Make new again: Author Interview

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Nikki Tells All:

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

My fascination with home renovation began as a superfan of HGTV, Discovery, and E! Entertainment.  I couldn’t help but imagine myself as the homeowner that needed to confront the various scenarios, budget, choices, the letdowns when things didn’t work out, and the joy of the final walk-through with the TV host. It’s corny; my husband and I would–and still do–watch the shows where the guests travel to foreign countries and choose between three different homes, and we’ll make a game of guessing which they decided, based on the future homeowner’s personalities. When the lockdown became our reality, I put my imagination to work on overdrive. I immersed myself in the behind-the-scenes of tv production companies and learned what happens in the production of Home Renovation shows and Home construction for TV. I had the idea of a protagonist, a mid-twenties Latina with the preparation, looks, and desire to make a name for herself in reality TV, focusing on home design. It was just a matter of getting it down on paper (or on my computer, haha)

How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before deciding as to which topic this time?

The idea behind Renovated percolated for close to a year. I dreamt of it, gave it shape, plotted in my mind until I could no longer fight the words that needed an outlet. I thought about the series, their future partners, tropes, and the misbeliefs. In each story I ask my characters, “Okay, what’s your issue? How are we going to find the one? Who will it be, and how can I create enough conflict to make it riveting”.

What resources do you use? In general, and for the last book that you wrote?

 I started using excel spreadsheets, then I discovered PLOTTR (game changer), Scrivener(I’m probably using a tenth of its potential), Microsoft Word(when in the editing stage).  I use a mix of Save the Cat and Gwen Hayes Romancing the Beat to outline. I’m 100% a plantser: I do very detailed outlines but swerve off the path when my characters develop a mind of their own and deviate from my storyline.

How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police, medics, etc when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

My experience has been very positive when asking professionals for feedback about their profession or even advice. One of the books in my series will be about a home stager that falls for one of the Chance brothers. I was fortunate that I knew in Miami a very successful home stager,  my sister’s sister-in-law.  I spent the day observing and asked numerous questions of everyone that worked the home staging process. People love sharing what they know, and if they love what they do, even more so. 

I will say, “I am writing a book. Can I pick your brain for purely research purposes?” In my experience, thus far, people are flattered that you have an interest in their life or job and are more than happy to answer questions and share details about their profession.

If you need specialist knowledge to write a book, how do you obtain it? For instance, do you interview people? Go to the location? Use Google Earth? Apps?

I’ve googled so much during the lockdown. My book takes place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida. I know those places extremely well. For Tennessee, I googled for details. When things are a bit easier, I would love to go and visit Nashville to do some reconnaissance. My book is about the behind-the-scenes of the Home Renovation production company and the individuals that make up that world. Thank God for Google once again. There’s a lot on the internet, and It’s easy to fall through the research rabbit hole.

Did you need to self-publish on ebooks before a publisher took you up?

 I chose to self-publish from the very beginning. I never entertained the idea of looking for a publisher. I wasn’t waiting for someone else to make my dreams of becoming a published author a reality.

Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I never entertained the thought of a publisher since I decided that I was going straight to Indie.  But if I am blessed enough to garner an audience and am approached by a publishing house I would consider it. One thing people who aren’t in the industry hardly realize is that you have to put on a lot of hats with self-publishing. You are not only the writer, but you are also the advertiser, the researcher, etc.  

I consider self-publishing and building an audience similar to the concept of the newsletter. It’s essential to make a connection with your readers, and at the end of the day, your fans belong to you, follow you, and will back your books.

What do you read when you are ill in bed?

When I am sick––which thankfully doesn’t happen very often––it’s Paranormal romance for me. I get to stretch my imagination and construct the author’s world-building in my mind. I forget that I’m sick for a while. I am a huge fan of Shelly Laurenston (Her shifter romances), Lora Leigh (Breed Series), and Laurann Dohner(New Species). Alpha Males that have animal DNA. Wait, there’s a pattern there somewhere.

