A Peek Behind the Creative Curtain or Why You No Blog?

I’m currently making my way through Justin Kleon’s books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work. Both are so inspirational and I highly recommend them for anyone in any sort of creative discipline. Anyway, in the later he talks about sharing your process with others, letting your fans peek behind the creative curtain, so to speak. That’s always been one of my aims for this blog, so I thought I’d give you a little insight into what I’ve been doing to get my next book into motion:

  • In the last 2.5 months, I’ve read 15 research books cover to cover and written countless pages of notes.
  • Those notes have become my very detailed 25-page, 15,000 word outline.
  • Which I will turn into a 90-100K book over the next 2-3 months. I’m aiming to write about 1,000 words a day.
  • Then I will let it rest for a few weeks, edit it several times and then let my lovely crew of beta readers beat it up.
  • If all goes well, it will be on submission by late spring.

No pressure, right?

I should also have a new book review up on Historical Honey soon as well as an article on the Historical Novel Society’s site. Will send links when they are up. In November, I’ll be reviewing Robin LaFevers’ Mortal Heart for Sirens (by the way, my next book is a perfect fit for the 2015 conference theme of rebels and rebellion, so you’ll probably see me speaking there), and in December I’ll have two reviews for ebooksforreview.com, my latest book reviewing venture.

So if you’ve been wondering why I’ve been a little scattered and not quite as consistent with my blogging lately, this is why. (Remember, I don’t write full-time, yet!) Plenty more news to come and I’ll try to give you a real blog post next Monday. Love to all!

PS – I kind of want to create a new blog category for Do All The Things, since I seem to always be doing all the things.

A New Venture into Feminism – Femina Aequalitas

womens blog header small“You, a feminist?” I can hear all of your mock shock and horror. I can also hear some of you saying, “You don’t need another project. Just write.” While that’s true, I have to follow my heart in all that I do, and it was telling me the time had come for this blog.

Those of you who have been around here a while know I’m all about the strong female characters. Well, that extends to other areas of my life, too. So I decided a few months ago to start a blog to talk about issues around feminism, women’s equality, female rights, whatever you want to call it. (Check out my “why I’m here” post for more about why I created this blog.) I gathered up nine of my closest friends and several people who wanted to be guest bloggers, we did some planning via email and voila: Femina Aequalitas was born.

Femina Aequalitas is Latin for Female Equality. (Thanks to Liv for the name!) It was an easy way to show what we’re all about. It just so happens that it was ready for prime time right around the time that Emma Watson gave her groundbreaking speech on the role men play in the fight for gender equality. (If you haven’t seen, go watch it. You won’t regret it.) I’m grateful she broke the ice on the subject; we intend our blog to be a place where it can continue.

We’re not like a lot of other feminist blogs out there. You won’t find any man-hating or hard-line rhetoric. As our “About” page will tell you, we’re a group of men (yes, we have male contributors, too) and women who are searching for equality among the sexes in our lives and in our world – in pop culture (movies, music, books, TV, etc.), world news, politics and in our own lives. We’re want share those thoughts in order to foster healthy discussion and grow a community of like-minded individuals. We are desirous of change, but aren’t necessarily traditional activists.

We’re also taking a different approach to blogging. For now at least, we don’t have a regular posting schedule; we just post when something moves us so that the content is fresh and heartfelt, rather than required by a schedule. (We’ll see how that works.) We also have a Twitter account that all of us tweet from to spread the word about women’s issues that way. Feel free to follow us at @feminaaequalita.

We’re open to contributions, so if any of you would like to get involved, please either subscribe or check out our submission guidelines, or both! We’d love for you to stop by and say hi. While we’re still in our infancy, we hope you’ll join us as we build our community.

They say to practice what you preach, and this is the best way (online) I knew how to do that.

What do you think about the site? Are you interested in joining? Or at least following the conversation? What do you think about the recent discussions about feminism on social media and in the news? How do you define feminism? Do you consider yourself a feminist?

A to Z Blogging Challenge: A is for Aggrivane

A to Z bookends by Katie Wong NYC

So, I’ve decided to take on the A to Z Blogging Challenge. (I was inspired by Jenny Hansen over at More Cowbell.)

Technically, it was supposed to take place in April, but I couldn’t do it then, so I’m doing it now, but with my own twist to the rules. The official rules say you blog every day except Sundays for 26 days, with each day’s topic starting with a different letter (A, B, C, etc.). My life doesn’t allow that kind of aggressive blogging schedule, but I’m going aim for twice a week, Thursdays and Sundays, until I’ve made it through the alphabet. (I reserve the right to interrupt the challenge for the Through the Mists of Time blogiversary next month.)

The idea is that these posts are supposed to be shorter than the ones I typically do, and that’s probably going to be the hardest part. And since I’m not going to confine myself to Arthurian/Celtic themes, so you might just learn a little more about me or maybe read something that interests you more than my boring old posts about bygone days. But my first topic is Arthurian.

A is for Aggrivane

More properly spelled Agravain or Agravaine, this Arthurian character is the second son of King Lot and Arthur’s sister (Morgause or Anna, depending on who the story), which makes him Arthur’s nephew. He is said to be somewhat of a villain. Aggrivane knew about Lancelot and Guinevere’s affair and worked with Mordred to arrange the lovers being caught in the act. Traditionally, he is killed by Lancelot, either at the time of their discovery or when Lancelot rescues Guinevere from her death sentence.

I’ve always seen this character used as a secondary player, but when I plotted my story, he became a natural main character. If I told you how or why, it would ruin one of the biggest plot points of my first book, but I can tell you this: in my world, he is still the son of Lot, but he is a much kinder person who has a talent for reading the stars and dreams of a life very different than the one legend has put him in to date. I fell in love with him, and I hope you will, too.

