A long overdue update.

It has been some time since I've posted here, and for that, I apologize.
Things have been pretty freaking crazy this past month.

If you'll recall, over the past two years, I've been going to the doctors and hospitals a lot. Well, we're finally starting to get answers now. Unfortunately, most of the answers are far from good. Hence why I've kind of vanished. (I'm back now!) I've been uploading The Shadow Program two chapters at a time onto Wattpad for everyone to read for free before it's published as an eBook later this month, and I'm hard at work on my next release. But if it takes a bit longer for that? Know that it isn't because I'm not trying to get it ready.

To break it down a bit further, here's what is going on exactly: My main doctor has been doing a ton of blood-work and also went ahead and ordered an ultrasound on my heart as I was having some issues. Come to find out, I have a leaky heart valve which has been causing the stiff and swollen feeling in my chest. (Fun fact? I'd visited the hospital twice for this issue and they insisted it was nothing more than a pulled muscle.) She then ordered me to undergo a few more tests elsewhere. One was a test for poly-cystic ovary syndrome. Needless to say, that was another test that came back with rather unfortunate results. She also sent me to a hematologist as my blood-work has been all over the place for the past two years. My white blood cell count has been far too high, as have my platlets, while my iron level was at a 9 (as opposed to a 100, as it should be). So yeah, I'm a bit of a mess these days. I'm glad we're finally coming up with some answers, but man, trying to balance a writing career along with two full-time jobs (to go with my 9-6 office job, I'm also the editor in chief on a site), it's pretty damn hard.

Just know that I am trying, guys. I promise you. I'm really, really trying to get back on schedule. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to stick to my publication schedule which has angered plenty of people. (I've received plenty of messages that showcase as much.) I'd hoped to have Collide out in full by now, but I haven't had the funds to get a proper cover/had the time to work on editing all of the installments. Same goes with the Is Love series. Doctor appointments are expensive. Even more expensive? Five monthly prescriptions. (That's as of now. I still have more appointments coming up with various other specialists.)

So forgive me for all of the delays. I promise, you'll have another story to enjoy shortly after The Shadow Program. And it'll be a full-length novel, not another novella.

Just be patient with me for right now.

<3 Nicole


It's Time For An Update.

I'm horrible at updating this thing. Honestly, I'm sorry for the lack of updates. I keep meaning to post here regularly, it's just not as easy as it sounds. Right now, I'm balancing three jobs: my full time office job, my full time EIC job on a site, and my writing career. Trying to find time to blog? It's nearly impossible.

So, here's a quick update while I have some downtime:

I'm trying to finish up The Shadow Program, but that may be pushed to January, because I want to focus on Survival Instinct right now. It's been nearly a year since I've released a full-length novel, so I want to finish Survival Instinct and get that out there before another novella (The Shadow Program). Again, I apologize for the constant shifts in schedule, it was a lot easier to plan things before because I wasn't as busy.

Now? I wish that were the case.

The plus side to all of this? I'm doing a bit better health-wise. The downside? I'm having some issues financially. I've shipped out books to those that have asked (bloggers/teachers) - some of which I forgot to e-mail tracking to, and I apologize for that - but I will be stopping that until things get better for me. I'll still send out bookmarks (1 or 2 per person) if you e-mail me a receipt that you purchased a paperback copy of one of my books, but that's all I can do for now. (Signed books for sale are not being stopped. I can still do that much.)

Off to work on Survival Instinct!

<3 Nicole


New to My Shelves!

  • Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
  • Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 (AKA Jessica Jones) by Brian Michael Bendis
I'm a few chapters into Black Widow: Forever Red and it's pretty great so far. As for Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1, I've already read and loved, loved, loved the Alias omnibus, but I had to purchase the new trade paperbacks because I adore David Mack's artwork. I mean, just look at that cover! (By the way, Jessica Jones is heading to Netflix next month. You should watch it!) 

Review Copies via NetGalley:
  • Side-Kicked by Russell Brettholtz (Review here.)
  • Bitch Planet: Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick 
  • Sugar Skulls by Lisa Mantchev and Glenn Dallas 
  • Friction by Sawyer Bennett

I actually own the first three issues of Bitch Planet, but I never got around to reading them, so I was excited to find the first volume on Net Galley. It was the extra push I needed to find time to start the series. I love KSD's Captain Marvel runs, so I'm pretty excited for Bitch Planet. As for Sugar Skulls and Friction? Both looked appealing, and I can't wait to dive into them soon!

What books did you get this week? =)

Mini Review: Side-Kicked by Russell Brettholtz.