What is your favorite genre?

Romance, Paranormal, Contemporary, Rom Com––all Steamy.

If you could recommend a living author – who would it be? A dead author?

 Penny Reid, Roni Loren, Devney Perry, Shelly Laurensten, Vi Keeland,  the list could go on and on. All of them are fabulous at their craft. I love their writing: clever writing, strong women, great conflict, and a guaranteed HEA or HFN.

In your opinion, who is the funniest author now writing?

Penny Reid – Winston Brothers Series

 Pippa Grant is Rom-Com personified.

Have you ever tried to imitate another author’s style? And if so, why?

 There are so many talented and fabulous authors. I just want to write my story in the best way possible. I know what’s good. We all know good writing and literature. But it’s when you are putting actual words on the screen that you realize how damn hard the process is.

Do you have any pets?

  1. If so, what are they?  I have a bullmastiff named Kira, the epitome of a gentle giant. She‘s even written into my book Renovated and will be the family dog in all the Chance Series.
  2. And what are they called? Kira
  3. Do they help you write? Kira sits with me all day. Until she wants food, to walk, water, or a treat, then she’s the boss.
  4. What is the funniest thing they have done while you are writing? Kira just sleeps a lot. But at nine years old, she can do what she wants.

Which of your books are you most proud of?

Renovated is my first book, so I am partial to it. I am proud of the fact that I realized I could finish a book and get it published. I slew that monster, and now I’m on to the next.

What, in your life, are you most proud of doing?

On a personal level, raising my children to be two incredible young adults and my thirty-two years with my husband, on a professional level, passing my CPA exam and holding my book in paperback. Nothing says a published author more than having the evidence in your hand.

Do you have an unusual hobby? Is it related to the books you write? Or is it for relaxation? Is it dangerous/ adventurous/ requires travel?

I love to travel. I live in Puerto Rico. Therefore we have to travel by plane to get everywhere. There’s no getting in the car and traveling to the next state over.  Learning about the world and experiencing their cultures is extremely important to me as an individual and family.  Pre-pandemic, we traveled to South Africa and stayed on a reserve, traveled to Zimbabwe, sailed the Nile, and climbed Machu Picchu. Hopefully, one day we can all return to a normal where we can travel and visit without fear.

Which is your favorite place to visit? Do you incorporate it into your books?

 I love Florida, and it plays a central figure in my book, the different cultures that make up the state’s personality are front and center in my book.

If you could be any fictional character, which would you be? And why?

When I was young, it was Nancy Drew. As I got older, it was Mrs. Marple. Then I read J D Robb__ Eve Dallas.  I think I see another pattern forming. Funny, I love romance but see myself as Angela Fletcher of Murder She Wrote.

If you could choose to live in another country/town – which would you choose? And why?

Rome, Italy, or San Sebastian, Spain. I believe I’m motivated by the food in those countries. London, England because I’m a secret anglophile. But deep down inside, they would all be to visit. I love the United States and could not see myself living in any place other than here.

What music – if any – do you think inspires you to write? Is it different for each novel or the same?

I create a Spotify list for each book, within songs that inspire the trope. In Renovated, it’s a Puerto Rican girl raised in Miami, so my mix has many Spanish songs. I get into the zone, don’t even hear the words after a while. You can link the playlist here

Do you write at home or away from home? If at home, what does your space look like? Are you a tidy person? If away from home – where and why?

Since the lockdown and the pandemic have not been very conducive to coffee shop writing, I write at home.

I have a home office, but when the muse leaves me, it’s in bed from nine to midnight, just me and my laptop. My husband’s a saint and sleeps by my side while I write into the night.

 Do you keep a timeline and character traits pinned up on your wall? On post-its? How do you remember important items about your characters like height, weight, coloring, likes and dislikes, etc.? 

