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Dreydak

CHAPTER ONE

Journey to Grom Gol

Dreydak smashed his fist down hard on the dark wooden guardrail as the dock master unhooked the last metal chain link mooring from the Zeppelin. “Grom Gol Base Camp” he muttered through gritted teeth. Peering down at his fist, he slowly uncurled his thick fingers, flexing them a few times. He clenched the guardrail and looked out toward setting crimson sun and scanned the horizon as the Zeppelin slowly drifted forward and up into the reddish purple sky departing from Orgrimar. Thoughts raced through his mind. Why did it have to be Grom Gol? Hasn’t’ he suffered enough? Born a Frostwolf Orc. Taken from his home as a child. Raised from a young age to know nothing but how to be a warrior. Fighting and war. And demons. Those horrific, foul smelling abominations who invaded his home world. That is what he knew and nothing more. Dreydak never even had the chance to bond a wolf as his clan elders had when they were in the prime of their youth.

Dreydak’s face tightened and he looked down at the deck floor. He realized his prime had long since passed and felt robbed of the chance to grow up the way Orcs traditionally did.
Dreydak’s thoughts wandered to the past, to memories of Dreanor, his home world and to the Demon armies who conquered it. The Demons decimated and corrupted the Orcs with their tainted green blood potions turning the majority of the race into pawns to do their bidding. Some of the Orc clans lusted for power and were tricked by the Demons, leading them into a life of submission and subservience. That’s when his race’s fight for survival began. The war with the Demons lasted many years, ending with most clans fleeing the Orc home world. Dreydak lifted his hands, palms up staring at his wrinkled skin. Once Orc skin was light brown or tan. The Demon corruption had turned their skin green. Dreydak used to have green skin. Not now though. His hands looked like the color of charred blackened meat. Dreydak lifted his head, chip up and held his hands behind his back. The zeppelin soared high above the clouds now, the sun almost set. He felt the cool breeze of the dawn air whisk through his long gray hair. His thoughts drifted again.

Dreydak thought of how the Orcs first invaded Azeroth. Immediately upon arrival to this new world, long war between the Alliance and Horde began. Dreydak was seriously injured and almost died. It was a horrible time filled with more betrayal, lost hope and vengeance. Many Orcs including friends and comrades were lost forever in what ended up being a flight from their homeland rather than an invasion. Only the resurgence of the shamanistic ways of the Orcs, the reconnection to the elements was what enabled the rise of the Horde. This sparked a change in tide for his race and is what lead Dreydak to almost fully recover from from his injuries. He was never quite right since his near death experience.

The war with the Alliance had taken its toll on both sides. Too much blood had been shed and many lost everything that meant something to them. The effects of the demon corruption were not completely gone and it drove some Orcs to madness. Madness led to an unrelenting need for blood lust. Ogrim Doomhammer, the Orc Warchief at that time, was obsessed with only one thing. Conquer this new world. Azeroth would be for the Horde. This was what led to his race’s second downfall and ultimately the fall of the Horde. The aftermath of this defeat sent Dreydak’s entire race scrambling to hide from Alliance forces or else be captured or killed. Those that were captured were herded like animals and sentenced to confinement for life in the internment camps. Some fled and went into hiding. Many others were just simply slaughtered. Dreydak grunted. It was a miracle that they all survived through to this day. “Ha!” he barked. “Survived!” he spat the words out to no one in particular.

The Orc race was headed toward certain doom until the sudden rise of their current Warchief, Thrall. This very intelligent, green skinned Orc had completely turned the tide for the Orcs. Thrall escaped from a life of slavery, abuse and being raised as a thing. Thrall refused to be a puppet at the hands of human Alliance scum. He traveled the land, rescued and subsequently recruited all Orcs he could find, freeing the beaten down and docile race and rallied them together to reform the great Horde that they once were. Dreydak’s face relaxed and a grin began to split his face. The Orc warriors followed Thrall and raised him to Warchief! Dreydak eyes became watery as he remembered what it felt like to finally feel free of corruption from the demonic taint that ran through the blood of the original Horde. Thrall lead the Horde, but not into a new war. Instead he forged a tentative peace treaty with the Alliance. Dreydak was once again a warrior of the Horde. As fate would have it, peace did not last long.

