Just Lucky!

Four Leaf Clover Vectors by Vecteezy

Can you hear my cheers of happiness from where you are? That would be me putting the final touches on my next novel, Just Lucky. I’m making a few final tweaks before sending it to beta readers.

Are you interested in being part of my team of beta readers? For your efforts you’ll receive a signed copy of the paperback and my undying appreciation! The novel is currently running around 71,100 words and is a contemporary romance with hints of the paranormal. There are also tasteful but explicit sex scenes.

I gave a brief synopsis of the storyline in a previous post but here’s a reminder:

Lily Vincent is a forty year old, recently divorced, Midwesterner. One day, while out trying to find an apartment on her meager salary, she stops in the local convenience store and buys a mega-millions lottery ticket. Later that night, she is stunned to discover she has won $365 million.

Fast forward to the town of Ballymeade on the southwest coast of Ireland where Lily has purchased, sight unseen, a large parcel of land that includes a lighthouse, cottage, and two large outbuildings–one of which is a whiskey distillery. The first night on the property she meets her tenant, Evan Connor, a forty-two year old, drop-dead gorgeous movie star who wants nothing more than to get out of the movie business and devote his time to making whiskey and having a simpler way of life.

Sparks fly from their first meeting, and while Lily and Evan are mindful of their hearts, it isn’t long before romance is in the air on the beautiful shores of Ireland. This story is about two people, both searching for their purpose in life, all with some spicy romance for good measure! Add in some local characters from Ballymeade, an aging starlet who has set her sights on getting Evan back in her life, and four witches from centuries past who give Lily sage advice for living her best life.

Lily thinks for once she’s just lucky–but maybe now fate plays a hand.

If you’re interested in giving me feedback on the draft, all that’s required is your honest appraisal of the novel: character development, pacing, story flow. Basically, is it something that you enjoy and holds your interest? Let me know by dropping me a line at nikkilongwrites@gmail.com and I’ll give you more details and a contract to sign.

Persuasion for the Masses?

This post is a little different in that I want to share my take on the new Netflix movie Persuasion. You may or may not agree, but it’s just my take on the newest adaptation of Jane Austen. Don’t hate me if you don’t agree (and thanks for indulging me). On a different note–I can tell you that I’ve finished my second novel “Just Lucky” and am in the process of editing. More on that in a later post!

I have a masters degree in English with a focus on literature and creative writing. One of my favorite writers in the “canon” is Jane Austen. Suffice to say I’ve read her novels, studied them critically, and seen a lot of the film adaptations of her work. So, I’d like to think I’m no dummy when it comes to the study and interpretation of her work.

For anyone who might not know, Persuasion is Jane Austen’s last complete novel and was published about six months after her death. It is one of her more melancholy works about Anne Elliot, a youngish–but close to spinsterhood–woman who was persuaded to cut ties with the one man she truly loved, Fredrick Wentworth, a young sailor of no consequence. Eight years go by with her tending to her selfish family–quiet, introverted, kind, and still pining away for the love that got away. Of course, the story has a happy ending, but it is a much more mature, dramatic ending because the characters are no longer young and impulsive. And friends, if you ever want to know how to write a love letter–by all means read Wentworth’s letter to Anne in Chapter 23 of the novel. Swoon!

I watched the new Dakota Johnson-Netflix Persuasion with equal parts confusion and amusement, and found myself wondering on more than one occasion if they’d even bothered to read the novel. The choices made to turn the character of Anne Elliot into an alcoholic, sarcastic, extroverted flirt, who spends about 75% of the time breaking the fourth wall to tell the story instead of–oh, I don’t know–hiring a screenwriter who would read the darned novel and write engaging dialogue between the characters–made me cringe. Plus, they used modern language in a period piece–calling Wentworth her “ex” and having a group of women rate men as a “10.” It was a series of weird choices all around.

Seriously, I think the director/writers/producers watched the Bridgerton series and thought they’d goose up one of the most beloved writers in the English language. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bridgerton, but I also know it is a contemporary take–historical romance with a wink and nod towards the classics. It’s sexy, high-spirited, and all ’round great fun. Yes, please! But that’s not Persuasion, like it or not.

