1
Jan

The New Year 2014

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     Happy New Years! I hope everyone’s holidays have been full of nothing but bliss :) One thing I love to do is make lists and put them on my walls (they’re covered with lists ha), so it’s only natural that I make a New Years Resolution list. New Years is a time to not only a time of looking forward, but a time for reflecting, so here you will find my 2014 New Years Resolution list as well as my 2013 list and what I have accomplished in the past year. Enjoy :)

 

Part one: 2014

 

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Part two: Writing Plans for 2014

Here are some Writing Plans I would like to start up during the glorious 2014 year; however, nothing is set in stone, so fingers crossed!

Sample Chapters

I’ve been going over the pros and cons on putting up a synopsis and sample chapters of ReiHana on my site, and I think I’ve decided I’m going to do it, so stay tuned! Just need to figure out how to do it…

Vlog

I would really like to start vlogging on YT about writing adventures, but I’m still trying to work out all the details, and also trying to get over looking like a total tard on camera :x

Get An Agent / Book Three

As you can see above, these are on my New Years Resolution list and they will happen!!

Online Store

Somewhere down the line, I’d like to open a little store online. I have sooo many ideas :D But if this happens it’ll definitely be toward the end of 2014 or even possibly 2015. Who knows really haha

  

Part Three: Reflecting on 2013

Here’s what my list looked like:

 

Finish My Book!

I did! And actually finished the second one too :D Who’d a thunk it? ;p

Start Looking For An Agent And Start The Publishing Process.

Well…I managed to accomplish half of that haha Still looking! I’ll get there one day.

Lose Weight

What New Years Resolution list doesn’t have this goal? I’m happy to report I lost nearly 30 lbs this year! Still need to lose a little more to get to my goal though, which is why it’s on my list again this year.

Clean More Often

Clean space, clear mind.

Read More

Can’t be a writer without reading, of course.

Keep Growing Out Hair

I did! It’s nearly to the small of my back now, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Save Money

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh….

Be Happy And Have Fun!

Always!! ;D

 

     All in all, I think I’ve done good with last years resolutions. Hopefully this year is just as good! I highly encourage you to make a list for yourself and to set goals, but also to make sure you reflect on how far you’ve come too.
     I really think this will be “the year” for many people. I know it’ll be a good one, so remember to have fun and go along with the ride. Best wishes. Xoxo.

 

Nicole Michelle

23
Dec

My Promise

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     The road to being an author is both a difficult and long one. There will be many ups and downs, surely, but I wanted to make this promise to you guys: While I intend to record both the ups and downs of my specific journey, I will do it in a positive and motivating light. The last thing I want is to introduce negativity into your lives; there is enough of that in the world already. So rest assured my writer friends, I will not be a Negative Nancy, nor will I be a Complainertin, but rather show my journey as it is and offer insight, something you can (hopefully) take away from it. All I ever want to do is inspire and encourage writers, and I feel like there is a delicate balance of inspiring when showing struggle, but that struggle is real for artists and it’s important to see the truths of the difficulties for the “starving artist;” however, as long as you never give up, it won’t be a struggle for long.
     The journey is a wild one itself with many twists and turns, but you learn to love the ride while traveling to your destination. And so, I promise to always keep it real, but insightful. Hopefully by reading about my journey, you learn something from it that you can use along your own path.

 

Nicole Michelle

8
Dec

Dealing With Rejection

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     The first rule to querying is expect to be rejected; however, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting any less each time it happens. Here’s some tips to remember while querying to agents:

 

Never Give Up

     First and foremost, never ever give up. Getting a rejection letter now doesn’t mean you’ll never get published, it just means not yet. J.K Rowling was rejected 12 times before finally publishing Harry Potter, Stephenie Meyer sent nearly 15 queries before getting picked up and even Stephen King received dozens of rejections at first for Carrie, and had they given up after receiving rejection letters than we would never have their wonderful works.

