Monday, August 30, 2010

A few Interesting Articles

First, I wrote a short poem about Diaper Rashes here.

Talking about my writing journey thus far here.

A humorous look at Printing: Is Print Dead?

In Pictures: The 10 Highest Paid Authors

A cute but sad romantic video

Friday, August 27, 2010

Opening Scene - Hidden in Shadows

I've mentioned my assassin paranormal story so many times that I figured why not post an excerpt? Here's the opening scene for Hidden in Shadows:

My prey muttered a curse and slid a few feet down the miniature mountainside. I handled the gravel climb with ease, but the man I stalked panted heavily and looked around with wild eyes.

Some rocks tumbled down as he stumbled, and I ducked behind an oak tree. I didn’t want my prey to spot me and make a break for it. I’d waited four days for this — my opportunity to hunt and kill him at my leisure. Four painstakingly long days in which the lowlife spent his days with other lowlifes, and my patience had nearly worn down to the point that I wanted to kill both him and his friends.

A druggie who siphoned his rich wife’s accounts and regularly used their young boy as a punching bag until he was a bloody and broken mess, I despised the malefactor. Little kids were innocents, they deserved better than that. At least the wife had the sense to run away with her boy. Not once, but twice. When the dirtbag kept following them, demanding more money, she had called on me to save them.

How ironic. I would be saving two lives by stealing one.

The sun sank heavy, ready for slumber. Reds and oranges blurred together like a bucolic landscape from Thomas Kinkade. The view from the top must be beautiful. That is, if the sweetgum and pine trees didn’t hide it.

I peeked around the oak. The man sat only a few feet away, on the other side of the path, idly picking up pebbles and letting them fall in a pile, the orange-red clay-like soil dyeing his pudgy fingers. His labored breathing shook his large frame, and his face was bright red. If he kept up this pace, I might not have to do anything — his heart could give out.

But I couldn’t rely on the possibility of a heart attack. I removed the large knife from its sheath inside my right boot and examined my reflection. A hairnet and black scarf covered my hair so only my face was visible — grim and determined.

A loud groan sounded to my left. My prey left a rather large mound of rocks behind and resumed climbing the misnomer Driskill Mountain, Louisiana.

As did I. Careful to stay out of his line of sight, I followed until a twig snapped beneath my feet, the sound exploding in the piercing silence. Hardly vigilant enough, however, evident by the startled yelp and naked terror in his eyes.

“Who are you?” His voice trembled, his gaze soaking in my all-black outfit and the blade pointed at him. He stood rooted in place, like a deer caught in a poacher’s spotlight.

Crap. I was getting lax in my haste to kill. I should have waited until sunset, like I normally do. Then I could hide in the shadows. But now? It was too late.

My thoughts remained on shadows and hiding, and my prey yelled again. My eyes widened with surprise. His face was now pale, as if he had seen a ghost. What’s wrong with him?

“What are you?” the druggie shrieked. He rubbed his eyes as if seeing things. Perhaps he was high. Muttering to himself, perhaps saying a prayer, he turned and rushed past me to flee down the path. A few butterflies emerged from their resting positions in protest to his disruptive flight.

Wonderful. Before I could aim with my knife, he started to zigzag his descent. I loped down the path, my athletic prowess making it easy to catch up to him. I slammed my hands into his back and shoved. With a strangled cry, he fell. His legs jerked out from under him, and he tumbled sideways down the large hill. A loud thud and a gasp of pain followed.

I stepped down the overgrown path and found the gambler lying prone, his head against the pile of rocks he’d built. Blood stained the rock beneath his head. He gnashed his teeth, and his eyes were so tightly squeezed shut, he had to be seeing stars. Scratches on his limbs suggested he had crashed through several bushes before he had stopped.

Despite his injury, he stared at me with unabashed fright. His fingers scrabbled at the loose rocks and closed around one. He threw it at me, but it fell short and skidded toward my feet. With careful deliberation, I stalked him as he tried to roll over onto his hands and knees, his body refusing to cooperate. “W-who are you?” he repeated, his voice low and full of tension.

