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I have adamantly described myself as a nonfiction writer, but back in May, a friend challenged me to branch out and write (and submit) my first short story ever. I am honored that it was chosen to be published in a Science Fiction/Fantasy anthology due out this October. My story is titled The Locket and will appear as the second of twelve stories in the book Time Traveling Coffers edited by Dana Bell. It is being published by micro-press, WolfSinger Publications. I’ll post a link when the website for the book is up and running.

I had so much fun getting to know my characters and developing the story that I got a little carried away and had trouble cutting it back to the required word count of 6,000 words. Though the short story is completed, I am now working on the full length novel which will have a different title.

 

 

This is a time travel story about Remi, an eighteen year old girl who with the help of a locket, learns the truth about her unique heritage.

My name is Nikalas Nowell, and I write fiction. 🙂

Stop by and celebrate with my other friends taking the drawing challenge:

Don at Expatriatism

Zoe at Welcome to Zoe’s World

Max at The Hero Chronicles

Freebie at Free To Be Too Much

Girl at GirlyGeeky

 

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I did it! I mean WE did it!

My friend Don and I took this challenge together and we both managed to write every day this month. I’d like to think we’ve created new habits and formed new neuro-pathways in our brains that will spur us on to seeing the world from writer’s eyes, compelling us to share our visions with our readers. Not that we’re all about the numbers game, but both of our readerships have increased with our consistency. Fluke? I think not.

There is such satisfaction in seeing this challenge through because I’m not a great finisher. I’m a great starter, but I quickly lose interest and find the next thing to start. For instance, I have a new challenge for November. It’s a weekly challenge rather than a daily one, and I’ll announce it here tomorrow. Gotta keep the momentum going, but for today, I feel a sense of accomplishment and I’m going to bask in that for a while.

Go visit Don’s blog and read his rebuttal (not really) to my 2011 De-cluttering Challenge, and congratulate him on seeing the post-a-day challenge through to the end. I know there were many days that neither of us had the time or energy to blog, but we pushed through anyway.

 

 

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I originally posted the following on The Inkwell blog, but I’m sharing it here now because it’s still relevant and I ran out of time to blog today. 😉

Audre Lorde once said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” I believe she was right about that. Solomon said something similar in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, “It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (NLT)

Do you know what I love about writing? Ideas are all around me, and they’re limitless. When I see the trees begin to produce flowers in the Spring, I’m reminded of my personal growth that bursts into bloom after a long, dry, wintry spell of life. In that same Spring when we receive a surprise snowstorm and are forced to slow down and hibernate in our homes for a day or two, I consider the ways I am too busy, overly committed, and hard-headed to realize that I’m in need of a day of rest and reflection. These epiphanies can’t help but flow into my writing and inspire me to look at what I have to say with new eyes.

As writers, we are designed to take what we see, experience, and dream, and find engaging ways to offer it to our readers. There are no new ideas, only new ways of making them felt. That’s one of my basic goals, to make people feel. What ideas are brewing in you? What inspires you to write? How do those things shape your writing? What does your writing make people feel?

 


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As we prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse, it’s important for us to know how long our medicines and vitamins will last and update our stash of expired bottles, so I made that my September de-cluttering challenge. 😉

Seriously, we are as homeopathic as we can be, but a few weeks ago my son had such a terrible headache that we went for the hard stuff. I pulled the ibuprofen & acetaminophen out of the medicine drawer and it was expired. I wasn’t all that surprised because we hardly ever use it, but then I was faced with a dilemma. Let my child be in pain, or give him expired drugs in the hopes of killing the headache.

I hopped online and did a little research (after giving him the Tylenol) and found out that it’s up to me to decide how long to continue using medicines after the printed expiration date on the bottle. Whew. What a relief. Thank you Google for clearing that up for me.

According to this article by the Harvard Medical School, and many other sites I found, drug manufacturers are required by law to stamp a date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug. HOWEVER, in a study done by the FDA, at the request of the military, 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date, so the expiration date doesn’t necessarily indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use.

“It’s true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years.”

Good to know.

We’re not into taking medication unless it’s REALLY needed, so we don’t keep a full medicine cabinet, but I still decided to take a look at every bottle we do have and toss most of the expired stuff – especially the liquids. Here’s a picture of what I threw away. I added the quarter for size comparison. I’m clever like that.

