Monday, January 31, 2011
Today's picture is of a Drow. Drow are dark-skinned elves that live underground. In Champion of Valor, they tend to be all about themselves and often clash with their underground neighbor, the dwarves.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Are you the kind of person who flourishes when a deadline is looking? Or do you panic and stress out and freak out instead of working?
I'm the former. I need deadlines. I need to have a goal, something that keeps me in line and focused. Without deadlines, I just flounder along, making excuses. A deadline wipes out my excuses and leaves me with nothing but work.
In case you can't tell, I'm on a deadline for Champion of Valor, so that's why this post is so short. Hope everything's going well for you all, whether you're working for a deadline or not!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Vampires have been done to death... or have they?
Personally, I'll read just about anything. I'll read vampire stories and I don't think I'll get tired of reading them any time soon. And if you walk through a bookstore, you'll see vampire books everywhere.
That said, am I in the minority here? Are people sick of reading vampires stories? Or are you still reading them?
I've written a few short stories about vampires but not a novel. I'm trying to decide if I should write some more vampire shorts or shorts involving selkies. I'm leaning toward the vampires considering that one of the main characters in Champion of Valor is a selkie.
Which short stories would you be more like to read - vampires or selkies? Oh, I should mention that the vampires are more traditional vampires - horror, not romance. These vampires are creatures of the night. I vant to suck your blood and leave you to die kind of vampires.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I like to read standalone novels but I also like to read series.
Growing up, I adored the Babysitters' Club and Sweet Valley High (there's doing to be a new series for the twins with them in their late 20's). The Anne books. Nancy Drew. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings (although technically, LotR is just one really long book).
Since then, I've read many more series, including Harry Potter. Currently, I'm on book 3 of the Sookie books. I really liked the first book. The second is good but not as good as the first. So far, book 3 seems even more downhill.
Will I continue to read them? Yes. But why have they started to turn south on me? That's hard to say.
I've been thinking about series a lot lately as I'm working hard to finish up Champion of Valor, Book III in the Kingdom of Arnhem series. I want to tie up all the loose ends, develop the characters from the previous books further even while I balance introducing new characters and races. It's a balancing act.
I think with series, it's important to continually build. You have to have character growth in each book and throughout the series. Each book should be separate and yet when read together, there should be something more. There should be an overlying arch to the books in a series.
Do you like to read series? Why or why not? What's your favorite series? Mine is probably Harry Potter. Or Outlander.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
3:00 am. Those numbers glowed green, staring at me, letting me know I wasn't sleeping. I couldn't. If I did, who knows what injury I would wake up with. Every night a dream would consume me, and when I woke, something on my body was cut, bruised, or almost broken.
I started at the ceiling. The fan squeaked and wobbled, trying to produce air flow. It wasn't succeeding. I turned over, hugging my pillow. What's happening? Maybe I should see someone, but who? A doctor? Padded room for sure. Is there such a thing as a dream specialist?
A branch scratched the window. I turned over again. 5:00 am. Where did the last two hours go? Adrenaline pumped through my veins, accelerating my heart. My T-shirt was damp and clinging to my back. What happened? Did I dream, again?
Bang. Bang. Bang. I jumped up. Someone was at my door.
"Who's there?" I called.
I threw my covers aside and threw the door open. No one was there.
Of course not. I climbed back into bed.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Maybe if I ignore it, it’ll stop.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
I covered my head with my pillow.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
“Leave me alone!” I threw my pillow at the door.
The door opened but still no one was there.
Maybe a glass of warm milk would help me sleep. I walked downstairs into the kitchen and paused. The refrigerator door was already open, the milk on the counter. I picked up a glass full of milk and drank. The milk was not too cold and had no hot spots. It was perfect. I returned the carton into the fridge and closed the door.
I jumped and dropped the glass. It broken into a million pieces, its shard flying everywhere.
“Greg, what are you doing here?”
“You need to go to sleep, Megan.”
I trembled all over. “You can’t be here. I’m seeing things.” I closed my eyes and began to sing a song. After I screwed up the second verse, I opened my eyes, hoping he was gone.
He was still there.
“You’re dead, Greg, you died two weeks ago. A teenage driver hit your car.”
Greg tilted his head to the side. “I do remember a car crash.” He stepped forward, toward me.
I backed up until I bumped into the wall.
Greg still approached, his bare feet stepping on the broken shards of glass. He didn’t react to the pain, didn’t leave blood on the floor.
