Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What type of reader are you?

Hello to you all! It is a busy time of the year, but I've had this idea bouncing around in my mind for a week or so now, and I've really wanted to put it out there. I am in full swing trying to get Lindy Johnson out in the world for folks to read. I'm about two months behind what I had wanted originally, but hey, I adapt, right? I sent out the manuscript to my original beta readers, and received very mixed reviews. I put a lot of this on the fact that it is a totally different voice from my other books, and my beta readers have read far more than just Nightwatch, bless their hearts. Lindy is not a suspenseful book, therefore is is not solid action all the way through. It definitely has some drama mixed in with the mystery and romance. Lindy's voice is also a *bit* sarcastic, and she's not always kind. Imagine Han Solo as a female private detective, self serving, loyal to the highest bidder, and a little broken. Some of the beta readers adore her, and others are not as bonded...

Beyond all this, I have noticed something else. Nightwatch is a very fun, easy, not a lot of weigh-you-down-content sort of book. It is a great escape into another world filled with intrigue, spies, and double cross. I love it. Lindy Johnson's book series will follow the life of a private investigator that also happens to have multiple sclerosis. It studies out the idea of weak and strong, and where the line is, and what it means to be strong. Lindy is meant to enlighten, and lift; to give power to those who may not have a voice. It is meant to shed light on those people I call "diseased in disguise". They look normal to the naked eye, but you don't necessarily see the struggle of every day and every moment.

The reaction I have received from my beta readers has been mixed, I think, because there are at least two types of readers, the escapist, and the deep thinker. The escapist wants a book to do exactly that, escape, transport them to another world where none of their present worries or cares exist. It needs to be fast paced, never a dull moment, and succinctly told in a fashion that they can pick it up and never want to set it down. These readers love Nightwatch, and they will adore Falcon.

The deep thinker also wants an escape, but enjoys a chance to learn something. When this reader finishes a book, they want to be different having read it in the first place. They want the book to leave an impact on their heart. These readers dream of meeting the characters they have bonded to. The ride may not be fast, they may read and set the book down, but they enjoy pondering and dwelling on the story as they are away from it. These readers will love the Lindy Johnson series and the personal journey they take with her.

I sat and thought about my own style of reading, Am I an escapist, or a deep thinker? I finally came to the conclusion that I am both. I have devoured everything Dorothy Gilman has ever written, and her books have always been a great escape for me. I feel the same about Mary Higgins Clark and Jack Weyland. They all have the ability to suck me in and let me live in another world, and I love it.

Then there are other books. The Hunger Games series left an impact on my heart, not just because I'm totally team Peeta, but the way Suzanne Collins crafted the political theme of the book opened my eyes to so much that I had not seen in my own world; ideas about privacy and rights, and our willingness to give up freedom in exchange for security. It pushed me back to my psychology training concerning our ability to follow orders and the human capacity to inflict pain on another, just like the Milgram studies showed. I love that I still think about the characters like they are old friends of mine. There are others as well, Sue Grafton's W is for Wasted opened my eyes to the world of the homeless and forgotten. U is for Undertow gave me reason to worry for our elderly and the people that care for them. And I can't forget Divergent and how it helped me to think about the balance of our own personalities, that light and darkness reside in the same being, and you cannot have the good without the bad, opposition in all things. While these may not be the most hard hitting and controversial books of all time, it is what I like to read and I love that truth and light can be gleaned from so many different genres.

As usual, I have rambled a bit, but I guess I like to help people think. I like when I hear that something I wrote touched a heart, or healed a wound. I think our world could use a little healing after all.