So, why do I spell his name Aggrivane? Well, that’s the way it came out of my fingers the first time I typed it and since I’ve never been able to get myself to spell it any other way, that’s the way it’s staying. (In my head, he wants it that way.) And if you need help picturing him, think of Orlando Bloom. I wrote the character with him in mind.

So what do you know about this character? How have you seen him portrayed? What do you want to know? I’ll probably do the A to Z Challenge again in the future, so please let me know if you have any other “A” suggestions.

The Author Platform or “What Is It You Do, Again?”

It takes more than just writing a great book to get published nowadays.

If you’ve ever explored what else goes into it, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded “author platform.” It’s really just a way of answering the questions, “What is it that you do?” or “Why I should care about anything you say?” Your platform is how you get yourself out there and try to cultivate an audience well before your book hits the shelves. And there’s a lot of contradictory advice on how to do it.

“Talk about your expertise.”

“Be human – show people you have a life.”

“People don’t care about your personal life.”

Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m following a crazy director whose next command/advice will be, “Show me spirit fingers!” (Please tell me you’ve seen Bring It On.)

There are as many ways to build a platform as there are writers, but in this digital age, chances are social media will play a big part in it. I’m by no means an expert, but I am slowly learning as I continue to blog and tweet as a writer. Here are a few conclusions I’ve come to about building a platform/brand/name for yourself:

Not everyone is going to like you. Shocking, I know. For a perfectionist like me, this is tough to swallow. Sometimes when I notice my Twitter number is down or I don’t have as many blog hits as I’d like, I wonder what I said to make people leave or why they aren’t visiting. Then I realize that one tweet or blog post may have made them think they were getting one thing, when reality is really another. Or maybe their timeline was just getting too full. I’m learning to not take it personally. And there will always be people who either flat out don’t like you or are contrary just because they can be.

Being yourself is important. I’m not a writing machine and neither are you. I think it’s important to show that you have a life outside of your writing. I don’t know about you, but I love it when a writer I follow gives me a little glimpse into their real life. I don’t do it much here (other than by recommending books and the occasional manifesto), but I do tweet about my favorite TV shows and bands, in addition to writerly stuff. If you don’t like it, you can always scroll through it, but for me it’s a way to be relatable.

Speaking tours aren’t the only way to show off your expertise. Right now I don’t have a schedule that allows for teaching online courses or going on speaking tours (I hate public speaking anyway), so I’m using my blog to share what I’ve learned while researching. Hence, you get to learn all about the Celts and Arthurian legend. I’m also hoping that will help me find other people who love this stuff and might want to read my books. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see I try to retweet blog posts and other articles on writing that I find valuable. Pay it forward, as the saying goes.

Write about your passion and it will show. For me, that’s Arthurian legend (thank God, or I’d really be in trouble), writing, reading and history. That’s why you also see “non-educational” posts from me: book reviews/recommendations, essays, etc. I also love my cats and to cook, but I don’t think anyone would care about that. But then again, I am trying to expand my blogging horizons. Anyone have any suggestions about other things you think I should write about?

Readers, do you think I’m on the right track? What else would you like to see in this blog? Writers, what’s made your platform successful? What advice helps you? What common “words of wisdom” do you disagree with? I’d like to learn from your experiences, so please let me know in the comments.

Author, Promote Thyself

IQuill pen and ink’m the first to admit I’ve been dragged into this blogging thing kicking and screaming (almost literally) and am more than a little late to the party. I’ve been reading for years now that any writer seeking to break into the market or maintain a fan base needs to blog. But up until recently, I never understood why. To me, a blog was just a waste of time I could be using to write. But not anymore.

I’m not exactly sure why my opinion changed. Maybe it’s because with a fully edited manuscript just waiting for an agent, I finally feel like I have something to promote. Maybe I’ve finally started to see myself as an author with a potential fan base rather than a person with a full-time job who writes as a hobby. But the important thing is the light bulb finally went off and I’m here.

So, what can you expect from this blog? Honestly, I have no idea. A little bit of everything would be the easiest answer. Once I get an agent, I hope to blog about the publishing process as each step happens, filling in between with whatever is on my mind. And of course, once a book is published, I’ll blog about it and how it was created (but until then my plots are top-secret). In the meantime, it’s whatever comes to mind, whenever it comes to mind. Maybe a few of my writer friends will even be willing to do guest posts. Three topics you won’t be seeing here: my personal life, politics or my religious views (I’m not ruling out discussion on religion in general, just my private beliefs). I do wish to maintain some privacy. Oh and you won’t see me bashing other writer’s work. If I don’t talk about it, just assume that either a) I haven’t read it or b) I didn’t like it.

Oh, you want to know who the crazy girl is behind the keyboard? I go by my pen name, Nicole Evelina, but you can call me Niki, if you’d like. All my friends do. I write novels that fall somewhere between historical fiction and fantasy (that’s a subject for another blog post). My completed manuscript is the first book in an Arthurian legend trilogy focusing on Guinevere. I’m writing the second book now and the third is in outline form. I also have plans for a fourth book that will overlap the first two, but tell the story of another character from that person’s point-of-view. That’s about all you’re going to get out of me on plot until I have a publisher and feel it’s safe to say more publicly.

I’m on Twitter as @nicoleevelina, if you’d like to follow me. It’s one of the easiest ways to learn about new blog posts, and perhaps a little more about me. Thanks for reading. I hope you stick around; it’s going to be one crazy ride!

If you have something to say, please leave a comment using the “comment” link below. It’s after the categories and tags. I know it’s hard to find, but I can’t customize that. Sorry.