It wasn’t the Alliance who broke the peace. It was the Scourge, the undead mindless ones, driven by the will of Arthas, the Lich King. Dreydak’s jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed. These thoughts greatly pained him. His life was one tragic event leading to another. And worse still, his death and subsequent undeath was the pinnacle of his grievous existence. His soul was stolen by the hands of the Lich King. He was slain and subsequently risen as a Death Knight to serve Arthas, and become a pawn in the undead Scourge army. Dreydak, the Orc Warrior was transformed into Dreydak, the Death Knight. Granted dark powers by Arthas and stripped of his own will, Dreydak was forced to spread death and disease across all of Azeroth. His actions, his life, his very essence was controlled by pure evil. He had no sense of self control or free will nor was he able to determine right from wrong. How honorable was that for an Orc? It was the largest insult and desecration of the honor code that an Orc could endure. Over time, the Horde and Allince were able to defeat Arthus and all evil ties to the Lich King were broken. Death Knights gained their own free will back but their mortality, or immortality that was unknown. Dreydak was already dead. How could the dead walk? How could the dead die? This was something he had yet to resolve. At least the Warchief gave his kind a second chance, much to the behest of the majority of the Horde. Thrall accepted the Death Knights back into horde and in fact granted them boon. He named them to positions of honor for the sacrifices they endured at the hands of Arthas.

The zeppelin jerked, bringing Dreydak back to the present as he stumbled for purchase on the wooden deck. He closed his eyes for a moment and cleared his mind. Dreydak forced his thoughts to current mission. Grom Gol base Camp. A small base in the middle of Stranglethorn Vale. A hot sultry climate with lots of wildlife, vegetation and many stench ridden goblins. Also home to some of the meanest trolls on Azeroth. Not that goblins or trolls really bothered Dreydak all that much though, it was mainly the sultry climate. He was a Frostwolf Orc. His blood preferred the colder environments over the hotter ones. He grimaced. Couldn’t his commander have dispatched him to Winterspring! Or maybe given him another tour in Northrend! But Stranglethorn? Even the harsh blizzards of Northrend were more appealing right now. He felt more at one with the elements in Northrend. Perhaps, just maybe, he could even find a frostwolf and try to bond with it. Something he never got to do, something he longed to do before his death. His brow furrowed. Is its possible to die again? I’m undead already. His eyes darted from side to side. Could an undead Orc even bond a wolf? It was still confusing for him. He shook his head and tried to clear his mind again.

Grom Gol Base Camp. Not Northrend, not Wintergrasp, just the sizzling hot Jungle. He had to accept the fact he was on his way to Stranglethorn. He decided to go below deck and found place to review his mission details. He removed the scroll from his leather script. He unrolled the and read the orders his commander sent with him. It seemed standard enough. Investigate the shortage of supplies flowing into the Horde camps in Southern parts of the Eastern Kingdoms, starting at Grom Gol Base Camp in Stranglethorn Vale. He read through the rest of his orders, but that was it. It seemed almost too trivial of an assignment for him to waste time with. Shouldn’t he have been dispatched with the force that went to investigate the sightings of that blasted dragon? Surely Thrall couldn’t be ignoring the numerous reports of Deathwing, the Aspect of Death appearing in the skies all over Kalimdor. This assignment was much to simplistic for a veteran of Northrend to be bothered with. Dreydak wondered why he was chosen for this. What was the significance? Was the acceptance back to the Horde a farce? Do the commanders believe him not trustworthy for a vital mission? Or was there some ulterior motive behind it? Dreydak lowered his head and ran his fingers through his hair. He finally decided he was thinking way too much about about everything. He stuffed the orders back in leather script and returned topside to try to relax and enjoy the rest of the ride over the Great Sea. He found an empty spot on a wooden bench covered with a comfortable feather sack. He sat down on th bench, leaned his head back and felt the cool wind on his face. In no time at all, his eyelids grew heavy.

