Monday, November 29, 2021

SOUL SHADOW News and Cover!

It's done! The first draft of Book 13 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is complete at just over 49,000 words. Up next--editing.

And I have a cover for Book 13. I think this conveys the internal struggle of the story about something dark and sinister. The story involves L'Ni's memories, so there's plenty of science fiction to it, but a space station or space battle might give the wrong impression of this particular story.

The plot isn't this series's typical action type of story but something more dramatic, personal, and of an internal conflict nature, which is why it's difficult to fight for such a warrior as L'Ni--the battle is taking place completely within him. (He can't fight it with his hands or weapons.) He's defied its rule, and now the creature he once called a god has found a way to attack him from within, since it can't yet breach the barrier between dimensions. It essentially is a demon.

I just hope this cover is intriguing enough for the series.

ps - The blurb was harder to write than the cover was to design, and I may still tweak it before publication.



Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Announcements - website and writing update

The new website is finished! I enjoyed the old melanienilles.com but it was based on Wordpress, which hates me. I'm surprised it lasted almost two years before breaking.

This time, I decided to get a quote from someone I know who designs and hosts websites professionally. The last designer tried to make a business of it, but couldn't. I wish him well in whatever he does. I had to pay more for the new design, but it was worth it. I hope you enjoy it too. It has all the same basic features but in a little different style. You'll notice that I've kept the same header, which I also use on this blog. The image has become my brand. I'm sticking with that. I've even adapted it to my Amazon author page profile.

It only took me... twelve years to figure it out... and finding the right image. I don't like personal photos.

The new and improved melanienilles.com is ready for your perusal.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

music suggestions for Forgotten Worlds

I've never applied it as a reader of any particular book, but as an author, music definitely has an influence on me. There's something about music that inspires, whether it's a deep, thumping bass; a lively jig; a dramatic score; something discordant and creepy; or soft and gentle. Music can affect ones emotions and inspire ideas. Its affects are well documented in studies.

As a writer, I often hear a song that connects with a particular scene or character. It has a power all its own on my creativity, igniting a focus that I can't escape.

All of my books have at some point had songs or scores that hit the right note (pun intended) with a scene or character.

In my latest series, Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds, I've found some scores along the way that kept me going, but when it came to Book 10: DRAGON AND FURY, there have been two now that really struck me. Initially, Shadowlands by Revolt Music Productions struck me as the combat games entrance of each titular fighter, the Black Dragon and the Fury.


I can't help but to picture their entrance, the pause before the fight starts, and then the beginning of their fight. It first struck me at some point while writing the book. I could see it for other possibilities too.

And then, after releasing the book, I was struck by Undefeated by Skillet.



This one too, I could see for the intense action between the combatants, but I could see this in general for many parts of the series.

And long before these, when I heard Everlasting Legacy by Really Slow Motion, I saw a trailer for the series.


Similarly, there's In Ascendance, also from Revolt Production Music. (I find the whole album to have a very action-intense/science fiction feel, but this one in particular has hooked me with the trailer feel.)


Others on my playlist that inspire me in this series include music not only from the composers I mentioned but also Two Steps from Hell, Ivan Torrent, Audiomachine, and Future World Music. There are others, but I just thought I'd share something of what I like when I'm writing this series. Two Steps from Hell is soft compared to some of the others I listed, but you hear their music in many trailers and are hearing more of these others. I've listened to these so often that I'll watch a movie trailer or hear a commercial and instantly recognize the music.

There are far more songs and compositions I could go through, but this will give you an idea of what presently inspires me in my science fiction and some of the music that really grabs me with imagining particular points in the Forgotten Worlds series, up to this point in it. I'm sure there will be others as I continue to write.

Off topic, I just have two other notes... I can say that the first draft of Book 13 is two-thirds done. It will be interesting, but I hope all the books are. I also saw a first glimpse of my new website and... WOW! I can't wait until it's ready for the big reveal.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Forgotten Worlds 13 writing update... and other updates

It's been two weeks since I posted about having started writing Book 13 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds.

I have some updates about that.

First, I feel that the title I had assigned before writing, knowing what I did of the plot, is going to fit just right. I have these plots outlined, if not fully planned out, far in advance (pretty much for the entirety of the series). However, by the time I get to a story in a series, much can change. In the books between, the characters change and some of the details are fleshed out that I didn't have while outlining. That can affect how a book planned far in advance actually plays out. However, the basic plot of this is strong enough to keep the title I had planned -- SOUL SHADOW. I could give it another title, but I feel that this is still perfect.

How do I know? I currently have a third of the first draft written (almost 15,000 words to date already) and know what needs to happen to finish this story of L'Ni's secrets and Issan secrets. I've discovered some new things, which is always exciting, although not enough to change it significantly. It's no fun trying to write a story when you know everything. Rather, the discovery of new details are what makes writing exciting. I like some surprises in writing. I will have some surprises yet in this, but I mostly know the scenes I need to write. The surprise is in those little details, such as discovering that not all Feri are considered Issan, although they all serve their god. I can't say anything more; you'll have to read why that is in the book next summer. The point is that I'm comfortable with what has been written so far that I know the title fits.

So much will be revealed in this about which I've been keeping tight-lipped since introducing the character. It's been so hard not to share things and still is. I want to talk about him so badly! And I still can't until sometime after I publish this, to give readers a chance to discover for themselves. But there are some bigger secrets that won't even be revealed until several books later than this.