Book: Side-Kicked by Russell Brettholtz
Release Date: 10/27/15
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Purchase: Amazon -- Comixology

Book Description:

It should come as no surprise to learn that within the superhero "community," egos run rampant. But how does all that free-flowing narcissism impact those just outside the spotlight? Chicago finds out when five of the city's most loyal Sidekicks finally grow tired of being disrespected by both the prima donnas they work with and the citizenry they strive to protect. And it's not like the Windy City needs yet another labor upheaval... 

My Review: 

Side-Kicked is a fun little comic for readers looking for something a bit different from comics.

I'm always looking for new comics to check out and when I came across Side-Kicked, the cover immediately caught my attention, and then the description sold me.Unfortunately, Side-Kicked wasn't exactly what I hoped for. While fun, Side-Kicked is a bit scattered. It doesn't flow well, and the artwork at times is rather unappealing. Still, Side-Kicked manages to be intriguing enough that it's still somewhat enjoyable.

If you're looking for something different than the usual comics from the big two, then Side-Kicked is definitely worth a read. But I'm still undecided on whether or not I'll continue to follow the rest of the story.


Sneak Peek at The Untold Stories

So, I was going to write a short story specifically for the blog. In fact, I'd started writing one, but that short story has since become part of my novellas series that I'm working on. Since I will no longer be releasing that story on the blog, I've decided to go ahead and post an extended look at The Untold Stories since I'm currently prepping the final file for the pre-order.

Below you'll find part of the [unedited] first chapter of The Untold Stories, which kicks off with a short story told from Grant's POV and it takes place during the events of Deprogrammed.

Chapter One
I glanced up at the monitors, trying to make sense of the information that sat before me. “How is that even possible?” I mumbled, reaching for the tablet that sat on my chair.
“That can’t be right.” I tapped on the icon on the lower right hand side of the screen and zoomed in on the Program’s readings. She wasn’t supposed to react to the images.
She shouldn’t have reacted to the images.
But somehow, she had managed to do just that.
A loud bang sounded from the hallway outside of the room shortly before Charles McVeigh came barging in. I could see the frustration on his face, the irritation in his eyes, as he attempted to keep his anger in check. “That wasn’t supposed to happen,” he said. “Thompson, I thought I’d made myself clear. You were not to draw Emile out. You were simply to implant these images within her programming.”
I forced myself to focus, knowing that if I allowed myself to lose control, he’d begin to question me, and that was the one thing I needed to avoid. At all costs.
I turned my attention back to the monitors, trying to retrace every step.
I knew that I’d done everything right.
I had performed this procedure numerous times.
It had been implanted in my memory.
And yet, even though I’d done everything correctly, something had still caused things go to go awry.
McVeigh hovered over the Program, his eyes looking for something abnormal, something that would explain her readings, but I knew he’d find nothing. I’d done the exact same thing myself.
As he moved in beside me, I pressed my tablet to my side, making sure to remind myself to remain calm. There were some secrets meant to remain hidden, I’d told myself.
I was one of them.
He glanced back over his shoulder, his eyes locking onto mine with burning questions – ones that I held no answers to. “Sir, I assure you that the system was functioning properly. I’m not sure what happened.”
I knew the moment that the words left my mouth that they wouldn’t change his way of thinking. Charles McVeigh had made up his mind the second he’d entered the room.
“Functioning properly?” McVeigh scoffed. “If that were so, Thompson, that Program would have had the proper files installed onto her hard drive.”
I dropped my gaze to the tablet within my grasp. Tell me about it, I thought to myself.
Something was different about this Program. I’d had an idea of what it could be, but I refused to accept it as truth. Surely that wouldn’t be the case. Would it? I asked myself.
A snapping sound came from inside of the Pod as the Program’s hard-drive clicked out of place. McVeigh moved in closer, hovering above the Program, meeting her stare as she opened her eyes. He pressed his finger to his bottom lip before speaking, “You need to fix this, or else she won’t be the only thing facing deactivation.”
The final file is due on October 23rd, so I'll be quiet until then. After that, I'll begin sharing teasers for Collide and The Shadow Program.

<3 Nicole


Mini Reviews: Comic Book Style

I've fallen behind on my reading as of late, but I'm slowly trying to work my way through my to-read pile. To start off, in order to try and get back into the swing of things, I'm going to post a few mini reviews for some comic books that I've read recently.

Title: Mockingbird #1 by Chelsea Cain
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: September 2, 2015
Page Count: 33 pages
Description From Amazon: Mockingbird has always been one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s best agents, but what happens when someone close to her is murdered? Forced to take matters into her own hands, someone is bound to pay! New York Times Bestselling Author Chelsea Cain joins the Marvel Universe to tell a story of bloody revenge! Plus, a special bonus story by superstar young adult author, Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures), writer for the upcoming YA novel, Black Widow: Forever Red!

