Author Archives: Nicole Evans

About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the "un" removed from that statement. She's written a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, has started a science fiction trilogy that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and the start of a series with the sole goal of fitting in as many tropes as possible into nine books.  She really can't wait for you to read these stories.  Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters' she's killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works as an evening librarian assistant.

Finally: A Writing Update

I started writing a new book last week.

I was both really excited and really nervous about it. Excited because working on the outline for the novel helped me figure out a lot of details and really understand the story that I want to tell, not to mention the characters who are going to be living through it. I think this is a controversial story, as far as how well people might like it (it’s a tragedy, after all). but it’s still an idea that’s been stuck in my head for a while, so I want to give it a shot. Nervous because it’s been almost a year since I’ve written anything that’s a novel-length work. After being in a rut for so long, it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things again.

Which became even more evident after I started writing again.

I wrote twice last week. Once, last Monday, I believe. I had mapped out some time–two hours each day–where I would dedicate to writing. The goal being at least an hour, but having two mapped out, in case something got in the way and I couldn’t write or I was on a roll and wanted to write longer. So I sat down and started writing.

After roughly an hour and a half, I got 400 words written.

Not bad, really. But I wasn’t feeling it, afterwards. I felt like the words were shit and everything I was doing was wrong. As such, the rest of the week, I kept finding other things to do during the time I blocked out to write, whether it was blogging or reading or emails or figuring out what I want to buy everyone for Christmas. It was obvious I was avoiding opening up that document, because it just felt like shit.

Then, on Thursday, I forced myself to continue working (with a little help from an empty To-Do list).

By the end of the night, I had almost 4,000 words.

Granted, about half of those were recycled from the project that I scrapped that this one is being fleshed out from; same generally premise, only a lot better and more detailed, with different characters and conflict. But I was trying to rewrite a scene that I had the general bone structure for in a previous book. So, I decided to copy that scene over and see if it still fit, with a little more fine tuning.

It took a lot of fine tuning, but I cannot describe how great that felt, writing that night. Not only did I get the first chapter written, but I also discovered that my character has a little bit of snark to him that I wasn’t expecting. And that’s going to have some interesting consequences for the novel and how it plays out.

Writing like that? It was like waking up after a really long nap. Or stretching out and preparing to go for a run after not being able to for months. The muscles I used to hone daily were sore and a little out of shape, but they were still there. They still worked. They just needed a little more encouragement, is all.

How interesting, then, that after a busy weekend, when I finally have time to write again this week, that I’m suddenly apprehensive again; that I’m looking through my fresh To-Do List and trying to decide what I can do first, instead of writing. Those nerves have crept up again, that doubt always lingering attempting to make itself cozy in the forefront of my mind.

I need to do two things:

  1. Stop thinking about publishing. I keep thinking, as I’m writing, about this book’s future. Is it marketable? Will agents like it? How will reader’s response? Is it good enough to query? Yet the plain truth is, none of those questions matter–hell, none of the answers to those questions matter–if the book itself doesn’t get written. I can’t do anything with a blank page. I can’t sell a story that hasn’t been written yet.
  2. Just write. I just need to write the damn thing. If this draft sucks? So what? If this story never gets published? So what? If no one ever reads it but me? Yeah, so what? Even if this story “goes nowhere,” I’ll still learn a lot by writing it. It’s still a story I really want to tell. It’s probably the most challenging thing I’ve written so far and something I really want to figure out. So I’m going to write it and, if it gets published in the future, fantastic. If it doesn’t, it’s still not a waste of my time and right now, the only audience that matters is me.

*tries to think of a clever way to end this post, but fails, so decides to do this instead, so she can actually go write and try and meet her word count goal for the day*

Cheers.

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Quest for Happiness: Week Forty One

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Keep it up.
    • Status: Success! Combo of running and walking last week, plus ate pretty well. Period hit over the weekend, though, so that definitely wasn’t the best, eating or working out wise, but I’m hormonal, cramping and bleeding. I think I can cut myself some slack, here.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep working out and enjoying this nice weather while it lasts. Make something new to eat this week.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish Color Psychology. Write chapter one.
    • Status: SUCCESS. Prolly write a blog post about this, but I’m really stoked that I wrote 4,000 words last week.
  • This Week’s Goal: Write 5x and keep up word count goal.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Continue reading KotW. 
    • Status: Success! Finished book, wrote review and started another!
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish Something Beautiful and write review.

