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 She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement.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 has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) 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 part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas.

Musings over “Ama Te Ipsum”

I had a very different experience writing the latest short story for the Muses, which can be read here, if you’re curious (also, if you do want to read this but don’t want any elements spoiled, perhaps don’t read this post). Usually, after a prompt is chosen, I write the story pretty soon after that and then have a few weeks in-between writing it and when my story is due to edit and wait, since I’m the last person to post in our rotation.

This time, I wrote the story two days before.

I had every intention to write it earlier. I even had an idea right out the gate, as it was the month I got to pick the prompt, and I had–what was in my mind–a really cool idea regarding a sci-fi setting and a main character with cybernetics who, in a society where their soulmate was determined by a time written on their wrist, discovers that her soulmate is herself when she stumbles upon a mirror (which is also forbidden in said society). I thought it could be a really fun piece that hinted at the importance of self love that would also enable me to dabble in the science fiction genre a little bit more, which I wanted to do. I was so excited to write this piece.

But time got away from me. Life got busy. And when I initially looked at the deadline (which was the middle of August and we were starting these stories in early July), I thought I had plenty of time.

And then Friday was no longer on the horizon, but instead, within the same week, only days away, and I hadn’t written a word.

I panicked and one afternoon, I sat down and forced myself to write, because I knew if I didn’t finish it that afternoon, my story wouldn’t get done. And I really didn’t want to do that. It took a couple of times leaving the computer, only to come back to it and force the words out, before I had a draft down. I had enough time the next day to do a few little edits, but overall, that first draft was what I was stuck with.

I wasn’t happy with it.

I was concerned that my worldbuilding wasn’t ingrained well enough and that readers wouldn’t understand the nature of the world I was trying to convey. I was concerned that my readers wouldn’t connect with my main character enough, that she didn’t have a distinct personality. I was concerned whether or not my readers would understand the ending and that I didn’t set it up properly. I was concerned that the message I wanted to convey–that self-love is just as important as romantic love–wasn’t clear enough (so I resorted to cheating with putting the message as the title in a different language).

Basically, I had this idea I was so excited about yet I felt I completely ruined in my execution, thanks to not taking the proper time to write this story and instead being rushed by my deadline.

And then I read this comment.

I’ve sat here for the last ten minutes after finishing this trying to find a way to distill my thoughts in a way that will make sense, and I find it to be a far harder task than I’d have imagined. I admit, I’d guessed at the twist a few paragraphs before reaching it, but I still find it a wonderful way to subvert such a classic trope.

I also very much enjoyed how thoroughly you built out this world in so short a time, using single words or phrases within paragraphs describing otherwise average things. It gives all the advanced technology a feeling of everyday normality that does wonders for making such an otherwise alien world feel just as average and routine as ours. This is amplified by the fact that this technology seems to revolve around a kind of future-gen social networking. Like Facebook taken to a ridiculous, yet still believable, extreme. That is to say, in a world where hyper-advanced cybernetics are commonplace, it seems only natural that the world’s social networking software would have evolved in kind.

Finally, I find the thing that really ties all this together and makes it all really work is your main character’s voice. It walks this fine line between human and robotic, emotional and clinical, and seems to perfectly encapsulate the apparent dual nature of the world and society Cora lives in. I find that it’s this element that takes your story from a cool and exciting concept, brings it up to the next level, and turns it into a story a reader like myself can actually connect with.

Well done and bravo. 🙂 — Zach of Quills and Controllers

I was absolutely floored.

The first reader to comment on this story and every single element I was so worried about, they enjoyed. Which happened to be the same trend from two other readers who reached out to me and gave me feedback on that story felt. Granted, I know three people isn’t a very big pool to reach a conclusion from, yet it was still three more people than I’d thought I’d find who enjoyed the story and understood what I was trying to do.

That was…a really neat feeling.

I may, ever slowly, be figuring out this short story thing, friends. Just maybe.

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Thirty Two

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Maintain weight.
    • Status: Yes…I think. I haven’t weight myself yet (I weigh on Monday mornings), so I’m tentatively saying that I’m still okay and haven’t lost or gained anything. But I never went crazy, eating wise, and I averaged roughly 7,000 steps a day, so I’m hopeful.
  • This Week’s Goal: Maintain weight. Try and run.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Do something creative, writing wise, and stop focusing on publishing so much, but instead, writing stories that I love.
    • Status: Yes! I finally got the courage to read through the beta feedback over THE RESISTANCE and made a game plan over how to, basically, completely rewrite this book. But I’m actually excited about it, which is a great start.
  • This Week’s Goal: Figure out THE RESISTANCE plot holes and narrative mechanics.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Actually finish book and post review.
    • Status: Success! 
  • This Week’s Goal: Read another book. Choose which books to take on vacation.