Sorry, I like to tease. I am terrible at keeping secrets, which is why I'm kind of glad this series hasn't gained a big following at this time, because I'm not talking to anyone about it except on this blog, where I can edit my thoughts. If I actually spoke about it (rather that wrote my thoughts), I would surely slip up and give away one of those big secrets. So, there is a good thing about having a small audience so far. After those big secrets get revealed, I'll be ready for a bigger audience, because I'll be able to talk about it more openly.

Back to SOUL SHADOW... The other challenge will be finding a cover image for this, because ninety percent of the book takes place in L'Ni's memories. Those cover a variety of events throughout his life, even some from this series since his joining Nya and the others. But like the other books, I'll find images that embody some key piece of the story. I'll figure that out once I get closer to the end.

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WEBSITE UPDATE

Now, onto something else... My website isn't working right. I updated something in Wordpress a few weeks ago, and the carousels broke. The pages are there, but the carousel with all the covers linked to the book pages are gone. I've hired a new web developer to remake the site completely. I had to pay a bit more than I wanted, but it will be worth it. I hope to have that ready soon to announce. I haven't yet seen the first iteration and it will probably require some tweaking before it's fully ready to announce, so it could be a few more weeks.

In the meantime, most of my books are listed on series pages on this blog, so you can find details here. Unfortunately, this blogspot theme and others I like don't have room for tabs for every series, so not all of my books are listed.

I'll announce the new website when it's ready. I'm excited for some new features. I'm considering a newsletter option from the website so that readers can subscribe and unsubscribe for announcements. I'll definitely have a feed to my blog so that you can see a tease of the blog posts right from my website. Aside from that, it'll continue to feature all of my series and individual books. For me, it'll have a great backend for easy updates. I'm familiar with the web developer's site management tools, which is why I know it'll be worth the price of development and annual maintenance. I just can't quit my day job, which is how I'm familiar with the web developer.

Stay tuned for the new website announcement.

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OTHER BOOKS

Once I finish writing book 13, I'll go back and finish edits on book 11, VOICES IN THE DARK and publish that. I hope to publish it in January 2022, but it depends on life and how well the words flow for book 13. (So far, so good, but there can be slow spells in writing or life events, which can all cause delays.)

Let me know what you think of the series so far. I'm always eager to know if readers have questions that I need to answer in upcoming books. I try to imagine what might be important but I'm too immersed to really see it from the outside. I know too much as the writer.

What did you think of the latest, DRAGON AND FURY?

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

It has begun... again

 Since DRAGON AND FURY was published, I read again through Books 11 and 12.

A couple of days ago, I started writing Book 13. I now have the first chapter already written and am on the way to revealing L'Ni's backstory. I'm excited. I've known some of it since I introduced him but not all of it. I've been dying to share it but had to hold off, especially when he revealed the fact that he felt betrayed by his own people in Book 6. Now, I get to tell his story and reveal much more about the Feri in the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series.

I hope you're as excited as I am. This is going to be an interesting ride!

Now, if someone could just help me get his cat out of my lap...

Monday, October 4, 2021

website woes

My website broke. Typical... I allowed an update to an add-on and now the carousels with the books are broken. Such is my luck when it comes to websites.

So, I am going to have a new site created and hosted in a different format. It will take time, but until then, maybe I can figure out how to get the carousels working again.

Or not.

Whether I do or not, melanienilles.com won't be down long, I hope. I will have a new site soon with a new look. Most of my books are also listed here through the tabs on this blog, although not with links to the stores. You'll have to search on Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and other retailers to find my books.

Something I might consider in the future is to make my books for sale through my website. It won't happen right away. I'll have to evaluate the benefits and difficulties of making that happen before I decide if that's something I want to do. But it is a possibility.

So, if you dare to visit my site, you won't see all the books right now. I don't know how to fix it and don't have the skills or the time to fix it myself. I'd rather pay someone who knows what they're doing, instead of messing it up further.

Back to work on the next books.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Cover reveal - Book 12

Since finishing Book 12 of Forgotten Worlds, I have been debating on the title. My mind has been a pendulum of swinging between the title I had or coming up with something else. My original title idea was MESSAGES, but I realized there are many different aspects of this book. It covers such a wide swath of characters, giving greater "screen time" to minor characters than I have in other books.

It centers around a derelict slave ship with a horror on board killing the crew and prisoners. The slavers are a nasty species that serve the Issan. In fact, they sell the many species they capture to work as slaves on Issan projects. But they found something that they don't understand, and it destroys them and damages their vessel. Only after they answer the distress call and start rescuing prisoners does Nya's team discover the dark threat on board. There's a bit of a horror element to this with a twist appropriate to the series.

So, I considered all the angles of the story thinking of other title possibilities. In the end, I think my original title is best--MESSAGES.

I had the cover image long ago, so I adapted the alien ship description to the image. I've had writer friends find pre-made covers that inspired them to write stories to fit those covers. It makes things easier in some ways, especially when it can be hard to find the right cover to an existing story (character, setting, starships, etc.). In writing to fit the image, I didn't have to try to describe to an artist what I imagined. Instead, I could adapt my description to what an artist has already imagined. I did that also with a couple of past books in this series. This was too gorgeous of an image not to use, so I made sure I had a description that matched.

So, until I can announce the publication of Book 10, here is the cover reveal of Book 12:


I expect this to be published sometime after the new year, probably around spring 2022.

Now, I'm finishing up edits of Book 10, DRAGON AND FURY, which I hope to announce with purchase links before next weekend.