“Your murderer.” I plunged the sharp knife into his throat and severed his trachea, the surrounding muscles giving way easily.

My victim gasped, no longer able to breathe. Horrified gurgles emitted from his ruined throat. Instead of trying to attack me, he pressed his hands to the wound, attempting to staunch the slow flow of blood. Most of his life liquid flowed into the split trachea and filled his lungs. He emptied his bowels and stained his pants as his demise drew nearer.

The stench of the blood and fear filled the air, a scent both sweeter and more bitter than of death. I pressed my foot onto his chest to keep him in place as he spluttered and suffocated. His eyes were wide, surprisingly not with trepidation but with resignation. I wiped the bloodied blade on my undershirt and inserted it back into my boot.

It takes a certain amount of skill to sever someone’s windpipe and avoid the major blood vessels. A skill I had mastered years ago, when I had first started taking assignments. A rather clean but painful way to die as the blood fills the trachea, not squirting like in the movies. Between the blood and the swelling, the victim slowly chokes to death.

Pulling a piece of paper and a pen out of my pocket, I crossed off the last name of the list and waited. His skin grew cold and clammy, and his pupils dilated as his body began to go into shock. Loss of consciousness followed. Darkness descended before I was certain my prey stopped breathing.

Neil Botel was dead. Time to collect my paycheck.

Why am I a hired assassin?

Two reasons.

One, because it pays well. Extremely well.

And two, because I can.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Author Interview with Cherie Reich

I'm here today with author/blogger Cherie Reich. I love reading Cherie's blog about her writing journey and her cute animals. :) It's amazing how well she's doing, but I'll let her share her good news herself.

So, Cherie, tell us your latest writing news.

It's been very exciting lately with my writing, especially last week. I received my contributor's copies of the Virginia English Bulletin. Back in March, my alternate ending to Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying won third place in Roanoke Valley's Big Read writing contest, and my winning entry was published in the Virginia English Bulletin, a literary magazine. On Thursday, I had my horror story "Freak Show" accepted into Pill Hill Press's Bloody Carnival anthology, which will be published in September. "Freak Show" is story about the monster in Once Upon a December Nightmare and its origins. On Saturday, I received an acceptance for my story "Tradition" for LL-Publications' Oil and Water anthology. The Oil and Water anthology is very special to me, and I'm honored to have my story accepted into that anthology because all the proceeds will go to help the Gulf Oil Spill victims. Oil and Water will be available in September, as well. In October, my fantasy story "Neptune's Treasure" will be published in Wyvern Publications' Mertales anthology. I also have plans to polish up my novels in the next month or two.

We're in two anthologies together - Mertales and Bloody Carnival. I love being in anthologies with blogging buddies. When did you first consider yourself a writer, Cherie?

To be honest, there are times when I still don't consider myself a writer. I wish I could say that I've always been writing, but I haven't. And, my English grades really told my lack of writing skills (not including grammar/spelling). Then, I began writing when roleplaying. Yet, I didn't consider myself serious about writing until January 2009. I started writing my first novel and never looked back.

I know that feeling. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that I'm a writer, especially with the little ones needed so much of my time and energy! But they inspire me. Speaking of inspiring, what inspired you to write Once Upon a December Nightmare?

In December 2002, my friends and I wanted to go to dinner and a movie. We ended up riding around on an old mountain trail when the truck broke down. We walked to the main road and called my dad to pick us up. I kept thinking about what happened from time to time and thought it would be a great story. Then, I finally wrote it down in May 2009.

How did you come up with the title? I love it, by the way.

The title is Once Upon a December Nightmare. I know it is cliché, but I like the idea of "once upon a time." Usually, those four words denote a fairy tale, but bad things can happen in those tales, so I considered those words. Then, I remembered the song "Once Upon a December" from the movie Anastasia. When I was in choir, we used to sing that song. So I took that part and added the "nightmare" to it, since the story takes place in December and is a true nightmare to the characters. And, thus, Once Upon a December Nightmare was born.