I screamed and ran past him, up the stairs, to my bedroom. I slammed the door shut and locked it. Climbed into bed.
Everything would be better in the morning. I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up.
“You need to go to sleep, Megan.”
I screamed again. The door was still shut, still locked, but Greg had somehow gotten into my room. He advanced and grabbed my pillow from the floor. He forced me to lie down on my bed and pressed the pillow to my face.
Just before my vision turned black, I could see flashing lights and heard tires screeching. Only then did I remember that I was the teenage driver that had hit and killed my brother.
Monday, January 24, 2011
In honor of working hard on finishing up Champion of Valor before the end of the month, here's a picture of a selkie. One of the main characters in CoV is a selkie named Selliki.
Friday, January 21, 2011
I unfortunately did not give myself much time to put this together what with my busy life of supporting my writer of a wife and two young children but I'll try to do the best I can. Having a spouse as a writer has its good times and bad times. I'll start with the good. It is quite entertaining to see how passionate she gets about her story ideas. I can admit that I do not always do the best job of listening as I have so much on my mind as it is, but just seeing her enthusiasm and true unconditional love for story-writing lets me know that what she is doing is right and what she is meant to do. Her tireless efforts are admirable with the long hours she puts in as well as having to be a mother of two very young, energetic children. She will interrupt conversations having nothing to do with stories almost as if a light-bulb pops on in her head with a new idea which lets me know she is always working no matter what time of day or where she is. She will toil and lose sleep if she has to in order to meet deadlines and her perseverance is truly incredible.
But then comes the negative. I work a schedule on a five week rotation which could have me working days, middles, or a split shift and I sometimes spend up to 11-12 hours at the office and can't wait to get home to see her only to have to sit downstairs and take care of the kids while she spends an entire night locked in the bedroom trying to get her writing done. I can see the toll that the lack of sleep has taken on her and she needs the energy to be a mom as well as a writer. I have also been relegated to having my iPhone as my sole source of the Internet because our home PC has been commandeered. Even my sleep can be affected by it being that we have our computer in our bedroom and often times I have to go to sleep with a blaring bright monitor shining towards my face. But other than that I guess I have no more complants.
All in all, I think it is an honor having a spouse as a writer. It definitely has its pros and cons, but seeing her face when she gets a story accepted, a new contract, a royalty check is enough to make me forget about the negative. She is doing my name proud and hopefully I'll soon be able to go into a Barnes and Noble or Borders and take one of her books off of the front display shelf with all of the other New York Times bestsellers. Remember the name Nicole Zoltack, because soon she'll be making international news.
Posted by Nicole Zoltack at 11:07 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I love the movie Timeline. It's based on the book by Michael Crichton. Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, and Gerard Butler star.
If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, Timeline is about a group of archaeologists and medieval experts who uncover some clues that suggest that Walker's father has traveled through time. They hunt down the dig's money backers and through their technology, time travel back to France in 1357. They only have a limited amount of time to get back to the present and the French warriors at war with the invading British makes locating Walker's father no easy task as their body count rises.
With time travel set in the Middle Ages, romance, action and adventure, this movie is one that I can watch over and over again. Just ask hubby, he can tell you how many times we've seen it as well as how many times I've suggested it and we (namely he) picked something else. Sure it's not the most accurate, but it's still a fun movie to watch. And it's one of the few book-based movies in which I actually like the movie better than the book.
Have you seen or read Timeline? What did you think of it? Have you ever liked a movie better than its book?
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
We celebrate hubby's grandmother's birthday this weekend. When it came time for her to make a wish, she paused for awhile before blowing out her candles. And during that pause it made me think about wishes.
|Credit for picture|
If I had three wishes, what would I wish for?
1. A castle. Completely paid for. Would be so nice to not have to pay a mortgage. I've wanted to live in a castle (or a mansion) ever since I was 4 or 5.)
2. A friendly contract with a huge advance from a large publishing house.
3. To earn out the advance.
Getting an agent is one thing. Getting a contract is a whole other animal. And if you do get an advance, you better earn it out or else you run the risk of the publishing house be less likely to publish more of your works.
So those are 3 of my wishes. I could definitely list more but I'll stop there. What would you wish for?