What kind of reader are you?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Visiting Nightwatch

This week I have been spoiled rotten by my in-laws with our annual family retreat. It has been heaven, and the solitude and constant roar of ocean tides has been incredible for my ability to write. I finished my latest novel (The first draft anyway) Lindy Johnson & The Elderly Entanglement (working title). I wrote at least 65% of it while I was here. When I finally finished, my husband said, "Oh good, no one had seen you yet." What can I say, when I write, I'm in another world.
    I'm always looking forward though, and even with Lindy written up and my beta readers reading through it, I have a bug in my bonnet because I just want to write some more.
  As much as I always look forward. It is good to look back, and being here in the same house I was in last year, on the same stretch of sand and ocean, I can see Nightwatch and Falcon everywhere, because this is where it began.
             Now that isn't entirely true.
     I started Nightwatch 12 years ago, but then it was just called "Beth". That's right, Emiliana Woodroow was once named, "Beth". While it is a pretty name, it did not do what I wanted. In fact, the story did not go where I wanted. There was a good twelve pages of introspective watching from a window in New York City. (yes, that changed too). I wanted it to grab hold and snag the reader from the start, and so Beth got a makeover... twelve years later. I saw this house, the one I am writing this very blog post in right now, and I was inspired. So, today I thought I would share a few pictures of the setting that inspired me in writing Nightwatch.

 A view of the neighbors patio. ---Can't you just see two nosy old ladies watching Adam running the stairs while they sip their morning tea?
 I keep waiting for Adam to come tearing up these stairs..... just sayin'....Anyone else?

How about a cup of Gretchen's fancy hot chocolate?
And the beach, the bonfire, the sunsets, and the romance, of course

Imagine dragging your easel up all these stairs, just to have it crash all the way to the bottom. I think of that every time I walk up.
But then to turn around and see a white rose at the top of the landing. 

But then what would this be without the painting that inspired Emma's? Breaking through the waves, breathing air for the first time in years.

It feels incredible to be here, and it feels even more incredible to announce that Nightwatch will have a sequel! Tentatively coming in February 2016, I can't wait to let you all read, Falcon. It will pick up only a couple months from where Nightwatch ended. I want to tell you more, BUT, just hang in there, It will be another wild ride.
 Love to you all,
Nellie K. Neves

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Planning for the End

I had this English teacher, Mr. Sanchez, and he taught us that when we write anything, novels, essays, a love letter even, you plan for the end. Where do you want to end up? I've tried to make this a part of my life, meaning, I've always wanted to have an end goal in mind, that way I know how to direct my path. The question I've been getting most from people in my life is, are you going to write another book? The answer is, yes, of course! But many are surprised that while that isn't the issue, what to release next is the real question.
    See, I have the end in mind. I know what I want, but I can't see the exact road for getting there and it is frustrating. I was happy with Nightwatch as a first step, but my second step has been more tentative. Originally, I had planned to release Bind my Wandering Heart next, but lately I have had my doubts. While I love Bind my Wandering Heart, and I am very proud of it, I hesitate because it is an entirely different genre. It worries me that it might not be the right step just yet. I mean, imagine walking down a path and finding yourself at a river. There are stones, each numbered 1-9. You step on stone number 1 and it is solid. It feels good. Do you then try to reach and step on stone number 8, you know, the one on the other side of the river? No, that's crazy, you'll fall in trying to pull a stunt like that. Why not reach for the stone that is right in front of you, the stone that makes sense and feel right.
     Okay, so maybe not the best visual, but you get the idea. You never want to force a decision when it doesn't feel right. when Bind my Wandering Heart  came  back from my beta readers, the facts were simple. It wasn't as strong as Nightwatch.
     So where does that leave me? Well, like I said, there are more books to be read. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I have been posting small peeks from my newest novel Caskets & Confessions. Even in a first draft Lindy is stronger than Bind. It is also a suspenseful romance, even leaning more toward a suspenseful mystery with a hint of romance. It will be a part of a series, so brace yourself for a few pieces that will carry over between books, but I promise to solve the main conflicts. I have fallen in love with Lindy, and I can't wait for you to meet her as well.
    I am bursting with one more bit of news, but I will save it until next time.
Read on, dear friends!
Love Always,
Nellie K. Neves

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Clean Romance Books

Have you already read Nightwatch and now you are patiently waiting for the next book to be released? The biggest feedback I have gotten on Nightwatch has been how much the readers have enjoyed the "clean" aspect of the book. Without fear they have been able to let their teenagers ( I have a couple teenage boy fans!) read it and they have enjoyed it as well.

