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!

Are you ready for this?

Hello, friends! It has been a busy couple of weeks. Graduation is over, the summer is beginning, and I’m getting ready to publish Ghost of a Chance. As I get closer to publication my anxiety is ramping up and I keep asking myself, “Are you ready for this?”

I’ve incorporated my business, hired Karin Star, a kick-ass, super talented illustrator for my book cover, and finished a final edit on the manuscript. Next week I’ll be doing a shoot for my author photo with my all-time favorite photographer, Albert George. I’m now working on the back cover copy and setting up accounts with Kindle Direct Publishing/Amazon, and all the other digital storefronts.

It’s been fun during the writing and planning stages but like I said, the anxiety is ramping up—big time! What if after all this work, all this blood, sweat, and tears, people hate it? Ghost of a Chance has been my baby that I’ve nurtured along for almost two years. I’m not saying everyone has to love it, but what if…. What if no one buys it? What if someone (or many) leaves a dreaded, awful Amazon review?

I’ve performed in front of thousands of people without a moment’s hesitation. I feel more myself onstage—more confident, and more in command of my talents. But this whole publishing thing is not for the faint of heart. Nothing has felt more personal than publishing this novel. Maybe I’ve spent too many years reading incredible writers… how can I hold a candle to them?

Now, I realize this is turning into a REAL buzz kill so I’m going to stop wallowing in the muck and mire of self-doubt. Instead, I’m going to do what I always do when that voice in my head tells me I’m not good enough. I’m going to channel my inner diva and say, “Get out of the way, bitch. I’m driving!” I’ll close with these beautiful flowers and a reminder that Ghost of a Chance will be released in August/September 2021. Watch this space!

For you!

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Busy, busy, busy

Hello friends. It’s official. A little over a week ago I defended my master’s thesis and passed! I will be collecting my diploma on May 15th and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a lot of hard work but it was worth it. I was so fortunate to have a kick-ass thesis committee who allowed me to embrace my love of all things romance.

But now it’s time to move forward with publication of Ghost of a Chance. I was excited to receive a notice from an agent a few weeks ago who wanted to see more pages. I dutifully sent on the manuscript but in the end it wasn’t in her wheelhouse. While I’ll continue to query agents, I’m not going to wait around anymore. By June/July 2021 I will start the process of self-publishing through all of the major retail digital storefronts. There will be quite a few hoops to jump through as far as registering my business license, marketing plans, hiring an illustrator for my book cover, and setting up the all important newsletter mailing list.

In order to send out emails through Mailchimp I will need your permission. A link is below if you want to be on my mailing list–and I KNOW you want to be on my mailing list, right? Of course you do! After all, where else will you find out when and where you can purchase your very own copy of Ghost of Chance? Do a gal a favorite and sign up.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!

In addition to completing my master’s degree and getting ready to launch my debut novel, I’ve also been working on two exciting new story ideas. One of the novels, “Grace Under Pressure,” takes place in and around New York City and the Catskills, and centers on my first passion–theatre! The other novel with the working title, “Luck of the Irish,” takes place in Ireland and it involves a lighthouse, a psychic, a handsome movie star, and magic. Romantic? Of course! As you may be aware from past posts, I love all things Ireland. Fell in love with it when my husband and I visited in 2017. So be on the lookout for lots of activity from yours truly. In the meantime I’ll leave you with this photo. One of my favorite places in Ireland. Doesn’t it just signify everything romantic and mysterious?