Friday, June 26, 2015

My Writing Process



Hi there! Long time no see. I've been a busy bee as usual, editing and writing, but sometimes I want to write things that aren't fictional, and I guess that's what a blog is for. I also just finish-finished a new book that I may or may not be querying (gasp!) when it's done being edited. So I guess this is a good time to write about what people have been asking for a while: My Writing Process. So here it is, in all its glory.


1.      Idea Love

     
This is the first idea that comes to mind. It could be something abstract like an image or word, but for me, it’s often the first or last sentence of the book. Much like a reader falling in love with a book, this is what draws me in and makes me want to learn more. Usually, the initial idea happens when I’m finishing a completely different book and won’t have time to go back to it for a while—sometimes YEARS.

 

2  The Simmering—or as I call it, The Cake Batter Stage

     
Yes, that is Tubby Custard, bitches.

This is the time that through no fault of my own always ends up happening. I have this idea I’m super excited about, yet either because I’m already busy writing/editing a book or don’t think I’m ready to write down this new idea, I have to let it sit there and cook. Amanda Palmer calls it the embryonic stage. I call it the cake batter stage. No matter how you refer to it, this is the time where your idea has time to mature and gain strength before all the grueling processes that lay ahead.

3.      ALL THE IDEA VOMIT

     

One idea leads to TONS of others for me. They all relate to the same story, but unlike the original idea, these are more solid—plot points, character traits, etc. I actually jot down some o this stuff and save it for later. Oftentimes, I wake up late at night/early in the morning/don’t sleep at all and when I look back at these notes, I barely understand what I was trying to say.

4.      Doing The Thing (Writing. A lot)



This is the stage where I write pretty much every spare moment I have. All of this cake batter is ready to go in the oven and I spend the better part of a month or two dribbling it all into paper baking cups. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. The important thing here is to be as messy as possible and allowing myself to write the worst thing possible. NO DELTEING ALLOWED. That comes later.

5.      Take A Break

I've watched Gilmore Girls from beginning to end three times.

     

This is the first break I take during my process. I find that when I stare at things too long, I end up questioning and hating everything. It’s better to gain some distance, watch some Netflix, and read 
 some books for a few weeks or so before even thinking about the piece again.

6.      Editing Round One

     

So I’ve watched all of Goosebumps and Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I’ve read lots of Neil Gaiman and have gotten over how I will never be as awesome as him, and now I’m ready to look at the book again. I go through, taking notes and trying to make it the best as I can. I may not know some things like names of characters or places, so I either put in a blank (___) or write out what I want (PUT NAME OF PLACE HERE, YOU FOOL). It’s still sloppy at this point, but the cake is starting to taste good (have you had enough of this analogy yet?).

7.      Workshop

     

I’m so lucky to have the best group of workshopping partners in the world. I send them chunks of my book in sections, they suggest how I should make it better, and I have a bunch of ner perspective on all the stuff I wrote!

8.      Editing Round Two

    

This is the second round. Ding Ding Ding! During this part, I take all the notes and suggestions from my workshop buddies and go through and edit the manuscript again. Pretty self explanatory.

9.      Hate The Book

     

There is no exact time where I reach this stage, but it always comes somewhere between the first and last edit. I start to hate every line, all the characters, and I start asking myself who I think I am, writing a book like some type of writer or some shit. This is where I start procrastinating and everything in my house is miraculously clean and organized. I may also pick up new hobbies like baking or scrapbooking to avoid the manuscript. I wish I was kidding.

10.   Print The Book

     

I love Word’s comments and track changes tool, but for me, there is nothing like editing my own work on paper. I’m better able to see what I’m doing, can write myself detailed notes in the margins, and I can flip back and forth more easily. I don’t do any of this however until I first…

11.   Take Another Break

     

That’s right. It might seem a little excessive, but I need that second break between second and third edits. I need to get out of my own head and DO things for at least a month before looking at it again.

12.   Send To People

     

This is where during my time of binge-watching The X-files and reading everything I put off while I was writing, my first writer-friend takes a look at my work. I’ll also send it to my editor during this time so when I get the notes and suggestions back from both of them, I can flip through my own notes and compare them. Essentially, when I go in for the next round of edits, I have at least three peoples’ opinions to work with.

13.   Breathe

     

This is where I’m slowly coming out of my hating the manuscript stage and heading back into love, but I don’t dive head first. There are strangers reading it and it is no longer just mine. It can be a little nerve wracking and this is probably the stage (except #16) that makes me the most nervous. It’s important to take a step back and realize that I’m doing it. This is happening and it’s going to be okay.