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 last week of summer.
    • Status: Yes. Though my weekend was shorted to only last a day, it was a lovely one.
  • This Week’s Goal: Watch Season 3 of The Musketeers. 

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Post once on each blog.
    • Status: Killed it. I posted twice on the personal blog and three times on the book blog. Yeah, last week was good for blogging.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep up awesome streak and clean up blogs.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Don’t go crazy when going shopping this weekend.
    • Status: Eh? I didn’t go mental and spend a shit-ton of money, but some things (like a suitcase) were a bit more expensive than I thought. We’re still doing okay, though.
  • This Week’s Goal: Double check all bills are paid.  

So, I’m feeling pretty good about the strides I made last week. I’m also really jazzed because this week is the last week before I go on vacation! Which means a couple of things: one, after this week, all my blogs are going to go silent for two weeks, but I promise I’ll be back soon. Two, I may struggle really hard with actually accomplishing any other goals this week because I’ll be too busy looking up places in London. So…might have to be a little forgiving when I come back. But we’ll see!

Cheers!


The Silence of Meekness

I’m self-described as meek. Or perhaps timid is more apt, because looking at some of the definitions of meek, a lot of people seem to associate it with the idea that you are humble, gentle and kind, rather than being prone to violence or aggression. That definition reads being meek in a very position way–and you can label yourself meek and not take it negatively.

In my case, however, being meek is something I want to change, because I think that quality–the way that I exhibit meekness, also known as timidness or being shy–actually inhibits me from becoming the kind of woman I actually want to be. And I’m tired of being the only one standing in my way.

An example, if you will.

I got a new tattoo two weeks ago. A couple people knew about it beforehand, including my group of friends. When I went to play D&D with them last Friday, I really wanted to show them my tattoo, even though I was slightly embarrassed it was still in the healing stages (and my skin hates tattoos, so my healing process always looks worse than everyone else’s), so it didn’t look exactly great. Yet I never spoke up about it. I never said, “Hey guys, remember that ink I went to get last Saturday? Check it out.” I just stayed quiet throughout the evening and still, none of them have seen it.

Let’s do another example.

Family wants to go out to dinner and they suggest going to X restaurant. Yet I either a) don’t like said restaurant or b) really don’t feel like eating there. Yet instead of speaking up and saying anything, I kept my mouth shut. Same case when we’re trying to figure out what to cook at home.

Or I want to text my best friend and tell her a story, but I haven’t heard from her in a while, so I don’t want to interrupt her day, so I don’t say anything. Or I want to hang out with her but I don’t bring it up.

Or I really want to tell my love interest about how my day was, yet I don’t say anything until he asks. Or I’m really horny, but I won’t say or do anything unless he makes the first move.

Or.
Or.
Or.

Writing this out, I’ve discovered a trend, the aspect of my meekness that I don’t like and want to change. Because I’m meek and timid, it makes me quiet. It silences my voice, pushes back my wants, sacrifices my needs.

And I don’t like it.

I’m not saying that I suddenly want to become outspoken or the center of attention. I like being quiet, more reserved. I just want to stop being so scared to use my voice, because I think that’s what fuels my timidness, my meek-mindedness. Fear, complemented by me being a people pleaser and perhaps just a dash of introvertedness.

When I didn’t say anything about my tattoo to my friends, it was because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, even if it was an important subject to me. When it comes to making decisions, I stay quiet because I never want to suggest the wrong one and then, in doing so, upset the other persons involved. When it comes to reaching out to friends and talking with them, I become timid in not wanting to interrupt their day or feel like I’m being needy. With my love interest, sometimes I don’t tell him my desires because I don’t want to come off as pushy or sex-crazed, so instead, I let him take the lead. I think I also fear getting rejected by him.

Obviously, this isn’t okay.

