Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weekly Progress Report - Just About Done!

Well, I've been doing a lot more writing this past week and before I go to bed tonight the rough draft of Two Princesses, One Prince, and a Dragon will be completed! It's currently at 76,600 and all I have to write yet is a short epilogue. At the most, it'll be a little less than 80K. It's so nice to know that Nano this past year wasn't a fluke and that I can write a complete rough draft around 80K in one month.

I've always continued to edit and went through the entries from the contest. All I have to do yet is fill out the scorecards.

Hubby and I have been watching a lot of movies lately. Midnight in Paris, Percy Jackson, Double Jeopardy, Runaway Jury, Black Swan. Next up is The Help.

How goes your writing? Your reading? Seen any good movies lately? What have you been up to?

Check out some other great progress reports this week:


Monday, January 30, 2012

Creature of the Week - Bear Dog

Credit for picture
The bear dog is an extinct prehistoric animal that is believed to be an ancestor of both bears and dogs while being neither bear nor dog. They were carnivorous.
Credit for picture
They were about as tall as the American black bear. Their legs were made for short, sudden bursts of speed so they were most likely ambushers. Bear dogs nested their young in underground burrows.
Credit for picture
In one of my completed but needs to be revised stories, there is an Enchanted Jungle which is home to many unique and fantastic creatures. I included the bear dog because I thought the combination of a bear and a dog was too cool to pass up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Announcing a Blogfest

No, I'm not hosting one although I probably will eventually.

I wanted to tell you all about the latest blogfest I signed up for. It's gonna be a lot of fun and there are some awesome prizes to be won!

Every great story has great characters! So this blogfest is designed to help us flex our character writing muscles through three separate blog posts.

The Posts:
February 6th - MondayCharacters on the couch: Have one of your characters answer the following questions (to make this work to your benefit, choose a character who is the hardest for you to write :) Max 250 words (Not including the questions—only the answers). 
  1. What is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret?
  2. What do people believe about you that is false?
  3. What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw? Why?
  4. What would the same friend say is your one redeeming quality? Why?
  5. What do you want most? What will you do to get it? 
February 8th - Wednesday - Dialogue Introduction: Have two characters introduce each other using only dialogue—no backstory, no internalization, just dialogue between the two. Max 250 words.
February 10th - Friday - Emotion Flash Fiction: Emotion is the engine of a story. Pick an emotion and in a flash fiction piece of 250 words MAKE us feel it! We want to connect with your character. This will be a challenge in 250 words.

The Prizes: 
Cassie and Angie decided to pick two winners for each day:

Monday’s Prize’s
  • From Angie: The Color Code by Taylor Hartman—this book is a fantastic study of personality. It’s simple, easy to follow, and will give you tons of insight into how different personalities interact. I use it all the time. I don't normally like non-fiction, but this is one of my favorites. See description here.
  • From Cassie:  Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.  You can check out the description from Goodreads here.  This book so far has been the only book to make me fall for both male leads.  The characters' flaws and their strengths kept pulling me in two different directions the entire way through.  

Wednesday’s Prize
  • From Angie : A query critique and first 20 page critique.
  • From Cassie: A query critique and first 20 page critique. 
Friday’s Prize
  • From Angie : A full manuscript critique.
  • From Cassie: A full manuscript critique.

To sign up for the blogfest, click here. I'm only going to post on Wednesday and Friday. I would love to win one of the prizes.

Will you sign up? Know of any other great blogfests out there?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Question of the Week - Vampire Zombies

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
I shared this photo on FB this week and got a ton of comments so I thought I would share it here as well:
What do you think? Personally, I'm a little distracted by the picture itself since it's a dinosaur.

On a slightly more serious note, why would the vampire bite a zombie in the first place? It would make more sense for the zombie to bite the vampire. And then if a zombie killer kills the zombie, would the zombie come back as some kind of ultimate zombie-vampire hybrid?

Hm... sounds like the making of a horror novel! I actually might think more on this...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Weekly Progress Report - Little Writing, Mostly Editing

Once I reached 50K on my WIP, I stalled some. I've only written about 4K since. Some of the problem stems from not knowing how to end the story. The main action of the story has already ended and I'm not sure how long I should continue the story after that. Basically all that remains is the romance aspect of the story, but I'm worried that it's too mellow after the adventure parts of the story that compromise the vast majority of what's already written. It's a little frustrating. Normally endings are the easiest part for me to write but I'm not sure how exactly to get to the end.