If you are needing something more to read, check out the list at It is an author co-op site, and the books featured there are clean. They are also on Facebook if you want to follow them there.

Read on my friends!

Taking A Big Leap

                 When I was little I went to a tiny school in Oak Run, California. Haven't heard of it? Yeah, I'm not surprised. It's tiny. Beyond tiny, really. At least it was back then. It was the pin drop on top of the pin drop, but it was home. My family lived on top of a mountain ( at least it was a mountain to me as a little girl) on six acres, in a donut hole of three hundred acres and a gravel quarry. We had horses, and pigs, dogs, and a few cats, and the occasional bit of wildlife like rattlesnakes and mountain lions (EEEEKKK!). It was near heaven for me. In that little class, a combined second, third and fourth grade class (so that we could hit thirty students total), My teacher Bobbi Eastwood, challenged us second graders to write a story.
     I had struggled with reading in Kindergarten and first grade, doctors blamed it on my premature birth, just a few weeks, but enough to mess with learning processes. By second grade, I finally "sling shotted", this is the actual term the doctor used with my mom. My brain caught up and I flew ahead of my classmates, devouring every Nancy Drew I could find. So, when Mrs. Eastwood told us to write a story, I was ready. I'm sure she meant, write a paragraph maybe two, it was after all only second grade. Not me, I had a story to tell and I was going to tell it. I remember I weaved a tale about a vaquera, a Spanish cowgirl, that wanted to ride a while horse. I still have the story, because it was the first one I ever wrote. There is no structure, no clear purpose or plot, but man, it had passion. Six pages later, the story was told. I think Mrs. Eastwood was really surprised when I plopped that assignment down on her desk and it landed with a sort of thud, as opposed to the other assignments that were single sheets of paper.
     This began my love affair with the written word. A fire had been lit and I was not going to stop. My third grade assignment was a tall tale that we had to write in a vertical format, mounted on construction paper. Mine was the longest in the class, complete with a donkey's tail at the bottom, because really, what is a tall tale without a literal tail?
Yes, I have always been snarky.
          We moved away from that mountain top, but we stayed country, we kept the horses, and we added a cow, at least occasionally, and my writing habit did not stop. In Junior High and High School I started writing for my friends, little bits of fan fiction, stories that revolved around the top boy bands of the late 90's and early 2000's, N*Sync and 98 Degrees. At one point in time I had a story about 98 Degrees and my best friend and I that was so long, the pages filled up a full moving box! I selected my College major based on my life goals. English Major; I was was going to be an author.

I had a teacher my senior year, Jack Sanchez. I had him for a creative writing class, and then I taught as a student instructor for him the next year. He would tell me I was good at what I did, but over and over again he would chant, "Simplify, Simplify, Simplify". He also told me that I would never make it as a writer if I did not start drinking and living a bit more.
    You see, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, LDS, or rather Mormon, and Mr. Sanchez never approved. Still, I held my ground. I was star eyed and ready to be freed on the world, as most high school seniors are.
   In college, I wrote for my roommates, my first stab at real fiction, and they began to chant "Story time!" at the end of a long day. It felt good to share what I had written. Up until this point, I wrote, but I rarely shared any of it. For the first time, I let people into my secret world. The world where characters talked to each other in my head, where the conversations begged to be made free. I let them see a glimpse of the secret world of this renegade gypsy cowgirl, and to my surprise, they liked it!