Plottr (not sponsored) has been instrumental in creating my timelines and character descriptions. I have now started using the Enneagram for character development. In Scrivner, I also keep a detailed character sheet that I transfered from Plottr, which I then add to.

Do you enjoy sailing? On a lake or the sea? And what about tall-masted ships- are they better than engines or?

I’m more of a motorboat person, I want to get to the endpoint, to start the trip and the fun fast. Not so much into the journey, more the destination. I wonder what that says about me.

Has the pandemic inspired you with any new stories to write? If so, what is the story premise?

The pandemic inspired me to finish my first book finally made me realize that life is too short not to acknowledge your deep-seated dreams.

Do you prefer doctors or nurses as your hero/heroine? Why?  

I’ve been married to a doctor for over thirty years, and my daughter is studying medicine, so from a practical perspective, I have more input from them. Since he was a med student, I have been with my husband, and I have seen my daughter go through the same thing. Plus, my day job is running my husband’s office, and I’m a witness to the ins and outs of hospitals and patients.

But, on the other hand, writing a romance with a doctor as the protagonist is a bit difficult since I have first-hand experience of how little free time doctors have––especially when they are starting, so a hero/heroine that’s a nurse is a bit easier to make realistic (But I’ll have to research that premise since I really haven’t investigated that either)

What about ‘snark’? Is it good or bad?

I love reading snarky characters, but I have now realized how difficult they are to write because there is that fine line between snarky and being considered bitchy.

Is it easy to write humor?

Writing humor is not easy at all. It’s incredibly different from in-person humor, as you really have to have a mastery of writing to be able to look at every aspect of a scene to find the humor in the situation, then exploit it for all it’s worth.

How easy is it to write a good sex scene? And do you have to have experienced these things, do you think, to write about them successfully?

Ugh, I sweated the sex scenes. I’ve taken classes on creating sexual tension and writing sex scenes, read books and blogs. It was crucial for me to write them because I wanted to write the type of book I liked to read. I love books with steamy sex scenes, and I take my hat off to all those authors who make it look easy. I need to delve into all the senses, so much of the sex scene is mental, and you have to keep that constantly present in the execution of writing it. It’s what your characters are thinking, feeling, experiencing at the moment, all immortalized on the page.


Nikki - Make new again: Author Interview

Nikki Kiley is an aspiring author of Contemporary Romance. Since she was a young girl, she dreamt of writing stories that would entertain and move her readers, like she was and still is, by talented authors.

When not working the day job running a medical office, she spends hours crafting and writing stories about heroes and heroines earning their chance at love. She makes her home in Puerto Rico with her husband, two young adult children, and a gentle giant, the bull mastiff, Kira.

She loves the beach, her Nespresso maker, and cupcakes (S’more in particular).

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Let’s Predict the Future

NB I read this before the TV series came out! But was prompted by hearing about it.

I thought that Terry Pratchett was on form with Neil Gaiman’s extra touch. Note that this one of Prachett’s early books (written about 30 years ago) that I missed – don’t know how, as I thought I had read all of his books, including the ones aimed (so they say) at children!

So, the Apocalypse is nigh! Or is it? Agnes Nutter certainly thought so when she wrote her book of predictions several hundred years ago. Not only did she predict when, but also the special signs – saffron and holes for instance – and even knew exactly where it would be started.

And sure enough that was where HE lived – as a nice small boy, playing in the way all boys did, with a vivid imagination, and an unfortunate stack of magazines lent to him by Anathema Device.

I thought Crowley was a brilliant character, and especially liked the adjustment to the M25. On a bad day it certainly seems like he might have done this..

The friendship between Crowley and Aziraphale was nicely detailed, even if they weren’t ‘real’ theological characters, they certainly seemed like they could be. And the whole of the book is a nice adaptation of the Book of Revelations with a couple of vivid imaginations thinking outside the box.

I wish there were more stars to give this book!

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