A lot of fairy tales, in their 'true forms' were actually quite gruesome so I think your title is perfect. A lot of times, I struggle to pick a good title. What are your current projects?

I like to work on both short stories and longer works. I try to keep a list of what short stories I would like to write for various anthologies. I also am an author of the blog Raven and the Writing Desk, and I write a short story a month for it. I also write flash fiction every week and post it up on Fridays on my blog. I am also slowly working on a paranormal romance novella titled Panther Moon. Then, I have my novels. My work in progress novel is Moonlight Murders, which is a historical mystery set in 1891 London. Then, I'm rewriting/editing my two complete novels: Virtuoso (a YA Paranormal) and The Phoenix Prophetess (YA Epic Fantasy). In November, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. I will write my thriller/horror novel Sarah's Nightmare.

Ah, you're like me. I work on multiple projects at the same time too. If I get stuck on one, I move on to the next. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I wrote Once Upon a December Nightmare in a few weeks in May. The story, at the time, was a little over 10,000 words, and I didn't find it hard to write it, since I considered writing the story down since the end of 2002. Then, when it was picked up by Wild Child Publishing, I learned the hard truth of writing: editing. It took me from April to the end of July to get through four edits of Once Upon a December Nightmare. The story went from 10,000 words in the beginning, down to 9,000 words at the first edit, to 11,000 words of character building. 

Editing is, at least in my opinion, one of the worst parts of writing. A necessary evil. Well, thanks for coming 'round, Cherie!

Some of Cherie's links for you to enjoy:

To Purchase Once Upon a December Nightmare

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rejection and Acceptance

I recently submitted a short story to Pill Hill Press' Fem-Fangs Anthology called A Woman's Scorn. It's loosely based on the Venezuela legend of La Sayona but with vampires. Unfortunately, it was rejected.

Not to be deterred, because I really want to be in a short story anthology for Pill Hill Press, not just their flash fiction ones, I noticed that the deadline for their Bloody Carnival anthology was the 20th.

So on the 19th and 20th, I wrote a piece called Carnival of Shadows. It's really creepy, I even creeped myself out writing it. And just now, I received an email that it was accepted! *does the Snoopy dance*

Have any of you had any recent rejections/acceptances lately?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Giveaway Scout

To try to get the word out about my contest, I'm using Giveaway Scout. Giveaway Scout is a search engine for giveaways. They scan blogs for giveaways and post about them on their website. It's a great tool for getting people to know about your contests. They can't enter your giveaway if they don't know about it, right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Writer's Jealousy

Jealousy by ~cold-summer

Have you ever read a book and just been spellbound by its greatness? Felt as if you're a failure of a writer because you can never measure up to its pure genius? The green-eyed monster rears its ugly head and whispers in your ear that you aren't good enough.

That's happened to me a few times. I've wished I could have written that book or inspired that movie. After a few moments, the feeling passes though. And I always feel more committed afterward. After all, why can't I achieve greatness too? Someday I will. And I'm sure you will too.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

100 Followers Giveaway!

It's time for my 100 Followers Contest!

First prize: I'll critique the first 3 chapters of your novel (any genre).

Second prize: I'll critique the first chapter of your novel (any genre).

Third prize: An e-copy of one of my books.

I may add more prizes if I gain a decent number of additional followers. I'll leave the contest open for a month - until September 15th. Good luck!

To enter, just fill out this form:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Barri Bryan Guest Blog - Learning to Spit

Learning to Spit

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple...
and learn to spit. -- From the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph

I grew up during the 30's in a small town in West Texas. I can't remember a time that I didn't want to be a writer. By the time I was ten-years-old I was writing poetry. When I was in the seventh grade I wrote a story that was published in the school newspaper. During my teenage years I wrote several romantic stories. I never thought about trying to have them published. That's probably just as well. They were terrible.

I married, had children, went to college, taught school and, except for penning an occasional poem, or writing an essay now and then, pretty much forgot about writing.