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
This weekend, I signed up for a weight loss group especially for mom writers. I'm still carrying some extra weight from son #1 plus I was 10 pounds heavier than I would like to have been before I became pregnant with him. So roughly 25 pounds. I'm hoping the encouragement of the group will provide enough motivation that I can make the numbers on the scale inch downward.
In between exercise and not snacking, I'm working hard on Champion of Valor, finishing it up and editing it. So I not only want to cut the fat from my diet, but also from my manuscript.
Repetitive words, phrases, sayings.... gone.
Abuse of adverbs... deleted.
Passive voice... made active.
Long descriptions... tightened and pruned.
Adjectives... pared down.
I'm cutting the fat from my MS. When you edit your stories, what do you keep an eye out for?
Monday, January 17, 2011
I love the coloring of this. That is one kick-ass sword.
And thanks so much to everyone that responded on Friday's post about what you like and don't like about my blog. I'm going to play around with the layout and maybe remove a few things and see if that helps to make the page load faster.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Feedback request time. What do you like about my blog? Anything you don't care for? Anything you would like to see or see more of? Any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated! I want to keep all of my blog followers happy so this is your turn to talk and tell me anything and everything.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I will be giving away 3 e-books to 3 winners. Just follow the tour, leave a comment and include your e-mail address with each comment. On Feb. 1, 2011, I will draw the winners, announce the winners on my blog and email the winners. The more you comment, the better your chances.
Jan. 7…Friday, Author interview: Deirdra Eden Coppel at A Story Book World
Jan 10…Monday, Interview with the Protagonist (heroine), Missie: Michael De Gesu at In time…
Jan 11…Tuesday, Mythical Creatures: Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough blogs
Jan 12…Wednesday, World Building for Fantasy & Sci Fi: Marian Allen at Marian Allen
5. Jan. 13…Thursday, Creating Monsters: Nicole Zoltack at Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight
Jan. 14…Friday, Tension & Humor, a balancing act: Jean Henry Mead at Make Mine Mystery
Jan. 17…Monday, What are the Treasures of Carmelidrium? Summer Ross at My Inner Fairy
Jan. 18…Tuesday. Interview with an elf: Patricia Stoltey at Chiseled in Rock,
Jan. 19…Wednesday, Jan. 19, Interview with the antagonist (villain), Renwyk, Lord of the Symberveen: Colene Murphy at The Journey
Jan. 20…Thursday, Interview with Galen, Scout of Gil-Lael: The Golden Eagle at The Eagles Aerial Perspective
Jan 21…Friday, Plot vs Character Driven in Genre Writing: Mason Canyon at Thoughts in Progress
Jan. 24…Monday, Character Driven vs World Driven in Fantasy & Sci Fi:
Helen Ginger at Straight From Hel
Jan 25…Tuesday, Playing the “What If” Game: Dominic de Mattos at Writes of Passage
Jan 26…Wednesday, …What inspired me to write about music as a power and why the flute: Clarissa Draper at Listen To The Voices
Jan 27…Thursday. What Elements are in the Story? (Romance, Suspense, Mystery?) Denise at L’Aussie Writing
Jan 28…Friday, Why I Write Fantasy: Jeffrey Beesler at Jeffrey Beesler’s World of the Scribe
Jan. 31…Monday, Why You Should Hire an Editor & Professional Illustrator: (Sherry Wachter illustrated by book so there should be some interesting discussion between us.)
Sherry Wachter who writes as Bodie Parkhurst at Magic Dog Press
N. R. Williams lives in Colorado, U.S.A. with her husband. She is delighted to have two three year old grandchildren, cousins. She's a long time member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and has been privileged to attend conferences and workshops. Since her formative years, she's been inventing fantastical stories and since she could spell she's been writing them down. While she majored in art in college, she didn't make a living at it. Now, she uses her skills of observation to create fantastical worlds, interesting characters and stories that touch the heart.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I love Goodreads. If you want to add me as a friend, here's my link. It's a great way to find books, read reviews, to find other readers with similar tastes in books.
Are you on Goodreads? What do you use it for? I think it's a great way to social network.
Lately, my book sales have been really well. In fact, last month, my books were some of my publisher's best sellers for the month. I'm not positive why my books have been selling so well recently but I have been a lot more active on Goodreads lately. Coincide? I'm not sure.
Also, Preditors and Editors (P&E) are having their annual awards. Knight of Glory is up for Best Fantasy Novel for 2010. Woman of Honor finished 5th last year!
