Category Archives: Writing

My brain hurts

This is my word count for the day, and that’s on top of getting a half hour in on the treadmill and making dinner. I figure the target is a lie and I have at least another 7.5K to go. My brain hurts, but I’m so close to the end I can taste it.

A most extraordinary experience


As you know (Bob), I spent Thursday and Friday writing a 13,500 word novella for an antho call. Luckily I was pretty solid on the story idea so I was able to nail my butt to the chair and crank it out in record time. Polished it and sent it in to Evernight, and all is well.

The antho call was for stories about the ultimate bad boys — criminals, killers, what have you — who completely disregard the law but are utterly loyal to their women (or men, depending on their orientation). So I wrote a story about a Southern hitman named Colton Jackson who is hired to kill a Dallas lawyer. Problem is, the lawyer’s secretary Ria Guzman walks in at the wrong moment and catches Colton red-handed. Ria and Colton had an immediate, powerful attraction to each other when he first came into the office posing as a client and he doesn’t really want to kill her, so he essentially kidnaps her, takes her to her apartment, and everything boils over. There’s passionate sex, trains going into tunnels, fireworks, etc. Colton then learns that he was set up to kill Ria (which would have seriously pissed off her powerful gang leader brother and put a price on his own head) and has to dispatch the threat, although there are loose ends that could lead to more stories about these two, I dunno. At the end of the story she has to disappear, so he takes her back to Louisiana with him.

This, however, is where it gets weird. I don’t know if it’s because I was completely immersed in the story for two days, to the point where I could very clearly see the law office, her apartment, and both Colton and Ria in my mind, but right now I have the oddest feeling that Colton and Ria are actually in Colton’s apartment in Shreveport right now making dinner and talking about what they need to get her new identity set up, and whether she really wants to go back to work as a secretary (he wants her to stay home but she’s independent and wants a job). It’s like I put so much mental energy and effort into them, I somehow made them real.

And yes, I know they’re not really real. At least, I hope not. But man, the brain is a weird, weird organ.

Have I mentioned recently that I love my job?

Because damn, I love my job. And I particularly love the inspiration for my sweet-as-honey hitman Colton Jackson. If I haven’t mentioned this before, it’s good to have gay friends who share your taste in men because they find the best pics online…

Want a free fantasy romance ebook? Did I mention it’s FREE? FREEEEEEEE…

And you don’t have to enter a contest, register, sign up for a mailing list, or do anything complicated, I promise. See, with Lady of Thorns projected to come out in early September I need to start my promo now, and part of that is garnering more reviews on book 2 in the series, Palace of Scoundrels. And the absolute best way to get those? Is to give out free ARCs to lovely people like you.

So, if you ping me here and say, “Hey, Nic, sweetie, honey, sugar lips, how about you shoot me a copy of Palace of Scoundrels in X format, please,” I will cheerfully email you a copy in your requested format, along with instructions on how to email it to yourself and get it on your Kindle if you need help with that. All I ask is that you write an honest review of the book — and yeah, if you didn’t like it, put that in the review. I did say I wanted honest reviews, after all.

And in case you forgot the premise of the book:

Kidnapping, poison, and sex — oh, my!

Spring has sprung in the island kingdom of Hellas, but with no signs of an occupant for the royal nursery Queen Danaë is starting to worry about her own fertility. Her concerns aren’t helped by the arrival of the legendarily conniving Dowager Queen Atilia of Illium–or the woman’s handsome grandson Prince Marcus, on the run after being accused of poisoning his older brother.

In the neighboring kingdom of Ypres, Danaë’s royal husband Matthias is dealing with dangerous family politics and a wolfish duke who has kidnapped a young noblewoman for immoral purposes. Or has he? Can Matthias ward off the threat of civil war, outwit his relatives, and deal with a charming rival in his wife’s own palace?

Or as I like it put it, Arrested Development meets Game of Thrones! Thank you for your support!

Making bank off your neuroses

The nice thing about being a writer? You can monetize your anxiety.

A few nights ago I saw a post by Jimmi Simpson on Twitter about his first day on Westworld S2, which promptly gave me a collywobble attack (some background — those of you who read Degree of Resistance may have noticed to whom the book is dedicated. Because I thought it might give him some nice egoboo, I contacted the gentleman and asked if he wanted a print copy. He graciously agreed. He recently pinged me to tell me that he received it and planned on reading it. My thought process upon hearing this went something like: “Wait, what? He’s not going to just stick it on a shelf somewhere? I didn’t want him to feel obligated to read it — oh, God. The sex scenes. I’m an idiot. WHY DID I SEND HIM THE BOOK? Oh, God, oh, God, he’s going to think I’m an illiterate perv…” Hence the collywobbles). As I know where my dedicatee is, I idly wondered if it would be too extreme to fly out to the set, find out where he’s staying, bribe a hotel maid to let me into his room, and steal back the book before he can read it.