Dreydak didn’t realize he dozed off until he was free falling over the middle of the ocean. He looked up and saw the remains of the Zeppelin engulfed in a ball of flame. He thought he saw birds. But they looked to big to be birds. And that flames! No, not flames. Was it…Yes! It was lava. Molten lava. This wasn’t some goblin fuel experiment gone wrong. The Zeppelin was attacked by dragons. And not just any dragons, but black dragons. Only black dragon innards burned hot enought to spew forth molten lava. Like the molten lava which was melting the Zeppelin above! As he fell, and tried to remain calm and not lose his senses. His mind raced. Was it Deathwing? Was it the black dragon flight? Why did they attack the Zeppelin? Panic started to set in. All he could think about was if the fall was going to somehow permanently kill him, if he was going to break apart when he slammed into the ocean below or…or what?  He had difficulty focusing his eyes and became so disoriented he no longer was sure which way was up. His thoughts, now cloudy, his head light as air, he knew he was about to black out. His instinct told him to take a breath…but that made no sense. He didn’t breathe any longer. His eyelids flickered open and he spotted the swirling ocean below which somehow turned from blue to the deepest black he’d ever seen. He was now barely conscious. Was this the end? Could it be the end? He began to recite the names of his elders, so sure he was about to die for good this time. It would be any second now, he would hit whatever that black swirling surface was and would die instantly from the impact. Just seconds before he hit, all went black.

….to be continued.

 *DISCLAIMER*

World of Warcraft and all references to people, places and things in the World of Warcraft universe are all owned by Blizzard/Activision. The story presented here is the fantasy life of one of my digital characters in Blizzard/Activision’s Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game world. I am not affiliated in any way with Blizzard/Activision nor claim any ownership to any of their intellectual property, all of their rights are reserved. This storyline is presented for the fun an enjoyment of World of Warcraft fans and is not in any way intended for profit or is it for sale. This work is intended simply for the public domain and is fan inspired enjoyment.

Links to Blizzard/Activision’s World of Warcraft website is here.

Wow– I wrote an opening comment today to two different people about critiquing and after reading it back I decided it would be appropriate to share. This is my opinion on reading/sharing/critiquing with other folks…

It’s nothing official, just how I approach the subject. Hopefully, this approach might be useful or helpful to others..and if not..oh well 🙂 I tried!

I love reading work from other writers as much as I love writing and having people read my work!

As for my review/edits/critique– If I found anything which in my own humble opinion (which by the way is not necessarily “right” but rather just what I am thinking) was grammatically incorrect, perhaps has a missing word or is a bit confusing, I denote this with a comment (in Microsoft Word, using the comment feature, or in a text document I use square brackets to enclose a comment.)

I am by no means a professional writer(at least not yet), editor, or critic, but I have had a lot of experience in the amateur space. I’ve been a member of a site called critiquecircle.com for several years where I have given and received tons of critiques on all sorts of work.

I’ve self-published a short story and have experienced the joy of someone loving my work and someone hating my work and someone who is just not sure what to make of my work! All of these experiences have moved me in a common way– in the direction to become a better writer!

One thing I have learned over the years is to be upfront about a review of someone else’s work and to explain what my perspective is when reviewing it. Anything I write about your work should just be taken as a suggestion and everything I write is meant to be in the spirit of being helpful, courteous and in the air of the greater good for all writers I make acquaintance with.

You do not have to take my suggestions of course, but overall I hope whatever I share with you is helpful and received positively!

If for any reason any of my comments or suggestions make you uncomfortable, please do let me know and if you rather I do not continue on, please let me know that as well.

Again my aim is to be received positively and be helpful, but we are all humans and critique is not always well received.

So there you have it folks…my personal take on critiquing! 🙂

Keep writing!