I didn't start to write seriously until after I retired from teaching to care for my aging mother and father. It was my father who encouraged me to write my first book.

I protested, "It would take at least a year for me to get a book ready to send to a publisher. By that time I'll be sixty-five-years old."

He grinned. "You're going to be sixty-five in a year even if you don't write the book."

He had a point.

I completed the book in less than a year. That was the easy part. Six years passed before my first book was published.

During that time I joined a writers' group, acquired a critique partner, learned some basic computer skills, took several classes offered by the adult education department of my school district, and enrolled in on-line classes to improve my writing and to learn how to market my books.

During those years I learned so much about writing fiction, getting my books published, and advertising them once they were available. I learned even more about myself as a writer. Some of it is worth passing on:

I learned to hold onto a positive point of view. I try to live each day now as if it were the first day of my honeymoon and the last day of my vacation.

I learned to set my own pace and make my own goals.

I learned that serious writing requires hard work, dogged determination and steadfast dedication.

I learned to accept changes and expect some adversity.

I learned that I can still accept new and different ideas; I may not always agree with them. I don't think like most other people do, but then, I never did.

I learned that I still have a zest for living and for learning.

I learned to never settle for second best in my writing; to always strive to excel, and then improve that if I can.

I learned to take every day as it comes. Life is daily and negotiable. I can start over every morning.

I developed an attitude and I mean that in the nicest sense. I learned to wear purple and I learned to spit.

Along with that comes my love for writing, and I’m thrilled to share my latest release, A
Second Splendor, with CRR Publishing…


Julie Anderson is not happy that her ex-husband is coming home to attend their
daughter’s wedding. Max has broken her heart in the past - not once, but twice. Thank goodness she’s too wise to fall under his spell again, or is she?

Max Anderson has some reservations about his daughter’s coming marriage to the son of his ex wife’s business partner. He shows up early and walks into a situation that begs him to intervene. When he does all hell breaks loose.

Buy Link

Barri Bryan's blog tour is part of CRR Publishing's promotional events for their authors.  You can find the full blog tour menu here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Coming up with New Story Ideas

No Idea by ~imaginee

As a writer, I'm constantly on the lookout for new story ideas, even though that means that I have some many stories to write that I won't be able to write them all for a long, long time. I get inspiration from life, TV shows, movies, books, my family and friends, people-gawking, and dreams. Especially dreams. And a lot of my stories are fantasy so that tells you something about my dreams, lol

But another way that I come up with story ideas is to just sit down and think about what story I would like to read. I'll read just about anything, and writing a story that is meant to be read... well, that's the whole aim of a published author, right?

So how do you come up with new story ideas? And what story would you like to read that hasn't been written yet?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

We Interupt this Writing Blog for a Special Announcement

I'm a proud momma again! Little Anthony David came into the world on August 5th at 12:06 pm weighing 7 pounds 12 ounces and 21 inches long.

Isn't he precious???

In a few days, I'll post the details for my 100 followers contest.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Magzine/Anthology Submissions and Rejections

I've been trying to break into the pro-rate magazine market since I started to submit my writing back in the late summer of 2008. Although I've sold several short stories for inclusions in anthologies, all I have to show from magazines are rejections.

As a result, I've submitted two short stories to Under the Moon for the stories to possibly be published in both ebook and chapbook formats.

But Under the Moon has a 5K minimum requirement, and many of my shorts are shorter than that. So I keep revising the stories and submitting them to the next pro-market magazine. One short story I've been waiting over 400 days to hear back on!

One place that I would love to get into their anthologies is Pill Hill Press. Now, I will have a flash piece in their Daily Flash Anthology. I'm waiting to hear back on a flash submission to their Daily Bites of Flesh Anthology. I've had several stories shortlisted for various anthologies, all ultimately rejected, although I have one shortlisted with their Shadows and Light II Anthology.

Recently, the deadline passed for their Flesh and Bones: Rise of the Necromancers Anthology. I really wanted to get into this book so I wrote a short story called "Deadly Revenge" and submitted it.