COMING SOON:



AVAILABLE NOW: 











Saturday, September 11, 2021

the bane of a long series

I just realized the addiction that all sff writers must have, which I am calling MSUAIG (Making Stuff Up As I Go, although the "S" could be a certain 4-letter word). I have spent this morning checking through the previous 9 books of the Forgotten Worlds series and realizing how much I didn't add to my series wiki (aka series bible) that I should have in there for when I have questions. I have also realized that I need to break it into some new categories because it has grown to be too much for simple alphabetizing. I knew this would happen but not to this degree.

Fictional worlds with your own made up stuff can get tangled with details of other fictional worlds we've enjoyed, and keeping that straight is like untangling delicate necklaces that were thrown into a box and shook up. (If you've ever experienced that, you know what a frustration it is to untangle.) It's also why I can't read much of other books or watch much television other than news/nonfiction when I'm in a project like this. I can only do that when I'm taking a break or it gets jumbled.

At some point, the MSUAIG catches up and I have too much stuff to manage easily. I need to make the time to organize it better now that it's grown so enormous. I only have half this series written and it's already a monster to manage. I hope that I can keep everything consistent, which was why I was checking through the past books. There are some small formatting inconsistencies, but nothing major, at least nothing major that jumped out at me. That's also why I make notes about certain details that don't fit neatly into any category.

Nevertheless, I am doing my best to stay on top of those details. I am a stickler for it, but I am nowhere near perfect. I would need a photographic memory to keep track of everything perfectly all the time. Since I don't have a perfect memory, I'll just have to keep making time to skim back over the series before I finish new books. This is partly why each new book is taking longer to finish...because I worry about details.

I am constantly worrying about names of people and places and numbers--did I already mention Nik's siblings besides Tatiana (Tia)? Did I mention previously how long Ann was captain or how long Simms was her first officer? I also worry about uniforms and descriptions and sayings--What expression would a Paxon use for frustration? (that I can remember pretty easily--Cursed Issan!)... and that's just a drop in the bucket of details I worry about.

You get the idea. Details like these are difficult to keep on track, but there are many minor details that worry me, perhaps even more so because they more easily slip by.

I am working hard on the final edits of Book 10 in the hopes of publishing later this month. This is but a small part of the editing process, and usually after I've managed the major factors of the story. However, it is very important to me to the point that, if you find any inconsistencies, please contact me. There may be a logical reason for something seeming to be inconsistent, but it could also be that no one else caught the mistake.


Coming soon!
 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

unraveling the explanations opens opportunities

I have a lot of fun figuring out the logical side of explaining my fictional worlds. I leave so much out of my books, although I try to offer some minimal explanations to at least give the reader a better understanding of what things are. That's the trick of making up science fiction and fantasy worlds--keeping the science/magic plausible, whether that involves ecosystems, governments, magic systems, or even the technology of a starship. The balancing act is not boring the readers.

I was just thinking about something today. I had already figured out how the shield systems worked on the starships and the limitations of those systems, but I hadn't quite unraveled how Vel and Shen are able to recalibrate the shields of the Iludrin to withstand more than their standard limitations. In THE DESTRUCTION OF WALLS, I came up with a way for them to hold out against the Issan, but I let the technical explanation go without too much thinking. I had a vague idea and didn't get into any great detail.

In book 12, they're at it again with shield systems. Again, I hadn't given it much consideration how. I just knew that these two--a skilled mechanic and an educated engineer (and expert in inter-dimensional physics)--would make it happen since they had already come up with the method in book 5.

Today, exactly how that worked opened to me. It was there but never fully realized until now. Learning this reminds me of how excited I was when I came up with the whole ecosystem of Inar'Ahben back when I was writing STARFIRE ANGELS, the very first book of the Starfire Angels series (or, rather, when I was writing its predecessor, which was rewritten into SA). Follow the logic and the answers will reveal themselves. It all makes perfect sense to me.

Now, I know exactly what Vel and Shen are doing. It's pretty detailed and I may use it one day if Vel ever feels like divulging that in thoughts or dialogue, but for now, It's a nice chunk of page in my growing Forgotten Worlds wiki file. Someday, I may reveal that too, but for now, it's my series bible with everything I need to know about characters, species, worlds, technology, ships, history, militaries, events, and even synopses for the books to come, as well as other details and clips from what is already written. (I'm always updating it.)

With half the series now written, it's a lot of detail to track and the document is only going to grow. (48 pages total with 29 pages of detailed references of this universe, and counting. The other pages are the synopses of books to come, some rather lengthy, or ideas not fully developed.)

I now have a deeper understanding of how shield systems work in my FW universe, one more logical explanation so that I can keep the tech consistent throughout the series. And I may use what I've developed to create another problem for the characters at some point. (Cue the maniacal laughter of a writer enjoying the creation of difficulties for their characters.)

The better that you can logically explain things, the more plausible the situations of the characters in that setting will be. Also, you'll have far more tools at your disposal to create challenges for your characters to overcome, and isn't that the fun of reading--to cheer on your favorite characters to success over whatever challenges or conflicts they face?

I now have a better understanding of what can go wrong when shield systems are tampered with, and that is giving me ideas... 😈

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Forgotten Worlds Book 12 ... DONE!

It is done, or at least the first draft is done. The first draft of Book 12 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is done around 45,000 words.

Technically it's not done done, but it was only a few lines from done when I decided to change a detail about the final battle which would eliminate the final scene I was writing. I had an idea while walking (walking, showering, or driving--always the times when those "Aha!" moments hit). I realized that I had introduced something early on that was not fully utilized.