Nick

I wrote this piece for a submission to an anthology that seems stuck in limbo, but I’d thought I’d finally share it. The idea was to write a short story in three parts, but have a different author write each part. The anthology would have 12 stories with 36 authors in all (each author doing a different section of each story).
The first part was a “Grim Future.” The second part was the “The Last 5 minutes of the World.” The third and final part was, “What next?” I submitted a Grim Future. Since it was to be a short story, each section was limited in word count and since I did the first part, it was a chance to do some quick world building. My piece is brief and it moves quickly, but that was sort of the point of the setup to the story. It’s a bit of Sci-Fi and a bit of apocalypse, two of my favorite things to read and write about. Enjoy

 

Grim Future – Sporelings

 

For thousands of years, mankind has been driven by insatiable curiosity to study the great pyramids of Egypt. What secrets hide inside these ancient wonders? Could they hold the key to mankind’s future, or perhaps missing links to the past? The quest continues…

#

 

Present day—El Giza, Egypt— The Great Pyramid

After eleven previous investigations over the past decade, Archaeologist Elliot Gray and his team once again entered the queen’s chamber of the Great Pyramid. This time they were equipped with the excavation robot, SARTI (Standard Archaeological Robotic Technology Inc.). A small remote-controlled robot, SARTI was able to scale narrow shafts and scan targets with infrared and ultrasonic waves.

“Alec,” Elliot said. “The target is above the queen’s chamber. That two-meter slab is where I need the bloody robot.”

Alec Cooper, the team’s chief engineer, tapped on the computer interface. “We’re ready, Elliot.”

SARTI began the ascent.

As the monitors came to life, the team eagerly watched the robot climb to the top of the shaft. A few minutes later, SARTI rotated and began a heat scan.

Twenty minutes passed and a frustrated Elliot glared at Alec. “Oh, for crying out loud, that godforsaken thing is bloody useless. There’s nothing but rock.”

“Hold on,” Alec said. “Give it another few minutes. Let SARTI run the full program.”

The screen went dark. A scan using low-frequency waves began, followed by one with ultrasonic waves.

Elliot watched the screen for a few minutes more, then scowled, impatient with the lack of progress. “Still nothing? How much did the bag of bolts cost us anyway?”

“Bloody hell, Elliot, give it a few minutes, would ya.”

The computer signaled a target, displaying the ultrasonic image of a dark oblong shape in the center. Alec pointed to the monitor. “Look, there, SARTI found something.”

“Brilliant!” Elliot couldn’t turn away from the screen. “Well, get a move on,” he said. “Go! Go! Tell that idiotic robot to bring it here!”

#

Several hours later

Once SARTI had brought the artifact to the queen’s chamber, Alec put on protective gloves and reached inside the specimen tray. Carefully, he picked up the object. “Outstanding,” he said. “It’s a golden scarab. You suppose it’s some type of jewelry?”

Puzzled, Elliot frowned and reached for the scarab. “Jewelry?” he said, “hidden between the queen and king’s chamber. I think not. Look here, there’s something more!” He pressed against the head.

It snapped open.

Elliot’s eyes widened with awe. Darkness rested in his palm, a void, as though he peered straight into a black hole from the deepest space.

“What is it?” Alec asked. “What do you see?”

Elliot didn’t answer. He couldn’t turn away from the darkness inside the scarab. What have we found? he thought, full of wonder. A dark, bottomless, pit … inside a golden scarab? “It can’t be,” whispered.

The scarab began to grow hot in his hand. “Damn!” He dropped it, the palm of his hand blistered.

“What the hell?” Alec said, slowly backing away. His gaze remained locked on the dusting of dark, odorless material rising from the scarab. “You think it could be a type of fungus maybe, or spores?”

“Yes,” Elliot whispered. “Sporlings” The name just came to mind, he couldn’t say why. As he watched, the dark mass pulled into a tight circle, then pulsed. Elliot jumped when the circle loosened and doubled in size above his head. Seconds later it repeated the process. It’s breathing, he thought. But getting bigger on every exhale. The first twinges of unease tickled at his mind.

The sporelings were multiplying at an alarming rate!

“Let’s get out of here!” Alec yelled. “Elliot, we don’t know what it is!” He turned to run from the room, not waiting to see if Elliot followed.