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Enjoy the hell out of hanging out with friends this weekend. Plus, GEOSTORM.
    • Status: Freakin’ success. That was a pretty awesome weekend.
  • This Week’s Goal: Enjoy the nice weather before it disappears into misery.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal:  Keep up blogging routine.
    • Status: Success! 
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep blogging. Update bio and layout.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Stay frugal.
    • Status: Pretty decent. Spent a little money, but no more than I planned to, this weekend.
  • This Week’s Goal: Continue to stay on top of it. Create a Christmas budget.

Pretty stoked about my progress and things are pushing forward.

Last week, I actually lost half a pound after having a couple weeks in a row stagnant and maintaining (which I can’t complain about, by any means). Definitely going to have to stay on top of my food intake and running routine if I want to lose these last ten pounds to reach my ultimate weight loss goal. Also stoked that I’m finally writing another novel again and, after getting some feedback from a friend, have an idea how to improve my favorite novel that I’ve written. Also stoked to have found some reading grooves again.

Basically, life’s pretty sweet right now, and that’s really freakin’ awesome.

Cheers.


The Priority of Time

Looking up some quotes for another blog post this week, I stumbled across this one:

The site that deprives you of productivity one minute at a time. Replacing productivity with entertainment since 2010.

That…really hit me hard.

Everyone gets 24 hours in a day. It’s not an uncommon mantra for people to complain about–still–not having enough time in the day to get everything done that you want to. I know I certainly do. Every week, it seems, something gets left on my To-List that I really should have gotten done and is carried over to the next week. Or, I struggle to choose between reading that next chapter, playing a video game or watching an episode of TV, because each hour of free time is just so precious and I don’t want to waste it, even though I want to do all of those things. Then there are things that I really want to do–like writing and running–that, when I don’t complete them, my first excuse is, “I didn’t have enough time.”

When I’m really saying, “Eh, it’s just not important enough to me to make time a priority to ensure that gets done.”

Again, it hits really hard, especially with the writing aspect. Because I started a new novel this week. Wrote almost 500 words. But I’ve only written once, even though my plan was to write at least four days this week. My To-Do List wasn’t even as long as it usually was, yet still, writing hasn’t happened. Everything else on my To-Do List has come first.

Including writing and publishing this post.

Then I read that quote and I wonder; I wonder and I reflect, back to a time when I was writing every day, last year. How great it felt. How I do have the capability to make writing a priority, like I claim it to be.

I just need to do it again.

Social media is what I’ve cut back on the most. I don’t have anything on my phone besides Instagram, Spotify, FitBit, Goodreads and my Mint Budgeting App. Only one of those do I interact with anyone else and that is if something likes a picture I posted. I only check Facebook and Twitter and my blog when I’m on my computer. And my computer, I only log into on the weekdays. But even when I log in to check these sites, I could minimize my time scrolling and be doing other things; more productive things, more enjoyable things, less toxic things. Sure, there is the fear that I’ll miss out, especially with Twitter, when it’s how I connect with authors and agents and other writers. But when it’s taking away from some of the time I could be used to write the books I want to connect with them about?

Yeah, I think it’s okay to lessen that impact a little bit by not getting on Twitter as much; by checking Facebook, scrolling through once to catch up and then logging off; by finding other ways to stay in touch with people I care about that don’t involve social media.

Also, learning to actually listen to my alarm might also help give me, oh, I dunno, anywhere between two and three hours back each morning to actually get shit done.

Reading that quote was not only a nice, sucker punch for my own life, to reevaluate the use of my own time, but it made me think about some of the interactions I have with people closest to me and remind me that this is a problem that everyone struggles with. Makes me think about all those times a texting conversation has dropped because someone forgets or doesn’t have time to respond. Or how we run out of time to schedule dates with our friends and family, even though we really want to see them.

I recently sent out a copy of my book to some friends and family closest to me; the “last testing round,” if you were, before I do one more round of revisions and then query. I sent it to maybe…half a dozen people? Maybe a few more? I asked them to try and read it by November 1st, so I could spend the rest of the year editing and then query early next year. I sent it during the end of August/early September.

