Movie Review: IF I STAY!

About a week or two ago, I took my niece to see If I Stay. I was a fan of the book when I read it a few years back, so I was excited to see the movie. Unfortunately, I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I know that I seem to be in the minority with this, but I left the theater feeling kind of "eh" about the whole thing, which I was not expecting.

I should probably explain.

See, If I Stay wasn't a bad movie. Not at all. But something was off, and even now, I can't figure out what it was. The performances were generally good - even Chloe ended up surprising me - but I couldn't help but to feel that the parents overshadowed everyone. It was their scenes that stuck with me after the movie, not Adam & Mia.

The screenwriter did a wonderful job of adapting the book. I was worried that the flashback scenes wouldn't exactly work on the big screen. I mean, the book doesn't have chapters for clear cut off points, so it definitely isn't an easy book to adapt, but I feel as though Shauna Cross did a great job adapting Forman's work. Which is why I'm surprised I didn't fall in love with the movie like I did the book.

One of the things I'm really happy they kept was the ending. I was worried that they'd try to give it more of a conclusive ending as opposed to the open ending Forman wrote for the end of the novel, but thankfully, they didn't. Yes, there's another book. And yes, I wouldn't be surprised if Where She Went gets announced soon. (If I Stay was made on a $11 million budget, which is small, and has earned $50 million worldwide so far.) But I was really worried about how they would tackle the ending, and thankfully, my worry ended up being over nothing.

As for the performances...
When it comes to Young Adult adaptions that have come out over the past couple of years, I can honestly say that If I Stay had some of the best performances. I hadn't heard of Jamie Blackley before he was cast as Adam, and I'll admit, I was worried he wouldn't be able to capture Adam properly, but he surprised me. Was he as great as Chloe? No, but he was a good pick for Adam. Now, for those of you that have been following If I Stay into production from back when Summit had the rights probably know that Dakota Fanning was originally attached to play Mia. I was completely sold on this casting back then, and I was seriously bummed when Summit ended up not moving forward with the movie, but I think it was for the best. Because although Dakota is a fantastic actress, I can only see Chloe as Mia now. She was a great choice for the role, and I feel as through she handled the emotional scenes wonderfully.

But I think the best performances were actually from the parents (played by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) and the grandfather (played by Stacy Keach). Their scenes were the best parts of the movie, something that I definitely wasn't expecting. In fact, if I'm being honest, the scenes with Mia's parents and Gramps made me more teary than anything else.

When all is said and done, I did enjoy If I Stay. I didn't love it, but I did enjoy it. Also worth noting? The music is actually pretty good.

Was it a faithful adaption? Yes, I think that it was.
Is it something I'd watch again? Maybe when it hits Netflix, but I don't see myself heading out to the movies to see it on the big screen again.


Cover Reveal: The Untold Stories!

So, I have a surprise cover reveal for all of you today!
As you probably know by now, I will be releasing a few more stories featuring characters from the Emile Reed Chronicles later this year. They will be free to read for a limited time via Wattpad. After that, they'll be available as an eBook through all eBook retailers! Since this is a seperate thing from the Emile Reed Chronicles, I wanted to make sure that the cover was a bit different from the others. Again, this isn't Emile's story, it is just set during her story. So I didn't want to make her the cover model.

I had an idea of what I wanted for a cover, but since I suck at making covers, I put it off and figured that, when I had the money, I'd hire someone to make a custom cover. That wasn't what happened. Because while Christa was working on the new cover for the Emile Reed Chronicles: The Complete Series, she posted a few new premades to her site. (FYI: Her premades are fantastic.) I immediately fell in love with one of them. For me, it felt like the perfect cover for The Untold Stories. It captured the science fiction aspect of the book, while also offering up a mysterious feel. Which is important, because this eBook is a totally different viewpoint of the story told in the Emile Reed Chronicles. Not only will there be new stories from secondary characters - the three subjects Emile visits will be making an appearance for the first time - but we'll also be getting a better understanding of the Programs thanks to The Program Manual.

I don't have a release date set in mind yet, mainly because I still have a lot of work left to complete on this project, but it will be before the end of the year. That much I can promise.

For now, here's the wonderful cover designed by Christa of Paper & Sage Design:

<3 Nicole


Giveaway Time!