But Elliot hadn’t heard him, too mesmerized by the growing void of darkness above him … so much like the one he’d viewed inside the scarab. A black hole being birthed through a gateway in the ceiling.

Terror struck Elliot at the thought; it tore through his guts, a cramping, almost crippling pain. What if the shroud dropped down and sucked him through?

He didn’t wait around to find out.

Elliot ran.

#

In less than a week, Elliot’s sporelings had spread across the planet. It didn’t take long when every time they pulsed, the dark cloud doubled in size, releasing more of their progeny into the air. At the end of the tenth day, the swirling mass floated down and settled into the soil. It attached to all plant life and began to manipulate their basic structure on a cellular level. Fragile flora, green stems, leaves and flowers were transformed, turned black and indestructible. Botanist learned the shiny obsidian material affected every variety: cacti in the hottest desert, worldwide forests and jungles, and algae and seaweed in the deepest oceans.

Nothing was spared.

#

It took only ten days to send the world into chaos. As the plants continued their metamorphosis, they began to pulse, releasing more toxins into the environment. Desperate Scientists searched for ways to combat them, but were defeated at every turn. Volcanoes erupted, earthquakes rumbled, tornadoes and hurricanes wrecked havoc. The land waged war against man, destroying everything in its path.

Cities crumbled.

People died.

Then Botanist learned the new species of obsidian plants absorbed the sun’s energy at fifty times the level of their native species. The added warmth quickly raised surface temperatures. Polar caps melted, but the newly released water evaporated almost immediately—along with the water in every river, lake, and ocean. It soon created a canopy of water in the stratosphere causing a greenhouse effect below. The increased atmospheric pressure made the oxygen and carbon dioxide richer.

But would anyone be left to reap the potential rewards?

 

#

On the twelfth hour of the twelfth day after Elliot released the sporelings, the alien plants reached maturity. Almost as one, the shiny obsidian leaves turned upward toward the heavens and began a rhythmic pulse. The few people still left watched, worried it might be a signal of some kind, a beacon.

But a signal to whom?

Or what? 

Silver Icon is a short story about a day in the life of a typical American worker at a typical American corporation during a reduction in workforce action. Job elimination, off-shoring, and systemic layoffs to reduce costs is common place in today’s workforce. This is the story of Rick, an information technology worker, who experiences this ever repeating story in America.

Excerpt from Silver Icon

The walk back up is horrific. So many people with boxes piled in their arms are being led out the door. I recognize most of the faces. In fact, it’s easier to count the one or two I don’t recognize or haven’t worked with in the past fifteen years. The place looks like the Day of the Dead. The shock and awe on their faces will be burned in my memory forever. And not just the ones leaving—it’s also on the ones who are staying. It’s how I’m sure I look right now.

We press on and when we get to the security door to our department, Sally lifts her badge. I shove mine forward. She understands and lowers her arm. Click. The door unlocks. Good, I’m still employed.

We walk through the door and hurry back to our seats without saying a word to each other. Just as I’m about to sit down, Sudhir, our department’s VP, walks over to George’s office. Maybe it’s the “all clear.” A few seconds later, they are both walking down the hall toward the elevators. Sudhir has a white eight-and-a-half-by-eleven envelope in his hands. Holy fucking shit! George is about to get his walking papers.

I sit down and unlock my virtual terminal and log back in. I call up the instant messenger app and see a silver icon by George’s name. Dave’s on-line presence is unknown and has the same silver icon. This is fucked up! There’s a loud buzzing in my brain. So far that’s three names on Henry’s list, and three silver icons. This is really bad. My stomach churns and I can’t decide if it’s hunger or if I’m gonna hurl my breakfast across the desk. My chest feels heavy. Breathe, breathe…

eBook Available at Amazon and Smashwords for $0.99

Trade paperback available at Amazon.com

Greetings! I hope you are having a lovely Sunday morning! Here in Long Island, NY the sun is shining, I’ve got a fresh cup of coffee and it looks like it’s going to be a great day! My first book, Silver Icon has been on sale for about a week now at both Amazon and Smashwords and I am so excited! I want to share some information to fellow writers about an awesome tool and web site that can help you with your goals to publish your own work. No, it’s not a publishing company, or any gimmick or trick. Also it’s not a magic wand!  What it is, however is a great place on the web to meet fellow authors and writers, both published and unpublished, and exchange critiques on each other’s work. I am talking about www.critiquecircle.com!