I've been doing a lot of editing for various editing jobs. I've edited slightly over 1,000 pages this month so far and still have more to go before the month is over. I also just received entries to judge for a contest. I really enjoy being a judge, it's a fun way to give back to the writing community but I can't believe I actually signed up to be a judge when the deadline to return the entries is after my due date. O.o My goal is to finish the entries and submit them the first week of February, well before they're due.

How goes your writing? Your reading? Seen any good movies lately? What have you been up to?

Check out some other great progress reports this week:


Monday, January 23, 2012

Creature of the Week - Troll

Last week's creature was the Ogre and Johanna Garth asked how Ogres were different from Trolls so I decided to highlight trolls this week.
Credit for picture
Ogres and trolls are rather similar except for two things - one, where their mythology originated (Ogres from France and England and Trolls from Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore) and two, there seems to be more variations to the different kinds of trolls versus ogres.
Credit for picture
 Trolls appearance vary greatly in various stories. Some stories say that trolls are old, incredibly strong, slow, and dimwitted, although this is only the case with the males as the females trolls may be quite cunning. Another difference between male and female - males are ugly with big noses, long arms and lots of hair, while females are beautiful. Sometimes the only way to distinguish a female troll from a human women is by their dress - a female troll will be too elegantly dressed for walking in a forest.
Credit for picture
Some trolls are man-eaters. Some are said to turn to stone when the sun touches them. Some are fiendish giants. Most are ugly, may have tusks or only one eye. However, some stories say that trolls look like humans, not hideous at all, but they live far away from humans in hills, caves, or mounds.The wind-troll Ysätters-Kajsa could dance on the wind or fly. I combine mound trolls or haugtrold with the ability to dance on the wind when I created my race of trolls in my Kingdom of Arnhem trilogy. They first make their appearance in the middle book, Knight of Glory.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Diamond Candle - Review and Giveaway!

I  was selected to review Diamond Candles. Diamond Candles are soy candles that are made with earth friendly all natural soy. The best part of the candle is there is a ring worth $10, $100, $1000, or $5000 inside every candle!

I received the Pumpkin Chai scented Diamond Candle to review. I love burning candles. And there are so many different scents to choose from with Diamond Candles - like strawberry bliss, cinnamon roll, vanilla cream, lavender lemon and many more.

As I said, I got the Pumpkin scent. It is a great scent for fall and winter. I love how light the scent is, it isn't overpowering, and it lingers in the air for a good while after you blow out the candle. I also love that the jar the candle is packaged in can be reused after you're done burning the candle. Soy candles burn cleanly, another plus, and they are mainly made in the US. Diamond Candles burn slowly at around 125-160 hours, which is a good thing unless you're like me and are impatient to get to your ring!

Overall, I was thrilled with my Diamond Candle! They also make great gifts. Maybe for Valentine's Day?

Now you can enter to win your very own Diamond Candle, a $24.95 value. To gain entry to the giveaway, enter below with Rafflecopter. A Diamond Candle is a girls best friend! Diamond Candles will be coming to a retail shop near you, but in the mean time you shop Diamond Candles online, and shipping starts at only $5, anywhere in the US.

Good Luck!

Receiving a free candle did not affect my review in any way.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guest Blog with Leslie D. Soule - Women in Fantasy

Hey there, everyone! Thanks for joining me today.

Today I’m going to be discussing the roles of women in fantasy novels. Well, I had the pleasure of attending last year’s RT Booklover’s Convention in Los Angeles, where one of the panel discussions I listened to was on this very topic. I saved my notes from this panel discussion, knowing they would come in handy (as they are proving to at this very moment!)

One of the things that was discussed is how women have become more accepted as characters in the fantasy genre and action/adventure genre books, which traditionally featured male characters. A social demand grew for strong female characters – characters who weren’t afraid to get out there and fight alongside men. It is socially acceptable to have a woman character who is a fighter, and it is gratifying to women to read these stories, that show strong women who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in.

This change in female roles in fiction may be the result of social changes in history that determine women’s social role. In this way, art imitates life. However, a novel can also be said to be an image of what is possible, and in this way can serve as an example for further social progress to be built upon. Since literature is so powerful, it should be examined for how it instructs or creates an example.

Personally, I question the purpose of characters like Bella in the Twilight books. Although she seems to know what she wants in life and isn’t afraid to go after it at all costs, which seem like admirable qualities, all she wants for herself is to be in a relationship and to have a child. She has no further aspirations for herself. She is willing to be “dead” to the world, so that she can have the man of her dreams, a guy she would throw herself off a cliff for, crash a motorcycle to see, and repeatedly put herself in harm’s way for. To me, Bella seems like the anti- strong woman. So I wonder whether throngs of Twilight fans are going to grow up using Bella as an example, throwing themselves after a guy at all costs, even of life and limb.

