Friday, November 25, 2022

thankful every day

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Happy Black Friday. Yesterday was busy, or I would have said Happy Thanksgiving, but that also implies that it's only one day of the year to be thankful when we should always be thankful, even if just for the next heartbeat in our chests or the next breath from our lungs. It's the little things that mean the most.

I hope everyone was able to spend time with loved ones, whether family, extended family, or friends. These loving memories are the most precious treasures in life, not the stuff that money can buy. So, as you go about buying gifts for Christmas, just remember the greatest gift and be thankful that it exists in the world--LOVE. Not physical love, which is not love at all but is lust, one of the seven deadly sins which will rot our souls. But real love, like the kind provided by God the Father Almighty, a pure, unequivocal love.

Gifts are just an earthly show of what someone means to us, if not an empty obligation that means nothing. Remember that real love is charity, kindness, and sacrifice for others. It is not forced. It is not deceitful. It isn't an expensive TV or video game. It's not mindless hours of shopping. That is gluttony, another deadly sin that can destroy our souls.

Real love is Light and it comes from only one source. It makes us better people and brings us to God, the source of all true love. It is the reason for this Advent season coming upon us. God loves us so much that he provided us a way to reconcile with him through the ultimate sacrifice of his son, Jesus, who conquered death for us to have a way into heaven from that point forward. We will soon celebrate His birth, the son of the living God. Don't waste the gifts from the greatest love that He gave us.

There are entire books on all this pondering every aspect, but I'll leave this short summary here. Be thankful that you have a chance to reach eternity in heaven one day in the presence of pure love.

Pax vobiscum

CSSML

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Updates on writing progress

I hate getting older. Keeping track of a million things is about 999,999 more than I can handle at one time. I live off lists. I always did, but now it's going completely haywire! The day job has me feeling like a chicken with its head cut off most of the time, and I've had so many things going on outside of the day job that I can hardly keep up, even with a calendar. ðŸĪŠ

Nevertheless, I do manage to get some writing time in. I'm working on Book 16 of Forgotten Worlds. So far, I have 6,000 words of that and a synopsis that leaves room for surprises. Since these are short novels of 40K-50K words, that's good progress.

Relationships have changed over the past few books and one character's arc is going to head down a dark path while others are resolving issues. You won't see some of it come to fruition for some time. I have to be careful how I plot those changes.

By now, you've had a chance to see something that you may have suspected, if you've read SOUL SHADOW. That book is a bit dark, because it reveals the creature that Nya has been conscripted by the Starfire entities to fight. She gets a taste of battle with the creature directly.

I have to reveal a little secret in developing that story, or at least in editing. I had been having questions about how to handle certain religious issues of this story; and shortly before I started the editing process, I found Father Chad Ripperger on YouTube (see this previous post). His lectures hooked me and explained a lot about spiritual warfare that I had some knowledge about but not to the degree that he clarified. The scariest part is that he confirmed some things I suspected, which were incorporated into SOUL SHADOW already.

Although the creature that the Issan worship isn't a true demon, it is a monster that acts like one. I focused on L'Ni, however, using the creature as a crutch and showing how he rejected it and breaks its influence on his life. This will give you the readers, like Nya and the other characters, a bigger revelation of what's at stake.

Once I finished editing and published Book 13--what a number for a book of such a dark plot (I didn't realize it until afterwards. Honest!)--I read through Book 14. That's a mess. I don't look forward to editing that one. Adding action to Nik's and Ann's wedding was a challenge--the wedding alone would have been boring--but I'm not so sure certain aspects flow well. Certain changes feel a bit abrupt. I may have to rearrange some things. 😖

I won't even touch Book 15 for a while, since I had just finished that. So, for now, I'll keep working on Book 16, but I really can't wait until Book 17. I will finally get to reveal something BIG that I've been planning for a long time and hinting. In the meantime, I'm trying to stay focused on 16, returning to Seska and the results of her helping her people escape. Ann's very public marriage to Nik has created some panic in Paxon leadership, so there's a lot to unpack for book 16. This series is getting a bit more complex.

Exciting! Isn't it? 😁

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Now Available: SOUL SHADOW

It is done! The latest book of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds space opera series is now available. It's always exciting and scary at the same time when I publish a new book. I hope readers like this latest installment as much as I do.

This is the book in which L'Ni's past is revealed. How did his people betray him? What was his experience with the Inquisitors? These and other revelations will come to light in SOUL SHADOW.

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A malevolent presence has interrupted Nya's sleep, and she tracks the source to L'Ni's quarters. When she can't awaken him, she has one option that might work… to enter his mind.

What she finds is a nightmare creature overshadowing L'Ni and trapping him in a battle he can't escape. Unlike other adversaries he has faced, L'Ni can't rely on physical strength or weapons to fight the creature he once served. This battle is from within.

Nya is determined to break the creature's hold on him. Together, they'll search his memories for an answer. However, the horrors of his past may be too much to escape. The creature L'Ni once considered a god wants revenge, and it won't stop until both he and Nya are dead.

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Thursday, October 13, 2022

very soon!

I am entering the final round of edits on SOUL SHADOW and expect to publish by the end of next week. I'll post an update here and will also send out an announcement to those who have signed up to receive emails. You can sign up for that using the form at https://melanienilles.com/contact/.

I have also decided to let my MeWe page expire. I don't get much activity there and can post more substantial posts on this blog. I've mostly gotten away from the need for frequent writing posts at this stage of life; I don't feel the need to share every detail of my life. I'm not going back to Facebook, and no one participates much on MeWe. If you feel that I should stay there, please speak up. Otherwise, I've cancelled my subscription to maintain the page on MeWe. I don't mind paying for it ($1.99/mo) but it's not doing anything. Unless it matters to someone, I'll let it go. November 5 will be the last day for that.

I'm a bit flighty about social media. I try out several but always leave at some point after discovering it never satisfies me. Most of it is a disgusting cesspool. (A few years ago, I had an inkling to write a book about a supernatural entity possessing the internet, which probably isn't too far from reality anymore, but I never got around to developing enough to write the story idea.) MeWe is different. I am staying there personally for the friends I have there. It's a much nicer place online than any other.