I’m all for modernizing takes on Austen. One of my favorites is Clueless, a fantastic update on Emma. And while I haven’t seen it yet, I hear Fire Island is a pretty faithful LGBTQ adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. With this new Netflix adaptation of Persuasion, it seems as if it’s trying to be too many things to too many audiences. I will say this movie does a great job of color-blind casting, has lovely cinematography, and the characters are all very, very pretty. If it engages viewers I just hope they make the choice to read some of Austen’s work. And I hope they aren’t disappointed when the book, or Anne Elliot, is nothing like the movie.

Ireland – Place of Dreams

A view of Hore Abbey from the Rock of Cashel. Photo credit – Nikki Long

First of all, Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day! If you’ve read my novel Ghost of a Chance, then you know how much I love Ireland. My husband and I were lucky enough to visit in October of 2017. We had plans to return in 2020 but a certain pandemic changed our plans. I’m really hoping we’ll be back in 2023.

Why do we want to return? There are several reasons:

  • First, the people! Everyone is so kind and welcoming and I really appreciate their sense of humor. Plus, the taxi drivers in Dublin are the best! They kept us laughing with their running commentary on just about everything as they navigated the chaotic Dublin streets.
  • Second, the country itself. As the photo above shows, it is one of the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited–and I’ve traveled a lot.
  • Third, would have to be the libations. Irish whiskies and beer? Yes please! Nothing is finer than sitting in a pub, sharing in the craic while sipping a fine Irish whiskey or a pint of the black stuff-Guinness.
  • Fourth, but definitely not last, the sense of magic that seems to permeate the air, land, and the buildings. History is a living, breathing thing in Ireland and you can sense it wherever you go. A few days into our 2017 trip we arrived in Cashel after a few hair-raising hours of learning how to drive on the left-hand side of the road. There was a soft rain falling as we stood on top of the rock, the sounds of birds calling to each other bouncing off the stone walls of the ruin. I felt such an overwhelming connection to the place and those who had lived on the land. It was emotional, spiritual, and beautiful–one of those magical moments when you travel somewhere new and yet you feel as if you’ve been there before.

So, is it any surprise that my next novel takes place in Ireland? I’m still figuring out the title, and I’m in the process of wrapping up the ending–happily ever after of course–but it’s almost done. Here’s a quick sketch of the characters/plot:

The main character is Lily Vincent; a thirty-seven years old, recently divorced, Midwesterner. One day, when out trying to find an apartment on her meager salary, Lily stops in the local convenience store and buys a mega-millions lottery ticket. Later that night, she is stunned to discover she has won $365 million.

Fast forward to the (fictional) town of Ballymeade on the southwest coast of Ireland where Lily has purchased, sight unseen, a large parcel of land that includes a lighthouse, cottage, and two large outbuildings–one of which is a whiskey distillery. The first night on the property she meets her tenant, Evan Connor, a forty year old, drop-dead gorgeous movie star who wants nothing more than to get out of the movie business and devote his time to making whiskey and having a simpler way of life.

Sparks fly from their first meeting, and while both Lily and Evan are mindful of their hearts, it isn’t long before romance is in the air on the beautiful shores of Ireland. This is a story about two people, both searching for their purpose in life, all with some spicy romance for good measure! Add in some local characters from Ballymeade, an aging starlet who has set her sights on getting Evan back in her life, and four witches from centuries past who give Lily sage advice for living her best life. You knew I had to throw in some magic and ghosties somewhere, right?

Stay tuned for more updates and as always, thanks for your support!

Romance in the Air!

Valentine’s Day! This is a romance writer’s favorite time of year. I mean, this is what we LIVE for–romance in all it’s varied and wonderful forms. And while I’m never one to turn my nose up at a beautiful bouquet of flowers or a decadent box of chocolates, those are not the first things that pop into my head–or heart–when it comes to romance. So, I thought I’d ask, what’s the most romantic thing someone has ever done for you–or you for them? And it doesn’t have to be tied to St. Valentine’s Day. I’ll start us off with one of the most romantic things my husband has ever done for me–and believe me this is just a sample of the wonderful things he’s done. And yes, I really, really, really lucked out when I found him.

