Category Archives: coming soon

Confessions of a Writer, Part 3

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I will be posting my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events.

1. How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

I don’t get to write every day, but I try to, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. I write either on my lunch hour or for a few hours in the early evening. Weekends are tough while the weather’s still good, because I like to get outside and gather inspiration. When I do NaNoWriMo, I sometimes do a bootcamp weekend day of writing for up to eight hours with just a few breaks. When I start to get in the “zone,” I try not to stop! The last few chapters of The Curiosity Killers were written on weekend-long writing binges, and I distinctly remember working for hours on my laptop at my dining room table one fall evening, beaming with excitement when I could finally type “The End.”

2. Did you go to college for writing?

I did my undergrad in communication, focusing on radio and TV broadcasting. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a disc jockey (instead, I used that experience as inspiration for Sam Brody’s career and workplace in The Red Eye). As I took more classes in literature and writing, however, I considered changing my major to English but was too far invested in finishing within four years. I went to grad school, first getting an MA in literature with a little creative writing coursework and then in June of ’15, I finished an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. Even my com major had a lot of writing in it, however, including a course in TV screenwriting, which is something I’d like to do more of in the future.

3. What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?

None of these are awesome. Spelling errors bother me the most, because in this age of spellcheck, we should all know better. I am a comma perfectionist and realize not everyone else can be, so punctuation errors don’t bother me quite so much. Grammar errors get fuzzy once we’re talking about creative writing or style choices, and grammatical rules evolve over time. I’m becoming less of a prescriptivist the older I get.

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Confessions of a Writer, Part 2

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I will be posting my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events.

  1. What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The first concrete piece I remember writing that I think would qualify as a real piece of fiction was a short story I wrote in high school called “The Conspiracy to Catch Dierdre Long.” It was a romantic comedy about two teachers set up by their students. I also remember writing a horror romance in early college—the title now escapes me—about a rock star who quits performing to lead a quite life out of the spotlight but is then found out by a stalker.

  1. What’s the best part about writing?

The best part about writing is shutting out the real world for a bit and envisioning my scene. I try to engage all five senses and truly feel as if I’m my point-of-view character, then just allow the scene to play out, seeing how it would unfold both adhering to my outline and perhaps deviating from it, and experiencing moments for their greatest emotional and thematic impact. I like being able to slow moments down and speed them up and experiment with them until I’m happy with how they look and feel in my mind’s eye as I get that first draft down on paper. Revision is somewhat painful and tedious, though necessary of course, and pre-writing activities (outlining, character creation, getting the essential elements decided) is also sometimes tedious. The idea generation stage doesn’t bother me, as I tend to have strange concepts occur to me at odd times, which I then just file away in a notepad document on my phone to comb through later when it’s time for the next project. But it’s that golden time of the actual hands on the keyboard, first draft where everything just flows out and gets filtered through my brain that is the most creative, zen-like time of my day. I can imagine and create and first draft for several hours at a time and feel like barely a second has passed. That is when I truly feel like my best self, like I’m engaged in what I was always meant to do.

  1. What’s the worst part about writing?

Even worse than revision is proofreading copy prior to going to press. By that point, I’ve read and re-read the material so much that I’m blind to the tiniest of errors. I usually read aloud, very slowly, or enlist a second reader to help so that I can actually catch any final typos that even my editor missed.

  1. What’s the name of your favorite character and why?

In everything I write, I tend to get a favorite character and enjoy working on their scenes quite a bit. In my Red Eye series, it’s Sam Brody, a damaged, snarky guy who’s flippant to a fault. With Sam, I tried to design a character around the premise “What if the ‘breakout character,’ the audience favorite, the comic relief, the ‘Fonzie,’ if you will, was the protagonist?” The thing about a comic relief character is that you don’t necessarily want them foregrounded all the time, as their attitude can often be their downfall. It definitely is with Sam, which is why he’s kind of an almost anti-hero in a way, suffering from a need to entertain himself and others even when the fate of the world is at stake. In my upcoming science fiction novel The Curiosity Killers, I’m quite fond of Eddy Vere, the “mad scientist” character, as well as Rupert Cob, the playboy adventurer. Both are complex creatures, but Vere is more damaged and full of gravitas, while Cob is more a mixture of two types of hero: comedic and tragic.

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Confessions of a Writer, Part 1

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I will be posting my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

 I first began writing in early elementary school, spending my summers on short stories that, in retrospect, were obviously terrible. By high school, I had better figured out that character and plot were vital to storytelling. I used to want to be an actor, actually, until I figured out that writers are actually actors, directors, art directors, cinematographers, and producers of their own movies in a way. Writing a book, therefore, is more creatively fulfilling than just doing one of those jobs.

What genre do you write?