I don't have the ego that I did ten years ago with a need for lots of interaction. I enjoy communicating with readers, but I've never been a popular writer. I write what I love, and when others enjoy it too, that's the icing on the cake.

Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there and let everyone know about SOUL SHADOW coming up soon. I'll send an announcement to the email list once I have book links to the major retailers.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Book 15 has a title and cover! (and other updates)

Book 15 required a LOT of thinking in the writing and the title. I don't know why this book was so difficult, but I love how it's developed, and it ended up much better than I thought it would. The rewrites to bring a subplot out to the forefront were exactly what it needed. Coming up with a title for that was another challenge. It was difficult to encapsulate the central theme of the book into a title, but I finally did.

BENEATH THE SURFACE fits with several aspects--a traitor hiding in the crew, an Inari underground facility, and a secret of the Inari meant for the Issan, a message to them left behind (as the tagline suggests).

I won't say anything more until I have a description for the book, but I am excited to reveal this much, along with the cover:


Aside from that, I have other updates...

Print books!

The first five books of this series are now available for paperback as Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Collection 1 (Book 1-5) from various retailers for $29.95. The hardcover will be available on October 4th for $34.95 from Barnes and Noble.

Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Collection 2 (Books 6-10) is also available in paperback. The hardcover edition will be coming by Thanksgiving. As of this time, I am having difficulties with the printer for this.

This will catch up to where I am. I won't have a collection 3 available for at least a year, likely not until  after New Years Day 2024. I want to be writing Book 18 or 19 by the time I release a collection of books 11-15.

A NEW BEGINNING is now also available in a paperback format for $8.99. I hope to set up paperback editions for each individual book of the series, but it will take time to format and proof all of those. Once I'm caught up, it will be easier to keep it up. I kind of have to be in the mood to work on non-writing projects, but I try to do so when writing is more difficult.

Links for all books will be updated on my website. The series can be accessed on the Forgotten Worlds page

Book 13:

Once I've finished with the last couple of scenes of Book 15, which is all I have left of the first draft now, I will be editing Book 13, SOUL SHADOW, to be released in October. I couldn't have timed that better! SOUL SHADOW is about L'Ni's personal battle with the demonic entity his people worship, perfect for the Halloween season. This book is probably the darkest this series will ever get (by my standards). I'll be glad when it's done. I don't like such subjects, but it had to be done, and then you'll fully understand the Issan.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 5, 2022

a spark of insight brings it all together (Forgotten Worlds book 15 writing update)

I got it! I had been feeling from the beginning of this most recent start that Book 15 was good but missing something. 

I found that something. I had an inkling a while back and had a note to myself to refocus the plot, but there are multiple subplots of Book 15. This particular focus is where I knew the main plot needed to be. The final vision didn't come until tonight. Everything else works into it. I was focusing on the wrong idea when I started the book, thinking I needed to make it more action, but that wouldn't fit for me. Despite the difficulties and the restarts, somehow there was a framework already being built into place by my subconscious that I couldn't see happening right away, until I let it show me instead of me bullying the plot into what I thought it should be. This tweaked idea now makes it all fit!

I'll rewrite a few scenes to bring it all together and then be better able to finish the story, because it needs to have all the pieces of a trap put in place for it to snap together at the right time that all the other subplots do, which is where I am in the climax. This one piece needs to be better developed from the beginning before I can finish, but once it's in there, the story will all make perfect sense and fit the series. It's brilliant! It only took me nearly to the end to figure it out. ðŸĪĶ‍♀️

Now that I have the central premise, I need a good title about a trap or snare... ðŸĪ”

This proves, once again, that sometimes the hardest books to write end up being among the best of works, at least in my opinion. Never give up; never surrender!

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Writing research -- spiritual warfare from an exorcist's perspective

I had something come up in my Youtube feed recently that started me down a rabbit hole, one which is fortunate for the upcoming edits on Book 13. If you haven't figured out by the title, cover, and description, Book 13 is one of spiritual warfare. L'Ni comes from a culture deeply spiritual and you'll discover just how dark that is soon. I'm almost done with Book 15 and will then get to work editing Book 13, SOUL SHADOW. These videos that I found have helped me see just how frighteningly accurate my depictions in SOUL SHADOW are.

I'm sharing it here for anyone interested and for future research. Father Chad Ripperger, Ph.D. has a lot to say on many topics, some of which I'm sharing here. And he is a very engaging speaker--relatable and amusing. You don't have to be Catholic to use this. It may be helpful for readers and writers for ideas or understanding and for those seeking a deeper spiritual connection. Take your pick where you fall. In any case, it satisfied a lot of my curiosity.

He will make you think, no matter where in the spectrum of audience you fall. None of these are short, but if you are looking for intellectual and paranormal ideas, they are worth listening to.

One caveat: If you are offended by Catholicism, don't watch these. Fr. Ripperger is a Catholic priest and experienced exorcist, which is where he gets his views concerning angels and demons. The first video is just one of many of him talking about spiritual warfare.


Only demons have to fear the rosary. Here's his explanation about it as mentioned in his spiritual warfare videos:


I find his stories fascinating, including this shorter video, which includes a story about an incident during an exorcism that was aided by the Virgin Mary:


And the video on brainwashing is very interesting and detailed on how we think. It is very useful for developing characters and plots (everything is fodder for ideas in writing) and for understanding how our associations of memory are formed, which I had known already but is needed for the rest of his lesson.

The caveat here is that his political leanings may offend some. Try to have an open mind and you'll get a lot out of it and maybe have your eyes opened, which is what breaking brainwashing is all about:


I almost forgot to add this, an interview of Fr. Ripperger about his book Dominion in relations to entertainment, among other things. Very intriguing for creatives:


Last of all, this was revealed by a friend of mine, not part of the Ripperger videos. The author, Jonathon Cahn, makes a very interesting point of his overview of his book The Return of the Gods... Everything is fodder for stories, but these videos apply to modern living also, this in particular:


So, if you're not disgusted by my reveal of research and Christianity, particularly Catholicism, then I think you'll find the plot of SOUL SHADOW intriguing. The thing is that I came across these just recently, not before or during my writing of the book, but it will be used in my edits.