It will be interesting to see how social discourse and literature play off of each other and how women will be portrayed in future fantasy novels.

Well, thanks for joining me today. If you’d like to be entered to win a Barnes & Noble gift card, please leave a comment, along with your name and e-mail address.


Leslie Soule lives in Sacramento, California. Fallenwood is her first fantasy novel. She has received her B.A. in English from Sacramento State University and is currently working on her Master’s degree in
English at National University.

Website: www.lesliesoule.com



Fallenwood—a land where magic is the life force, dragons are sages, and wizards good and evil battle for supremacy. When 23-year-old Ash is thrust into the middle of Fallenwood’s power struggles, she is also forced to face her own inner battles. Life on Earth was hard enough on Ash, who is locked in grief for her stepfather. Now, the fate of Fallenwood rests on her shoulders. She must destroy the Great Crystal—the catalyst for all the land’s magic. As the kingdoms prepare for war, Ash must look inside to find the power to save the world, and herself.



The dragon’s eyes glowed, for a flickering moment, with white light.

“Ash,” the dragon continued, “Welcome to Terra Illumina…or as it is more commonly known,
Fallenwood.” Then a fierce roaring laugh erupted from the stone, as though the dragon thought the new
name a joke. “A dark, difficult, dangerous path lies before you, Ash Kensington.”

Ash’s heart grew heavy. In truth, she knew that she was destined to some terrible, dark fate. For so long, her life was filled with sadness and doubt, and one horrible thing after another. What else can I hope for?

“But Ash, you must not lose hope. Our world needs you..."


Thanks for joining us today, Leslie!

And readers, don't forget that Leslie will be giving away a $25 Barnes and Noble GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more you comment on the tour stops, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Question of the Week - Weakness

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

What do you consider to be your biggest weakness? The weakness of your favorite literary character? The weakness of one of your characters?

My weakness - I sometimes have a hard time saying no when someone asks me for help so I might bit off more than I can chew.

Snape's weakness - wow, that's tough. Probably his anger.

One of the princesses in my current WIP has a lack of self confidence.

And just as a heads up - I'll be announcing the details for my 1,000 followers contest next week, I promise!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weekly Progress Report - Writing and Editing and No Reading

Since last week, I wrote another 26,400 words of Two Princesses, One Prince, and a Dragon to be slightly over 50K for the month so far. The story isn't quite done yet but maybe by next week. Definitely by the end of the month which makes me very happy. Even if baby #3 comes early, at least the story will be done.

I've also been editing like crazy this month and I just got two more stories to edit. I'm hoping to get as much editing done before baby #3 comes. Then I'll take a little break.

And what will I be doing during that break? Reading! I've been too busy writing and editing to read right now. I'm really looking forward to getting some reading done once the baby comes since I promised hubby I won't write or edit at all for at least two weeks after the baby is born.

How goes your writing? Your reading? Seen any good movies lately? What have you been up to?

Check out some other great progress reports this week:


Monday, January 16, 2012

Creature of the Week - Ogre

Credit for picture
In French and English folk and fairy tales, Ogres and Ogresses are mythical giants. They have superhuman size and strength, an oversized head, large belly, and long wild hair. In many ways, they are very similar to trolls. Ogres love to eat human flesh, especially children's, hence their common portrayal as monsters in fairy tales.
Credit for picture

They have low intelligence, however, which makes it easy to trick or defeat them. Some ogres are also shapeshifters, and if one is clever enough, they can use this against them. In "Puss in Boots," the cat tricks a shapeshifting ogre to turn into a mouse which the cat pounced on and ate.
Credit for picture

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tell the Truth Thursday

1. I love chocolate. If I grab a Hershey kiss, I have to eat more than one.

2. I have less than 6 weeks until my due date and so much I want to get done before baby #3 is born. Why has no one invented the time-turner yet?

3. I'm so glad my shows are back from break, especially The Vampire Diaries and Once Upon a Time.

4. I can't help but smile each time son #1 says "Merry Christmas!" which he's still saying.

5. I can't help but be frustrated that potty training son #1 has stalled. He had showed interested and was starting to do well and now he's pretty much stopped completely.

6. I love to daydream about winning the lottery and figuring out what I would do with all that money. Then I get depressed because the chances of winning is so slim. But hubby buys a ticket every week with his office so I guess that's better than no chance. You can't win if you never try.

7. I'll probably post the details of my 1,000 followers contest next week. Still trying to figure out all of the prizes. :)

8. I don't like odd numbers (although 5 is ok) so I had to make another point even though I have nothing really to say for it.