It was brilliant! I had introduced a piece of the puzzle without realizing it. I love when that happens.

As L'Ni tells Nya, "Use everything."

The best part is that this book means that I'm about halfway done with the entire series. I expect it to be 24-25 books. I keep getting inspired with more ideas, but I don't want to stretch it out too much. It is so much fun to write, though!

Now, I need to rewrite that space battle scene and figure out a new final scene. Then I get to read through and rewrite and add in whatever else I feel the story needs.

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Only then will I go on to finish editing Book 10 for a September release. Watch for more to come on DRAGON AND FURY!



Thursday, August 5, 2021

almost done

Book 12 of the Forgotten Worlds series has proven to be a challenge to write, but I have persisted. I enjoy this series and am eager to write certain parts of it, which distracts me from what I am currently writing. There will always be challenges in writing. Focusing on the same characters over such a long haul is one of the hardest, except that as my life changes, they ware also changing throughout their adventures.

The story is currently at 33K words or 3/4 to my end goal word count, the minimum to be categorized as a novel (40,000 words according to SFWA standards). I want to keep these in the short novel size. This hasn't been my best progress since I last checked in almost a month ago, but I'm making progress. Every book has its difficulties. I knew that when I started, this story would be tricky. It had a purpose assigned before the story came. I'd rather write a story and let the purpose find itself. Writing within a tight frame is a challenge for me. I've also had to deal with some other things that made it hard to focus at times, but I keep going.

Part of what has made this difficult is being anxious for the next two books. Actually, there are a number of books I dearly look forward to writing in this series, but there are some expected events that are particularly distracting. I can't wait to reveal things to you readers, but it wouldn't be any fun to ruin the surprises. I have only revealed what I can without giving those "Aha!" moments away. Many seeds for what's to come were planted early in the series. Secrets will be revealed and your patience will be rewarded.

For now, you can rest assured that I almost have the first draft of book 12 done.

ps--This book will require a lot of editing after the first draft, but at least I will have a first draft. You can't edit nothing. Before editing this, however, I will be working on the final edits of DRAGON AND FURY (book 10) to publish in September. Some big changes are coming in book 10!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Still here

It's been a while since I posted, so I thought I'd provide a little update.

I'm still writing. Book 12 of the Forgotten Worlds series is proving to be a difficult one to write. With the series growing, plotlines get a little more complicated, and with new characters, there are some new complications of relationships.

I also had some personal events that had me stressed out for a while that also made it hard to focus on writing, but those are resolving.

And I discovered some nutritional issues that I had to deal with. (I know that's not correct grammar, but sometimes grammar is dull. I'm a writer. I write in modern vernacular for the sake of style and voice.)

I'm hoping with those issues settling down that I'll be able to pick up the pace on writing. In the meantime, enjoy your summer!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Latest updates

I'm done with the latest rounds of edits and back to writing.

After finishing FERIOUS and publishing, I went through DRAGON AND FURY and VOICES IN THE DARK once more, reworking some things and leaving others for the next editing rounds. This series is evolving and with these new books, I find myself looking back to the previous books for details that I forgot to note in my growing wiki file. And sometimes, I just go back to refresh myself on some things. It's interesting to see how characters have changed.

I'm writing Book 12 at this time. I had a difficult time getting started after being in editing mode for too long and then having life get in the way. Ideas were also short and Book 12 has to achieve a certain purpose in moving the series forward in specific aspects with the new characters that came in Book 11 (VITD). Plotting out a story with a specific goal like I have has been a challenge. I like to let the story flow before seeing what I can fit in, but in this case, I have to plot a story around a specific goal ahead of seeing how the story will flow. It's hard to explain without giving anything away, but you'll have to trust me on this. It's a transition to what I have planned for Book 14. I'm not skipping 13, but that one has a specific focus that won't really be affected by my goal for 12. Again, hard to explain without giving anything away.

Now, I hope the life stuff will settle down so I can focus on the writing side again. Book 12 had some details that had to be hammered out in the opening to set up the action for the rest of the story. I tried different angles until finding the right one for one scene and then the right details for another scene. That also gave me ideas of other scenes that could play out. The new idea also ties it into the main series a little more instead of being just a filler story, which was the original plan. It will be a story of character development with some horror elements. I'm not a fan of horror, but I had an idea for this of an unseen threat and people disappearing or ending up dead and boogeymen in the shadows.

I've said before on this series that it is allowing me creative freedom to try different ideas. I have tried different non-linear story formats (DISPOSITION OF DREAMS and FERIOUS) and different plots. I'm going to try something on the suspense-horror side for Book 12. I hope readers enjoy the variety in this series. I still have a lot planned. I'm barely halfway through the series and there's so much yet to explore.

To know when the next book is out, be sure to sign up for updates from this blog or follow my Amazon author page.

We are up to 9 published books in the series with Book 10 coming out in the fall. Catch up on Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds today!

More information can be found starting with Book 1, A NEW BEGINNING, at http://melanienilles.com/home/books-by-title/starfire-angels/forgotten-worlds/a-new-beginning-fw-1/ .











Coming Fall 2021



Coming early 2022



Sunday, May 30, 2021

FERIOUS publication!

It's done! The wait is over! FERIOUS has been uploaded and is disseminating to retailers as you read this. What a furious pace in editing! This one was a killer for me to edit--so many complications in this one. However, after initially thinking I was done yesterday and accidentally posting this announcement before I was ready, I can now announce that Book 9 of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten World series is definitely ready for your reading enjoyment. (Now, I'm on to writing book 12.)