My first intro to Ripperger came up in my YT feed from watching an interview with Shia LaBeouf turning Catholic from his experience at a monastery while preparing to play Padre Pio. (My grandmother always told me of the miracles of Padre Pio and prayed her rosary daily, so this intrigued me, especially considering LaBeouf's history.) After bingeing on Fr. Ripperger, I'm starting to understand things better and feel more at peace in myself. No one else has made things as clear to me as he has. I hope it helps others in their journey... or anyone looking for a new writing idea.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

distractions and dimensions of life

I'm having mixed feelings today... It's weird in our house. Even though I didn't see her much because she hid out in her room so much, our oldest did hang out in the kitchen or watch TV once in a while. Now, she's nearly four hours away at college where I can't see her at all or hear her coming and going, and I feel like a part of me is missing. The house feels a little emptier and I'm sort of grieving, even though I can call or text her. (She probably won't call home, except yesterday when she realized she had forgotten a couple of items already.)

Hubby and I followed her in a separate vehicle--her little SUV was stuffed with belongings she had packed for her new temporary home in the dorm. However, we didn't contribute much, except to help her adjust her bed. (Each roommate has a separate bunk that can be set from high to low height.) I just hope my kid doesn't fall out of bed since she wanted it so high.

While hubby drove following our daughter to college and then without her coming back home, we talked a little here and there. Other times I read news online, but mostly, I had hoped to get some writing in on Book 15 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds.

I did have some great ideas come to me on the long 3.5 hours there and another 3.5 hours back home. That's how it goes even at home. I can't sit for hours at a time and just write--I alternate between reading news and writing (I'm not on social media, except MeWe). I find that I get more ADD symptoms as I get older and my thyroid condition progresses and my other hormones also go wonky into that time of a woman's life. (I can't imagine why anyone would want to artificially induce menopause by having a hysterectomy if they didn't absolutely have to--the regular transition is miserable enough!)

Those ideas that came in the long hours on the road have advanced the story immensely, but my concentration has improved recently. Much of that was helped by switching my thyroid meds and changing the dosage. Hashimoto's is awful in that one day the dose is perfect and the next, you might feel hyper on it, so I tweak it but through diet, I mostly keep it stable. Luckily, I don't swing hyper-hypo anymore. Now it's just degrees of hypo, which is troublesome enough. I think that something in the generic meds was causing as many problems for me as no meds (mostly brain fog like what happens with certain foods and ingredients, the reason I mostly just eat single-ingredient foods). Those fillers make a big difference, along with the dose. My writing cognition and creativity are so much better that it's night and day! I feel like my old self again more often than not, and this series gets easier to write. That's why I've been struggling with the last few books, I think.

My hope is that I continue to improve, because it makes the writing so much easier. I just have to get past the grief and worry of having a kid out of the house now.

However, I can say that I have a few title ideas for Book 15 and had an epiphany on the central theme of this book, which connects with the title. The whole book is up to about 31,000 words, and things are starting to make sense and fit together. It's weird how there's something there that needs to come out but I don't always consciously know what that is until a certain point, just like a reader might not. But there's something that develops until it all makes sense. Writing is as much, maybe more so, of an adventure than reading.

Thanks for reading!

PS-- once I'm done writing the first draft of Book 15, I'll edit and publish Book 13. Follow me on this blog or sign up to receive email notices by completing the form at https://melanienilles.com/contact/.

Friday, August 5, 2022

picking up the pace

It's been several days since the brain fog and dizzy spells lifted and I started getting back to writing after a period off. That illness-induced break helped tremendously for me to review what I had of Book 15 and to re-evaluate how to proceed with the plot. I had prayed for help and had it, albeit not as I expected. God works in mysterious ways, using what he created to influence our lives and affect the outcomes in answer our prayers.

It wasn't fun being sick, but it was what I needed. He is the most brilliant storyteller of all; we just have to trust, which is known as faith. We're all living in the greatest story ever told.

I'll spare you further depths of my faith. I'm here to talk about writing, although my faith does influence me, so it is a part of everything I am.

Anyway, Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Book 15 is moving along at a better pace, although behind where I'd like to be in the process. I don't know if I'll catch up, but one never knows. I'm not pushing myself to a schedule. I'd like to publish four books a year, but that's just not happening. I have a busy real life, so I'm not going to stress about it if I don't meet my goal. If the story comes at a fast pace, excellent. If not--if I have trouble feeling clear about the story--I won't sweat it. I want to feel confident in the story I write, even if that means a little extra time to think about it. It has to be right by me.

I hope you appreciate the dedication I have for this series. I am going to see the whole series arc through to the end that I have in mind, but it will take time. And the series does grow a bit more complex over time, so there's more to think about, even if it is episodic.

I'm just glad to be able to focus again to write. I was miserable with that brain fog, and that was much worse than what I periodically have from other causes. But that break helped me get unstuck in the story and it's now moving along like it should.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

back to work

So much for getting writing done last week. Not only did I hit a roadblock with making the plot point I had written into Book 15 work, but I was knocked out by covid. It wasn't terrible. I'd been exposed to it previously and never had more than barely-there symptoms so that I questioned whether I was really affected. However, this knocked me out for several days and caused brain fog and fatigue that's taken a little more work to clear. It made writing impossible for over a week, although I did start regaining my clarity of thought enough to finally come up with what had been stumping me. I still have a lot of fatigue and fog, making writing difficult, but the break was probably for the best. I'm starting to regain my focus on the story again and, with that comes some fresh perspective.

I thought I had the plot figured out, then stumbled, then thought I had it and stumbled. Something wasn't right--I wanted more action. Finally, I realized I had to look at things a little differently. The ideas and writing so far was good, which is why I couldn't just start over. This had the right foundation and good ideas, but I had to resolve why the latest threat is important. The other day, I got it. It just took a lot of effort to reach that point, and the break from writing probably helped. Thank you Covid (sort of).

Writing isn't always easy. The plot has to make sense and use tension and conflict so that readers want to know what will happen next and, as in this series, that means some sort of action with it. If I get bored, readers will definitely get bored. I like action and tension in various forms. And the characters need to stay true to what's established while showing some growth. It's always a balancing act.