I have yet to get any reviews done, and it'll probably be a bit before I'm able to do so, but for now, I have a giveaway!

This giveaway is limited for US readers only since I can't afford international shipping. I want to make things simple, so instead of doing a Rafflecopter form, I'm just going to have every person that enters e-mail me this way I can keep track better of the entries.

So, here's how you can enter to win the two books shown above!

1. Share the Amazon link for PROGRAM 13 on Twitter, Tumblr, and/or Facebook. Each link counts as one entry. You can do this daily - but you'd have to send me a new e-mail with a new link everyday.
2. Share the link for the giveaway (same as above).

After you do those two things, e-mail me with the following: your links and your mailing address (in case you're selected as the winner.) I normally wouldn't ask for your mailing address beforehand, but I figure that, to be fair, I'll send out a bookmark or two to those that don't win.

You have until September 13th, 2014 to enter.
You must live within the United States, and you must be at least thirteen years old to enter!

Now, back to writing I go!
<3 Nicole


Cover Re-Do: The Emile Reed Chronicles (The Complete Series).

I've stated it before and I'll state it again.
I'm horrible with Photoshop.
As in, I shouldn't be allowed anywhere near it.

If you'll recall, I'd made a temporary cover for The Emile Reed Chronicles: The Complete Series that ended up being used far longer than I ever intended. It was hideous. I have no problem admitting that, because well, I'm not blind. It was bad.

But thanks to Christa of Paper & Sage Design, I have a wonderful new cover to share with all of you!

I've updated the cover on for all retail outlets. You can currently grab the ENTIRE series for only $5.99! That includes all of the digital shorts! Here's the link to purchase it through Amazon.

If you guys want a paperback edition, let me know. I will definitely format a paperback edition if you guys are interested, but given how expensive it'll more than likely be (it would be over 700 pages, and CreateSpace sets a minimum price for the book - not me), I don't want to work on the paperback unless I'm entirely sure people would be interested.

This isn't the last cover reveal. I'll have another one very soon for The Untold Stories (this eBook edition will also include The Program Manual). ;)

After that? I have a few more cover reveals coming. Carrie, who worked on the covers for the first three installments in the Emile Reed Chronicles, will be finishing up the other covers in a couple of months. So you'll finally have a full paperback set that matches! And I will also be working on a cover for As We Fall since that will be my next release for this year.

The rest of this year is going to be insane, but it's going to be a fun ride. =)
<3 Nicole


Teaser: Arabella!

Arabella was never meant to be anything more than a side project when I started working on it. I had no intention of publishing it. So to have it listed for pre-order now, it's kind of crazy to me. But I love this novella. Arabella is a flawed character, there's no doubt about that. She's flawed. She's naive. And she's impulsive. But she's also human - er, superhuman, really.

I'm not expecting a lot of sales once Arabella is officially released next month (yay!), but I'm hoping that the few people willing to give this story a chance will connect with Arabella in some way.

Anyway, enough of that! Onto the teaser:

Bitter Pill
Two days later…
I sat perched atop the building, crouched as I glanced over the brightly lit streets. The warm night air beat down upon me, instantly making me regret my choice to wear a leather ensemble.
Gwen and I used to always sneak out to the Keers building after training to getaway from my father’s watchful eye. Not that it ever made much of a difference, given the fact that the Keers building was only a block away from Bilson Corporations.
But it at least offered a false sense of freedom – just for a little while.
Now? The Keers building offered me a chance to relive those memories.
I rose to my feet with my arms spread at my sides, and closed my eyes.
Part of me wanted to jump, to experience the rush it would bring.
But I knew better than to draw attention to myself.
A person couldn’t disappear if they left behind a trail, I reminded myself.

A few things worth noting concerning Arabella:
  1. It is told in two parts: Before & Now. This probably sounds a bit strange, I know, but it is needed. Since this is a one shot story, I needed to establish not only Arabella, but this world that she lives in, and make it feel believable. Splitting the story into two parts helped me to do so.
  2. It is a superhero story when it comes down to it, but it's also about self-discovery and relationships.
  3. It is a one shot, so don't expect a sequel. I'm trying to get into the habit of writing standalone stories for those that don't want to commit to a series (plus, after writing so many installments of the Emile Reed Chronicles, I'm eager for some standalone stories). There's a chance that, down the line, I may write a Gwen one shot, but that's still up in the air for now.
  4. There are some Easter Eggs planted throughout the story. If you've read the Emile Reed Chronicles and Rare Talents, you should be able to spot some. ;)


What I've Been Reading.