And received this rejection:

Dear Nicole,
Thank you for your submission. I enjoyed your story -- I felt terrible for the wizard who lost both his wife and only daughter in the fire -- but I'm going to pass on publishing "Deadly Revenge". I received several submissions with a similar plot and word count to your story, and I could only accept one.
I wish you the best of luck in finding a home for this piece, and I hope you continue to submit your work to Pill Hill Press.
Jessy Marie Roberts

Not a bad rejection. But I still really wanted to be in this anthology so I wrote and submitted another piece entitled "Death Twice Over."

Yet another rejection:

Dear Nicole,
Thank you for submitting "Death Twice Over". Your story had very good characterization -- I felt sorry for the little boy and could easily understand his drive to perform necromancy to ressurect his mother, the only person who had ever shown him any love. The boy's actions/motivations were believable. However, we received so many submissions to this anthology -- I was amazed by the response -- and I had to select stories that I think fit well together (while, at the same time, being diverse). During my final selection process, I decided to pass on your story. I had three stories I kept until the very end, yours being one of them, and eventually selected an alternate submission for the final slot in the anthology.
I really like your writing style and encourage you to keep sending your work to Pill Hill Press.
Jessy Marie Roberts

With this rejection letter, I can't help but feel that eventually, I'll be able to have a short story published in a Pill Hill Press anthology. How knows... maybe in their Fem-Fang Anthology? I need to hurry up and finish that story, the deadline is the 15th. You can check out all the calls for submissions for Pill Hill Press here.

How many of you have written short stories? Do you publish them in magazines? Or with epublishers? How have your experiences been with magazines?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I finally reached 100 followers! Thanks, Eithne!

And you know what that means. Contest time!

But I'm having a hard time figuring out what to give as prizes. A copy of my ebooks? A Woman of Honor T-shirt? Print books? A critique of your first chapter?

What would you like to be the prizes of the contest? Once I figure out the prizes, I'll give the contest rules.

Thanks so much for following me!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cherie Interviews Me

Cherie Reich, a very talented author whose flash fiction pieces are wonderful, has interviewed me here. I would love it if you hop on over and leave me a comment! Also, she reviewed both of the Kingdom of Arnhem books here.

Woman of Honor review:

Review: Nicole Zoltack's Woman of Honor weaves the tale of the first lady knight of Arnhem. Sprinkled with historical facts, bullies, and a good dose of love and honor, Woman of Honor is a coming of age novel set in the fantastical medieval world of Arnhem Kingdom. Aislinn is brave and truly grows to be a woman of honor. The characters are likeable and realistic. We feel Aislinn's pains while she tries to prove herself. She overcomes tradition and the growing threat of Speica. This novel has history, knights, and mythological creatures and is filled with intrigue, mystery, horror, and, most important of all, love. In this first book of the Kingdom of Arnhem series, I feel like we touch upon their lives and a conflict looming in their future. By the end, I craved more from this fantastical world, and I'm glad Ms. Zoltack supplied it in her next book.

Knight of Glory review:

Review: Nicole Zoltack's Knight of Glory follows Sir Geoffrey's quest for love and honor. With the growing threat of Speica and a dangerous Villaimage, the Kingdom of Arnhem may have met its match. Whereas in Woman of Honor, we see the historical aspects of knighthood, in Knight of Glory, Ms. Zoltack builds upon her fantastical world. We learn of new kingdoms, including the dwarven kingdom in the south and the troll kingdom in the north. New mythological creatures come into play, and we get our first real doses of magic. Despite battle brewing, love conquers all bounds. Filled with bitter foes, magical displays, a quest for true love in many cases, and a dash of enigma, Knight of Glory is a true delight. By the end, we understand that a brewing war of good and evil is afoot, but unfortunately, we must wait until May 2011 for the third book of the Kingdom of Arnhem series, Champion of Valor. I look forward to this third book and more from Ms. Zoltack.