While I believe there is no substitution for professional editing, Critique Circle will come pretty damn close. And for the indie author on a tight budget, the price is right! Critique Circle’s membership is free! The site is a place where writers can post their work and other writers will critique your submissions. You can write critiques for other authors and form crit buddy relationships with many talented people. There is a “donation” method to become a premium member, but all of the main features of submitting and critiquing are available to all members. The premium membership, which is really a donation to keep the site running, gives you a few extra added perks, but is not required to get extreme value out of the site in regard to your work.

Critique Circle

The basic functions of the site include the ability to submit your chapters into one of the various Queues, classified by type of work or genre. The site works on a credit system. When you submit your work, it costs a minimum of three credits. When you write critiques on the work of others, you earn credits, anywhere from half a credit and up depending on the length of your critique. As other writers begin to critique your work, and as you critique other writer’s work, you’ll find buddies that can become regular crit partners! I’ve made several friends in the past two months and regularly write and receive critiques — almost daily. I’m a bit addicted to the site! 🙂

Critique Circle Submit Story

Many other useful features are available on Critique Circle. The site has a novel system, so you can chain your submissions together and crit buddies can follow your novel from start to finish. Authors can add a synopsis for their novel and for each chapter, content advisories for adult or mature stories, outlines for settings, plot and character sketches. The site also has a forum and message system so you can socialize with your fellow writers and crit partners.

Critique Circle Novel System

The credit system is nothing to worry about. I quickly became immersed in several of other author’s works, and in just reading, writing critiques and offering grammar or spelling suggestions, I very quickly grew a nice credit balance, enough to submit many chapters and stories. Since I started using the site, I’ve not ever run out of credits for submissions. I think I am actually critiquing more than I am submitting. I believe the main reason for this is because I am learning so much about writing, prose and style from the stories I read and the critique’s I have given other authors. This exchange from author to author is sharpening my writing skills as well as those of my crit buddies. The forums provide a lot of value too. For example, you can tie your story submissions to a personal forum thread–focused on that story so all your crit partners can collaborate with you and each other.

Critique Circle Forums

In summary; if you are an author on a budget, don’t have access to an editor, or just want to bounce your chapters, stories or other writing pieces off on other people to receive feedback and edit suggestions, Critique Circle’s an awesome web site to do all that! I highly recommend the site to indie authors and would absolutely welcome new critique partners!

For the official “What is Critique Circle About Page,” click here.

Happy Writing!

-Nick

Available now, Silver Icon. Get it at Amazon.com and Smashwords.

Silver Icon - (A Short Story)

Silver Icon – (A Short Story)

Silver Icon By Nick Nicholas Published:

May 27, 2012 Words: 4108 (approximate)
Language: English

Silver Icon is a short story about a day in the life of a typical American worker at a typical American corporation during a reduction in workforce action. Job elimination, off-shoring, and systemic layoffs to reduce costs is common place in today’s workforce. This is the story of Rick, an information technology worker, who experiences this ever repeating story in America. Live through his eyes as he experiences the sights, sounds and emotions of a job elimination action by his company.

Available now at Amazon and Smashwords for $1.99

Silver Icon


Silver Icon

by Nick S. Nicholas

Release date:  June 2012!

I am proud to announce my first published eBook! Silver Icon is a short story about a day in the life of a typical American worker at a typical American corporation during a reduction in workforce action. Job elimination, off-shoring, and systemic lay-offs to reduce costs is common place in today’s workforce. This is the story of Rick, an information technology worker, who experiences this ever repeating story in America.