Mini Review: If you're a fan of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, then this is a must-read comic. Not only does it introduce Red Widow, a new character in the Marvel universe that fans will get to know better in Margaret Stohl's upcoming Black Widow novel, but it also does an excellent job at telling a fun, kick-ass story that works as a one-shot. As of right now, Marvel has not announced a new Mockingbird series, but I'm hoping that if they do - and I'd like to think they will if Marvel's Most Wanted gets picked up to series on ABC - they bring back Cain to write it.

Title: Wolf #1 by Ales Kot
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: July 22nd, 2015
Page Count: 64 pages
Description From Comixology: Bestselling new star writer ALES KOT teams up with white-hot artist MATT TAYLOR and DEADLY CLASS colorist extraordinaire LEE LOUGHRIDGE for an all-new ONGOING SERIES! The crime noir thrills and characters reminiscent of True Detective meet with mythical stakes worthy of Neil Gaiman's Sandman in this original fantasy/horror/crime saga for mature readers. Antoine Wolfe, a hard-boiled paranormal detective with a death wish, has to cope with sudden responsibility for an orphaned teenage girl who might be the key to the impending apocalypse, California-style. The road to hell and back begins in a MAX-SIZED FIRST ISSUE, with fifty-eight pages of story and no ads!

Mini Review: I had high hopes for Wolf. The cover was fantastic and eye-catching and the description sounded excellent, it was hard not to be excited about Wolf. Unfortunately, that excited ended shortly after reading it. Wolf is good, don't get me wrong, but it's not great. My biggest issue was that, after sixty something pages, I still had far too many questions from a book that should have provided at least a few of them. I won't be continuing Wolf, unfortunately, but it's one still worth checking out.

Title: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1 by Kieron Gillen
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: August 12th, 2015
Page Count: 32 pages
Description From Comixology: The team behind the New York Times bestselling and Eisner-nominated smash hit THE WICKED + THE DIVINE return to the acclaimed urban fantasy where they first made their names. Nearly a decade ago, Emily Aster sold half her personality for the power to rule a coven of phonomancers. I'm sure nothing could go horribly, monstrously wrong now. In a world where Music is Magic, a song can save or ruin your life. In THE IMMATERIAL GIRL, we discover what a video can do.

Mini Review: I've enjoyed Gillen's work in the past. I adore The Wicked + the Divine, and I loved his work on Young Avengers, but Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl is a lot different. Is it as fantastic as those titles? No. Is it worth your time? Yes. The artwork is excellent, the coloring is wondering, and the storytelling is great. One of Gillen's biggest strengths is his ability to create realistic characters in these extraordinary settings. It's not something that a lot of writers can pull off, and yet, he manages to do it with such ease in each and every one of his projects. I'll definitely be continuing Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl - which is a mini-series - eager to see where the story goes.
Title: The Beauty #1 by Jeremy Haun  
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: August 12th, 2015
Page Count: 32 pages
Description From Comixology: THE PILOT SEASON WINNER RETURNS! Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is attainable. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Foster and Vaughn will soon discover it comes at a terrible price. Writer/artist JEREMY HAUN (Constantine, Batwoman) and co-writer JASON A. HURLEY offer up a startling reflection on the cost of looking good in this procedural science fiction tale.

Mini Review: It's hard to say that the description for The Beauty pulled me in. Honestly, if anything, it made me indifferent to the title. The idea of an STD making people beautiful? It just didn't seem like an interesting premise, and yet, this comic works. The artwork is excellent and the story itself is well-written. It's mysterious, and full of well developed characters. It's hard not to be excited to see where this series goes over time.

Cover Reveal: WE ARE ALL STRANGERS + Free eBooks!

I'm finally getting around to re-publishing We Are All Strangers, a collection of short stories that I originally published a couple of years ago. Thanks to a brand new cover from Christa of Paper & Sage Design, as well as the addition of a few new stories, We Are All Strangers is finally ready to be released on October 6th, 2015. Pre-Orders will be available next week.

Along with the re-release of We Are All Strangers, I've also settled on a release date for The Untold Stories. You can catch it below, along with an unedited teaser.

And finally, for those of you that have been wanting to start The Outbreak Duology (Submerged and Stouthearted), you can currently download a free eBook copy for a very limited time from Smashwords!

Head over here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/534057 and use the coupon code VZ27X at checkout to get the eBook for free.

<3 Nicole