One more thing. Here’s an article from the FDA which explains the proper disposal of over the counter and prescription drugs:

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm101653.htm

Moving on…

October’s Writing Challenge:

I emailed Don, my American friend living in France, and asked him to hold me accountable with my writing. Being a blogger himself, I knew he’d understand the need for motivation in the form of a challenge. WordPress issued such a challenge back in January, but suggested it to me again for the month of October. A post-a-day challenge is just what I need to get my butt in gear and quit making excuses for not writing. You can read about it at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/.

Consider this Day 1. 🙂

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Sound bytes. That’s all I seem to have time for these days. It’s easy and I’m lazy. Period. I’ve had a love hate relationship with blogging and a love love relationship with Facebook. It’s true. Just ask one of my 1600 closest friends. Pop on in for a pseudo-conversation and a peek at my latest flair or mobile upload. Stop by here and see the dust collecting on my pretty daisies. It’s sad really, my laziness. I love writing, so why don’t I make the time to put fingers to keys and produce something worth reading? Laziness. Oh how I hate that word. Poor time management. Yes, that too. I like Facebook. Did I mention it’s easier?

I fondly remember the days when my blogging buddies and I frequented each others pages, spreading our encouragement, laughing at each other’s silliness, praying each other through the crappy days, and recommending books, music, movies, and other blogs. Many of them have abandoned blogging all together. Me? I’ve been treading water for a long time, trying to decide if I was circling the drain, just out for a lazy (there’s that word again) float, or if I was just taking a little break from the exercise.

Blogging used to be fun. Then I joined a writer’s group and it became not-so-fun. (Yes, I worded the sentence that way on purpose.) What was once spontaneous and gave me a public voice, became a millstone around my neck as I learned about platform, audience, self-promotion, and the words, “If you want to be successful, you NEED a blog.” Uh oh. Did I sense a bandwagon approaching? Is that what happened? Someone told me that I NEED a blog, so my rebellious spirit rose up to prove them wrong? I had been blogging for 5 years at that point. I didn’t NEED my blog, but I wanted it.  I watched as friends who had no desire to blog, created their sites and dutifully (another word I’m not fond of) clicked away to build their network. I hopped on over to Facebook and began getting friend requests from writers who don’t know me but wanted me to “be their fan” and help promote their work. Sure. I can do that. But me? Forced to blog because that’s what writers do? That rebellious spirit planted both feet, squared her shoulders up (can you see her hands on her hips and the challenging gleam in her eyes?) and said, “Wanna bet?”

Who likes being told what to do? How do I reign that girl in? How is it August already and I haven’t posted since January? I’m feeling it again. I want to blog. I want to connect through the written word and I want to have the freedom to use more than 140 characters, so I still fail to see the point of Twitter. Sorry. Facebook is my friend, but I miss my old friends, so here I am. I’m back again.

How have you been?

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The writer’s conference exceeded my expectations and then some! I was able to serve by doing what I do best…organizing people. Here’s my list of the top ten things I’ve done regarding the conference:

  1. Attended several workshops and took 22 pages of notes.
  2. Encouraged and teased a few of the agents and publishers. They’re real people too.
  3. Prayed with and for some hurting folks.
  4. Connected with some new friends in the Denver area.
  5. Had a blast with Jan, Kathy, Paula, and Kristi, some of my best friends in the writing world AND in the world where normal people live.
  6. Returned home with several story ideas for books and articles, which I’ll be writing during my vast amounts of spare time this summer. HA! I’ll be lucky to pick up a pen between June and August.
  7. Was completely convicted about my blogging habits, so I’ve begun redesigning this blog to fit my style and personality better, and I’m working towards a more user friendly, streamlined site. Bear with me.
  8. Decided that the next year will be my time to dig deep and find my writing voice while I’m learning the craft. I’m starting with Terry Whalin’s must read book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Thank You Terry! I’ve already begun reading with my highlighter in hand.
  9. Paid attention to what topics kept rising to the surface when asked what I’m passionate about and what I write.
  10. Began making plans for what I’m going to be pitching to the pros next year. 🙂

If you’re a writer and you’ve never been to a conference, it’s time to find one and GO! Get those fingers typing into the Google search bar for conferences in your area. Right now. Make it happen. You’ll thank me later. And go buy Terry’s book!

JumpstartFront

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After writing about my fears in my last post, I decided to turned my apprehension into appreciation and knowledge.  I feel better already! After a little research combined with my past experience (and a need to post on my writer’s group blog – The Inkwell), I penned the following post this evening. These tips can be tweaked to fit any type of conference.