© Copyright 2012 Nick S. Nicholas, nmskjspublishing.com and Silver Icon Press.
All rights reserved.

I’ve been ultra busy the past month and a half blogging, reading, writing, moderating forums and most recently, being a critique! I have also been under a lot of stress and pressure at the day job working on a high-profile project for the past 6 weeks, so I am not exactly sure how I fit everything it!

I’ve been spending a lot of time on goodreads lately and joined a few of the groups there. Something special has happened to me as a result of participating in two different groups.

The first thing that happened was I received an invitation from Christy Wilhelm to become a forums moderator on the BTS Book Club on goodreads! I was more than happy to accept and now I am helping to moderate the forums there as well as leading monthly book discussions. And I get to choose the books to discuss! It takes up a bit of time, but it is a lot of fun too! So if you’d like to participate, join the BTS Book Club on goodreads! BTS stands for Book and Trailer Showcase a  website dedicated to showcasing book and book trailers.

The second thing that happened was in the Writers Worth group on goodreads. Lyn Midnight started a collaborative anthology project, which has grown to a big multi-media project. Lyn calls it grim5next. The written anthology will be a book of short stories. Each short story will have three parts to it. Grim Future, The Last 5 Minutes and What happens next? Hence, grim5next. There will be 12 short stories and a different author will be responsible for one section in one of the stories. That means 12 stories, 3 sections and 36 different authors to complete the anthology! I submitted a breakdown of a possible “Grim Future” and guess what? Your truly was selected to be one of the Grim Future writers! Woot! Woot! I am very excited to be working on this project! Which brings me to the next effort…

I started critiquing other writer’s stories too! During my networking at the grim5next anthology, I met an J. Whitworth Hazzard, author of the zombiemechanics blog  who turned me on to  Critique Circle. It’s a forum (with a free and a premium level of service) where writers can post stories and other writers can critique them. Not only are other writers  critiquing my stories, I am also doing the same for them–what a learning process this has been! It is certainly helps improve my writing and reading skills.

In addition to all of this, I am writing small reviews for the books I have been reading.  I’ve published some of them on this blog, but then decided to create a new blog dedicated to just my review work. I will be migrating all of the book reviews from this blog to the N.S. Nicholas Book Review Blog: Candles, Wine and  a Book site. Most of the reviews are short and sweet, but I have been influenced by a lot of my online friends lately and plan to pick up the word count in future reviews! I just need to balance my time right! The latest review I am working on is for Bone Dressing, by Michelle I Brooks.

Lastly, while keeping up with all of the above  I am still plugging away at my own work and inching closer and closer to completing my first self-published project!  I’ve updated the Works in Progress link at the top of the and split the page between Series in progress and Stand-alone works in progress, so check them out for more updates!

I would like to thank everyone who’s visited by blogs, visited me on goodreads or twitter. This whole experience is such a blast!

Yours truly,

-Nick

 

To coin a phrase from my video gaming life, when it comes to writing and being an author, I’m a noob.  If you’re not familiar with the term noob, it can be thought of as an antonym for veteran or experienced or possibly even expert. I did not major in English, Literature, Grammar, Journalism or any other potentially related field to what I would expect a full-time writing career would require. I am making this up as I go along, with the help from a lot of people on the Internet. From Googling, to blogging to tweeting to FBing- i.e. via Social Networking and tapping into the minds and worlds of some wonderful people I am starting to figure this all out. I have become acquainted in cyberspace (mind you not face-to-face) with people from all over the world and have gathered some useful tips, sites and tools that hopefully will help me achieve my goals of self-publishing my work. I thought it only natural to share what I have learned along this journey so far and hopefully inspire, educate and help another “noob.” out.

The following is a short list of things, places, sites and tips I have discovered so far. If any of it helps you out, I’d love to hear it.

Book Covers

Book Covers. I didn’t realize how important and how expensive choosing or designing a book cover was until I start shopping for one! I found a few places online where you can tap into royalty-free images and use them for an eBook cover. There are several “Stock Photo” online sources that are good for Independent authors and self-publishers just starting out (like myself) Here are a few notable ones.