I, personally, don't read many reviews on Goodreads. I am more likely to look at the number of stars a book as and based my wanting to read a book on that and the blurb. If I can't decide whether or not I would like the book, then I'll read the reviews.
What do you think of Goodreads?
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I love the show The Vampire Diaries. Human Elena falls for the hunky new boy at school - who just so happens to be a vampire. Enter sexy older vampire brother, a best witch best friend, darkness, blood, drama, and love - that's the gist of The Vampire Dairies.
Yes, both brothers like Elena, but this is definitely not Twilight. The vampires are mean, often downright cruel in TVD. It's so much darker.
One thing I loved most about TVD, especially the first season, was the last few seconds of each episode.
The writers left you hanging. A twist, something you never saw coming. A hint at a new revalation. Danger, intrigue. It always left me yearning for more. I couldn't wait for the next episode!
And that's what we should do at the end of each chapter with our stories. We don't want our readers to reach the end of a chapter, to put our book down and forget to pick it back up. No, we want them to read the end of a chapter and practically rip the page getting to the next chapter. (or press the arrow on an ereader or scroll down.)
Watching/writing about gorgeous characters doesn't hurt.
Do you watch TVD? What shows do you take tips from for your writing? What tips do you take away from your favorite shows?
Monday, January 10, 2011
I think this is too awesome - a castle in a cave! Wonder who lives there, why they're underground, if they have any magic...
And some other pictures from my life:
|My new haircut - sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. It looks nice here but it doesn't always. It had been a couple inches from my elbows so I had a ton cut off.|
Friday, January 7, 2011
I love to read. I'm the queen of reading. And I sometimes read more than one book at a time. Currently, I'm reading The Lightning Thief, The Hunger Games, and Dead Until Dark.
I won a contest - a B&N gift card! I'm so stoked that I'm already picking which books to buy: Personal Demons, Firelight, and Paranormalcy. But, depending on the price, I might be able to get 3 more.
So, any of you reading a good book you think I might like? What was your favorite book of 2010?
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Like all little girls, I wanted to be a model when I grew up. Considering that I stopped growing in the eighth grade, (I'm just a smidge under five foot), I knew that wasn't going to happen.
So then I wanted to an actress.
The lights, the cameras, the fame and fortune... who doesn't want all that?
Well, there's just one slight problem.
I can't act.
Well, I haven't really tried. Never audition for a part or a role. I have sung in choirs and sung solos but that isn't the same thing.
Naw, the reason why I think I can't act is because of my face. I wear my emotions on my face.
If you say something that rubs me the wrong way, you'll see it.
If you embarrass me, I blush.
Any emotion - happy, sad, furious, annoyed - I can't hide them.
Hubby has asked me to put on a face before. I tried. And failed.
Son #1 is starting to learn this. I have perfected the stern glare that all moms have - the LOOK.
Can you act? Can you cover up your emotions?
Posted by Nicole Zoltack at 10:45 AM
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Do you have any regrets?
|Credit for picture|
Regrets. It's such a nasty little word.
I regret to inform you - that phrase is meant to be polite but it's so informal, it's almost callous.
I think I may know why I have such a almost hatred for the word regret.
My nature, I try to be optimist. If something bad happens, I worry, I fret, I cry, but I also try to see if there is a silver lining. I'm not delusionial, I know when things are awful, but I do try to see the good in everyone and everything.
Regret, by its very nature, is dark. It's depressing. It's being sorry for a past action. Something that can't necessarily be changed or fixed.
Instead of forgetting what you regret, it's important to try to move on, move forward. But it's most important to learn from your past mistakes and regret and go on to be happy, a better person because of your past.
Your past, your failures and mistakes, your regrets, your triumphs and succeedings, make you you. Make you who you are. Make you a better person, a better friend, a better husband/wife/son/daughter.
So maybe regrets aren't so evil and dark. If you learn from your mistakes, if you become a better person, changed and happier, then maybe having some regret isn't such a terrible thing.
What do you think? Do you have any regrets?
And don't worry. I promise to blog about more cheerful subjects, I swear!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
I don't know about you, but I always feel a little depressed after all the hoopla of the holidays are over. Maybe it's because the house seems so much smaller and quieter with all the relatives gone. Or the cleaning up the house and tripping over all the kiddies new toys. Or no more listening to Christmas music 24/7 until next Black Friday.
|Credit for picture|
Togetherness. Love. Family. Friendship.