I may be introverted and I may be meek, but one of my most basic needs–that I really wish could be fulfilled daily–is communication, talking. I’m a storyteller. I really love to talk with the people I care about, whether it’s giving over-detailed stories about my day, ranting about something that’s bothering me, obsessing over the latest epic love or just trading stories. I need that communication to be happy, plain and simple. And it can come in different forms. In person is the best, but texting or emails are just as great, especially with people I don’t get to see daily.

And then there’s the opinion stuff, which can be as simple as telling someone what I want to eat for dinner to how I felt about a particular movie to how I feel about a certain topic I’m actually passionate about. So many times, I’ll hold back what I’m actually feeling or thinking, instead of speaking my mind and speaking candidly. I’ll submit to the other person’s desires or opinions.

Why? Why do I rob myself of not only the conversations that I need daily, but even the opportunity to have them? Why do I hesitate to be the person who actively starts a conversation or initiates an invite, instead waiting for someone else to take charge and follow suit? Why do I hold back my opinions, even when they aren’t controversial? Because I’m scared of rejection? Because I’m scared of interrupting someone else’s day and being labeled as a burden or needy or invasive?

Yeah, that’s not a worthy excuse.

I think this all stems from me hating myself for so long. I don’t hate myself any more, but old habits are hard to break, apparently. And I’m not saying I want to become this rambunctious, loud individual who always fights to get her way. Because I am genuinely happiest when those around me are happiest, so if that means eating a place that isn’t my favorite and sneaking in a bowl of cereal later, then by all means, of course I’m willing to do that. But I shouldn’t be afraid to at least offer my opinion. I shouldn’t be afraid to tell those I care about most what I’m thinking or how I feel about a certain subject or asking them to hang out. I shouldn’t be afraid to, hell, talk to those I love, whether it’s just about my day, my writing, the weather, whathaveyou.

I know this is a work-in-progress, for me. I know I’m not suddenly going to become confident overnight and find my voice where it’s always been lacking. But I’d like to promise to try. And for a first step, I think that’s a pretty damn good one.

Cheers.


Two Steps Back, A Million Steps Forward

Oh boy, do I have work ahead of me.

Remember reading this post, where I described my revelation of recognizing when you send a manuscript out too early to be read, because it’s still at the “this-book-is-shit” stage? Yeah, so I read through all of that beta feedback referenced in that post this afternoon and that status still stands.

As it sits right now, as a draft, THE RESISTANCE is, indeed, shit.

When I wrote that post, I felt really disheartened about that fact (and also embarrassed that I sent out such an shoddy example of my work). Knowing that mindset, I purposefully didn’t read through any of the feedback in-depth, because I knew it would either a) tear me apart or b) I’d feel really defensive and want to argue every criticism they made, becoming irrational and doing my betas a disservice.

Reading it today, in a much better mindset, having already accepted that my story is in its earliest stage and what my betas are claiming is most likely the truth, I could actually see the merit of my betas insight without taking it as a personal attack. I also realized another important thing.

So.much.revision.ahead.

I have a two page document filled with notes of things that I need to focus on. Namely plot, character and exposition. My main character was so passive, it drove my readers crazy and made them not care about him or his struggles in the slightest. They had no idea about his motivations or his drives and got tired of him being dragged around and forced to do things by other characters, instead of initiating anything himself. And there was no character arc, no growth, so by the ending, readers were left unsatisfied–not to mention that this was a straight-up tragedy, with no happy ending in sight.

Speaking of the ending, the dissatisfaction with the ending was also tied into my second main flaw: the plot. While I had the basic idea and conflict, the execution and finer details were desperately lacking. And the questions that my beta readers brought up, I couldn’t answer (hint: that’s a warning flag if I’ve ever seen one). Not to mention the specifics of the science and the magic system within it were…not present. A lot of plot holes. A lot.

Finally, there was the writing itself, which reflected my uncertainty of the plot and my unfamiliarity with the main character because it was overrun with exposition, constantly barraging my readers with info dumps and explanations instead of showing them what I wanted them to know and putting them in-scene. Not to mention I had two betas out of four who thought switching from third person to first person might be the better option.

I have so much to fix, so much to understand and so much to heighten that I got overwhelmed and wrote this blog post instead of getting started. However, I think writing this helped me get a better sense of direction.

First, I need to understand the plot. I need to understand the world, the mechanics, the conflict, the rationale, the stakes. I need to understand every angle and figure out what I’m trying to say with this book. Because that ending that everyone hated? I want that to stay. I really want to write a book where the ending that I have fits. But in order to do that, I need to make it still feel complete and rewarding while also heartbreaking.