Nya has discovered a new secret about the Issan plans, and L'Ni isn't about to let the opportunity for key intel slip away from them. Meeting a contact with the information they need to fight the Issan is risky, but it's a risk that everyone on the Cartegos is willing to take.

The mission leads them to a desolate world that is host to an exchange outpost serving the Issan. Getting in is easy, but finding the Dirnothril contact and getting out with the information attracts trouble. The Duras outpost is a dangerous place, and L'Ni isn't about to leave anyone behind.
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And as a teaser, here are some of the events coming a few books in the future of the series (without giving anything away):

* L'Ni's background will be revealed in Book 13.
* Nya will return to her homeworld at some point. I don't know about you, but I really want Leksel and L'Ni to meet! (I have no idea how I gave them both "L" names, honestly. It's pure coincidence.)
* I had an excellent idea for a setting that does not fit in with the usual places of this series. That's going to be a fun change.

I could say so much more, but these are just a few of the exciting things I have planned at this time. I can't tell you much else right now without revealing key points or giving away details that readers will need to figure out for themselves. Or there are plots that I'm not sure of yet, so I don't want to say anything. I would like to do more with certain characters but am not sure how those stories would develop, so I can't really say anything about that either.

FERIOUS is only book 9. I have finished the first draft of book 11 and am now going into writing book 12, which is about halfway through the series, although it could go longer. I keep getting plot ideas for new stories within the framework of my series plot, side stories and main action stories.  You'll have to trust that I have a lot of excitement planned yet for Nya and her friends.

Book 10: DRAGON AND FURY, will be available in the fall.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Writing mechanics 101

I was chatting with someone new to writing recently and it got me thinking about some of the best writing advice I've learned over the years, especially when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. This person had already mastered most of the grammar and word choice issues (active vs. passive tense verbs) and sentence structure.

Too many writers who have never hired an editor write stiffly, mechanically, and passively. It's cringey (at least to me). It's why I gave up on critique sites--too many beginners with good ideas who don't know how to manifest those ideas into readable text. The best way to write well is to read good writing. Critiquing bad writing is like only breaking colts--until you work on the refinement of writing (training), you will never be a truly good writer (rider). I learned that in my writing and by training intensely in dressage in my riding. (Top riders only ride horses that have reached a certain level, because it keeps their refined skills sharp; versus those who only start horses and never get to practice and feel the very subtle and delicate balance of more advanced horses.)

The lesson there is: hire a professional editor, at least a few times, so that you can learn what you don't know, especially about your own writing. If you can learn to self-edit, that's great, but having someone else at least get you going down the road to better writing puts you many steps ahead in your skills (like I did with hiring an editor early in my writing career who made a huge difference in teaching me better writing that critique amateurs weren't helping me learn, and then again with dressage in regular lessons to teach me what I needed to do to improve my skills training my horse beyond the basics).

One thing that my early hiring of a professional editor taught me is to use all the senses, where they apply anyway. (That poor editor suffered through my awful early writing, bless her heart.) It adds color to a scene to experience more than what you see happening. Try writing a scene in the dark as a test. Our other senses are enhanced when we can't rely on what we see. With your characters, you'll have to think about what they experience in their other senses when they can't see. This is a good way to get into practice. Or write about a meal setting. Whatever it takes to get into practice and start thinking about all the other senses beyond sight will help you begin to help your characters experience the world more fully and immerse your readers.

However, don't use sense verbs (feel, hear, see, smell, taste) but describe something in a way that stands out. Instead of saying something like "She felt cold." try "The cold bit down to her bones."

That leads me to the next point in enhancing your writing. The most basic advice is to write in an active voice as much as possible and minimize the passive voice. Initially, newbie writers will take this to the extreme of NO passive voice, but that's not the case. It should be pretty easy to understand why this is such a big rule, especially in fiction. Active voice adds flavor to the writing and, in close third and first person, can define a character. "The sun burned down upon him." sounds a lot better than "the sun was hot and bright." Passive voice has its place, but use it sparingly. It's dry and dull. Your writing should jump off the page, but too much of that jumping desensitizes the reader for that turn of phrase that should really catch them. That's why I don't condemn passive voice. It has its place. Mix it up, but learn to do it in the right way so that the points that you want to emphasize stand out.

Dialogue is not narrative. Narrative is the author telling the reader what's going on, but dialogue is the character telling the reader indirectly in their conversations with other characters. The writing of dialogue should reflect the character's personality, not the author's. Listen to how people talk. Rarely do we speak in grammatically perfect sentences. We all make mistakes. However, on the page, you want to minimize that. The littlest hint of some of our spoken mistakes is enough to give flavor to a conversation or character.

Dialogue adds layers in other ways, too. Word choice of a particular character can make them stand out. And there are also the pronunciations. In science fiction and fantasy, I sometimes have a species whose language doesn't have certain sounds (the way German doesn't have the "th" sound, for instance) or has certain ways of pronouncing things (like a native French speaker versus a native English speaker--very different when trying to pronounce each other's words).

(Dialogue is so much more, but others have explained it well already. For instance, dialogue can imply or infer to the reader what's happening in action so that less narrative is needed.)

When it comes to setting, the reader only knows what's on the page. That doesn't mean go overboard and put in every single detail, but it does mean, especially in science fiction and fantasy, that you need to explain some things. How you do that without info-dumping is the trick. Sometimes you can't get away from explaining something, but doing it in appropriate places, such as where the character is thinking about it, and keeping it as short as possible, will help move the writing forward. Info-dumping slows the story and can turn off readers. However, not being able to imagine your fantastical world can also turn off readers, because they will be lost. Some things you can get away with implying, especially with readers who have read extensively in the genre. However, never assume all readers will know; any reader could be reading your book as their first foray into your genre. The best way to handle this is to keep it to just one or two sentences where you can when something is introduced for the first time.