(Yes, I know I’m nuts, but at least I’m productively nuts. Moving on…)

And then I thought, “Oh, hey, wait. That would make a freaking hilarious romcom plot.” Which resulted in my drunken Muse swanning into town and burping out a story about a tech writer in LA who sidelines as a romance novelist. After her wannabe screenwriter boyfriend breaks up with her, she gets totally loaded with her BFF and inadvertently sends a smoking hot romance inspired by her current actor crush to said actor. When he DMs her a few days later to tell her he’s received the book and plans on reading it, she’s horrified (because unlike me, she had inebriation as an excuse and hadn’t realized until the DM what she’d done) and decides to get the book back no matter what. “No matter what” includes drafting her BFF for a panicked trip to New Mexico, a long-suffering hotel maid, a sarcastic director, a man-eating actress who’s determined to get the actor in bed, and a hastily thrown together cover story BY THE ACTOR where the writer has to pretend to be the actor’s girlfriend in order to dissuade M-EA from her goal. Oh, and there may be a weekend trip to Vail and an inebriated swordfight somewhere in there. And hijinks ensue!

I told it to Ramón this morning. He said, “You realize that’s not a book, petal. It’s a movie.” Now he’s muttering about Kickstarter and Con Man, and I’ve got Karen Gillan, Tom Mison, Kat Dennings, Nathan Fillion, and Martin Freeman in my head running lines. Whee!

I have been cleaning ALL THE THINGS

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.

Speaking of that, both Degree of Resistance and Shifter Woods: Howl are now off KU and available at all online retailers, so if you prefer .epub files you are good to go.

Sometimes, you have a bad day

Hang tight, people. This is a peek into the insane mix of towering ego and impostor syndrome that is my mind.

If any of you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed my writing thread of yesterday. Essentially, I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself WRT Empress of Storms, the success of that title, and the issues I’ve had with the books that followed.

To summarize, my first self-pubbed title, Empress of Storms, did amazingly well. To this day, I honestly don’t know why, nor do I know why it continues to sell at least a copy a day. It just did and does. Which filled me with gratitude because the income made me feel 1) justified in my choice of careers and 2) like I was contributing to the household expenses.

The other novels that followed … did not do amazingly well, and I couldn’t figure out why. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that I must have screwed up somewhere down the line, did something wrong, or pissed off people. Because I clearly did something right with Empress, so that must mean that I did something wrong with the other books. Even though Palace of Scoundels, Degree of Resistance, and the Shifter Woods novellas are good pieces of storytelling if I say so myself, the fact that their sales are meh must mean that I wasn’t diligent enough about promo, or I missed some tricks somewhere along the line. Somehow, I screwed up, and I had to track that down and rectify it or else my career would circle the drain and I’d wind up in a nice refrigerator box under a bridge somewhere in my old age.

And then yesterday, I had an epiphany. Well, no, I had a sobbing fit (stupid hormones, I swear, menopause can get here at any time and I won’t complain) and then I had an epiphany. WRT my promo efforts, I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Let me repeat that for the folks in the cheap seats. I hadn’t done anything wrong.

I’d made all the right moves, did due diligence on my editing and covers, sent out ARCs, bought advertising, threw release parties, made appearances, gave out swag, everything I was supposed to do as an indie author. Everything I did for Empress, I did for Palace, Degree, and the Shifter Woods novellas. The truth of the matter was, Empress‘s success … was luck. Sheer dumb luck. I didn’t do anything particularly brilliant or savvy. I had a killer cover (thank you, Jay Aheer) and a story that appealed to NA readers, but the most important thing was that I was simply in the right place at the right time.

Ouch. The truth may set you free, but it will burn like a mother in the process.

And then I lost that sweet spot with the following books because the business moved on, as it does. New authors grabbed the spotlight, established authors brought out new books. It’s how things work in publishing. But losing that sweet spot didn’t mean I did something wrong. In fact, I did everything I was supposed to do. I was not a fake, a phony, a screwup that the reading public had finally cottoned onto. I just wasn’t in the right place at the right time anymore.

I know this sounds crazy, but realizing that was remarkably reassuring. Hitting big with one book and seeing a slump afterwards happens to a lot of writers. This isn’t me being a failure, it’s just the vagaries of the market. And the fact that my sales are slowly picking up again goes to show that people do like my stories (and bless each and every one of you out there who does) and maybe, just maybe, I need to keep writing them and remain stalwart in the face of occasional “long dark teatime of the soul” moments.

So, yeah, that was the backstory on yesterday’s Twitter thread. And while I’m busy cleaning the house today for my sister’s upcoming visit, I’ll be working out dialogue and plot points for Lady of Thorns and Cross Current. Because dammit, I’m a writer and that’s just how I roll in the Shire.

Happy Book Birthday to me!

Yes, Shifter Woods: Howl is now live and available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Better yet, sales have been pleasantly brisk which pleases me greatly. Now I just have to get started on Shifter Woods: Roar and get that ready for release. With luck I should have all four novellas done by July and available as both a boxed set and a combined print version in time for my birthday, tra la!

And I know I’ve said this before but damn, that male model is hot. Remind me to pass along my compliments to the photographer.

And since SW:H is now out there in the world, I can get back to work on Uncertainty Principle. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I have a freaking brilliant writers’ group here and tonight we didn’t have anything to critique so we brainstormed various people’s stories and novels, and they came up with some good avenues to explore for UP regarding the main plot. Now I just have to hammer all of that out and make it work. Whee!

80K the Hard Way: Day Three

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.

80K the Hard Way: Day Two

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.

Today’s stats:

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.