  

Don’t Take It Personally

     You have to remember that when you send your query to an agent you’re sending it to another human being, and their opinion is completely subjective. Just because your proposal wasn’t right for them doesn’t mean everyone’s going to dislike it. There is so many reasons as to why they could’ve rejected your query: they could be over swamped with your genre, they could have just signed someone else, they may just be waiting for the right book and are a little stingy, there are hundreds of reasons. So it’s important to remember to not take it to heart and don’t stop querying.

 

Tell Negative Nancy “Go Away”

     After getting rejection after rejection after rejection it’s really easy to think “It’s never going to happen,” but you shouldn’t. You don’t deserve to doubt yourself like that it’s not fair to you or all your hard work you’ve done. It will happen one day, as long as you keep trying, it will happen one day for you. You will succeed!

 

Other Options

     Should you honestly feel, after so many rejections, like querying agents isn’t for you anymore, there are other options. Self-publishing has many great advantages to it and we have many successful, brilliant Indie authors because of it. Some authors even self publish at first, putting their foot in the door, and then get an agent afterwards. Each author has their own way of going about getting published and if one way isn’t working out for you, instead of quitting all together, try something else. Remember, the possibilities are endless. There is no one true road to travel, all that matters is eventually reaching your destination.

 

     I have experienced these conflicts from time to time in my own life, and have to remind myself never to give up. For the time being I still feel like I want an agent; however, self-publishing isn’t out of the question. Never say never, as they say. Just keep your head up and keep moving forward.

 

Nicole Michelle

24
Nov

Review: Hammers And Hearts Of The Gods

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     Fred Voss is an interesting person, to say the least, and his poetry mirrors his personality. I went to his reading recently and very much enjoyed it, which got me excited to read his collection, Hammers and Hearts of the GodsLike the reading, the book did not disappoint. I enjoyed everything about it, except perhaps the only critique I really have about it is I thought it could’ve been a little shorter.
     At the reading I had gotten a sense of Fred’s unique personality, which prepared me for his poems. Throughout the whole collection I had a hard time coming up with a word to described the tone of his poems and all I could really come up with is the voice is honest (not particularly sarcastic or ironic but close to it) with a tinge of wisdom to it, as if an enlightened person was speaking. Between the reading and poems, I have decided that Fred Voss is a simple, although intelligent, man. He seems to be happy with the simple things of life, which is perhaps why he dropped out of getting his Ph.D. in Literature to work as a machinist in a factory.
     Some things I enjoyed from this collection were the personas of Frank and Jane, the impactful endings, and the personification of people of yore, such as Sir Gawain, Dostoyevsky, Beethoven, Bukowski, Coleridge, Buddha, and Socretes. I appreciated the references. I think the thing I enjoyed the most about this collection was the sense that there’s more to life than what society expects. You can go outside the ‘norm’ and still educate yourself in different ways.
     My two favorite poems from this collection are “Bukowski’s Doorknob” (pg 46) and “This Is How The Universe Goes On” (pg 55). I really enjoyed “Bukowski’s Doorknob” because it showed a different perspective I never considered (i.e. making the items that made people known e.g. making the mic that MLK spoke into when he said ‘I have a dream!’). My favorite line, out of all his poems, is from a poem called, “As Real as a Trainload of Steel” (47). The line is “I want / the tenderness of love in a trembling violin string” (13-14). I’m not really sure why it stuck out to me so much, but I just love the way it sounds and the image it produces.
     I also favor the first poem of the collection, “Hammers and Hearts or the Gods”, because of it’s sound and imagery. It has a great opening lone and closing line that both pulls the reader in and leaves them with a sense of significance. The opening line is “Best in the morning / when our hearts pound and our sugar spoons / ring TING TING TING TING TING / against the insides of our coffee mugs stirring / the strong black coffee” (1-5). I may also like that because coffee is awesome, but the ending line is very impactful I think, “is the blood / still flowing through our veins the sea / still full of life the galaxies / still hanging / impossibly in the blackness as we lift our hammers / our wrenches / our hearts / our spirits / in this factory where the universe / was made” (34-43).
     I’ve also come to realize Voss’ structures are as interesting as his personality. One of my favorite endings, going back to the simplicity of things, is from “This Ph.D.”(40). “It is a Ph.D. as simple / as a mountain / and as sure / as the stars” which to me translates to our environments have much to teach us too, not just education (30-33).
     All in all, I enjoyed this part philosophical, part political read and would gladly read it again.
     

