The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Nicole Zoltack. The second book in Nicole's Kindgom of Arnhem series, Knight of Glory, was released last month and this month she has a short story in Desert Breeze Publishing's latest anthology Be Mused.
Nicole has been writing stories since she first learned how to write.
"My mother used to sit my sister and I at the table and hand us both paper and pencil and told us to write," she said. "Is it any wonder that we both want to be authors?"
Along with being a writer, though, Nicole said she always knew she would need to be something else in order to support herself.
"So, I also wanted to be a paleontologist or an actress," she told me. "I actually received my college degree in chemistry with a concentration in forensic science and worked as an organic analyst in an environmental laboratory for over two years."
Nicole told me that sometimes she gets a specific character in mind and the story revolves around him or her. Other times, the plot idea strikes her first. She never has a shortage of story ideas; however, sometimes the execution of those ideas isn't quite so easy. When that happens, she steps back from the story and just thinks about it. And, if that doesn't help, she'll work on another story, because she's always in the middle of more than one writing project at a time.
She's always been intrigued by the Middle Ages, even to the point of having a Renaissance-themed wedding, and has devoured books about the period. It's no surprise that her first novel Woman of Honor was inspired by that period. She wanted to know if there had actually been any female knights in that time period. Turns out, there were—one such group was the Order of the Hatchet, women who were honored as knights for their brave defense of their town. Nicole was inspired to write about Aislinn, who wants to become a knight to honor the death of her brother. Aislinn petitions the king about her desire to become a knight, and she cites these brave women that defended their town, and is given a probationary training period.
Nicole's Kingdom of Arnhem series is very similar to the Middle Ages on earth; it is, however, set on the planet Terra, which is a parallel universe.
I asked Nicole to tell us a little about her latest book in this series:
Sir Geoffrey, along with some companions, has been sent away from Arnhem, entrusted by Queen Aislinn for a special mission, and has to leave behind the mysterious lady Celestia. On his journey, he uncovers seeds of a sinister plot, learns a horrible secret, and makes a new friend in exile Jenanna.
Their mission completed, Geoffrey and his companions rush to two different kingdoms to ask for aid. Danger and betrayal lurks around every corner, and even allies have secrets that could prove deadly. Geoffrey's feelings for Celestia grow and wane. After learning some of Celestia's secrets, he begins to have second thoughts about his love for her and is even drawn to Jenanna.
Rumors abound that the Speicans have enlisted a mage of their own, to work unspeakable, forbidden magic. The war between Speica and Arnhem has just begun. Will Geoffrey survive the battle to live another day and discover which woman he truly loves?
She's currently working on the third book in the series, Champion of Valor, as well as a couple of short stories.
It's not been easy for her finding the time—or the energy—to write, she shared with me. Her best writing time is normally late, after her son Nicholas and her husband go to bed. Lately, however, she often just crashes at night as well, because in addition to having an eighteen-month-old (Nicholas, not the husband), Nicole is also expecting Baby #2 in August.
A few months after that, Nicole told me, she'll be losing her office, which will become Nicholas' bedroom once the new baby takes over the nursery. For the time being, though, her office contains "two bookshelves holding three bookcases worth of books, three desks, and a filing cabinet that contains a lot of my writing papers."
On more of a personal note, I asked Nicole if she really wanted a dog.
"Nope," she answered promptly. "If I could have any animal, it would be a Pegasus. But, since I haven't found one, I guess a horse would have to do."
She also confessed to me that her Facebook picture is well over a year old. She loves that picture and hates how she looks in most others, which is why she uses it for her author picture as well.
Nicole not only cries during movies, she admitted that for some movies she cries every single time she sees it, even if she's seen it over a hundred times.
Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Never give up," she said. "A rejection is not the end of the world. Instead, it’s an opportunity for another publisher or agent. And, one of the most important elements of good writing is realistic characters that grown and develop as the story progresses. I can't stand reading boring characters nor static ones. How a character changes is one of the most compelling reasons to keep turning pages."
You can keep up with Nicole on her blog, http://nicolezoltack.blogspot.com