14.   Fall In Love Again

     

I get my notes back and I have finished my first critical read through of the book. I see what works and what doesn’t, and finally, the pieces are all starting to fit together and look like an actual novel with a point. I fall back in love with the characters and their story. I’m renewed and ready for phase 15.

15.   Editing Round Three

     

That’s right. It’s round three. I get rid of anything that looks like poop and make sure things make sense. Usually, the only thing left after this are very small and are often caught by…

16.   Beta Readers

Me ten seconds after I send out a book.        

This is different than my workshop buddies, writer friends, and editor reading the book because these are readers, first and foremost. This is the audience that represents who will be buying my book and  most of the time, their opinion means the most because it’s kind of like a test run with a crash dummy in the seat (sorry for yet another awful analogy. It’s late). If the airbag needs to deploy, it’s not on someone who paid five dollars for the book and will get angry and write a bad review when they find the slightest mistake. Beta readers are super important because they’re honest about the overall story and plot, and they’re the last gatekeeper you need to pass before you’re seeing that light at the end of the tunnel.

17.   Editing Round Four

 

This is the final read through. This is the final countdown. I’m getting ready for promotion, the cover, and release and now I have the opinions of test readers. Usually this last one goes by fast because there are a few easy things to fix and then I’m done. I can see it being a book and other people eventually reading it. I also send out review copies or ARCs to reviewers and readers once this is done, which is super exciting and nerve wracking.

18.   Breathe, Damn It

Yes, that is a happy potato. Dancing.
 
I let all the review copies be read, format the book, and upload it for preorder. This is the time where I’m at the top of the roller coaster and waiting for it to drop. It’s hard to not be stressed out, but it’s also hard to not be happy. 

19.   Done!

 

The book comes out and hopefully readers like it as much as I do in the end. Then I’m on to the next book, starting the process all over again.



Thanks for reading. If there are any topics you'd like me to write about in the future, leave a comment below or join the facebook group and post something!
-Nikki 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Super Duper Update Post--Away!!!

It has definitely been a while since I've posted on here, but for good reason!
I have been a busy, busy bee. Here are all the things going on. Stay tuned, you might want to hear about some of it if you like books!

1. As some of you may know, I'm the head editor at Metamorphosis Editing Services and we have been SLAMMED with clients, so I have been filling my days becoming part of other writers' processes. It's been rewarding and fun and awesome! So awesome that in January, I was able to quit my part time job and concentrate on it full time. If you are or know of anyone needing an editor, beta reader, or proofreader, email us fast! The rate is going to change (only slightly, I still want to make it cheap for us writers--we're not made of money) in a month or two--I'm starting to save for a house!


I'm also a part-time editor at Booktrope, and I've had the pleasure of proofreading books by the lovey J.C. Hannigan. You need to get her books. I feel like if we knew each other in real life, we'd be best friends. lol.
And I've just started Forbidden Darkness by Alec John Belle. It's amazing.


2. Animal was released and just yesterday, the paperbacks came out! It hit the bestseller's list on the FIRST DAY it was out. Thank you. : )
Look at this beautiful, big baby!

3. The Sunshine Series is FINALLY being put together into one massive volume and will be out on April 30th! There's going to be a TON of extras (poetry, interviews, Q&A, a sneak peek of Animal, etc) in there and currently the ebook sits at over 500 pages! I don't have a cover yet, but I'm working on it. If you want to see it as soon as it is released and if you want a chance to win some cool prizes, you should totally come to the Facebook party!



4. I will be at the Yo, Philly Author event on May 16 from 10am-5pm! If you live nearby, come see me and over 60 other authors and their books! Tickets are FREE. Buy them HERE!

Spot my name!

5. Speaking of book signings, I'm actively seeking more out and I may be doing more this year, so keep your eyes peeled! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook if you want to keep up.


6. And speaking of signed things, you can now purchase SIGNED SWAG AND BOOKS directly from me! So many people have asked, and I've been trying to figure out a way to make it happen. Right now I'm utilizing Google Forms. If you want something, fill out the form(s) and I'll send it to you! Check out the links up top!


Literal picture of me on a good day.

7. I have a new book schedule. Right now, I'm working on two books that I absolutely need to finish: one for self publishing, and one that I will hopefully be pitching to agents. I haven't done that in over 10 years, so hopefully I've learned a few things since then and hopefully I don't chicken out.
If you're wondering what books they are, you voted for them and they were the two most popular. That's all I'm gonna say. ; )



8. And here comes the BIG news!
Some of you may have noticed that you can't find The Donor on Amazon anymore. That's because I took it down. I had to take it down because it got PICKED UP BY A PUBLISHER. 