So, with everything that has been going on, I haven't really bothered to read too much. Well, novels anyway. Chances are that, if you are following me, you know that I'm a huge comic book fan. (I'll by at NYCC, so if you're going, feel free to say hello - just be patient with me since I'm terribly shy and awkward.)

I figured that, since I don't have any book reviews to post right now, I'd go ahead and spotlight a few comics worth your time.

A quick note: If you're normally not into comics, I still beg of you to give these titles a chance. They are a lot different than what you're used to when you think of a comic book.
  1. Ms. Marvel
  2. Captain Marvel
  3. She-Hulk
  4. Black Widow
  5. The New Warriors
Yes, those are all Marvel titles... that's mainly because I'm playing catch-up with my Marvel NOW! books. But the great thing about those four titles? Four out of those five are all female led books. (The New Warriors has some fantastic females on their team line-up, too!)

My two absolute favorite Marvel NOW! titles currently are Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. These books have been constantly consistent in offering fantastic storytelling and wonderful characters. If you're looking for more diversity when it comes to comics, you need to give Ms. Marvel a shot. It features a young female of color who is also Muslim. But it doesn't solely focus on that. It's basically a story about a young girl trying to figure out her place in the world and who she is. (Seriously, the storytelling in this one is top-notch. I always end each issue with a smile on my face.)

And then there's Captain Marvel, who we'll hopefully be getting on the big screen at some point. She is honestly one of my favorite comic book characters ever to exist (right after Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel), and DeConnick's wonderful writing only makes me love her more. What I love about this series is that, in one of the more recent issues, they subtly touched on one of the female characters being gay. The fact that she happened to be gay didn't define her character at all, which to me, is important. It's just part of who she happens to be. And I love how DeConnick handled it. Also? All of the female characters in this series are amazing!

Now, onto She-Hulk. I adore She-Hulk. I hate the artwork, but I love Jen and I love the story, so I've been keeping up with it. If you're not reading this book, you should be. Look past the artwork if it bothers you, because the story is definitely worth reading. Jen is one of my favorite Marvel ladies. She's just all sorts of awesome. The only reason why she isn't as high up on my list as Kamala (Ms. Marvel) and Carol (Captain Marvel) is because the series hasn't been as consistent as those two. Still, it's a great read with wonderful female characters.

Moving onto Black Widow. I love, love, love Natasha, so I've been eagerly awaiting each and every issue. Is it as strong as Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel? No. Does it suffer some of the consistency issues that She-Hulk suffers? Yes. But it's still worth picking up. I've seen comments with people stating that Natasha isn't being written correctly here, but I don't agree with that. I actually like how she's being written here. It's a different viewpoint of this character, and I'm enjoying it.

And finally, The New Warriors. This series has officially been cancelled, which kind of bums me out, because I only recently got into this series after I saw multiple people talking about how great it was. There are still a few issues coming out, and I've gone ahead and pre-ordered them to be sure I get them right away, because this is a fun series full of great characters. This book has diversity, it has emotional depth, and it has a ton of action. Also? The cameos are wonderful.

Also worth mentioning: Hawkeye! I didn't list it on here simply because I started reading this series only after the trade paperbacks came out for Volumes 1 & 2, so I"m waiting for Volume 3 to come out later this year to catch up.

I will (hopefully) be able to pick up a novel to read at some point this week, but for now, those are some of my recommendations of books that you should be reading!


Release Dates! Pre-Orders on Amazon!

So here is what's going on.
I've uploaded Stouthearted to KDP. It now has a release date - a definite release date - and you're also able to pre-order it exclusively on Amazon. (I will do the pre-order function on the other channels in mid September.)

What is the release date? October 21st, 2014!
Now, before you decide to hurt me, keep reading. There's a reason you have to wait a bit longer.

The eBook will be priced at $2.99 for two weeks only. After that it'll go up to $3.99.