Nicole Michelle

22
Nov

And So The Critiquing Begins

 1453456_648007261886329_1874195497_n      Last night—or early this morning rather—I finished the second draft of Book Two. It’s always a great feeling finishing a draft, of course, but this one was extra special because (believe it or not) I thought it was ready enough for my friend to take a look at.
     She also went over my first book when it was ready (after like the 3rd or 4th draft), and I was more than honored to have her read my second book for me. I’m excited to have fresh eyes go over it so I know what isn’t clear or needs to be changed. What we do is I give her five chapters at a time with a collective cover sheet that has specific questions so she knows what to search for, and then have her go through it thoroughly with a colored pen. Then once she’s done with those 5 chaps, she gives them back for me to critique again with my handy dandy red pen, and I give her 5 more until we finish. I found this process very effective :) It works for us so there’s no point in changing it.
     After I go through it with the red pen, I input the changes into the computer. It’s really helpful, I find, to print it out and see it actually on paper. While I don’t know the science behind it, I know that it’s definitely good to see it on a different type of medium (i.e. paper vs computer). Not to mention, it’s easier on the eyes.
     I’m not really nervous now, but when we did the first book I was nervous the first few times I gave her my chapters, because it is a nerve wrecking thing to let someone else see your work, but you get over it. And now I really welcome (constructive) critiques because it helps me become a better writer, and I’m all for that.  There’s always room for growth :)

     

Nicole Michelle

8
Nov

Not So WoW

     

The fate of my games…collecting dust on my bookshelf :(

The fate of my games…collecting dust on my bookshelf :(

     By WoW, of course, I’m referring to World of Warcraft . Yes, Yours Truly is a closet geek. Having played since Pre-BC I had shaped two lovely level 80 characters, was running instances nightly, and, being on a PVP server, raiding the enemy faction for fun (duh). However, about two or three years ago, I made the decision to leave this wonderful world behind.
     Ultimately it was simply because between my full time job, school, and writing, I simply did not have the time, but on a deeper level I made the decision based on this: I could spend an hour (although it always seemed more like 10) playing Warcraft or I can spend it writing. I chose writing.
     From time to time I wish to go back. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s the greatest escape any man, or geek (or geek-man?) could dream of. Between its crummy (but charming) graphics, online community, plots, quests, raids, battlegrounds, and just plain fun, random, character traits (/joke, /dance, /no) the world made for an easy and delightful escape. But, then again, I had the real world to think about–real dreams to accomplish versus unlocking Achievements.
     For the longest time (perhaps even the entire two years) I had an unused game card sitting on my bookshelf next to my unopened box of Cataclysm (I had pre-ordered the game as soon as it was available, who would’ve thought it’d still be sitting unopened on my bookshelf??? Not me at the time! That’s for sure), but the thought of wasting even an hour on anything else besides writing eluded me. I ended up giving the card away for last years White Elephant (be gone temptress!) and as hard as it was to see my last hope of rekindling my love with the game (yes, I’m being dramatic), it was also a relief.
     Today happens to be the start of Blizzcon 2013 and boy are these time tough. This always brings back the nostalgia and while re-joining is a huge desire, I am more compelled to see myself as a published author. A smaller dream of mine has always been to go to Blizzcon one day, and I think in the future I might even though I no longer play the game, just to remember what the wonderful World of Warcraft (and other Blizzard games) was like.
     Often times I find myself reminiscing about the game with strong desire to see my characters again, but then I think about my characters—my real characters from my book and everything I owe them. To play WoW again would likely mean starting from the beginning since I’ve been out of practice so long and I just simply cannot extend that amount of time or investment. In the end, I know I can never go back to the World…of Warcraft, because it is simply just too great (and awesome) of a distraction.
     