123 Royalty Free:  http://www.123rf.com
CanStockPhoto: http://www.canstockphoto.com
Dreamstime: http://www.dreamstime.com
Fotolia:  http://us.fotolia.com

Eye Color Chart

Describing your character’s eyes is important. Getting the color right is important too. There are tons of different resources you can find searching the Internet. Here is my favorite eye chart (http://eyemakeart.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/eye_colour_chart_by_delpigeon.jpg)

Name Generators

Seventh Sanctum is an awesome place if you are looking for a little random name generation. This applies to people, places, things, magic spells, organizations, governments, and whatever else you can think of. There are tons of name generatorslisted on this site.

Seventh Sanctum: http://www.seventhsanctum.com

Text Editors

I’ll assume in this day and age your main writing tool is a computer and not a typewriter. There are so many options to choose from to use a computer and a word processor to write with. I’ll summarize just a few of them here and note my favorite tool.

If you have access to a computer you basically don’t need to spend any money to start writing. The simplest tool you can use is the built-in text editor that comes with any PC running a Microsoft Windows operating system or any Apple computer running Max OS X.

In Windows you have two options. Notepad and Wordpad. Notepad is just a simple no frills text editor. Wordpad is essentially the same thing but it allows you to use basic rich text formatting (to make things bold, italic, centered, etc.) In Mac OSX you have TextEdit. There are also a ton of free programs you can get on the Internet as well. Just perform a google search for “free text editor” and you’ll see what I mean. Or on a Mac just go to the App Store and you’ll find several.

Word processors are the preferred tool for most writers. Modern word processors like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages will give you all of the basics the free text editors do plus a ton more formatting options and a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface. The word processor is pretty much the standard tools of choice. However there are other tools that combine a writer’s goal of producing a well formatted manuscript and ensure proper grammar and error-free spelling and have all the benefits of a full-fledged word processor. There are other choices as mentioned above that you can find on the Internet. My editor of choice is Scrivener.  Basically it’s a full-fledged word processor but it also allows you to create an outline on a “cork board” like canvas. It helps me arrange my thoughts and plot my books before I even write a single line of the story. It also has the ability to compile your work to various formats, like ePUB (for Apple iBooks), .mobi (for Amazon Kindle), .PDF, .RTF, DOC.  It’s available for both Windows and Mac OS X. I prefer the Max OS X version as it has some more features that are not yet implemented in the Windows version.

HTML Editors

When you need to comment online and need a quick HTML editor, here’s an online one that works very well. It’s basic, but gets the job done. When your tags are all formatted correctly, you can just cut and paste! Online HTML Editor: http://www.onlinehtmleditor.net/

If you do not like to work online (i.e require an Internet connection, then you’ll need to download an HTML editor. Again, a good old “google” search will net you several free choices of HTML editors. (CoffeeCup, Bluefish two notable free HTML editors.) There are a bunch of paid choices as well but these tend to get very pricey very quickly as they are geared more toward web development rather than helping bloggers format their posts. Adobe Dreamweaver and Microsoft Visual Web (the evolution of Microsoft Frontpage) come to mind. (As of this writing, Visual Web Developer Express is a free, limited function but very usable offer from Microsoft.)

How many words makes my story a novel?

I am still not 100% sure about this one. There seems to be a lot of different opinions. However I did find a general reference guide that answers this and I think it is a good guideline to follow.

The best answer to this question I found was from author Lee Masterson of South Australia. The summary below is from Lee Masterson article- the full article is here ==>Click here for this article

Writing type Approximate word count (k=1000)
Short Story 1k -7.5k
Novelette  7.5k – 20k
Novella  20k – 50k
Novel  50k – 110k
Epics and Sequels > 110k

That’s all for now!

Well that’s about all of the tips, tools, advice, guides, etc that I have discovered so far. As I discover and use more I’ll update this post. I hope you find the information useful. If you have any questions or comments, please use the comment form here or use the global Contact Nick link at the top of the page.

Happy Writing!

-Nick

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