Writing fiction wasn’t something Nicki set out to do; it just sort of happened when she realized writing reports was by far her favorite part of her investment consulting position. She traded stock allocation and diversification for story arcs and dialogue and now weaves her creative writing time in with the other activities of her busy life with her family in the Chicago suburbs.
Nicki writes with two goals in mind: #1 to keep the characters realistic, even when their circumstances are anything but, and #2 to make the reader feel.
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired to tell the stories of real people…er, well, rather fictional people who feel real. Each of my stories is inspired by a pivotal scene and then the rest of the story is built around that – I like to figure out how the characters got to that point and then where they go from there. The quest to find and keep love is what most drives me to spend so many hours thinking about my characters and typing out their stories.
One of the comments that pops up most often in reviews of my books is that the characters feel very real. I love that. For me, I can get into a story more if it’s believable. That doesn’t mean it can’t be in a fantasy or sci-fi setting, just that the characters react like real people.
Tell us about your writing process.
It all starts with that initial “inspiration” scene, and then I spend a lot of time letting the story play and evolve in my head. I have a rough outline of the sequence of events before I start writing my first draft. I consider myself to be a lazy plotter. The big events are laid out, but I give myself room to get creative as each chapter takes shape. I also get to know the characters more intimately while I write them. During that first draft, I’ve learned that I need to plow ahead and not spend time editing.
The second and third drafts are my favorite part of the writing process. By that time I know my characters very well and I get to slice and dice the story to fit them better. I love digging my hands into my own stories to mold, streamline, and polish.
After the third draft, I send out chapters to my wonderful critique partners. They’re so valuable because they’re not only astute, they’re honest. And they don’t just critique – they offer solutions. It helps that they’re both writers, too, and I’ve also critiqued their stories. That back and forth has made us quite in-tune with one another. Fourth and fifth drafts are all about incorporating the feedback from my crit partners.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When I first started writing, I didn’t buy into listening to my characters. I was the boss and they did what I told them. But as I’ve written more stories, I’ve opened myself up to listening to them. In WHEN IT HOOKS YOU, Cliff became a breakout character who was only meant to be a plot device. But he stepped onto the “stage” and was just so fabulous that he became much more than that. As a matter of fact, he even talked me into making him the leading man in WHEN IT HOLDS YOU.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write because you love it. If you’re going to go through the trouble of publishing your books, learn a bit about marketing and just know that you’ll have to give that side of the business some time and effort if you want readers to find your books. But don’t let discouraging sales steal your passion for writing – learn to separate the business side from the creative side. Use critical reviews to your advantage – they’re crystal balls into the souls of your genre’s readers. Take that feedback into account as you write your next book.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first foray into publishing was through small romance publishers. It was a great way for me to jump into the publishing pool because I was fairly involved in the process with my first publisher, so I learned a ton. There was also great camaraderie between the smaller set of authors and editors at that publisher so I made some great contacts and even friends.
Going with a different small romance publisher for my third book let me see the business from another perspective, and I was able to add more lessons learned to my portfolio. The concern I had about sticking with small publishers was communication. As the number of titles they took on grew, the quality of communication suffered. Instead of feeling like I was part of the process, I felt like my hands were often tied because of waiting to hear back.
Sooo, with my urban chick-lit/romance series, I’ve decided to go all-out indie. I love the freedom to make creative decisions, set publishing dates, and schedule sales and other promo. I’m glad I didn’t start out self-pubbing, though, because I didn’t have the publishing contacts, knowledge, or confidence then like I do now.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that despite the rise in e-books, there are many, many readers who’ll continue to cling to #TeamPaper.
With how easy and wonderful Amazon makes it to self-publish, there’s a glut of books out there and that glut will continue to grow. With so many authors not having to go through the paces of improving their craft in order to get published, it means it’s more and more difficult for readers to slough through the crap to find something decent. Rather than all this choice leading readers to explore new reading territories, I’m afraid the self-pubbing revolution will have the effect of making readers even more dependent on big publishers and best-seller lists to curate their reading lists.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit, Fantasy, Paranormal, Women’s Fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.