Nicole Michelle
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28
Oct

A Different Kind Of Ah-z (review)

     

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     Oz at Night by Amanda J. Bradley is an interesting collection of poems to say the least.  To be honest this collection of contemporary poems wasn’t my cup of tea, but I still appreciated the poetry for what it is. For some reason it just didn’t resonate with me. It could have just been me, but I failed to find a common theme in this collection. I just kept wondering “so what?” after most of the poems. The voice in general seemed passive, and the tone was honest and blunt. I’m starting to realize that a lot of contemporary poetry share that same blunt and honest tone, which I don’t mind. It makes for a simple read.
     Collectively, I appreciated the sounds of her poems and most had a really good flow. I liked that the persona of most poems seemed androgynous. I liked that all the poems were easy to read; however, I felt like there were many poems that took too long to get to their points. For example in “The Source” the last line “Our strongest spirits / are also our most evil, / so why do we turn to them for answers?” is a very impactful line, but the whole first part of the poem doesn’t seem to connect at all to it (53).
     Many of her poems dance around the point until the end. For example, in “Catharsis” I felt like the whole first stanza could be omitted, and the second stanza would suffice for the poem: “But we, brave Oedipus, will not / wander plains in exile. The answers / we seek elude us. There is no moral / to this farce, our lives. And we / know it in our bones” (64). I love that stanza and to me that makes a better poem than keeping the first stanza, which didn’t really do anything for the reader in my opinion.
     That being said, I still appreciated the poetry for what it was. I thought in many of the poems there were good opening and closing lines. I also appreciated the many literary references, particularly to Jane Eyre and Oedipus. I also liked a lot of her spiritual/philosophical references. I enjoyed the whimsical and playful language and word play in “Fluorescence”. I liked “Growing Up With Star Wars”, but didn’t think it held much meaning behind it.
     I really enjoyed “Dropping You Off At The Train Station”, and think it’s probably my favorite from this collection. It has a great first line that draws in the reader and last line that leaves the reader with a sense of ‘ah’. It also has good movement and is a great metaphor. It just left me with a good feeling after reading it, it was very powerful to me.
     Another poem I enjoyed from this collection was “Two Poets”. I, instead, envisioned this as one poet talking to himself in his head. I thought this because this is what a conversation in a writers head looks—we’re all clueless. We just write what feels right. But I also enjoyed the astrological references in this poem. I felt like if you didn’t already know what rising and moon signs are you might be able to appreciate the poem as much, but having a good understanding in astrology it was easy to get.
     All in all, it was worth the read. Everything is worth reading at least once and it’s always good to expand your horizons.

Nicole Michelle

21
Oct

Crooked Ways

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     Guess what?? I’m finally considered published! That’s right :) Let me just say it’s a pretty cool feeling, even if it is self-published. After a lot of hard work, my friends and I have put together a collection of short stories and poems just for Halloween. They’re all horror, of course ;) Gotta stick with the theme.
     Two of my own very creepy, scary stories are in there, so if you really want to find out what each of the stories are about you gotta get a copy of Crooked Ways and check it out, along with all the other awesomely talented writers. I’m telling you they’re all amazing! But why believe me when you can find out for yourselves? :p It can be yours for the low low price of $3.99 so snag it now while you can!
     It’s very exciting seeing your work actually in print (especially just seeing your name is pretty cool haha), I gotta say. I had the most wonderful time working with the brilliant minds of the Ambage and can’t wait for the next one. Gotta give a giant shout out to Andrew Page, who compiled the collection. Thanks a bunch for inviting me to be apart of this super special collection! You rock and you’re a super brilliant writer (it’s true, I’m not just saying that—you should all read his stuff; he’s brilliant).  Anyway, I couldn’t have done it without your guidance and assistance and very helpful critiques. Thanks!