    I met my future husband when I was only 19. Neither of us was interested in marriage, isn't that how it goes? But within a year, we were married, just three days after my 20th birthday. I was determined to keep up, push on and get published. About a month after our marriage, I finished writing my first book, an LDS genre novel called, "Wednesday Cooking". It chronicled so much of my time in college, but on a larger than life scale, and  I was sure Covenant Communications was going to pick it up in a heartbeat.
   That first letter of rejection stung, and it hurt worse than any disappointment in my life. I am sorry to say, it stopped me for a long time. Eventually I wrote a second book, "Raising Allie", also LDS genre. I could see my growth between the two books and I was as hopeful as ever. But two rejections came, though not as quickly, and it cut deep. My dream of becoming a leading LDS author faded with each rejection. Many friends and some family told me to give up, it was a nice hobby, but I would never succeed. We bought a house, and I got a real job. Dreams of writing to the masses were put on hold, like they were just the fanciful dreams of a child. I changed my major and started to pursue a real career, as so many so sweetly put it. Psychology major, with a goal to work as a marriage and family therapist.
     Three years ago I received some news, new about my health that would mold the rest of my life. It is funny what emotions go through your mind when someone tells you that nothing about you life as you know it will ever be the same. Plans were derailed, my health became the forefront of our family's goals and reality shifted, but only those closest to me knew about it, after all I am diseased, but I am diseased in disguise. I went through all the stages of mourning, because I was in reality mourning the loss of my health. I went through denial, where I tried to move at the same supermom rate I had always moved at. Nope, Not possible. When I went through the anger phase, I took on a project stripping and staining our dining room table. Somewhere in the midst of it, the blinding rage took over and the table became distressed. Chains, hammers,screwdrivers, and any other blunt tool I could find, helped me to vent the frustration I felt. It is now my favorite piece of furniture. Somewhere around acceptance, I remembered my love of writing, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I could hear the voices again.

     I wrote my Kelsey series first, nearly eight months in total to start and finish. I enlisted my sister and a dear friend to help motivate me and keep it rolling. I had no outline, no real plan, I only knew I had to write, even force it if necessary. I wrote in the night, magic hours between midnight and three am. Until finally, around the end of September, I finished. I didn't care about publication, I only reveled in the knowledge that I could still write, and people enjoyed reading it. My friend, Ruth, challenged me to do the Nanowrimo challenge, 70,000 word novel in one month. I had just finished the Kelsey series, and I was tired. I did not think I had it in me, but as the November start date loomed, I committed and began.
    I suggest Nanowrimo to anyone that enjoys writing. It is the most freeing exercise for any writer, no matter the skill level. And for the firs time, I did not write in the LDS genre, I wrote mainstream. It was like trying on a new fit of jeans for the first time in my life, after wearing the same brand for years. I never expected anyone to read it, and that is what made it so fun. In the LDS genre, there are rules, so many rules, but in Nanowrimo, there is just you and the voices. So, I wrote Addison's story. I not only completed the challenge, but I wrote the entire story 85,000 words by the end, in 17 days. I could not stop. Every spare second I had, I was at my computer, living and breathing Addison's story. And when I finished, what could I do, but write another? By February, I wrote the first draft of Nightwatch. My sister went nuts over that one, a perfect marriage of love and action, and she pushed like she never had pushed before for me to self publish and take that leap.

    As you can see, just like in the second grade, I still ramble for pages and pages, but here I am leaping; chasing after a dream that I have had my entire life. When it comes down to it, there is very little I would regret not doing before I die. I would regret not loving my husband, or raising my daughter with all my heart and adoration, but I would not regret missing out Disneyland, or owning a Maserati. I am very happy and very content with my simple life here in the country. However, when I was faced with the reality of a life possibly cut short, I knew, with every fiber of my being, I would regret if my life came to an end and I had not told the stories I want to tell. So here's to leaps, and standing on the limp so thin it just might crack. Here is to taking chances and letting yourself be vulnerable. Here's to life. May we live it.