I write science fiction, fantasy, horror, experimental fiction, and have lately been trying some romance, YA, and mystery, though just in the planning stages so far. I don’t want to be constrained to a specific genre but want to tell the best stories I can that continue to challenge me. With my short fiction, I tend to be more offbeat and try things out that I might not do in a full-length novel, making my short pieces much more surreal as a result.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

I have two main works-in-progress going right now: finalizing things with my forthcoming novel The Curiosity Killers, to be released in 2016 from Dog Star Books, and The Skittering, the next work in my Red Eye series (the first two volumes of which were released by Alliteration Ink in 2014). The Curiosity Killers began life as a short story back in 2011. I fleshed out the idea into a full novel and used it as my MFA thesis at Seton Hill University from 2013 to 2015. It’s my first science fiction novel—I’ve written a lot of short SF before but never anything this long or this ambitious—and it required lots of historical research due to its time travel plot. I began The Skittering in late 2014 but haven’t been able to prioritize it until the first draft of The Curiosity Killers was done. My Red Eye series as a whole has been a long time in the works—the first book was originally a NaNoWriMo project several years before its eventual release. After The Skittering, I have at least one more book planned in the series.

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Big news: The Curiosity Killers to be released by Dog Star Books in 2016

I’m delighted to announce that my first full-length science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, will be released by Dog Star Books in 2016. Dog Star is the science fiction imprint for Raw Dog Screaming Press, home to Stoker Award winners and all-around amazing writers, scholars, and imaginative folks. I am honored to be in such good company.

Fellow newly-Dog Star-ified author J.L. Gribble (Steel Victory) covered my book’s acquisition on her own blog recently, where earlier in the month she completed the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey. I’ll be blogging my own answers to those questions in batches over the next few days to celebrate The Curiosity Killers.

While I will obviously acknowledge these folks and more in my book itself, I want to take a big of space here to give special thanks not only to the aforementioned MC Scribble Gribble but also to Heidi Ruby Miller and Tim Waggoner for helping me get this book in great shape, all my critique partners (Todd, Chris, Crystal, Anna, Carrie, and Jen), members of my old writing group who read bits of this in its infancy (Steve, Mike, and Cynthia), and my husband Tom, the editing guru, for being willing to do a continuity edit on what is admittedly a very convoluted time travel knot. Tom is single-handedly responsible for helping me remain paradox free!

Huge, huge thanks, too, to Dog Star’s delightful Jennifer Barnes for taking a chance on this book. I’m excited to see what the future holds.

***

I have fairly exciting other publication news going on as well. My Kindle exclusive “Method Writing” is doing great and will soon be my very first audiobook, available through Audible on Amazon and iTunes. The ebook is still only 99 cents (free for Kindle Unlimited customers). More news on the audio when it’s all done.

A brand-new second edition of Grinning Cracks, my short story collection, is coming out in November. As a teaser, here’s an excerpt from the back-copy blurb:

Thirty-five short works filled with the upsetting and uncanny, from the author of the urban fantasy Sam Brody series (Alliteration Ink) and the horror novella We Shadows Have Offended (Etopia Press). This newly revised and updated second edition includes eight pieces not found in the first release, featuring the never before published stories “The Apple Box,” “Colleagues,” and the poems “Floater” and “Il Necromantiosmo.” Taylor reimagines both classic, familiar fairytales and superstitions (“Abaddon,” “The Apple Box,” “Rabbit Rabbit,” “Trichotomy”) and a sequence of Breton folk stories (“The Ankou,” “Bugul Noz,” “Dahut and the Destruction of Ys,” “Gradlon,” “Iannic-ann-ôd,” “The Korrigan,” “Les Lavandières,” “The Lovers,” “The Morgen,” and “Yan-Gant-Y-Tan”). She experiments with surrealist science fiction (“Alter Ego,” “Arcus Senilis,” “Encounter,” “Eden”) as well as gruesome body horror (“Ornithology,” “Pseudanor”), crime noir (the multi-chapter “Christmas Wrapping”), and a literary fiction cycle based on the concept of the four humors of Hipprocratic medicine (“Choleric,” “Melancholic,” “Phlegmatic,” and “Sanguine”).

This one should be out well before holiday shopping time in trade paperback and (for the first time) Kindle edition. I’m planning an audio version of this as well but it may be abridged and a 2016 release. A few other things are in the priority queue ahead of that, but I think you’ll be excited about what they are.

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What I’m selling, pitching, writing, and doing

Happy Thursday! I’m starting a new blog series today called “What I’m…” Every few days, I’ll update this site with what I’m selling, pitching, writing, or doing. Today I’ve got updates in all four categories!

What I’m selling

I’ll be at the Dayton Book Expo on April 25th at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, where I’ll have copies of The Red Eye available for sale (and signing, which I’m also happy to do if you’ve already purchased it earlier). If you can’t make it to the DBE but also haven’t gotten a copy of The Red Eye yet, you can purchase it via the DBE’s Amazon store to enter me into the running for DBE’s online bestsellers! And remember, too, that owning an Alliteration Ink title in print means you also own the ebook!

What I’m pitching

I’m nearing the end of my studies in Seton Hill University’s MFA program, and so I’m starting to see if my thesis novel can get any agent nibbles. The new web site Writer Pitch connects authors and agents. If you feel so inclined, you can share my pitch for The Curiosity Killers on social media to help me generate some buzz!