So far, three people have started it and another person has read it completely. Time–the lack thereof–is usually the excuse. Trust me, I get that. It is an excuse I go to often and, in many cases, in my mind, is a valid excuse. Especially in a case like this, where those who would read this book would be doing so as an immense favor to me. Still, I cannot help but wonder, if those who haven’t started it changed their language from, “I’m too busy,” or “I just haven’t had time,” to “I’m really sorry, reading your book just isn’t a priority to me right now,” how many people would actually read it or change their mind. Maybe it wouldn’t be a priority. And hey, that’s okay.

Still. It’s a bit enlightening. And perhaps, even a little bit unfair, to put it in that light. It’s easy to feel like shit, after re-framing your mind and looking what how often you use that excuse and when. But, personally, it’s been a real eye-opener, and made me reevaluate what exactly I’m okay with labeling as a priority and what I’m okay with not. At the moment, I’m really glad running and working out has been a priority, as well as blogging. I’m posting more on here than I ever have before. However, I’m really upset that writing and reading are not.

Now, I need to make the changes in my life to rectify that.

Cheers.


Obtaining Feedback: A Query

In order to understand this post, I’m gonna need you to read this post. It’s by Chuck Wendig, who, if you’re familiar with his blog, always writes really awesome posts, told through colorful language, containing webs upon webs of wonderful tangents. If you don’t have time to read his entire post but what to know what I’m referencing in this post, just read his first bullet, titled 1. Fuck Your Critique Groups.

I read the entire post, most of which had me nodding. But it was that first bullet that really had me scratching my head and being genuinely perplexed. I mean, one, he admitted to not being a huge fan of Tolkien, so, you know…

Image result for uruk hai GIF

I’m just kidding, I was not that offended.

Image result for lying cat

Ahem.

Anyway. 

Aside from that revelation, I was really intrigued by Wendig’s discussion. Of course, when he writes about writing advice, he always offers the caveat that tells you to not just assume his word is law because he wrote it or that it will work for you because it works for him, because everyone and their process and writing style are different, so the shit and the advice that works varies. That makes sense. He also warned us that most of the advice he was about to give was labeled “unconventional,” so it wasn’t guaranteed to be popular opinion or belief. Fair enough. But he brought up a particularly interesting point:

And that’s chiefly the problem with a lot of critique groups — they understandably comprise writers, not editors. Their opinions on work are driven from the question of, how would I write this? which is analogous to changing how you have sex because some other weirdo gets off on different peccadillos.

Just ignore that last half (even though it’s hilarious in his post). Reading that, it was sort of like a “duh” moment for me. In the past year and a half, I started actively searching for beta readers and becoming a beta reader for some people. I’ve had some pretty good experiences, but it also made me realize that a lot of the advice I give is based off my own writing style and my own preferences. Which isn’t necessarily always the right call, especially in someone else’s manuscript. Hell, half the time, it isn’t the right call in my own manuscript.

So that leaves me with a question. A query, if you will.

How do I improve my writing?

Say Wendig is onto something and a critique group, if you’re not lucky enough to be in an awesome one that shares your vision and understands your story like you do and is able to point out the weaker points, isn’t the best call. How do you improve your story, after you’ve edited it so many times you either think the entire thing is glorious or you think the entire thing is shit, and another pair of eyes is what you need? Go to a professional editor, sure. But what if you can’t afford that? Do you just do the best you can, query it and hope it’s good enough? Or do you create a group with writers you respect and hope the feedback you get is useful?

Say you go the latter route and join a group. You get a bunch of feedback. How do you avoid the feedback that derails you utterly and ruins what, if you hadn’t received that feedback, actually could have been a really amazing thing? How do you learn to sort through and, to be blunt and honest about it, judge the value of the feedback coming your way and determine its matches your vision of your story?

I’m not really sure what the answer to this is.

Hell, like Wendig has mentioned before, I’m not sure if there even is a one-size-fits-all answer. Once again, it is a case-by-case determination, which I realize, isn’t really helpful. What I have determined, however, is I need to–always–write stories that I enjoy. I want to love my work, even if that work goes against the trend or doesn’t fit into the market. I want it to always be mine and true to my heart, no matter who, if anyone, I go to for advice and feedback.

I’d really love to hear some ideas that spurt from this, either from my post here or Wendig’s post, linked above. How do you navigate the editing waters?

Cheers.


