s another issue, sir. Benjamin Drake is also missing.”
He felt himself grow still. “From where?”
“Gold Rush, sir.”
Annoyance and suspicion flash-heated into rage. “What in God’s name was he doing there?”
“There was a request to have Osiris personnel assigned to Gold Rush as security,” his PA said. “Mainly due to the number of Shareholders and other notables scheduled to attend the anniversary celebration. General Camden approved it and Drake was sent to the park. According to park records Drake’s chancellor was upgraded with a new persona after his transfer and he was assigned a street character. Tracking records show that he was in the Palais Hotel at the time of the attack, but his body hasn’t been located in the debris, either.”
A missing Shareholder who was sister to one of the most powerful board members in Pacifica was bad enough. To have Drake go missing from the same location at the same time—the situation stank to high heaven. “I want Camden here today,” Ballardie ground out. “I don’t care where she is or what she’s doing. She’s in my office before midnight.”
Eve blinked and her SmartSpex lightened momentarily. “She’s at the Eugene Toyshop. I’ll summon her immediately.”
He dismissed the PA with a curt nod. Alone, he stood and went to the only window in the office, a western exposure where he could see the bulk of downtown Redding at a glance. 30 stories below, the wide blue band of the Sacramento River was barely visible against the thick greenery of the parks on either bank of the river. If the city wasn’t covered by a dome he’d be able to see the mountains of the Shasta Cascade off to the west from this elevation.
He didn’t need this now, not with Alhambra so close to completion. Camden would simply have to turn the protectorate upside down and shake until his missing citizens—or their bodies—dropped out.
Flashes in the dark. The yellow cruciate rose of old-fashioned automatic weapons, and the bluish glow of modern bolt rifles. One side was better equipped than the other, but it didn’t mean the weaker side was going to give up.
Not until the last one of them was dead. And they would die. Those were his orders, and he would follow them.
He walked through the darkness, night goggles betraying the sullen silhouettes of the desert landscape. On either side were other soldiers in identical armor, his siblings in arms. They were there to serve the good of the Pacifica Protectorate. And the good of the protectorate called for the destruction of this enemy camp.
A form darted across his field of vision. It didn’t meet the parameters of those who must be protected. Enemy. He brought his rifle up and fired. The form toppled over, momentum giving it one last step on its path before gravity tumbled it to the ground.
He marched to the now-still body, finger on the rifle’s trigger in case it was a trick. But his aim had been good. A black, burnt hole the size of a golf ball adorned the ragged jacket on the enemy’s back between the shoulder blades.
He kicked the body over. Now-blind eyes stared at the night sky. He estimated the enemy’s age to be between twelve and fourteen. Parameters satisfied, he rejoined the other soldiers on their advance through the camp as they continued to kill the enemy. Those were his orders. He would follow them—
Ben jerked up, a muffled scream rasping in his throat. Cold sweat covered the parts of his body that could still produce perspiration, and his chest ached from the rapid thudding beat of his heart.
Fuck. It was a dream. Just a bad dream.
He lay back down and closed his eyes, rubbing at the sockets until they made soft clicking noises. It didn’t help. In his mind he could still see the dead boy sprawled in the rocky dust, face turned to the heavens as if expecting a savior to arrive.
But there hadn’t been a savior. Only the Osiris Corps following orders.
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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.
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.
Okay, Day Three and I’m already behind but I had a really, really good reason. I’m not going to discuss it in extreme detail here because, frankly, it was pretty disgusting. Let us just say that access to a bathroom was required for the bulk of the day and I feel positively empty at the moment.
That being said, note that I DID get some wordage in, so there.
Anyway, today’s stats:
Started With: 5,714 words
Wrote: 636 words
Total word count: 6,350 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Cleaned up the downstairs bathroom because, yeah, it was sort of necessary.
Writing Tips: Even if you don’t hit your daily word quota, it’s cool. Some words are better than no words at all. If you only write 500 words a day, that’s 15,000 words give or take in a month, and 91,000 words in half a year. Hell, at that rate you could churn out two books a year, which is nothing to sneeze at. So sit down and toss some words into your story, even if all you add is a sentence or two. You’ll be glad you did.
Well, this turned out to be a day where I pretty much shuttled between Uncertainty Principle and Shifter Woods: Howl when I wasn’t vacuuming, food shopping, or turfing the damn cats off my lap. The one pictured above is particularly determined and will jump onto the table where I put my laptop when I’m not working in order to sneak a paw onto my lap desk. I push it off, and she’ll wait a moment before sneaking it back on. If I don’t push it off (because I’m, you know, working), she’ll take that as a sign to try and climb on either the lap desk or me. She did get cuddles and scritches today because I’m not a complete monster, but man, she would live ON me if it was at all possible.
About the book — Evie gets back to quarters early and finds Ben packing an overnight bag. He has to go off base to accompany a team that’s picking up scavenged goods from one of their regular suppliers. She’s a little worried because she knows that he’s having nightmares, but has no idea how to broach the subject because he keeps telling her he’s fine. Plus she’s just been seconded to Project Rubicon and is learning stuff that is curling her hair a little bit, but she can’t discuss it with Ben because he’s not cleared for that level of security. There’s a reason why I called this one Uncertainty Principle, you know. There might be also be a sex scene at the end of this chapter, I’m not sure yet.
Started With: 3,043 words
Wrote: 2,666 words
Total word count: 5,714 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: The usual cat chores, obtained the makings for Italian wedding soup, vacuumed the living room, dusted some picture frames, and edited Shifter Woods: Howl.
Hello, lovelies, and welcome to April where I will be writing the first draft of Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2) in one month. Yes, watch me shut off my internal editor and vomit words onto the page like a drunk in a Chicago bar on St. Patrick’s Day!
So far? I have a moody Ben, a distracted Evie, and Lilith having a discussion about what it means to be human. Because this is a romance, you know. Jesus, I can never do things the easy way.
Started With: 0 words
Wrote: 3,043 words
Total word count: 3,043 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Much laundry, cat chores, stopped off for more wet food and some protein for me, and edited Shifter Woods: Howl before getting to work on this. Because yeah, I’m a masochist.
Writing Tips: Give yourself permission to write crap. Not every word that you write in the first draft will be gold. In fact, they’re going to be pretty shitty, with little glittering bits here and there that show promise. Think of it as digging clay out of a riverbank and slapping it into the general form of a person — the second/third/yadda yadda drafts are when you start carving everything into shape, adding stuff here and deleting stuff there. Sometimes deleting a lot of stuff there. Right now you’re not concerned with precision, or the perfect turn of phrase (although if you can manage those little glittering bits, please do so), or a gripping scene. You want shitty words that convey the general plotline of the story, and you want enough of them so that you make your word count. Do whatever you have to do to get them there — write a general outline that you’ll fill in later, skip ahead in the story, write something absolutely ridiculous that you know you’ll have to delete later but amuses you now. This is the time to get mud all over everything and build that castle.