I am happy to announce that I am one of the newest members of the Vamptasy Publishing Family, an Imprint of Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. It's all very new (just signed the contract last week) and strange having people to help when I've done it all by myself since the beginning, but I'm excited to see where this goes! I'm going to be updating on Facebook and Twitter when the new cover will be revealed and when the story will be re-released, so look for it!

And that's it so far. I know I always say I'm going to blog more, but I just don't. lol. Hopefully all this awesome news makes up for it! I just wanted to thank you all--readers, friends, other writers, and everyone I know in general. This year has been a lot more easy and a lot more rewarding than last year. I can't wait to see what happens next!


Sorry. I had to.

Monday, December 29, 2014

My year in books and YOU get to help me pick the next one I write!

It has very quickly become that time of year again where it is simultaneously a period of reflection and moving forward. This year started out rocky and uncertain to say the absolute least, but even I was surprised at how quickly I bounced back, learned, and asked for help. And that was just in my personal life. If you’ve been following me anywhere, you know exactly what most of these things are.

I’m not gonna write a post looking back at my whole year because...bleh. No. Don’t wanna. But this is what I am going to do: I’m going to recap my year in the books I wrote and then there’s going to be some reader participation as to what books I’m going to write next year. I did this once before and it worked out super awesomely, so stay tuned till the end. Or, you know, just scroll past the boring stuff.



The first thing I did starting in March was finish The Sunshine Series. I had originally planned on having Sun Damage out in January of that year, but last January was awful for more than one reason and it just didn’t happen. This is the first ever series I have written and it was the first group of characters I really got to know, so it was really sad saying goodbye. 
Some people truly got the ending and others were angry with it (and weren’t afraid to voice their opinions) but there isn’t a single thing I would change. This series was my baby for so long and now it’s off in the world doing big-book things. I’m proud.
Then I took a break. I was so drained from the personal stuff, graduating school, and all that that I just fried my brain whenever I tried to start something new. In the meantime, I read. I workshopped, I dug out old stories and worked on them, and then I stumbled into The Donor.

Originally, I wrote The Donor as three separate parts (One, Two, and Three). The first was released in July, the second in August, and the third in September. I had never released things so close together or under such strict time constraints, but I wanted to challenge myself after such a long break.
Boy howdy was it a good idea.
Not only did Part One make it onto more than three Bestseller Lists (yay!) but it actually hit number one when it was free for a weekend. Thus, the second thing I had written became an Amazon Bestseller (is this real life?).

In October, I decided to put all three parts together and sell it as one. You can still get the first part on Amazon as an ebook for real cheap, but if you want to read more than that, you have to get the whole thing. Which is a good idea because it has an afterword from me about the process of writing this book. The Donor is the most challenging thing I have written to date and though it’s small, I am most proud of it.

And...that’s it. Unlike most indie authors who can crank out books every month or so, I write longer fiction and take a LOT of time editing and revising (at least a month). I had planned to have my latest release, Animal come out by the end of December, but now it’s set for the end of February. Such is life.


Which brings me to the meat of this sandwich.

In the new year, in addition to working on my editing company, finding that elusive “real” job, blogging more, using my youtube channel more, and promoting, I am going to be writing a LOT more. I have no shortage of ideas, inspiration, or motivation when it comes to writing, but sometimes that’s the problem. I don’t know where to start.

So here’s where you come in.

Below are a few ideas. Some are old and some are new, some I have written half of the book and some I only have a sentence. None of them have any real names yet, of course. But it is up to you to help me decide what to put out into the universe next.

Of course, some things may change. Some I plan to query agents with, some I plan to directly publish myself, maybe I’ll start writing one idea and it will form into another, but regardless, I want to include you all in the process more. Afterall, I can’t be an author if no one’s reading, so why not put the choice of what to read next directly into your hands?

Without further ado, here are your choices. Vote for the one(s) you want to see most and I’ll tally them all up in about a month. After a wee bit of a vacation in February, I’ll start with whatever gets the most votes. : )

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading.

1. The Poetry Collection


If you want to read examples of my poetry, go HERE. Some of these will be included in the poetry collection of at least 100 poems, along with plenty of unreleased poems and prose. It's going to be mainly dark, personal, and even creepy, but there are one or two hopeful pieces in here as well.