But once I understand the plot, I can figure out the character that’s stuck within it. Figure out their past, their history, their quirks, their attitudes, their beliefs, their situation and then I’ll understand what they’ll do when I throw them into an apocalypse where 5% of the population is all that remains of the human race.

Once I understand the plot and the character and how they interact, I’ll map out the story. The beats. How we get from start to finish.

And then I’ll write it, which will be an interesting process, because I’ll mostly be starting out with a new draft–especially since I’m considering not only changing the POV, but also the gender of the protagonist–but I’ll also be salvaging scenes from the old one.

Plot. Character. Beats. Words.

A lot of revision ahead and lessons learned from this story, friends. Let’s hope I stay up to the task, hm?

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Thirty One

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Be forgiving these next two weeks, but keep putting in the effort. 
    • Status: Sorta? I definitely didn’t put in as much effort as I should have, especially eating well. However, I was still able to maintain, which is exactly what I want to do considering working out is off the table until next week. And I’m still trying to be forgiving and realize that even if I have a couple of weeks where I don’t do so hot, that doesn’t mean I’ll always be that way.
  • This Week’s Goal: Maintain weight.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Work on another project, in some capacity.
    • Status: Success! I wrote a short story for the Muse’s blog that I’m a collaborator with, which you can read here.
  • This Week’s Goal: Do something creative, writing wise, and stop focusing on publishing so much, but instead, writing stories that I love.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish Breath of Fire.
    • Status: Negative.
  • This Week’s Goal: Actually finish book and post 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: Not panic fire as much as usual while playing Fallout 4. 
    • Status: Success! I’m counting this as a success because I definitely got in some Fallout 4 playing time, but in the same vein, I also definitely kept panic firing. Damn ghouls.
  • This Week’s Goal: Enjoy the last week of summer.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Keep writing cool stuff on the blogs.
    • Status: Yep! I only posted once, but I’m counting it.
  • This Week’s Goal: Post once on each blog.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Continue to stay frugal.
    • Status: Pretty much. I finally caved and bought a new pair of shoes, but otherwise, doing well.
  • This Week’s Goal: Don’t go crazy when going shopping this weekend.

Not a horrible week, considering. I’m definitely eager to get back on my normal schedule, because I feel a bit out of whack as far as accomplishing goals and fitting everything in with this off schedule I’m working. Yet I’m glad I’m still getting some things done and this week, I think the focus is just going to be enjoying the last week of summer, before the hecticness that comes with my routine returns.

Cheers.


The Never-Ending Siren of Worst Case Scenarios

I’m a super positive person. That’s just kinda how my boat floats. And yet, I love to complicate that perspective–or part of my personality, rather–by, at the same time, also instinctively assuming the worst case scenario about everything. I touched on this a little bit in a previous post, but today, that realization has just been on my mind. As such, I’m going to write about it some more. Bonus for me for using a blog as an outlet for all my emotional shit, potential negative for you having to hear/reread the same rants, anxieties and fears over and over again.

But, luckily, if you have no desire to listen to me talk about this again, you can close your browser now, no hard feelings and no judgement whatsoever.

Still here? Lovely. Let’s talk about ridiculous minds.

Specifically, my ridiculous mind.

It doesn’t take much for my “worst case scenario” siren to signal in my brain. Today’s most pertinent example comes from where it often does: my love life. A tad bit complicated by yours truly, but in the simplest terms, I’ve found a really amazing man who I’ve fallen pretty damn hard for and cherish a ridiculous amount; to the point where I’m really, really not a fan of the idea of me not being in a–dare I call it–romantic relationship with said man. Because he’s really important to me. He means a lot to me. And I think my life improves wonderfully with him in it.

So, when I don’t hear from him at all today, guess where my lovely little mind goes?

Image result for frodo it's over gif

Um, obviously not.

Having an entire day or an afternoon not talking does not mean that a relationship is suddenly over. It does not mean that someone suddenly hates you or that you made a mistake. Hell, there doesn’t even have to be an explanation for it, at all. So you didn’t talk for a day. So you didn’t see each other for a weekend. So X didn’t happen and Y changed. Those things don’t mean that suddenly, something you care about and cherish so utterly has transformed into something you dread.