Coming soon in paperback
and hardcover

Today, I've been working on formatting Collection 2 for paperback and hardcover. I also received a hardcover proof of Collection 1 from BN Press. I'll soon have a new proof and make that available for sale. The paperback of Collection 1 is available presently through Amazon Expanded Distribution for $27.95, but the hardcover will be just a little more worthwhile at $34.95 if you can wait until October. (Collection 2 will be about 76 pages more than Collection 1, so I'll see what price minimum I have to meet for that one.)

Btw, I can taste food again! It was tough tasting just the four basic tastes--sweet, sour, salty, and bitter--but no flavor. Thanks to the zinc and quercetin and also B12, that's coming back, along with my energy level. Covid is a strange illness. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but it's nothing to worry about. One dose of my horse dewormer snapped me out of the worst, like most horsepeople I know who had Covid--and yes, I actually used horse ivermectin, because I had it on hand and know how to dose it safely (by weight), and it worked. My horse will get the rest, since what's remaining is about right for his weight. For him, it's summer dewormer time, so perfect timing to use that up.

And I haven't seen much of him lately because of the fatigue, but I hope to get back to him tomorrow or Friday now that I'm feeling normal again already.

There's my adventure in Covid. Now, I'm anxious to get back to writing and living my life!

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Sunday, July 17, 2022

Forgotten Worlds updates

It's been a hot month here but we had some much needed rain before the 4th of July and afterwards. Both of those combined to boost our garden growth. But it has also kept me mostly inside. My poor horse (fat and happy on a lush pasture) isn't getting much attention because of the weather, but he's still advancing in training when we do ride. (I'm especially glad that he's not prone to laminitis! He can be in the pasture to maintain his own exercise playing with his friends and moving around grazing.)

Given that, you'd think I'd get lots of writing done, but with autoimmunity and middle age, my brain isn't always up to the task. However, on those brain foggy days, I get other necessary tasks done.

I've been working on the paperback and hardcover versions of 5-book collections for Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds (Collection 1: Books 1-5 & Collection 2: Books 6-10). I have the Collection 1 paperback for sale through Amazon and expanded distribution to other stores and am still working on the hardcover. That takes a little more time, since I have to use a different printer source because of the length and they have different processes. (Amazon's hardcover length limits me to less than what the paperback length allows, and that's even borderline.) I've also started the process on Collection 2, but I don't know what I'm going to do since it's longer; I may have to make that four books instead of five, but we'll see what the printers allow for page length in the different formats.

I make the most of the days when I'm less focused by working on tasks that don't require such clarity as writing. Why waste the good days doing these tedious tasks when I'd rather be writing?

And when I have good writing days, I get a lot done. Part of that lately has been on Books 13 & 14 as I adjust certain plot points in writing Book 15 or reconsider some aspects while writing Book 15. It's all interconnected as a series, despite each book being a complete episode.

And I have been dropping some hints of something big to be revealed that will tie many things together and answer some big questions in the series plot. You may or may not catch those hints; they're in the small details. And don't worry if you don't catch them. I hope that when the big reveal of what I'm planning comes (around book 17 or 18), that it won't be a WTF moment and readers will be able to look back and see all the pieces that came together. I can't wait to reveal it, because it will change some things for the homestretch to the end of the series. I want to talk about it, but I can't, which is why I'm mentioning it but not being specific now. So much will make sense when it comes; I've been planning it for a long time now.

For those wondering about the romantic thread, Book 14 will finally bring that to fruition (the cover should make that clear), so have faith. I try not to leave big plot points like that outstanding too long. I hate when series hint at a romance and the characters never get together.

I still have around 25 books planned but could easily write more with all the ideas I have. Nevertheless, I'm going to try to stick to 25. I hope you're enjoying it so far.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

About writing, publishing, and positivity

I was reading a fellow author's (and long time friend's) recent blog post about the process of producing a book. You can find it here.

Ruth writes in the romance genre and has done well for herself, but she writes her fingers off to make that happen, as you can see in her post. I've always been impressed with the speed she turns out books. I've been lucky to manage two to three books a year of about the same length she writes, that's 1/3 her speed. And I don't even have 1/3 the books published that she has out. 

Her post inspired some thinking on the topic. Like Ruth, I do all my own writing. Is it good? That's up to you, the readers. I don't expect to please everyone. I don't hire ghostwriters or use AI. It is all on me, and, like Ruth and any human writer, I have good days and bad days. I've had days where I've been lucky to eek out a couple hundred words, or any, and days where I almost couldn't stop writing.

I'm not a machine. I am a living being. I am a wife, mother, homeowner, horse owner, cat slave, and employee for someone else. I love my part-time non-writing job and don't get to see my horse nearly as much as I would like. I also have one kid heading to college in the fall and another still in high school who needs mom or dad to get her to/from work since she doesn't have her drivers license yet. We have a house and yard to maintain. I also make time for my faith, which has only grown deeper as I get older. It all cuts out chunks from my days.

On top of all that, I also have autoimmunity that can sap my concentration and energy away, which is also why I don't get to see my horse as often as I like--the energy seems to get sapped on the otherwise best days or I have something else that has to get done. Writing is heavily intellectual. Anything that depletes cognition takes its toll on writing; the autoimmunity is particularly effective at that. I've had to learn to be my own doctor for things, although I have excellent independent physicians who have helped me get past the worst issues.

Given all that, I am proud of what I have achieved. I work hard in all my endeavors, and all of them complement one another. It is a symbiosis that I've learned to manage as best as I can. It's not rainbows and unicorns--life isn't meant to be easy--but I believe that we are defined by how we overcome our struggles to fulfill our purpose and achieve our dreams. God allows struggle to teach us how to better ourselves. When we can overcome without succumbing to the self-annihilating forces of jealousy, blame, or violence but can do something constructive, our limits are only what we place on ourselves.

As you can see, through all that I have going on, I continue forward. Thank God I don't have to depend on my writing income to get by. I tend to spend more on the business of publishing than I make, but that's because I support the publishing with outside income. Because of that, I also take on a lot of the roles myself, from author to cover artist, although I mostly try to find finished images to promote on the latest series (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds). I've taught myself some Photoshop skills for cover work and for my day job, but I can only work with photos/existing images. (I consider the cover of UNBROKEN BONDS to be my best work to date.)