What are your truths this week?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Question of the Week - Strengths

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

What do you consider to be your greatest strength? The greatest strength of your favorite literary character? The greatest strength of one of your characters?

My greatest strength? Probably my willingness to help others. (that can sometimes lead to my inability to say no - which just might be one of my bigger weaknesses). Greatest strength of my favorite literary character? First - my favorite literary character is Snape. His greatest strength was his love for Lily Potter. The greatest strength of one of my characters? Aislinn - the heroine in Woman of Honor - her drive and determination to achieve her goal despite it being against society's normal standards.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weekly Progress Report - Writing and Editing and Running out of Time

So far, January has been a very productive month. I've edited nearly 550 pages for various editing jobs with an additional 115 for a friend. I've also written over 23,600 on my WIP - Two Princesses, One Prince, and a Dragon. I'm not sure where this story is going right now. I'm just winging it. I normally am a pantser but lately I had been plotting a little. This one is completely surprising me each time I open the document to add more words. I don't know how it'll work out or if it'll be any good but I'm having fun with it so I guess that's all that matters.

I've been writing like crazy recently because of a major deadline - baby #3 is due in less than 6 weeks. Crazy. I would love to be able to finish Two Princesses, One Prince, and a Dragon before he's born. With my own writing, I find it easier to go days in between editing and not having a problem picking up where I left off, but writing doesn't quite work the same way. So I'm writing like mad now so that I can edit and make perfect after he's born (and about two months old at least. Waking up every two hours to feed him and the resulting sleep deprivation will not make for anything becoming perfect!).

On the reading front, I'm reading Shatter Me. So far, I'm loving it!

How goes your writing? Your reading? Seen any good movies lately? What have you been up to?
Check out some other great progress reports this week:


Monday, January 9, 2012

Creature of the Week - Jackalope

Credit for picture

The Jackalope is an American folklore creature. The creature is said to be a cross between the pygmy deer and a killer rabbit. Stuffed specimens are displayed in many towns in the American West.
Credit for picture
According to legend, Jackalope milk has medicinal uses, the Jackalope can imitate the human voice and does so to lead pursuers astray, and the rarity of Jackalopes can be explained by their inability to breed except during electrical storms that include hail. During the 16th to 18th centuries, some European naturalists believed in the existence of horned rabbits and pictured them in books of curiosities.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Young Adult Faeries & Fantasy Giveaway

Welcome to the YOUNG ADULT FAERIES & FANTASY Giveaway Hop!

This hop is hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and vv32reads.
There are OVER  a hundred blogs participating and each has their own entry rules and geographic limits, so be sure to read the rules for each one.  This hop starts January 6ht and and runs through January 12th, midnight. 

So what am I offering?

Two prizes!

- a PDF of Woman of Honor (a coming-of-age YA fantasy romance novel)
- PDFs of the first two books in my paranormal YA short story series.

More about the books:

Aislinn of Bairbhe dreams of becoming a lady knight to honor the death of her fallen brother. To her mother's horror, King Patrick grants Aislinn's wish and she begins her long years of training.

Despite the mockery of the other pages, and the disdain of Prince Caelan who also trains to be a knight, Aislinn commits herself to her dreams and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and bravery. Through the years, Aislinn and Caelan grow from sparring classmates to good friends. They both know that someday Caelan will marry for the sake of the kingdom, but even that cannot keep them from falling in love.

The threat of war with the Speicans is a constant threat, and one that grows more frightening as she and Caelan train toward their eventual knighthood. Aislinn has committed herself to serving Arnhem, and has promised herself as King's Champion when Caelan claims the throne. She is willing to give up everything... her childhood, her life, even her heart for Arnhem. No matter the pain it brings.

Seeing for the First Time

 For the last ten years, Ana has spent summers with her Gram. With nothing to do, the closest beach two hours away, and Gram, who Ana is convinced is crazy, always in her garden talking to things that aren't there, Ana is bored out of her mind.

One day, Ana sees strange colors floating around Gram as she works in her garden. Gram says they're fairies. She can "See" them, and there are others who can see things. Ana's a Seer, too.

When Gram gives Ana a book that explains about the many different creatures, like selkies, unicorns, vampires, and others, Ana gets curious. She is shocked when she comes across the entry about famous werewolf hunters - her parents.

Determined to learn where she fits in, Ana's summer gets a lot more exciting as she sets off to find out what she can "see." Only problem is, she's not sure what to do when she finally discovers the truth. And she's not sure she'll live to tell anyone.

To See

Now that Ana can see, her summer has taken on a new direction. Instead of shopping and going to the beach with friends, she has to register with the Seer’s Council. There, Ana meets Eric, a hot guy who happens to also be a vampire seer. Eric is impressed that Ana took on a vampire all by herself but wonders if Victor truly is dead.