Yet that’s where my mind goes. The poor man has dealt with this worst case scenario situation multiple times, dealing with plenty of late night crying sessions that could have been avoided if I didn’t panic at every little thing. He’s a keeper just for putting up with that, amongst other things.

Unfortunately, he’s not the only one who gets to deal with that, because it’s not just my love life that I assume the worst. Let’s quick shoot some examples.

Scenario: When one friend I haven’t seen in a while hangs out with another friend and I wasn’t invited.
Brain: They both suddenly hate you, they don’t like you, you fucked up and you’re never going to see each other ever again because you suck.
Reality: Conflicting schedules, friends wanted 1:1 time, they simply forgot…so many potential reasons.

Scenario: Wrote a book and entered it into a contest and I didn’t win.
Brain: Wow, you’re really still trying this writing thing? You realize that not only did you not win this contest, but your books are never going anywhere ever again. You’ll always fail, because exactly what just happened.
Reality: Book wasn’t ready, didn’t click with the other party, subjective tastes, unlucky, book didn’t need the help that was offered, plus a thousand other reasons that don’t entail me being a shitty writer.

Scenario: You want to take a day off work to do this fun thing but you already took a day off work last week to help parents move.
Brain: If you ask off work, they are going to think you’re lazy and you’ll get fired.
Reality: Why are you even stressing out about this? If you have the time available to take off and get it cleared with your boss, then you’re fine.

It’s not just major things, either, that trigger this kind of response, like relationships. It’s the “little” things, too. Like how I got a new tattoo last week and it secreted fluids for four days and I immediately assumed it was infected, when it was just doing what it always does and needs to do: heal. Or when I got my IUD implanted and then my cycle changed, so I skipped my period and I immediately assumed I was pregnant. Or how I ate that Snickers bar last night and when I weigh myself on Monday, I’m obviously going to have gained 10+ pounds.

I know, I’m absolutely ridiculous.

Related image

The two main ways I’ve combated this unnecessary and over-imaginative worst case scenario response have been recognizing that I’m over-thinking or talking these conclusions through (though usually, it’s a combination of both). Realizing that I’m being ridiculous at least makes me aware that my conclusions are convoluted or exaggerated, so maybe I shouldn’t focus on them so much. Talking it out and hearing someone else tell me the same thing is also really helpful. Yet it isn’t enough to make me stop resorting to this response immediately with every given situation.

I’m not sure if there is any sort of “solution” in order to do that.

So thank God for the understanding and patient humans I’m lucky enough to have in my life, who don’t toss me to be curb after I repeat the same fear or concern for the nth time and remind me with only mild (instead of extreme) annoyance why I need to turn my brain off and just breathe. I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but it sure makes navigating this experience that is life more enjoyable.

Oh, and chocolate.

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Thirty

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Figure out how to eat so if I don’t work out, I’m still doing well and don’t go backwards.
    • Status: Negative. Still didn’t eat very well, especially towards the latter half of the week. Working a different schedule has also messed me up quite a bit. Thankfully, only two more weeks on a different schedule, which also happens to be the two weeks I need for my tattoo to heal (thus, actually being able to run again). So just need to not go overboard and not freak out if I gain a few pounds or simply maintain.
  • This Week’s Goal: Be forgiving these next two weeks, but keep putting in the effort. 

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Submit into Pitch Wars!
    • Status: Done! Submitted and of course now questioning if I’ll ever have the chops to actually make it in the writing business.
  • This Week’s Goal: Work on another project, in some capacity.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Read every day.
    • Status: Negative. 
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish Breath of Fire.

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: Swim twice.
    • Status: Negative. I didn’t go to the pool at all. *sigh* Always next summer!
  • This Week’s Goal: Not panic fire as much as usual while playing Fallout 4. 

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Post twice on the personal blog, once on the book blog.
    • Status: Almost! I posted once on the personal blog and once on the book blog, so very close.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep writing cool stuff on the blogs.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Stay aware and stay frugal (especially when you go grocery shopping). Also, go to retirement meeting this week
    • Status: Yes! 
  • This Week’s Goal: Continue to stay frugal.

Not the best week, considering, as far as goals went. Work got ridiculously busy, but I was able to stay on top of that, which is always a top priority. As such, some goals went by the wayside. Yet a new week this week means another opportunity to continue being awesome and I’ll all about that chance.

Cheers.