On those lines, the same goes for sprinkling in background details or the history necessary to understand some points in a story.

Last of all, everything can be fixed in editing. The more perfect you think your work is, the more work it likely needs in edits. In the beginning stages, you will think you have the next bestseller, but too often that arrogance will blind you to the immensity of flaws. Step back, put it aside, work on something else, and give yourself time away. When you go back to that wonderful story, the veneer will be gone. Stepping out of the story will give you a chance to see it as an outsider would. You'll see it for what it really is. Then, you'll be ready to tackle all the flaws and give it the polish it needs. It's that time and mental distance from a work that will allow you to have the perspective you need to be objective about it.

At some point, you're going to get good at writing and begin to see how far you've come. You'll refine the work in ways you hadn't thought possible. At that point, you want to keep editing and keep refining, because you'll have been humbled into realizing that it could always be better. Know when to quit. Don't over-edit. You can ruin your voice and turn a bright, exciting story dull. No one is perfect.

Writing is an art form. It takes time and practice to become a master of the tools of the trade. 



Friday, April 23, 2021

Cover reveal - Forgotten Worlds Book 11

I have a cover for Book 11 and a title that I love. That working title I had was dull, lifeless, and DOA.

But the right title came to me just as it describes itself. It suits the story perfectly! - VOICES IN THE DARK


Based on my current publishing schedule, you'll see this one in the winter, probably around the holidays. I'm so excited at how the cover and the story turned out, but it does need editing as the real theme of this developed into something the series needed. In fact, I was worried that I wouldn't reach the minimum novel length of 40,000 words, but it will. This story transitions from stuff I can't specify right now in Book 10 (DRAGON AND FURY) to what will come by Book 14.

And, I have a title and cover for Book 12 already! Well, I sort of had the cover early on in the series but wasn't sure which book it would fit. Book 12 will be less focused on the main series and more on developing relationships with new characters. And then Book 13 will reveal L'Ni's background. If you've been waiting for his secrets, hang on; it's coming.

I am still loving this series, especially when each book takes me on a different type of adventure. Each book also builds on what has come before and I do have a series climax in mind. I have a series outline and my series wiki file to keep me on track, so this is going somewhere. Stick with me. I may slow down in writing at times but I am determined to fulfill the many plotlines of this series in a satisfying finale; we still have a long ways to go.

Thanks for reading!

Available Now:









Coming late spring 2021:


Coming fall 2021:


Coming winter 2021:




Monday, April 12, 2021

unlocking potential

Writing is a puzzle, as I posted on my MeWe page. You don't usually have the pieces in the right order, but once sections begin to take form, it gets easier to put the rest of the remaining pieces together.

That happens with every single story. Each has its own spirit, based on the events that take place, which are due sometimes to outside forces but, more often than not, the character's thoughts and actions. The author is the transcriptionist.

More often than not, we will stew on a conundrum or piece that isn't fitting right, and not until we look from a different angle do we see the hidden picture, like a stereogram.


Can you see it?

That's how writing is sometimes. You don't always see the picture right away, but there are details that come up and then the picture jumps out at you.

I was thinking today about one of the characters in my Forgotten Worlds series. When he landed into IN DARKNESS, LIGHT, L'Ni was that key that made the whole picture of the series jump out at me. If anyone wonders why he became so prominent, it's because he was the missing piece that brought it all together. Up to that point, which was still early in my series, I still hadn't figured out how some things were going to fit together. Then he appeared and, in the process of learning about his character, I realized he was the answer to a lot of things, but his appearance also changed some plotlines I had outlined and added a LOT. 

So, I have been dropping hints of his potential along the way but do plan to reveal his full background in either book 12 or 13. Sorry for those who want it sooner, but it has to fit in the right place in the series. L'Ni is tight-lipped and stubborn and hasn't been cooperating, so I'm going to force him to reveal his secrets.

I am still planning at least 24 books, although that could expand a little.

I am almost done with Book 11 right now and just had another piece come to me while laying in bed before having to get up for work today. I had felt like something was missing and that I wasn't challenging the characters enough. Then I realized what it needed and am inserting that this afternoon.

These pieces don't always come together in order or when we would like them to fall into our laps as writers, but when they do, it's like manna from heaven for the creative spirit.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Writing status

 I have been making good progress on Forgotten Worlds Book 11. As of this post, the first draft is currently about two-thirds finished. It's a little shorter than I would like, but that's all right. I expect this one to be around 35,000 words (novella length), the shortest of the books to date. If my current writing pace can hold up, I could easily finish this before the end of April. But something always seems to come up, so no promises. That's why I'm not doing pre-orders.

I also have a tentative title but could change it. At the moment, the working title is simply THE CAVE. After a hasty escape from Paxons with damage to the hyperdrive of the Cartegos, Nya and her friends learn that there's more damage than Vel and Shen can repair from the inside. They need to get outside to fix it properly. That means a planet with an atmosphere--Shen doesn't do spacewalks and Vel would like to avoid it if he can. Nya finds a world with a Starfire shard that is uninhabited by intelligent life and uses her power to create a portal there. While she and L'Ni track down the shard inside a labyrinth of a cave system, Vel and Shen get to work. But they soon discover that the world is a dangerous place full of wild animals that would just as soon maul them or gore them. They'll have to make some decisions about how to proceed with repairs, while Nya and L'Ni make some discoveries inside the cave and have their own troubles. The Starfire shard won't be as easy to reach as Nya had hoped.