I was in graduate school and working full time. In addition, I was attempting to finish my first novel for publication. Was I stressed out? Oh yeah! One of the classes I took in my graduate studies included a study abroad component in Rome, Italy. It was a quick trip and while I love Rome and was happy to be returning to the Eternal City, I felt weird about going without my husband. Of course, he was super supportive, as he always is, so I left for ten days of Roman history, literature, and la dolce vita.

Montecassino, outside of Rome. Is that a romantic view or what?

Italy was as I remembered it. Historic, beautiful, breath-taking, and chaotic. But after about five days all I could think about was getting home. It just wasn’t the same without “The Dude” to share it with. Of course, we FaceTimed every day and he made sure to get the dogs and cats into the frame whenever he could, but still, I was ready to go home. He happened to mention on one of our calls that he was working on a little project at the house.

Now, we live in a one-hundred-year-old farm house near Lake Michigan. The second floor houses my writing studio, which at the time was a perfect reflection of a graduate student, full time employee/part time writer’s space. In other words, it was a nightmare. Books stacked everywhere, furniture shoved in without a lot of thought, and no art on the desperately-needing-to-be-painted walls. It was serviceable but not very comfortable–and certainly not a great incubator for creativity!

When I returned home I was so happy, and also exhausted. For the first couple of days I was home, I didn’t even go upstairs to my studio. Finally, my husband said, “Will you please go upstairs!?” Up I went, with him right behind me, and when I opened the door I was blown away. Freshly painted walls, furniture carefully placed, and a brand new 27″ monitor on my desk. It was beautiful! His thoughtfulness brought me to tears. While I was running around Italy, enjoying everything the country offered, he was home, making my writing studio absolutely magical. And every time I come up to write (like I am right now), I think of him. Pretty romantic–am I right?

So please, share your most thoughtful actions/romantic moments in the comments. Who knows, maybe it will eventually end up in one of my novels! But don’t worry–I’ll change the names to protect the innocent!

Love image by Valentine Hearts Vectors by Vecteezy

Reflecting on 2021

You’ll probably notice I’ve given the website a bit of a facelift. I thought going into the new year I’d start with a clean slate—visually, at least! Let’s face it, I think we can all agree that 2021 was quite… well… let’s just say that it’s going out the way it came in. I won’t rag on about the pandemic that we still find ourselves in. I’ll just say that I hope you do everything you can to keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy as we roll into 2022.

Since this is the season when we all look back at what has happened in our lives over the past year—reflecting on the good and bad, I hope you’ll indulge me as I share some changes and milestones that I experienced in 2021.

  • Celebrated 10 years of marriage. Let me tell you, I won the lottery when I found him. Supportive, intelligent, funny, and one of the best cooks around. And he puts up with me!
  • Finished my master’s degree. That was a long slog and I’m so happy I did it. Walking across the stage at commencement was truly a highlight of 2021.
  • Released my first novel, Ghost of a Chance. So happy to say I am now a published author. And I’m currently working on my next novel which I hope to release in spring 2022.
  • I found a new job. While I wish I could spend every day in my writing studio, unfortunately, I have bills to pay. Damned reality!!! I’ve worked in higher education for twenty-five years and this year I landed at one of the finest and most well-respected universities in the country. Another plus, I work with incredible (and funny) people. When they found out I was a writer, their only concern was how soon it would be before some of our more colorful co-workers ended up in one of my novels.

So, all in all, I have to say that it’s been a good year, despite everything the world has thrown my way. Sure, there were weeks where I was ready to throw in the towel, but I persevered. Life would be nothing without challenges.

Before I close out 2021, I want to send out my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported me this year. Reading your comments and reviews, realizing I wrote something that entertained you and hopefully let you forget some of life’s challenges—nothing made me happier. You have given me a precious gift. Now, on to 2022 with more strange ideas and impure thoughts!

Love,

Nikki

Happy New Year! Photo Credit – Albert George

Happy Holidays!

Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year when everyone is feeling the pressure to find the perfect holiday gift. Well, I’m moonlighting as a holiday elf and offering Ghost of a Chance, my debut contemporary romance novel, on sale through December 26th. The paperback is now $8.99 and the e-book is $2.99. AND if you are on Kindle Unlimited you can now read it free! I hope you’ll take this opportunity to pick up a copy for the romance reader in your life–and maybe get a copy for yourself too! You can find it on Amazon here.