Nicole Michelle

16
Oct

Time Flies

     
     I hope you all realize that time is sooo precious. It’s the only think we continuously give up and can never get back. It’s important to never ever waste a single moment, and live every minute to the fullest. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, because you may not get that opportunity again and you never know where that change will take you. Live on the wild side for once. Be spontaneous. Don’t let time slip through your fingers as if it’s just some breeze passing by. You only get one shot at life and once your time runs out, that’s it.
     I remind myself of these things often because they’re all true. It’s important to spend time wisely, because when it comes down to it time is all we have. And, boy, does it go by fast!
     I cannot already believe it’s October. School has kept me insanely busy lately. Furthering my education has been a love-hate relationship. I love that I’m expanding my knowledge and acquiring unique skills but I really hate the BS homework assignments. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not hard, just time consuming. And I hate it because that’s time being taken away from writing.
     On a happier note, soon the Halloween collection of short stories, called Crooked Ways, which my friend Andrew Page compiled, is coming out soon. I have two short stories in it, so be sure to look out for it!
     Let’s see, what else is new…of course, I’ve been doing a lot of writing. I actually took a week off from writing the second book to revise the first book before sending it off to an agent, in case they ask for it. Wanted it to be in top shape. Other than that, I’m still querying to agents and still playing the waiting game to hear back from them (so nothing new there). Besides the long wait of hearing from agents, I’m currently very happily writing a really fun chapter for the second book. While I don’t want to give too much away, I will say there’s sparring going on (are you shocked?), but it’s something new, so therefore ergo oreo Colombo I’m having a lot of fun writing it. :D
     I’m very happy to write day in and out, and I will always write because writing is my life. It’s how I spend my time. I love it and it makes me happy. I hope you all find something that makes you happy in life, and once you find that thing never let it go, because time is too short to spend unhappily. I know I don’t want to waste time, not for a second, because time is just too precious to waste. There are more important things to do than waste away. I have dreams to chase, goals to accomplish, places to see, and books to write. And I would never imagine spending my days any differently.

Nicole Michelle

10
Oct

The Buddha in the Attic Review

     
     The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka is a spine-chilling, eye-opening tale of what it was like being a ‘picture bride’ leading up the Second World War. I found the POV very interesting, as it was in first person plural, yet effective. While I had never read an entire novel written from the collective ‘we’, Otsuka did an amazing job portraying so many stories in as little as possible.
     Her style of writing is not only beautiful, but poetic.  I was entranced by the first line and the since line after line flowed together, the read was an easy and enjoyable one. This story is rich with Japanese culture and shows the reader the true meaning of culture shock, and what these women had to do in order to adjust to their new lives in the San Francisco. It was an enlightening tale of not only the strength of women, but the fight to keep ones culture.
     One of the most telling lines of this novel, I believe, is this: “Curtains ripped. Glass shattered. Wedding dishes smashed to the floor. And we knew it would only be a matter of time until all traces of us were gone” (Otsuka 104). Us being the Japanese. I thought this was really powerful because I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like watching your culture dwindle into nothingness, as if you had never existed. It’s a very impactful part of the book.
     My favorite line of the book ties in with the title: “Haruko left a tiny laughing brass Buddha up high, in a corner of the attic, where he is still laughing to this day” (Otsuka 109). Although there is a sense of eeriness to this line, it also sparks hope into the reader, like not everything is bad. I like this line because there is history in that one item, and that item lasted over the years still molded into happiness. I like it because that brings me hope that perhaps this statue was a metaphor for the collective ‘we’ telling the story.
     I thought it was a very interesting stylistic choice to put the very last chapter of the book in the pov of non-Japanese, or, as one chapter from this book is titled, Whites. I theorize that Otsuka did this to further impact the reader that the Japanese in that area are no more. There was a theme throughout the book that Japanese were, essentially, invisible until they completely disappeared, “as is the Japanese were never here at all” (Otsuka 121). I believe by putting this last chapter not in their POV any longer it really shows that they no longer exist to tell their story.
     How could such a beautiful culture and people be forgotten so easily during these times? How could something so tragic be so beautiful? Read this book and let Julie Otsuka show you. You will see.

Nicole Michelle

Works Cited

Otsuka, Julie. Buddha in the Attic. New York: Anchor Books, 2011. Print.