In two short weeks, the 12th annual Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference is being held at the YMCA of the Rockies, in beautiful Estes Park. Although I am a conference veteran from my youth ministry days, this will be my first one devoted to the craft of writing. As the newest ACFW member that blogs here, I’m going to assume that other newbie writers might need some conference preparation tips too. Here’s what I’ve learned from my own experiences, lessons taught at the writer’s groups I’m in, friendly advice, and a few helpful websites:

BEFORE

PLAN AHEAD

1. Study the Conference Brochure. Identify What you most need to learn, then choose workshops that provide it. Learn something new.

2. Know who the faculty are. There will be professional writers, mentors, Agents, and Editors there. If you happen to sit next to one of them at a meal, or land a coveted appointment with one of them, it would be nice if you knew their name.

3. Find out what is required to make appointments with your chosen professional, and make your requests early. Prepare a list of questions to ask editors, agents, and/or writers -things you want answered before you return home.

4. Create a 30 second pitch for your book/article/screenplay idea and practice it. Try writing your idea in 20 words or less. Your time will be limited during your meeting, and you’ll be prepared to answer the most popular question of your conference stay, “What do you write?”

5. Prepare professional looking proposals, one sheets, and queries, and have copies available if an agent or editor requests them.

PACK

1. Comfortable clothing and shoes – the level of professional attire depends on the standards of the conference you’re attending. Dress in layers for varying room temperatures. Check the weather ahead of time and bring an umbrella, snow boots, or whatever else is needed for your trip.

2. A sturdy tote bag to hold the following:

  • Laptop and/or paper and pens – you decide what works for you.
  • Business Cards – make sure ALL of your information is current.
  • Bible & Journal
  • Thank you notes for follow up after your appointments
  • Water Bottle, mints, and snacks
  • Camera
  • Money for the conference book store. You know you’ll want to buy stuff! 🙂
  • An extra tote or room in your suitcase for the stuff you buy.
  • Labeled folders, manila envelopes, or even an expandable file. Possible labels might include:
  1. Contacts – To hold business cards/brochures of people you meet.
  2. Expenses – Receipts for tax deductions like meal expenses, transportation, CD’s or books to improve your craft, etc.
  3. Proposals, Queries, One Sheets – self explanatory, and it looks good when you’re organized.
  4. Workshop Notes/Handouts – Even for those you don’t attend so you’ll have them if you buy the CD or mp3.

A little organization before you leave will save you lots of time and hassle while you’re there AND after you return home!

DURING

1. Prepare for little sleep, your creative energy will be high, but pace yourself. Unplug if you need some quiet time to reflect and relax, or just need to escape for a nap.

2. Don’t be shy. Meet as many people as possible and ask questions. Everyone has something to share and there will be those who are new or attending alone and they’re feeling awkward too. Practice active listening and don’t monopolize the conversation, but speak up when it is your turn to do so. Remember that you have something to share too.

3. Talk to the professionals. They are there to help you grow as a writer. Ask your questions and write down any thoughts or ideas they share that you might forget.

4. Remember to collect and file business cards, handouts, receipts, etc. These will be very important to you after the conference ends.

AFTER

1. Give yourself a few days/week to regroup. You may find yourself in “conference overload” and need time to process all that you learned. Keep your notes and ideas handy!

2. Send thank you notes to the people you had appointments with, your roommates, and anyone else you need to acknowledge that made your conference a memorable experience.

3. Take what you learned and apply it to your writing. WRITE. RE-WRITE. SUBMIT. REPEAT.

4. FOLLOW UP! If an agent or editor requested your work, send it to them within 30 days, or even 2 weeks. The sooner the better. It’s amazing how many people don’t follow through with this step. Don’t let fear hold you back!

5. Stay connected to the writers you meet. You’re adding value to other people. Who knows your writing trials and triumphs better than other writers?

Above all else, PRAY before, during, and after the conference!

I hope these tips have fanned the flames of excitement as you prepare for an amazing 4 days! Look for me while you’re there. I’ll be the curly redhead with the big smile and the dazed look on her face. I’m kidding…sort of.

My helpful sources:

Megan DiMaria’s Writing Conference Tips

Lessons from my friend, Michele Cushatt

The Words For The Journey Blog

Preparing to attend a writer’s conference by Julie H. Ferguson
(Used with permission)

The wonderfully creative, mostly organized, and occasionally wacky brain of Niki Nowell

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