So Ana and Eric return to the scene of the crime and make a dangerous discovery, one that could put their lives in danger. Snooping around during the daytime seems safe enough, until they lose track of time and night quickly descends. Vampires must hide in shadows, but the moon offers all kinds of opportunities.

Are Ana and Eric the hunters… or the prey?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Best Part of Writing

Or, I should say, the best part of the writing process.

I started to write a new story on the first. It's a YA fantasy tentatively called Two Princess, One Prince, and a Dragon. So far, I've written just over 10K.

For me, my favorite part of the writing process is the writing of the rough draft. Getting to know the characters, writing their stories, putting them into awfully tight spots, making them earn their happy endings--that's what I love most.

The best part of writing in general for me would be writing something that readers enjoy.

What do you think is the best part of writing? What's your favorite step in the writing process?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Question of the Week - Time to Change

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

If you could go back in time and somehow tell your younger self something, what would it be?

Me? I would tell myself to studying just a little bit more for any one class in college. I graduated a half letter grade short of honors. I only needed one B- to have been a B. My worst semester had been when I started dating the man I would later marry. Oh, and my degree was a BS in chemistry with a concentration in forensic science and a minor in biology.

Btw, I'm almost at 1,000 followers. Already thinking about what prizes to offer for a 1,000 follower contest. Anything in particular you would want to win? I was thinking maybe a gift card, maybe some books, maybe a big critique...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year Means Resolutions

Last year, I made several writing resolutions. Let's see how I did:

1. Edit and send Champion of Valor to beta readers, make changes, and send it to Gail.

Done! Of course since Champion of Valor had been under contract, it was a guarantee check. And it's up for a Preditors and Editors award! If you haven't already voted yet, I would greatly appreciate your vote!

2. Finish the last couple of tweaks to Alexia's Pen before sending out queries.

Not quite done. The titles been changed (now it's Elena's Pen). I'm waiting to hear back from a few more beta readers. Then I should be ready to send out queries.

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.

Not quite done either. BUT I did figure out what my biggest issue with the story was -- I was having the hardest time figuring out the genre. It's not urban fantasy, it's not a paranormal romance. It's paranormal thriller. I had been too worried about making the MC sympathetic (not easy when the MC is an assassin) but because it's a thriller with romantic elements and not a romance, I don't need her to be quite so sympathetic. I was trying to hard. So now I need to find some thriller authors who are willing to beta read it for a fresh perspective.

4. Start working on a new project. Or two.

Done! I wrote a MG fantasy adventure - The Princess and the Griffin. And I wrote a YA fantasy - Crystal's Magic. Time to edit them, send out to beta readers, and edit some more.

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.

I did a decent job of this in the beginning of the year and fizzled out. Whoops.


So what are my new resolutions?

1. Edit Crystal's Magic, The Princess and the Griffin, and Elena's Pen to the point where I can send out queries for them.

2. Write 12 PBs in the 12 months.

3. Finish Two Princesses, One Prince, and a Dragon. It's a YA fantasy novel that I started on January first. It's a little lighter than most of my other YAs so we'll see how that turns out!

4. Write two other novels. With baby #3 coming in February, this is definitely a lofty goal, but I'm gonna try!

5. Keep my website up to date and send out more newsletters.


So what are your writing resolutions this year? Do you having reading resolutions? (I would to read more and start reviewing more books.) Regular resolutions? (Once Christopher is born, I want to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.)


Yesterday, the awesome Alex wrote an equally awesome blog post about blogs and reaching 1,000 followers. He also featured several bloggers (myself included) who are close to reaching that landmark. Check out the post and if you don't already follow Alex, Matthew, Roland, and Jesse, you should fix that!


There's still time to send in critiques for my Critiques for Christmas!

You have the choice of a:

Query critique
Synopsis critique
First page critique

All I ask is that you follow my blog. It would be great if you could spread the word, but that's not necessary.

Email me at Nicole.Zoltack@gmail.com with your query, synopsis, or first page. Any genre.

Critiques will be done in a first come, first served basis.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Creature of the Week - Yale

Credit for picture
Credit for picture
The yale or centicore, is a hybrid creature from European legend. Descriptions vary slightly. The yale is black or tawny. It is the size of a goat with the tail of an elephant and a boar's jaw. Some medieval bestiaries said it had spots, the head of a goat, and the feet of a unicorn. It has two long, straight horns which can point either forward or backward. Due to its horns, the yale was a creature of heraldry and meant proud defense.
Credit for picture