My Desire To Be More

One of the coolest things, I’ve found, about your own personality and your own existence as a human is how the process of discovering ourselves and growing into the person we want to be never ceases. There is always the opportunity to better yourself and change aspects you don’t like, heightened the things you do or embrace an entirely new element about yourself.

Recently, I’ve discovered a couple things about me that I’d like to focus on changing. They aren’t necessarily bad things. Recently, I’ve been more akin to noticing them and how they are holding me back from being the woman I really want to be and that’s why my goal is to actively change them, whatever that my look like.

Be More Assertive

This aspect of my personality is something I’ve really struggled with. I’ve always been that introvert with extroverted tendencies. Someone who is more shy than outspoken. Someone who will be quiet over making her voice heard. Someone who cares more about the opinions and desires of others–and making sure those are met–than her own. I wrote a post that discussed this at some length, but it just keeps popping up.

Most of the time, it’s simple stuff, like feigning apathy when I actually know what I want for dinner or hesitating to offer a suggestion when an open call is asked for one. But at the same time, it’s still important. My voice and my opinion are still important. And, quite frankly, it’s also rude to other people, who also value my voice and opinion and want to hear it. Why hold back what I want to say or how I feel because I’m so concerned it might not align with what they want or feel? Why assume that, because I’m so used to swallowing my own desires and needs, that they will do the same and we’ll be stuck at an impasse? Why shy away from honest conversations where the needs, wants, desires and opinions of all parties are heard and discussed, before a conclusion is reached? It doesn’t make a ton of sense.

So I want to express my opinions, my thoughts, my wants, my desires, my needs. If I want to eat at one restaurant and my friend wants to eat at another, nine times out of ten, we’ll end up eating at the restaurant my friend wanted, to be honest. Though I want to be more assertive when it comes to expressing my own voice, that doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to be so assertive that my needs come before everyone else’s. Nor should it. But there needs to be more of a balance, between being selfless and silent, to being selfish and speaking. I want to be a little bit of both. I want to have a voice and make it heard, while still being super flexible–an aspect that I love about having a meeker personality and I don’t want to lose that as I develop an assertive voice. I do want to be a little more selfish when it matters, when I have a strong opinion, yet I also want to continue being empathetic. I want to balance putting others needs first and making sure my own needs are met.

Every day you have the opportunity to grow and make the decision to become a happier version of yourself. You aren't the same person as you were yesterday. Who are you choosing to be today?  Tag a friend  /// Get the best happy quotes from the week delivered to your email. Link to sign up in my profile. via @angela4design by @happsters

Be More Confident

This might be something I’ve always struggled with, ever since I can remember. I’ve always had body confidence issues, for sure, but it’s bled into every area of my life where I could possibly have confidence, to the point where I have hardly any at all.

And I kinda should.

Sure, I think being humble is awesome and that’s something I’d like to claim to be, but there’s a difference between being humble and then honestly belittling your own self worth and self image. This whole post might be talking about how I want to improve, but if I’m being really honest with myself, I like who I am and I like who I am becoming.

I need to stop apologizing for everything (something I also talked about on this blog). I was out with my family this past weekend and I realized feeling the need to apologize for every little thing is apparently something we all do. I was surprised at how annoyed I got with hearing utterance after utterance of, “I’m sorry” for things where no apology was necessary. Which I’m sure you find ironic, considering how I confessed to doing the same thing all of the time.

I need to learn to accept compliments and not immediately try to dissuade them and label the compliment as a lie. I need to be confident in my own skin and realize that, even though I’ve made progress in my weight loss goals and still have work I want to do, I shouldn’t be afraid to still flaunt and love the body I have now. I need to be confident in my writing and my stories and my ideas. I need to be confident in my voice.

I am starting to love me for me. I just need to let other people see that.

Be More In the Present

This one might be a little weird, but it ties into my anxiety, which I’ve also talked about. But I want to focus more on living every day as wonderfully as I can. I want to work harder at creating happiness from each moment, instead of constantly waiting for each weekend or the next big event; doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about the future things on my horizon that get me amped, but I want to be more present in my day-to-day life, appreciating the little things. More often than not, I lose myself to anxiety over the future or overthinking the past that I forget how to live in the present. The scary reality is, the present can change so quickly and not always in a positive way. So I want to focus more on just enjoying what I have, where I am, who I am, now, and letting the future happen as it happens.

Focus on the good.