2. Human



It's probably going to be hard to pick this one since Animal isn't even out yet, but this is going to be the sort of sequel to that book. Like Animal, it would be able to be read by itself or along with Animal and The Sunshine Series. Rather than focusing on the main character that was in Animal, this will be told from Michael's perspective after he is forced to become human after living such a violent life for so long. He goes through his past and present, trying to make sense of it. Myles and Evan also appear, and if it works...Sophie and Ava. : )



3. The Alien Story




This is an idea I've been toying with FOREVER. There will be mermaids and aliens, abductions, sexiness, darkness, and since I'm terrified of aliens, probably a health dose of creepiness and scary parts. I'm still in the brainstorming stages for this one so I can't really tell you much else about it.



4. The Box


This is my first entry into the more "adult" side of New Adult. There's a painter girl and a mysterious figure that haunts her dreams and seeps into her reality. Is she crazy? Is it real? There's also going to be some illustrations done by me if I can figure out how to do it and a style that works. If you remember the last time I made a poll like this, The Box was on there. I wrote a good chunk of it during NaNoWriMo and I must say, it is very sexy and very mysterious, even to me.




5.The Donor (Jonah's Story)


Not much of a description needed here. It's going to pick up where part 3 of The Donor left off and will continue Casey and Jonah's story from Jonah's perspective. I literally only have a paragraph of this one, but it will be told in much the same way the first three parts were and I think it might be even darker and emotional than the first section. Just a guess.



6. The Android Story


Again, this one was on the last poll I did. It's revamped and redone, but the main idea is still intact. A woman wakes up in a hospital with no memory of who she is or what's happened. Another woman wakes up on a train with the same problem. Which one is real and which one is a machine? This is the one I want to try to traditionally publish. At the very least, send it to a few small presses. So depending on the response, it may be a while before you see it if it wins, but I thought I'd include it anyway.


7. The Complete Sunshine Series with bonus material

Not actual cover. Just playing around.

This is going to be a deluxe version of all three books into one neat, little package. At the end, there's going to be Sophie's Notebook, which are poems and ramblings from her secret notebook that she never shows anyone. There will also be a Q and A and maybe some character interviews and deleted scenes. : )


 8. The Short Story Collection


This will probably be the most challenging thing I want to work on. Mainly because everything I write is so LONG. But I do have a good chunk of short stories already written and a good chunk of ideas for more, so I figured I'd give it a try. There's one about a bird-man, there's one about running over a dog, a zombie, and a storm. Some have appeared on the blog before and some haven't even been born yet.



9. The Dark Contemporary Story


This actually started out as a joke. I mean, I started writing it for a ghost writing position that never paid me so they never got the partial manuscript. It was very freeing, writing something I thought would never be attached to my name. But the more I wrote, the more I liked the characters (damn characters!) so I decided to work on it more and maybe publish it. It's the most adult fiction I have and there are definitely scenes not meant for younger readers and even leaning on the erotica side, but I want to have all of my branches in all of the genres, so why not?


Phew. That was a lot. Now's the hard part. Cast your vote below!


What book by Nikki Rae do you want to see next?
pollcode.com free polls

Friday, November 14, 2014

What it's like to be with the same person for nine years




I never realize just how long I’ve been with my boyfriend until we’re in social situations, mostly with new people, who ask, “How long have you two been together?” Or when someone says something like, “Well, we’ve been together about a year and a half--nowhere near as long as you guys…”

The truth is, I don’t really think about it. Al is one of the biggest parts of my life, yet I never really sit down and think that nine years is a long time. To me, it isn’t. It’s not long at all.

But here we are, thinking about it.

Nine years ago, this is what my life was like:
I had just gotten over the death of my step-dad and a round of self-destructive and not-healthy behavior.
I didn’t want to be in any type of relationship.
All I wanted was to finish high school, go to college, and move far, far away.

Then my junior years rolls around and there he is.

--But let’s back up a little--
Rewind to three years or so before I met Al. My sister was dating a kid who invited us to a Halloween party at his youth group. I think I was like, 15? 16? Anyway, I was the only one who dressed like a “scary” thing so everyone was staring at me in the middle of the church basement and I immediately wanted to go home. But one of the stares seemed different than the others.
Boom.
There was a guy dressed in black and tripp pants sitting in one of the folding metal chairs, not talking to anyone. He had also dressed kind of scary. I didn’t know what it was about him, but I wanted to talk to him. I didn’t, of course.