Do you ever feel the post holidays blues? How do you overcome the symptoms? Should I just pig out on leftovers? :) What do you like most about the holidays?
Monday, January 3, 2011
Here's a lovely picture of a winter queen. Methinks there's something magical about the wintry forest behind her. I love her cloak. And dress. I would so buy that outfit.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
1. Edit and send Champion of Valor to beta readers, make changes, and send it to Gail.
This has to be done so this is a guarantee check at the end of the year.
2. Finish the last couple of tweaks to Alexia's Pen before sending out queries.
The query letter and synopsis are all done. Just need to make some scene changes.
3. Re do the beginning scene to Hidden in Shadows and send it off to beta readers. Make changes. Rework the query letter to incorporate voice and send them out.
4. Start working on a new project. Or two.
Last year, I had written down resolutions to write three complete novels. I know that is just not how I operate. I have periods of intense writing and periods of inactivity. With my young ones and trying to get them on the same sleeping schedule, that's just going to happen. I would like to be able to write more than one story a year, even if it's a story and a half and gradually work my way up to two or three full novels a year.
5. Do a better job of keeping my website up-to-date and work on increasing my newsletter subscriptions. Also, send out the newsletter at least 4 times a year.
So there are my goals. Far more realistic than last year's - get an agent. Oh boy, lol, do I laugh at that now!
I also plan on making monthly goals on the 1st of the month and seeing how I do at the end of the month to help keep my goals in sight and keep myself on track.
So what are your writing resolutions this year? Do you having reading resolutions? (I would like to find more time to read, even if it's only ten minutes a day.) Regular resolutions? (I want to get back to my college graduation weight - a little less than 20 pounds to go!)
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Tomorrow I'll post my new writing resolutions but for today, I want to revisit the resolutions I made last year.
1. I want to sign with an agent for my fantasy YA novel, The Land of Imagining.
I've already started querying agents the end of November and have had two partial requests and several rejections to start this long, drawn-out process.
Well, this hasn't happened. YET. But this is something that is out of my hands, and having a resolution that I can't control the outcome of is never a good idea. Note to self: when making my new resolution, focus on things that I can control.
2. I want to start on the sequel to the aforementioned novel.
I see this series being a three book series, with The Land of Imagining being the middle book, with a sequel and a prequel. So why did I write the middle book first? Because the main character is an ordinary girl (who learns she isn't quite so ordinary after all) and has to journey to a strange, new world. I want the readers first glimpse into the All-Knowers' Land of Imagining to be seen through her eyes, through the eyes of someone who has never seen it before. The sequel is set mostly on Earth, and the prequel is set mostly in the Land of Imagining. So it works best for the middle book to be read first. And it really isn't as strange as it seems. After all, the Chronicles of Narnia were published in a vastly different order than chronological.
Didn't happen. I think I'm going to hold off on writing the sequel into I have interest in the first story.
3. Write the last book in the Kingdom of Arnhem series.
I still trying to come up with a name for this one. I'm thinking Warrior of Courage. I would like to keep the trend going, Woman of Honor, Knight of Glory....
Hero, Warrior, Mage, Champion....
Courage, Virtue, Hope, Justice....
Still playing around. Any ideas? Suggestions?
Well, I've chosen a title - Champion of Valor. And it's just about done. So I'll chalk this one up as a victory.
4. Start and hopefully finish another fantasy YA novel or my suspense novel.
This fantasy novel shows the plight of four teens as their world is turned upside down when magic sudden appears and chaos results.
The suspense novel is about a woman who accidentally kills a young child during a game of hide and seek, and her resulting descent into madness and guilt.
Didn't happen. Now that I have two kids instead of just one, and they aren't napping at the same time, it makes fnding time to write very difficult. I have so many stories I want to write, but the notion of me writing three novels in one year right now is just about impossible. Note to self: make realistic goals. They can be slightly lofty, but they have to be realistic too.
5. Sell some short stories to magazine(s).
I have a backlog of short stories that are collecting rejection letters from magazines. I would like to work on them, shine them, and start circulating them again. If I can't find a paying market for them (so far I've only tried the pro markets), I may end up making some available on my website for you all to enjoy.
So far, I have 9 short stories in various anthologies. I still haven't broken into the magazine market, but I'll still chalk this up as a win.
What about you? Did you make writing resolutions last year? How did you do? Are you making new resolutions this year? What are they?