I have hired excellent cover artists in the past. (See the Paul Davies works on the Legend of the White Dragon series and Demon Age books.) Working with artists on custom covers is another process in itself, giving the artist something to start them and then going back and forth with sketches until you get something that satisfies both parties. And as Ruth points out, you work on their schedule. It can be very frustrating but very rewarding in the end.

I also format my own books and manage the marketing, more time taken from writing. I'd love to have someone to help, but I can't really afford that either. So, I take on these roles also and do the best I can at any given time. I try to do these tasks when my ability to concentrate on writing is low anyway, so the effect is minimal.

This is how I keep going and how I keep writing. I have a lot to manage in my life (doesn't everyone?), but there are people who are worse off and yet are able to do much more. I admire that courage and dedication and could only hope to match it, but we can never fill someone else's shoes. We can only work hard to reach our own unique potential and accomplish whatever we set out to do. This is why I love the quote below. It reminds me that small things add up to big things. Another version is that "a book is written one word at a time."

Many people may not realize just how much work that involves--it only starts with the writing. A book may be consumed fast, but creating and publishing it is a time-intensive process amid many other distractions and duties, and that is the point that Ruth makes in her post. Plotting, writing, rewriting (many times), editing, formatting (ebook and/or paperback), cover design, copyright registration, setting up at retailers (with all the details that have to be entered, not just a simple upload), marketing, etc. all take time and effort to complete.

I may not be as prolific as some authors, but I do nearly all of the work myself.

Unless fortunes improve, I will continue as I have with the writing and publishing and hope that I can bring some escape and positivity into your life.

ps--Book 15 is now at 11,500 words.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Writing update

I'm a plotter overall, especially with a series like Forgotten Worlds, but I allow room for surprises and flexibility to change things as necessary. No idea is perfect in its planning.

That's why as I've been writing Book 15, I've been revisiting Books 13 and 14. I left something unfinished in Book 14 which gives me a good subplot to wrap up in Book 15. And that also gave me a new idea for an extra end scene for Book 14, which teases a big question that could make things more complicated for me but add tension to the overall series.

While I try to keep each book as a standalone episode with its own beginning, middle, and end, I also have the overall series arc to consider. There are some things that get carried on for some time before being resolved, as readers have now discovered. My notes are long and complicated, and it's getting to the point that I may need a better format for tracking all these connections. I just don't have the time to sit and make up charts of what happens when and what else it affects, nor the inclination. I have too many other things to do in my day than to reorganize my notes.

Right now, I am happy to report that Book 15 is up to 7000 words. Considering I broke from it yesterday in a sidetrack of ideas that came to fruition in an extra scene at the end of Book 14 to tie into what developed for Book 15, I've still maintained a decent pace of writing. And this just re-emphasizes the need to stay two books ahead in writing of what I'm publishing. 

The biggest challenge is always to keep the stories exciting and interesting and largely complete episodes with lead-ins to what's to come.

It's getting more exciting with some major events (and HUGE revelations) to come!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Real life mysterious event

Unexplained phenomena, weird things, happen in real life.

Last night, I had just settled onto the loveseat in our walkout level entertainment room to do something I rarely do much of anymore--watch a movie. Now, I like wearing my robe at night, but we have AC so I don't usually get too hot and the cats love that fleece robe. (I'm a cat slave.)

Next to the loveseat is a side table, then a small walkway between that and the treadmill (facing the TV--our rule is whoever is on the treadmill controls the TV while they're walking/running). In front of that treadmill is an oscillating fan that we keep set to just face the treadmill, so about ten feet from where I was sitting next to my husband.

My Siamese had just settled on my lap, as he always does, because that robe on my lap is his throne and you won't convince him otherwise, not even with my laptop there and I'm trying to write. In this case, I had no computer, so he fully stretched out in luxury. (I was done for the night and wanting to vegetate a bit.)

I was getting a bit warm soon after the old boy settled on my lap. That's when the unexplained happened-- the fan in front of the treadmill turned on. No one was near it. My husband and I were the only two people in the room and both of us were sitting on the loveseat. When I questioned what just happened, hubby offered to get up and turn it off. I told him no. The circulating air felt good.

It wasn't scary, just weird. And this is all true. I'm not writing fiction.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

beginning again... Forgotten Worlds Book 15 started

Coming Fall 2022
It took me some thinking and consideration of what has happened in the Forgotten Worlds series to date, but I decided what Book 15 would be. I just released MESSAGES, and have SOUL SHADOW and UNBROKEN BONDS aside for editing.

I read through SS after releasing MESSAGES and then started reading UB. When I was nearly at the end of UB, I finally figured out how to coordinate what happens next for Nya and her friends and figure out what happened in between the stories, which would have been no real story of its own and worked out well as a narrative summary. The story has become a bit more complicated since I now have established rules of how things work, tech, cultures, etc., but I anticipated that going into this series. I kept the first half relatively basic with independent adventures that didn't always involve the series plot but still built on it, and those stories made sense for the characters to grow together as friends/companions and form a cohesive team. The goal is always for each story leading to the next and for the growth of the characters and advancement of the over-arching plot. It's the subplots that get to be trouble, so I had to wrap up some of those in UB before I go any further.

Coming Winter 2022-2023
Book 13 is the background of L'Ni, revealing the Feri culture quite in-depth and how they betrayed L'Ni. In Book 14, an important romance comes to fruition, and L'Ni is taken from the celebration of Ann and Nik's wedding, which is mystifying in itself until you learn how it was down (pretty basic really but a realized threat to Ethalian security). I also wanted to wrap up the question of what the mirror meant in the Vault of the Celestials trials and reveal another hint of something big that I've been developing, something that I introduced way back in The Rule of Yonder. I didn't have the answer then but it did come to me a few books later and I had to be careful to sprinkle in hints of that as the series has continued. Writing two books ahead of publishing allows me a chance to use an idea and go back in editing those previous books and add whatever I need. That's why I always have two of these stories waiting in the wings when I start a new one.