What I’m writing

In addition to making final tweaks to TCK, I’ve also got three short stories out on submission; two short stories, two novels, and one non-fiction book all in the editing phase; and twelve projects actively in the writing phase. Other projects are still being outlined or planned, but I wouldn’t call them “active” yet (and besides, I have to get through these other works first!). My 2015 goal is to finish all active works in progress before really digging into the next wave of planned projects. I’m really excited in particular about The Curiosity Killers, Blood Makes Noise (an urban fantasy novel), and the horror/mystery/urban fantasy novella The Skittering, which may just be the next work in The Red Eye series!

What I’m doing

In just seven weeks, I’ll be done with a graduate certificate in instructional design. This has been a challenging program, but I just adore it. I can now toss around fancy terms like “learner-centered teaching,” “course management system,” and “beyond bullet-point design” like a pro.

I’m also spending a lot of time with the kitten my husband and I adopted late last summer. She is a whirlwind and—parental bias aside—insanely cute. If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, head over there for an embarrassing amount of kitten-related amateur photography.

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What I’m working on

I owe this blog some posts about my time this spring at both the Pennsylvania Literary Festival and the In Your Write Mind book signing, but while I sort through all the amazingness that was those events, I thought I’d stall with an update on my works in progress.

What am I working on?
– Three different horror short stories
– Two science fiction short stories
– A fantasy flash fiction story
– A new edition of my short story chapbook Grinning Cracks with new cover art, as well as an abridged audiobook edition
– Three different urban fantasy novels and one novella (two of which are set in The Red Eye universe)
– Four different YA novels of various subgenres
– Two different science fiction novels, one of which is my MFA thesis, The Curiosity Killers
– A literary fiction novel
– A non-fiction writing craft book on drabble writing
– A non-fiction writing craft book on speed writing
– An academic non-fiction book on gender and media

This might explain my recent bout of insomnia, actually. I have too many ideas swirling in the brain, and when I’m trying to rest it all keeps me up. In addition to all these things, I keep a file on my phone for new ideas, those nagging bits of story that you can’t write right now but you have to document lest they’re lost. Yeah, that file is ridiculous, but it has actually gotten me through some idea droughts in the past. I heartily recommend that every writer with a smart phone keep such a notepad file and mine it when you’re feeling stuck.

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Big Publishing Milestone

The House on Concordia DriveMy urban fantasy novel The Red Eye and its prequel novelette The House on Concordia Drive (both 2014, Alliteration Ink) mark the publication of my 49th and 50th pieces of writing.

I didn’t actually realize I hit the big five-oh until I started working on some bio/promo things for querying something else. Suddenly I saw that my list had grown, and I decided to add number bullets.

The Red EyeThere it was. 49. 50. FIFTY.

For someone who used to write nonsensical (yet somehow endless) Dickensian soap operas every summer growing up, for someone who’s never quite felt “good enough” as any sort of artist (see my failed attempts as musician and painter), this is kind of huge. So even though I demur a bit and really don’t always feel like the most confident writer, I have to kind of say, “Good for me” for once.

I’ve had help. Every English teacher, from high school, college, and my M.A. program, and my colleagues in several arenas of my life certainly inspired this love of words and forcing them together into sentences and stories. I’ve had more specific help from the members of my writing group, my M.F.A. program classmates and mentors, spouse, and various helpful editors and publishers, some of whom even helped in their rejections.

Every day, I encounter something that makes me a better writer, whether it’s formal notes and edits on a story or something I read in which the author makes a particularly deft turn of phrase (or a not-so-deft one, one I then take pains not to emulate). I’ve learned from others’ success and failures, learned from others’ reactions and support and very occasionally the lack thereof, truth be told. But it’s both the acceptances and the rejections that make a piece of writing better, and I think sometimes in life it’s acceptances and rejections on a larger scale that make us better people, stronger people, more resilient people.

I was excited to figure out that I’d hit 50. A few years ago, I had a goal of trying to get 35 before I turned 36 (which I did do, but just barely). Once I stopped counting, something interesting happened. With this arbitrary goal gone, I just kept going, without real target in mind other than to keep writing and then sending things out. Once I stopped counting, I racked up more credits than when I was counting. Kind of funny how that works, huh?

The love of the craft is the goal, of course. That’s the real lesson. If I were only in this game for any reason other than the need to write stories, no matter the outcome, I would have either never started in the first place or kind of petered out after meeting that magic number. Instead, I just kept chugging away. The placement of a piece now is secondary to the thrill of really, finally getting a story into tip-top shape. Getting a full-length novel into truly tip-top shape is also paramount, which explains why The Red Eye was first due last fall but delayed a bit—I wanted it to be as perfect as I could make it more than I wanted to actually hold the thing in my hands.

When you do something for the love of it, some of the other stuff will come, too. Maybe not the way you think, the amount you think, the timing you think, but something will, and it’ll often be all the lovelier because you didn’t crave it quite so desperately but instead cherished it enough to wait until it was really meant to be.

Not gonna lie, though. Now I’m wondering if I can’t hit 60 in the not-too-distant future.

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