Then I started high school. I had to take the bus because I didn’t have a car or a license or a friend with any of these things either. I looked out the window because something just told me to.
Boom.
He was standing outside of school, waiting for someone, the sun shining on his dark hair. He was wearing a sweatshirt and light colored jeans. His hair blew into his face every so often, which he was quick to flip away.
It was the same guy from the church basement.
I don’t know this at the time, of course, and the window was too thick, too much of a barrier between us, so again, I said nothing.

The way we actually did finally meet is kind of hazy. Like I couldn’t believe it was happening and so I just didn’t pay too close attention to it. But he had a friend that we were both friends with, and we would kind of play a game of telephone between her, both of us too shy and socially awkward to do anything else.
We got to Iming and Myspace messaging next.
It was weird, we lived so close to each other, yet we decided that putting computers between us was better to get to know each other.
One day, in the hall, he actually said hi to me.

I remember that day because I was having an extremely bad morning, and then he comes out of nowhere and talks to me in person. I didn’t know what to do, so I think I just smiled and maybe mumbled a “hey”. I don’t remember that either.
But I do remember that day in the gym locker room I put my pants on backwards because I was thinking about him.


I do remember that after that day, he waited for me outside of my first class and we walked through the hall together before we had to part ways at our lockers. Always silent, always awkward, yet somehow, okay with it.

On one of these days, he hugged me. I forget why, but it happened. And as he let go, he asked me something that I didn’t hear. I asked him to repeat it, and he said, rather nervously, “Will you go out with me?”

and I did.

We walked through the hall like always, quiet as ever. He was staring at me a lot so i asked, “What are you looking at?” to which he replied, “Nothing”, even more nervously. (This is a story he swears he will tell at our wedding one day. I’ll never live it down).
Later (like, two years later), he would tell me that he was staring because he couldn’t believe I had said yes. And I would tell him I asked the question because I was afraid he was regretting his decision and didn’t want to talk to me so I wanted to break the silence.

How much did this whole process take? Three months.
It seemed like a week to me.

Then what happened after that?

Life happened, for sure.

My first cat died, he helped me move (twice, I think), he waited patiently on the phone while things at my house were crazy and I was waiting for a quiet moment, but didn’t want to hang up, afraid to lose my life line. I published my first book, I started college, I published MORE books, my nana died,  I moved in with my dad, I moved out of his house a week later, my best friend had two kids, my other cat died, the hurricane happened, my dad died, I went on medication, I graduated college.

Life happened. Lots of life.

And it’s only when I look back at a specific memory that I realize that for a lot of the hard times, Al was there, either in the background, waiting to be called in, or right there with me, holding me up when I couldn’t stand anymore.

That’s what’s important to me. Not how long we’ve been together, but how MUCH.

I don’t mean this in time spent per day together; I mean, when you look at the person you call your significant other, do you see someone that you want to see you fall when you’re walking into a convenience store and although they laugh, they don’t think any less of you? Are you prepared for them to see you at your absolute worst? I’m not talking about waking up with no makeup on. I’m talking about being so upset that you can’t even look at yourself because you’re afraid you won’t look the same in the mirror. When you’re so broken that you don’t think you can ever be put back together? When you cry and have snot shooting out of your nose and running down your face and all they do is hold you and let you rub it into their shirt. When you think that one Disney movie is really dumb but the one scene makes you sad regardless because it reminds you of when you were a kid and even though they’ve heard you tell this story a million times, they let you tell them again without interrupting.



That’s what I mean.
Love is not some pretty thing covered in white lace.

Not for me, at least. And I wouldn’t want it that way.
Love is being secure, knowing that there is at least one person in this fucked up world that gets you (at least most of the time); that you aren’t alone, even when you’re drifting out at sea.

The past year has been hard. I’ve lived through it, and I would have probably lived through it if I was alone. But I wasn’t. Al was there, in the background, as well as holding me up. He didn’t judge me when I told him I was depressed. Instead, he took me on a walk in the woods and we talked. When my dad died alone and I blamed myself, he let me crumple in on myself on his living room floor until I had cried every bad thing out of me. When I was afraid of relapsing with self-harm, he talked to me, he held me together.

I’m not saying a “boyfriend” will solve my problems. Love does. Love is so simple, and the answer to nearly everything.

These words always seem to fall short of what I want to say, but I am so grateful we met. I’m so thankful we’ve been together for this long, that my monsters haven’t scared him away, that his “normalness” hasn’t scared me either. There is no one I can better imagine spending the rest of my life with than this person. I don’t care about marriage. I just care about time.

Because nine years isn’t enough.