I have the rest of the series planned and probably have too many ideas already, but I came up with something else for Book 15 to get back to a bit of a side adventure again. I know. I know. I need to stick to what I have and quit expanding this more. That's easier said than done with a series like this, but I do want to finish it. I may not develop some of the ideas I have into full-blown stories if it gets too long, but they're all good, and now that I have a countdown to doomsday for the series, I have some time to fill and details to develop.

So, there's what I'm up to and some of my thinking on this series. If you ever have questions or even an idea, feel free to contact me by commenting here or by completing the form at https://melanienilles.com/contact/. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, May 30, 2022

MESSAGES has arrived!

It's done!

The latest installment of the ongoing Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series is now available from major ebook retailers. It's been a lot of work getting this ready. As I mentioned in my last post, I've had a lot going on in my real life. This book also required a lot work to hammer it into shape, but it's finally done. I hope you enjoy the latest book of this series, available from most major retailers and eventually from all of them. Purchase links are updated at https://melanienilles.com/books/messages/ as they become available.


When a distress call is caught by the Iludrin, the team can't ignore it, but no one is prepared for what they find. The signal leads them to an unstable star system, where a slaver vessel drifts aimlessly. Despite multiple life-signs, no one answers their inquiries.

Saving the prisoners is a priority, but when rescue teams board the derelict vessel, they soon discover why no one has answered. Something deadly is lurking in the grim corridors, killing crew and prisoners alike. The rescue teams from the Iludrin could be next. However, when a secret is discovered on the ship, they can't leave it for the Issan to claim, or the mysterious threat on the ship will be the least of their concerns.

-------------

In case you're new to this series, here is a complete list of books in order (more details on the Forgotten Worlds page of this blog or at my website Forgotten Worlds series pages):

1:   A New Beginning
2:   The Rule of Yonder
3:   Vault of the Celestials
4:   In Darkness, Light
5:   The Destruction of Walls
6:   Disposition of Dreams
7:   Remnants
8:   Racing the Orast Belt
9:   Ferious
10: Dragon and Fury
11: Voices in the Dark
12: Messages

Upcoming (written but not yet published):
13: Soul Shadow
14: Unbroken Bonds

More to come! (expect around 25 books total in this series)

Remembrance

 





Sunday, May 22, 2022

the editing merry-go-round and life

There's a reason I call this stage a merry-go-round.

I'm almost done with edits on Book 12, but I've still been making some bigger changes than expected on even the fourth pass and am tempted to make one more pass through just to be sure I found everything. I'm getting burned out at this point on MESSAGES (sort of--it's a fun book!). I feel like I'm never going to finish this to my satisfaction. I know I'll always find something wrong, but after changes like these, inevitably, there are typos that get introduced or something that on another pass jumps out because the new pieces make other pieces not fit quite right anymore. It's hard to catch everything right up front, because one segment of rewrites can make other stuff jump out as wrong after a fresh pass.

You try to fix one part but then it puts a kink in others that you don't see immediately, no matter how much you try to see it all at once. That's what I mean by the editing merry-go-round. I am determined to only put out the best book I can.

And I will have this book done by the end of May!

Unfortunately, life is also busy. Next weekend, I have a kid graduating high school and I've been busy preparing for the open house, which is expensive right now and a lot of work, but I'm going to give this to her at this special time of her life. I am an event planner as part of my day job, so I'll do what I can within our means for this special day for our valedictorian honor student (proud mom!). It's her special time and I am her mother, even though the teenagers think their parents don't know anything. 🙄 (Today, we're cleaning the garage, so it looks decent when people come to visit for the open house next weekend, although it'll just be an open garage really, since we'll have everything in the garage rather than in the house.)

And the kids want to see the new Dr. Strange movie, so we're planning on going as a family after the garage is cleaned. Teens are difficult to incentivize, so it'll be a reward for today's project. The theater is something we enjoy as a family on special occasions--we're not big movie-theater goers overall, but some movies we like to see in the theater together.

We also need to get our garden in. We've waited because of the expected frost that we've had the last few days. We'll have to get to that asap... this week. I covered my new grape plants and hope that they survived.

And after another week away, I really need to get out to my horse. Poor guy. All that green grass and room to roam and play with his herd. However will he get by? 🙃 *I* need to see him for my own sanity. He enjoys the visits too, just not the workouts I impose. Learning to carry himself properly is a workout (engaging his core and directing his feet to bear weight properly is like squats and burpees to a horse), especially for a horse like him who is not built uphill and is a bit post-legged behind. He benefits from the training, and I enjoy the results, especially when he shows up a fancier horse and his rider (so proud of him!). 

A mediocre horse with a skilled rider can actually perform very well, while a well-built, talented horse with a mediocre rider will only ever be mediocre, although that's not terrible. (The other rider will improve to great things over time; she's just very young and inexperienced and with all the pride that comes with youth--graduating from the same class as my daughter too, so make of that what you will.) Only as we age does humility come and then real learning as we accept our mistakes and fully comprehend and accept instruction to improve. Over twenty years of working with good dressage trainers as an adult has taught me how to help a disadvantaged horse like mine, and, as with my writing after decades of practice and critiques, the results of improvement are amazing to witness because it's something I didn't know I could achieve until I achieved them.

I love telling my boy what a good boy he is for his great efforts, and he loves the treats and face rubs afterwards. I need him, and I love to see how far he can go, a plain little grade gelding who freaks out at stupid things but puts in 110% effort when I ask. The greatest rewards are the result of hard work and the humility to realize that we have much to learn, no matter how much we think we know.

Photo from a year ago on the farm.
I can't wait until he sheds out like this again!

Sorry, I guess I'm really missing my boy after a week. I'd love to see him today, but family plans today and bad weather forecast tomorrow will keep me from him for a couple more days. So much for my plans for more frequent visits to work with him.

As you can see, my life is busy. Thank goodness I only work part-time at my day job! I couldn't get everything done, especially with my autoimmunity, which causes other problems that can put the brakes on my plans at times, another reason that I only work part-time.

But, I'm a fighter and I push through and keep going and love writing, especially this series. My faith, family, and a special network of friends is my support, as are you, the readers who buy and love the books. Seeing the high ratings tells me that someone is enjoying the books, and that encourages me to push through the difficult times as well. Thank you! ðŸĨ°

So, somehow, I'm getting through these edits, although a little more slowly than I'd like at times. That has given me the right frame of mind to catch the nuances of flow of the action, description, and dialogue.