I've also uploaded Arabella, which is actually releasing before Stouthearted. I know, I know. Don't kill me. Here's why I decided to release Arabella first: It's a standalone novella. I don't expect sales to be good. Short stories really don't sell well as it is. So I don't intend on doing much when it comes to promoting it at this moment. (I will definitely work on promo down the line, but for right now, it is not high on my list.) So expect Arabella to hit your Kindles on September 21st, 2014.

With Stouthearted, however, I need to promote it. I need to contact book blogs. I need to get the word out. Which is why you have to wait two more months for the book. I need time to get all of this in order. On the plus side? you get Arabella in exactly one month, and then one month after that? You get Stouthearted! =D

Again, I never meant for the book release to take so long. Life has been kind of an asshole over these past couple of months. A really big asshole.

Now that things are starting to calm down, I'm finally able to work on my books.

A few more details on Arabella:
  • It will be $1.99 in the Kindle store.
  • There will not be a paperback release.
  • It's more of a New Adult title than a Young Adult title.
  • It was inspired by my love of Black Widow and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so you can expect Arabella to be witty and strong.
  • It really is a standalone.
  • I initially had no intention of publishing this story. I wrote it as a distraction piece, but then I ended up falling in love with the characters, so now you guys will get to read it. =)
Now, what will I be publishing for the rest of the year?
Since I hit so many bumps this year, I haven't had much time to sit down and write, so I need to adjust my release schedule. Some things will be pushed back to 2015. Again, I'm sorry, but I needed to take care of family matters and that took priority of my writing.

Here is what I can promise will be out this year:
The Untold Stories -- A collection of short stories featuring various characters from the Emile Reed Chronicles (digital exclusive)
The Program Manual -- A fun Emile Reed Chronicles (digital exclusive)
As We Fall -- The first in a YA sci-fi duology; it has aliens and an awesome heroine named Raven.
And that is all that I'm guaranteeing for this year.
I really wanted to have Rebirth ready for 2014, but I don't see that happening now. The thing with Rebirth is that I really want it to offer a different viewpoint of Charles McVeigh. I want to have the chance to explore his character more, so I have every intention of making Rebirth longer than the other Emile Reed books. He's a jerk, yes, but underneath that, there's definitely more to him and I want to take the time to show that.

I do want to release Decoding Evie and Collide, too, but we'll see. I'm debating on using pen names. Both stories are incredibly different from what you guys have come to expect from me. Most of my stuff is science fiction, so to publish two contemporary romances under the same brand? I'm still iffy on it. Also? Collide is getting a new title to stand out better.

And for those that have started reading Stouthearted on Wattpad? I will be uploading the final version on Wattpad in about three weeks.

On why I haven't been around:
If you've been following my Facebook updates, which have been quite sporadic, you know that the reason I kind of went quiet is because my grandfather had a stroke and was admitted to the hospital. He was moved to the first rehab earlier this month, and they just moved him to the new rehab last Monday. I haven't been able to visit him in a few days since I've been sick and we don't want him getting sick, but he's slowly starting to get better. He has his good days and he has his bad days, sometimes more bad than good, but he is a fighter and I'm just hoping that he'll be back home soon enough.
There have been a few other factors - of which I can't talk about because there are just a bit too personal to discuss on here - that have made things difficult as of late. What I can say is that it involves a sibling of mine. It's not an easy situation at all, and I don't see it getting any easier anytime soon, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I do appreciate those of you that have been willing to work with me.
I've had a few people get aggravated with me, and I understand that, I do. But again, family comes first. July was a complete jerk. That's the nicest way of putting it. Having lost my step-grandfather (from my mother's side), having had my grandfather (on my father's side) admitted to the hospital, and having gone through a few other things with one of my siblings... it hasn't been an easy road. I never intended for Arabella and Stouthearted to be released to dang late, but life happens, and there's nothing I can do but go with the punches thrown.

So yes, I am sorry about all of the delays.
But I had to take care of me and my family first.

I <3 all of you, and I will be doing two giveaways next week to make up for being away for so long. Also? Any authors that I owe a review to, to make up for falling off track, I will do promo posts for your books as well as host a giveaway for each one. (I will gift the copies through Amazon, you don't need to do anything.)

<3 Nicole

P.S. I'm waiting on the pre-order links to go live on Amazon. They should be up within the next three hours. =)