Even though we are in the middle of the holiday hustle and bustle, I’ve been busy writing my next novel. I’m hoping to have the first draft completed by December 31st. I’ll then be looking for beta readers before I send it off to my editor. If you have an interest in joining my beta team, drop me a line at nikkilongwrites@gmail.com. More details forthcoming but you’ll find an excerpt at the end of Ghost of a Chance.

Thank you all for your support this year. Words alone can’t reflect my gratitude for your positive comments and reviews. May the holidays, however you celebrate, bring you peace and joy, now and in the New Year.

Love to all!

Nikki

P.S. Here’s a picture of our cat Lola, basking in holiday cheer. And yes, one of the trees decided not to light. Ah the joys of holiday decorating!

Ho ho ho! Where’s my dinner!

Ghost of a Chance Give-Away Update

Happy Sunday! I hope you are enjoying your day, wherever you may be in the world. It is a glorious late summer morning here in my little spot in the woods. Above is a snap of one of our hostas, which are blooming like crazy this year. Before too long we’ll be enjoying the vibrant fall foliage, but for now we still have some summer blooms left.

Ghost of a Chance was released on August 3rd, and I’m so delighted and humbled by the response. Thanks to all of you who have purchased a copy. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it, I would ask if you would do me a huge favor and post a review on either Amazon or Good Reads. Or both if you are feeling particularly generous!

As I mentioned in a previous post, for those who signed up on my Mailchimp newsletter list, they would be entered in a giveaway for a signed copy of GoaC. This morning I notified the five winners, so be sure to check your email to see if you were one of them!

I am busy working on my next novel (actually, I have two works in progress right now) so stay tuned for the next release from my brain, to the page, to your hands.

Keep reading and stay safe!

Best – Nikki

Early Arrival!

I’m a stickler for getting places on time. To be completely honest, I usually arrive early. Catching a flight? Count on me being at the gate way, way, WAY ahead of time. Meetings? I’ll be there 10 minutes early (5 minutes early for Zoom meetings). Dinner out with friends? I’ve been known to drive around the block a few times so I’m not the first one there.

Well, apparently, early arrivals also include publishing my debut novel. It’s true! Ghost of a Chance is available NOW in paperback. You can purchase through Amazon here. The e-book is available for pre-order and will be available on the original release date of September 3rd–hey, self-publishing is a learning curve! But if you just can’t wait and you prefer holding a real, honest-to-goodness book in your hands, then you can head over to Amazon and order your paperback copy now!

I’m so excited, happy, thrilled, overjoyed… you get the idea. Oh, and I have a new logo for my publishing company, Long House Press, designed by Karin Star, superstar illustrator.

I can’t thank you all enough for your support. Don’t forget that I’m also giving away five signed copies of Ghost of a Chance. If you want a chance to win, please sign up for my mailing list by August 14th in order to be eligible. I’ll announce the winners on August 15th.

Ghost of a Chance Launch Date!

I’m thrilled to announce that my debut contemporary/paranormal romance novel, Ghost of a Chance, will launch on Friday, September 3, 2021 on Amazon. More details to follow on pre-orders, as well as other available online retailers, but I can confirm that there will be both paperback and digital downloads available.

One of the most exciting aspects of launching a novel is working with other artists. Believe me, there is no way you can do this alone. The illustrator for Ghost of a Chance (or GoaC for you cool kids into acronyms) is none other than the super-talented Karin Starr. I was lucky enough to meet Karin virtually through the ALA Book Club on Facebook. Seeing her beautiful illustrations influenced by the Discovery of Witches trilogy made me realize that only Karin could bring my characters to life. And WOW! She captured Kate, Pete, and Abigale just as I imagined them. When she sent me the final illustrations I cried tears of joy.

So, without further delay… drum roll please. I am honored to share with you the cover art for GoaC.

Contest alert: I will be giving away five signed copies of Ghost of a Chance. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter here: https://mailchi.mp/5c7bb9f3e841/nikki-long-writes to be eligible to win.

Oh, and please visit Karin’s shop at https://linktr.ee/karinstar to see more of her beautiful work!