That's not the official description but it is a start. After I finish this, I'll return to Book 9--FERIOUS--to finish edits and publish that. I know I need a description for DRAGON AND FURY (Book 10) as well. I'll work on that after I finish edits on FERIOUS. 

I hope you're enjoying the series so far. I have it outlined and planned out. I still end up with some surprises--L'Ni was a surprise arrival that became a link for a lot of things I had planned early on but wasn't sure how they would fit together until I met him. There is so much that I can't wait to reveal! Read carefully, because I do drop hints along the way.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading.

For more frequent updates, you can follow my author page on Amazon or join my MeWe page, my only social media location.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

FW Book 11 update

I haven't posted for a few weeks, but I had some health issues that made writing a bit of a slog most of that time. Nevertheless, Book 11 of Forgotten Worlds is making progress, especially since I figured out what I needed to regain my concentration. I've had enough health issues that I've researched since hitting middle age that I have an extensive enough knowledge to pretty much pinpoint what I need. Once again, I hit that, although it took a tiny bit of experimenting with supplements to hit on the right one. After a period of going off supplements that work, I start forgetting things, like what works. After a few trials of off and on with consistent results, I can pretty much say without lots of expensive medical tests that I likely have a second autoimmune disease. 😔

Despite all that, I have managed some good writing on Book 11. I had started out with a first chapter that was more in the line of getting back into writing and getting some thoughts out of the way that really didn't need to be there. It was helpful, however, to have written them out. And it was easy to remove that first chapter, although it shaved off half my word count at the time, since I had two chapters done. The book starts out into the real story now.

After all that and continuing to write, I have the word count over 10,000 words presently and, as usual with this series, my aim is to reach 40,000, the minimum to be considered novel length. Therefore, it is about a quarter done of the expected length, although that can vary a little.

Now that I've set up the story, I hope to pick up the pace. I can't promise any time frame, but that's why I no longer set these up for pre-order. My life can get a bit complex, and I don't want to miss any deadlines or sacrifice editing to my satisfaction.

Once I finish this book, I will finish edits on Book 9, FERIOUS, and publish that when it's ready. I expect it to be around early June, just in time for summer reading.

The series is about a third published for what I have planned. Thanks for sticking with it. I have some surprises coming--some hinted along the way and some out of the blue. One event in Book 10 even took me by surprise, a little. It wasn't totally unexpected, but I hadn't fully committed to what took place until it was written.

Anyway, that's all I can say without giving too much away. You'll just have to keep watching for Book 9 to come when it's ready this spring. I will expect to release book 10 in the fall, after writing Book 12. The adventure continues!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

If you like a book...

When you enjoy a good book, a simple rating or even a review are appreciated by the author as much as your continued reading. This is a simple way of showing your appreciation for the entertainment that the writer provided. Doing so helps promote the author's work to other readers. It's simple to click the stars. We all strive for 5, but we know we can't please everyone.

Adding a review is a bonus. Reviews can provide your thoughts on what worked in a story or what didn't. They can be one sentence or several paragraphs, although it is considered a courtesy to include a big SPOILER ALERT heading if you giveaway key details that readers may not want to know in advance. Many readers know this, but there are always new readers reviewing their first books in their enthusiasm who may not.

I enjoy product reviews for my own evaluations before buying, but in books, I don't like to know too much. And when it comes to stories, what one person finds distasteful may be candy to another. I look for certain details in stories, just as others do. Some details are helpful, but you have to use your best judgment of what to tell potential readers.

Please consider a rating (and possibly reviewing) after finishing a book, especially one that you enjoyed. Other readers appreciate this, and so do authors. It's a simple way to say "Thank you!"

Sunday, February 21, 2021

AVAILABLE NOW! Racing the Orast Belt

This is a fun piece of writing, if I say so myself; but I enjoy each of these books.


After all that Nya has endured since taking on the Starfire's mission, seeing the famous Orast Belt space racing up close is exactly the break she needs. Unfortunately, trouble is never far away. When a criminal organization decides to take the chance on collecting a bounty, not even L'Ni can stop them from taking her. What Nya's captors don't anticipate, however, are her flying skills and the persistence of her friends. The race is on, and there can be only one winner.

Available now for $2.99 from the following ebook retailers and others:


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Forgotten Worlds Book 8... coming VERY soon!

If you've given up on me, don't. I'm still here. I've been working very hard to put the final touches on RACING THE ORAST BELT. 

I'm glad I didn't list this as a pre-order. As I've learned, I sometimes need more editing than anticipated. The books will never be perfect, but I do my best to keep things consistent and to clean them up to be smooth reads.

It's pretty close to completion, and once it's done to my satisfaction, it will be available for purchase. I expect to publish it this upcoming week, so stay tuned for that update. I'll post when I have most of the purchase links, which takes a few days once I upload the manuscript.

I probably won't be doing any more pre-orders. The crunch can get to be too tight if life gets in the way. I write every book myself, which is the reason for the long wait between each book. I do not use ghost writers. I love my characters and my worlds and am doing this for the love of the creative process above all else.

I have finished Book 10, DRAGON AND FURY, and already have an outline for Book 11. Book 9, FERIOUS, is on deck waiting for its polishing rounds. I hope to publish that in late spring.