I can't wait until graduation is over and then I only have to worry about youngest child finding a job, which I will have to chauffeur her to and from until she gets her license and maybe a car of her own... at some point. The life of a mom! (Dad works full time from home and is tied to his computer all day, so I'm the errand-runner.)

There's a slice of my life!

Thank you for your patience and for your support!

--------------

update 5/24/22: I'm definitely glad I gave this book one more go-round. It needs this final clean-up. Although minor, the mistakes would bother me when I look back later... Also, I didn't get to see my horse today as I'd hoped--too much to do. But tomorrow looks like a beautiful day and I have nothing going on at home. I will take advantage of that.

update 5/27/22: I got my horse fix two days ago. I have 1/3 of the final copyedits to finish on Book 12, and it's looking good. And we are putting in our garden this afternoon. I will finish this book in the next few days if it kills me.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

weekend project

I didn't get much done on MESSAGES this weekend, although I did get the stinger scene for Book 13 rewritten. While editing Book 12, I hit on something near the end that inspired me to write a different stinger scene for 13 than I had originally planned. I think it works much better now. That was only part of the reason that I didn't quite finish the latest round of editing (but am very close).

The bigger reason I didn't get much done this weekend is simple - home improvement project. Our neighbors inspired me to try growing grapes, so I bought a couple of starters from Gurney's to plant. However, I didn't want to plant them before we had something for them to grow on, so we planned out a trellis and where to put it.

It was a beautiful but windy weekend here. Hubby and I put up this trellis for the grapes (and probably cucumbers, instead of putting those in the garden, leaving space for other fruits and veggies). We found a picture online of something we liked (similar to our end product) and decided to make it our own. We designed and planned, figured out materials, and put it together.

It was a b*tch to get those corner posts square to one another, though, which is the only way to make the rest of it fit together. Those took a whole day to get dug (3 feet in the ground) and situated straight up and down and square to one another. The rest went up fast today, along with cutting the tops of the 4x4 corner posts level with one another. The ground is uneven, so we leveled everything. We also situated the 2x4's about 1/16" above the tops of the 4x4's, which was perfect for the cross-pieces (2x2's) along the top. Before screwing on the 2x4's, we gave the ends of those a little angle cut to dress them up.

I'm very happy with how this turned out with just a little know-how and planning. It was a team effort. We both had our parts, and mine was more than standing around. I actually get my hands dirty on projects like this and know what I'm doing around power tools and woodworking, as well as designing and planning. Of course, the tools are his, and he has to feel like he has some control, so you know I let him do that work. 😉 (But without me, he would have had a mess on his hands.)

After we finished the project, I planted a grape plant on each side. Hopefully, in a year or two, we'll have grapes! Eventually, maybe I'll even learn how to make our own wine.

Now, I'm getting back to editing Book 12. I want to finish it and get it published in the next ten days, if not sooner.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Starfire Angels series project ideas (paperbacks, covers, and more)

 ©  Dreamstime.com

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mothers! Every day is a reason to celebrate the children who make our lives special. I hope today is a blessed day for you and your families.

Now, on to some news for the Starfire Angels lovers out there. 

I've had some ideas stirring in my head and wonder how readers feel. I have some big projects that I need to take on, but it may further slow down my writing of the next Forgotten Worlds books. Please review the ideas below and the questions at the end of this post and leave your feedback in the comments.

Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations - Individual Books

I know many people want paperbacks, and I want to give that to you. However, I have a lot of considerations. One is whether to pay extra for the same covers from the current Dark Angel Chronicles ebooks or use the old paperback covers. I may just resort to my old covers. I've also updated the story, so I need to reformat all of the interior files, then upload those and order proofs, check proofs and sometimes make adjustments and order new proofs... and eventually approve the final project. It can be a long and tedious process especially when working on several books at a time.

I also want to recover the Revelations series books, so that could take some days off of writing.

Forgotten Worlds Collection - Omnibuses

Other books that I want to also make available in print are the Forgotten Worlds books. I've played with an omnibus of the first five books of the series but will need to update that file and set it up to make it available; again, by going through the process I stated above with setting up paperbacks. Because that is so big, I think the hardcover option is the best quality.

Because I'll soon be releasing Book 12 of Forgotten Worlds, I think it's time to also work on an omnibus of books 6-10. That will be even thicker than 1-5, since the books started growing in length to be closer to 50K words each. I'm trying to keep them between 40K-50K, but sometimes the story dictates otherwise. The omnibuses are doorstoppers because they are 5-book editions (luckily, short novels).

Because I do all my own work, it can take a while to complete these projects; one of me can only do so much at a time. (Finding someone else to do the work and then double-checking them would take just as much time as doing it myself, plus I'll save the money, which can be put into other things and I have this down to a specific process and format after more than ten years of this.)

Starfire Angels Companion Guide(s)

I am also considering putting together a Starfire Angels Companion Guide with all the character details and world-building extras that I've put together as my series bible/wiki, plus expanding on my notes for dedicated readers to enjoy. This will take a lot more time and effort to organize, depending on how much I want to include - just Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations or those and Forgotten Worlds to date (updating periodically as new books become available with new details)? Work with an artist for character pictures or no pictures? Ebook only or also print? These wouldn't be very many pages, at least not like the actual books, but that also depends on the formatting style that I ultimately decide upon. I would like a decorative interior (much like the gaming books my husband has collected over his lifetime), so it would take some time to design and format. Maybe I could find a gaming book designer and artists to help me put something really special together. ðŸĪ” 

All this is thinking aloud for now...

Perhaps I should create three different guides with only one in print for now for those who want it - Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations. The other two would be Starfire Angels (the whole three-part series - DAC, Revelations, and FW) and Forgotten Worlds separate from the other two parts, since these would need to be updated regularly until Forgotten Worlds is completed.

So many considerations!

It'll be a LOT of work to put this project together. By the time I have it figured out, I might be done or nearly done with FW anyway. I would like to provide some current reference material, however, for those who are following along with what is happening in the FW series.