I got a few things I’d like to work own. Like most good things, none of these changes are going to happen overnight–apparent by the fact that I’ve written at least one other blog post that ties into each of these aspects of my identity once before, so obviously this is a topic I’ve considered before or is on my radar. Awareness is a great first step and I’m there.

Now it’s time to do something about it.

It takes little changes, every day, to reshape, build and then strengthen these elements into my true personality and that is a challenge I really want to–and am very excited–to undertake. Have any tips on how to do exactly that? Leave them in the comments below. I’d really appreciate it!

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Forty

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Look up some different strengthening stretches. Keep up routine.
    • Status: Success! I ran four times and walked once, so that was awesome. Also managed to find some different stretches I might start incorporating.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep it up.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish outline, figure out some details and read another section in Color Psychology.
    • Status: Success! I’m really excited about the progress being made and I think…I might it might be time to start writing again.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish Color Psychology. Write chapter one.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish the second book in the Gentlemen’s Bastard series and write review.
    • Status: SUCCESS. I’ve been getting back into the reading groove, friends, and my my, what a freakin’ ending that was.
  • This Week’s Goal: Continue reading KotW. 

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Find a reason to smile every single day.
    • Status: Success. The smiles and laughter outweighed the tears last week, which, in my book, is always a win.
  • This Week’s Goal: Enjoy the hell out of hanging out with friends this weekend. Plus, GEOSTORM.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal:  Post twice on each blog.
    • Status: Success!
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep up blogging routine.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Need to look into the bank account again, especially after a weekend of some really fun adventures that I certainly enjoyed, but wasn’t expecting to take out of my wallet.
    • Status: Success. Not doing as badly as I thought. But with the holidays coming up (not to mention a sleeve I wanted to get colored in), I really want to be on top of my money so I can actually get people awesome stuff for Christmas.
  • This Week’s Goal: Stay frugal.

A pretty solid week, friends. A pretty solid week. Time to continue the grind, keep being productive, continue being happy and continue finding ways to challenge myself and grow.

Cheers.


The Musings Behind “The Start of the World”

I had a lot of fun writing the latest short story for the Muses, which you can read here. I’d love to hear your thoughts and see what you thought about it. But not only that story, but also the stories from the rest of the Muses from this prompt, if you have the time and the inclination. We’d all really appreciate it.

I’m not sure if this is ironic, technically, but I fell into the same trap that I did with the previous prompt. As soon as I saw the prompt–the last entry in an explorer’s journal–I knew exactly what I was going to write about. I knew I wanted to do a sort of bookend effect with a previous story I’d written, for the prompt “you were born with the ability to feel what’s underneath the ground and for the first time, you say, “We should not dig here.”

That story might be my favorite out of the ones I’ve written since the Muses first began. The narrator has a lot of spunk and is a bit questionable in his character, which created a mix of responses from readers regarding their sympathy towards him. I loved the premise, too–not to mention that my Dad helped me come up with it, a collaboration that meant a lot. It was written like a journal entry, where my narrator described how he might have been the catalyst to triggering the beginning of the end of the world. So when I saw this month’s prompt, I knew it would be really fun to write the last journal entry from his story.

Yet, like I said, I fell into the same trap as the last prompt, where I immediately knew what I was going to write about and then ended up not writing the piece until a few days before it was due. It actually worked out, for the last prompt. I’m not so sure about this one. Don’t get me wrong–I still like the story I wrote. However, I was hoping to have more of the in-between fleshed out inside my head, so I could give this “last” entry more substance. You know, so the entry would be my narrator reminiscing about the adventures he’s had saving the world, dropping hints and making references to events that, theoretically, we as the readers would have already read, since it was all recorded in his journal. Yet, in reality, we haven’t, since we’ve only gotten the first and last page as two separate stories. I was hoping to create some suspense, making readers wonder how the same man that triggered the end of the world managed to save it.

But, because I waited so last minute, I didn’t have the time to flesh out the in-between events, so the last journal entry felt a little…flat, to me. I still had a good time writing it and trying to get back into that snarky voice with a narrator who is likable to some while disliked by many, but I definitely think I could have done better. Hopefully, for my next story, I’ll actually put in the time it deserves, instead of letting life get in the way. But until then, thanks, as always, for supporting both me and my fellow Muses as we continue to write, grow and learn.

Your support means everything.

Cheers.