Stay with me. I am going to see this series to the end, and it's not halfway done yet.


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Dragon and Fury

I haven't been posting much here and have had some distractions, but I have finished the rough draft of Book 10 of Forgotten Worlds. Right now, I have a title but no cover. I have not found the right image for this one and am hoping to work with an artist to create the right image to suit this.

If you go back to the end scene of Book 5, you'll see mention of the Hormaki Battle Games. Well, this is just one of the many tournaments of Battle Games in this series. Ann is a fan, so I'll just say it was fun to "watch" it unfold. The Battle Games are little American Gladiator and a little UFC with weapons and only two rules really--no killing and no outside weapons allowed. It's a gladiator sport without the intentional killing, although broken bones, cuts, falls, etc. can happen and some fighters have died. It's brutal but there are also some areas of the arena with obstacles, and different weapons are available. This is what I would like to have on the cover, but since it's pretty specific, I can't find a stock image to match.

Now that I'm giving it a run-through post finish, it's fun to watch that whole part of the book unfold. I say watch because I can sit back and enjoy the show. It doesn't feel like reading but like I'm in the arena watching the exciting fight. I'm done with the first round of writing but am rewriting anything that stands out. The purpose in this is to get an idea of how it flows to determine what major rewrites may be needed. I will then go on to editing book 8, RACING THE ORAST BELT, after this round on book 10 and set up the pre-order for that. I'll return to book 10 again before moving on. I am still developing the story line for book 11.

And, as the subject line of this post states, the title of Forgotten Worlds #10 is DRAGON AND FURY.

Ann's plan to escape from her Paxon responsibilities presents some difficulties. And there are risks that endanger the intrepid group of friends helping Nik to finally meet the woman of his dreams.

If you are interested in the series, you can find more information on this blog under the "Forgotten Worlds" tab or visit your preferred ebook retailer online and search for M.A. Nilles.

1/28/21 edit: I have found an image that is suitable for this, although not what I would prefer with custom art to really capture the idea behind this. It is hard to find the right artist and my usual go-to cover artist is busy.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Update on Forgotten Worlds

I just have a little writing update for today, the 2nd of January, 2021. I can't believe it's 2021. It will take some time to get used to that. I saw online a meme that said something like "I can't believe that after 2020, we move onto saying 2020 won." Not quite the full meme, but you get the gist of it.

Anyway, starting out the new year, the writing is going well. I have a title for Forgotten Worlds Book 10--DRAGON AND FURY. As of today, it has passed 33,000 words, so very close to the finish since these books range from 40K-50K words, and I expect this to not be much past the minimum 40K word length. So far, so good for writing. I hope it keeps up this well so I can finish sooner than later. (I don't want to jinx myself again by getting overly optimistic.) Once I finish the first draft, I'll figure out a publication date for Book 8, RACING THE ORAST BELT, and post the pre-order availability on that. Fingers crossed I can set that date by mid-February.

The first 7 books of this series are available now. The current books available are listed in order below:

A NEW BEGINNING

THE RULE OF YONDER

VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS

IN DARKNESS, LIGHT

THE DESTRUCTION OF WALLS

DISPOSITION OF DREAMS

REMNANTS

You can find more on the Forgotten Worlds tab of this blog or on my website at melanienilles.com. For more frequent updates, join my page at MeWe at https://mewe.com/p/melanienillesauthor.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Welcome 2021!

It could get worse than 2020 but I'm an optimist and look forward to a 2021 that will be better than the past year.

I woke up to heavy fog this morning, which has, as of these pictures at 11 am, lightened enough to see more than a few feet away.




The crystalline glow of hoarfrost is always a beautiful remnant of winter fog. Once the fog lifts, that hoarfrost will sparkle and glisten, creating a magical surrealism over the world... until it melts off. It's a beautiful start to the new year!

I'm also glad we finally have snow on the ground. The second half of 2020 was drought for my area. Water tables have lowered and water dugouts for livestock are nearly depleted.  We finally received this snow a few days ago. While it's not enough, we'll take it. It was enough for the kids to have some sledding fun.

And inside, I have been growing this over the past month:

Two tomato plants starting to bud.

I had to put plastic around it because one of our kitties took to chewing off the leaves and killed one sprout and nearly two others. Those two, with regular watering quickly shot up to over three feet tall from the soil surface to the top and continues. I think these tomatoes love their mini-greenhouse made of that heavy-duty plastic. At least, they love not having a cat chew on them, and so do I.

Tomato greens can be toxic to cats, but Jack, being Jack, never showed signs of discomfort that we could see. He's our dog-cat. He eats everything, so we have to be careful. We did plant some kitty grass for him in a little potter after he went after the young tomato plants, and he LOVED that! Unfortunately, he also pooped out grass, which doesn't digest and caused him to have poop hanging from his butt. 🙁

Jack with his special cat grass (wheat, rye, barley mix)

Such is life here. We should have fresh tomatoes by the end of the month and will soon start some more indoor veggies. I hope Jack doesn't chew on those... cauliflower, radishes, and spearmint. I may even plant a head or two of lettuce if I have enough room in front of the the deck doors.

So, we're keeping an indoor garden. In one of the pictures above, you can see our regular garden plot. We've been taking out food waste to compost this spring. We have a pail under the sink to dump egg shells, banana peels, and other plant waste to take out and dump to add to our compost, although it appears that something is coming around to eat on some of that, which is fine too. We have wildlife in our rural neighborhood.

As I get older, I appreciate growing my own food more and more. It's a hobby with fruitful results. 😉