In Summary

As I said, all this will take away from writing time, so I'll want to spread it out. My first print priority will be the omnibus of books 1-5 of Forgotten Worlds, since I have a full cover ready to go for that. Then I'll probably work on new paperbacks for the original DAC series and Revelations before worrying about a hardcover for FW books 6-10.

Feedback Questions for Readers

Below is a summary of what I'd like to know of your thoughts. Please leave your feedback in comments to this post.

  1. Dark Angel Chronicles
    • paperback or hardcover?
      • if hardcover, dust jacket or print cover?
  2. Revelations 
    • paperback or hardcover?
      • if hardcover, dust jacket or print cover?
  3. SA Companion Guide 
    • Separate series guides or wait for the whole SA series (all three parts in one guide)?
    • Ebook only, paperback only, or ebook and paperback?
  4. What retailer do you prefer for buying your print books? (so I can figure out what source to use for printing)

Your input is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

the view from the saddle

Most of Buddy's herd,
still a ways off from me.
I haven't reported on my horse for some time (months!). We made a change last summer in which I moved him closer to me from my parents' farm to a boarding facility. It's been a very good experience for him. He's in a pasture with a large herd of geldings, so he has plenty of freedom to roam and other friends for company and play. But it's a big pasture and can take me a while to reach him when he's at the far end (about a half-mile walk) as he was today. I'm glad he was out today in the pasture, though (maybe not so glad by the end of summer). The grass is starting to green up and he needs that. Hanging out near the barn end of the pasture eating the old hay isn't good for him, especially with better alternatives springing up.

Today was a beautiful day, except for the chilly breeze. In a couple of months I'll be wanting that breeze, but for now, it added a chill on what would have been a perfect day. Nevertheless, Buddy was a good boy, where he used to be a snorty freak on days like this.

He's come a long ways in just the last year alone. This spring, I finally buckled down and started asking for more forward and more attention to shoulder-fore. Now, he's picking up the canter from a trot within a step or two of my asking. No more taking lots of set up or running into it. He's so much better balanced, and it shows.


The view from the saddle
is magnificent
I also figured out why he's always so jumpy and fidgety--something missing in his diet. He needs a complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. It's a long process how I figured that out, partly by accident and observations that clued me into the issue. When he's on green grass, he's always calmer than on dried grass or hay (which is leeched of nutrients by the curing process and just by aging). I also noticed that when I changed his sweet feed treat to a complete feed, I had a calmer horse about an hour later. I added some Grand Vite to his before-ride treat and that hits him with more of what he needs immediately for a much better ride. He gets the rest after we ride, along with some digestive supplements and beet pulp. It's made a HUGE difference for him.

And that has made a HUGE difference in his training. He's finally reaching more of a solid dressage first level, although now he's so out of shape that we can't work too long yet. His muscle tone is gone right now and he's a fat boy. (He's pretty stocky / solidly built, but one can see the hay belly and the lack of muscle in his hindquarters.) And after our big spring snowstorm, he quit shedding like he had been, but I'm seeing signs that it may pick up again soon. I hope to have a sleek, shiny boy in another month.

I'm going to try to ride more often this summer, which is what he really needs to overcome his lack of confidence in new situations and to build up his strength to advance his dressage work. He isn't a fancy mover nor very athletic (and certainly not built for dressage), but I know I have the skills from all my years of experience and training to help him become something that he wouldn't otherwise have the chance to be. He's already come very far since I bought him as a youngster broke by horse traders to make a quick buck at the auction six and a half long years ago (he's now 9), when I was looking for just a simple little project horse to play with after giving up on the showing. I bought an ugly duckling (in terms of movement) and with proper training, am transforming him into the swan that was hiding inside. If he can be transformed, any horse can be with dressage training. It's exciting to see this sweet little guy blossom into his potential as an adult horse!

The shadow shows me on his back.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The great editing cycle

I'm in that stage again... edits... edits... and MORE edits!

I'm preparing MESSAGES for release to the world--you, the readers--sometime this month. I don't know when but it will be this month. All I know is that I will publish the book when I feel that it's ready, and that takes several rounds of edits at this point.

As usual, after time off from the book, I'm captivated by reading it again. That makes editing difficult to do, but if I take it slow, I will see the issues more clearly to fix them. And I need several rounds with it to immerse myself in the story for this stage.

Book 12 will mark the halfway point of the series.

Thanks for your dedication and patience.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Writing update

The first draft of UNBROKEN BONDS, Book 14 of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series, is done! The final scene is written (and rewritten). The final word count... 50,000 words.

As readers know, the books of this series are not the doorstopper novels readers have come to expect from most series, but they are still novels (40K minimum words by SFWA standards), except for the first book, which is just under the minimum novel word count. As I've posted before, I try to keep these in the 40K-50K range on word count. Several books now have come in near the 50K mark. This shorter length allows me to explore different plots without getting too complicated and burning me out, and they also make it possible to release more frequent stories (3-4 per year). It also allows me to keep the prices low; and while prices on everything else continue to spike, $2.99 for a few hours of reading enjoyment is quite reasonable.


I now will begin shredding aka editing MESSAGES to publish that soon, just in time for summer reading. Book 12 will mark the halfway point of the series that I have planned (24-25 books total).

Here are the books available in this series so far:

1) A New Beginning

2) The Rule of Yonder

3) Vault of the Celestials

4) In Darkness, Light

5) The Destruction of Walls

6) Disposition of Dreams

7) Remnants

8) Racing the Orast Belt

9) Ferious

10) Dragon and Fury

11) Voices in the Dark

Written and coming in 2022:

12) Messages

13) Soul Shadow

14) Unbroken Bonds

You can find information on the Forgotten Worlds page of this blog or by going to melanienilles.com.

Keep in mind that projected release dates are only estimates. Some books can be easy to write while others present difficulties and take longer to write and edit. I have my goals, but I don't always meet them, especially when a book ends up longer than anticipated or something comes up to take my attention away from writing. This is why I no longer post books for pre-order but publish when they are ready and post the announcements and links as they become available.

If you want to keep track of each new release, follow my Amazon author page, this blog, and/or my MeWe page. If there is enough interest, I may even set up a new-release newsletter. You can sign up for that by completing the contact form on my website.

Thank you for your continued reading and support!