Interview with Nicole Zoltack about White Hellebore

Today Idea City is talking to Nicole Zoltack all about her new release, White Hellebore. Welcome, Nicole!

Tell us a little about your main characters.
Nicholas Adams is Falledge’s superhero. With enhanced speed and senses, he can handle any super villain. Only this time around, he’s pitted against two. His leading lady is Julianna Paige, Falledge’s sheriff and the twin of his deceased high school sweetheart, Justina.

Remember those two super villains? One is a witch. And she brings Justina back. So not only does Nicholas have to deal with two super villains, he has two ladies he loves that he needs to save. And choose between.

In what ways do they change?
Nicholas is still getting used to settling down in Falledge after years of moving around more than dandelion seeds on a windy day. He wants to do everything he can for Falledge and that will never change, but he also wants to make complete with his past.

Julianna loves Nicholas and knows he loves her, but she also knows that a part of him will always love Justina too. And when Justina comes back from the dead, Julianna worries her love isn’t enough for him.

Give us your favorite line from your protagonist.
  Nicholas went to pick up a spicy tuna roll. His chopsticks squeezed too hard, and rice flew everywhere. Yet, none of the rice landed on the table. He’d plucked the kernels out of the air and shoved them into his mouth. “I prefer forks anyhow.”
    “You can’t eat sushi with a fork.”
    “Watch me.”

From an antagonist.
    Hunter’s new arm wasn’t merely bone, but muscles and fiber and tissue and blood and skin.
    Hunter, never a good dancer, had been told on several occasions he had two left feet.
    Now he had two left arms.

An emblematic paragraph
   Damn Hunter Walter. The scarecrow scientist had alternated between being aggravating and helpful during their takedown planning of Skull Krusher. Why couldn’t scientists stay holed up in the laboratories, conducting safe experiments and not creating hazardous drugs?

What keeps you going when your inspiration flags?
I’m always going: writing one story, editing another, waiting for beta reader feedback. Often times, I’m at various stages of writing more than one story at once. If I’m stuck on one, I work on the other and that actually helps me to get unstuck on the first one.

What truly inspires you and fires up your vision?
Life in general. I’m inspired by so many things it might be easier to say what doesn’t inspire me! People watching, dreams, TV shows, movies, other books, traveling down “what if” lane, reading scientific articles…

Best words of advice you ever received?
Never stop reading and writing.

That you have to stay in one genre and establish yourself in it before daring to try another.

Some writing advice to aspiring and new authors?
Never stop learning and honing your writing craft. There’s always something else to learn.

Which do you enjoy writing most: action, romance, setting, dialog?
Since almost every one of my stories has some romance aspect to it, I’d have to say romance first, but action is a close second. I guess I’m meant to write superhero romances!

How is it writing a trilogy? Biggest challenges? Fun aspects?
Writing a trilogy is both fun and challenging. I love that I only have to introduce the major characters in the first book and continue their arc in the second and third, that the readers already know and are invested in their story. The biggest challenge lies with making sure the characters both remain consistent throughout the trilogy but also undergo character growth throughout the trilogy too.

What is the most important theme of book one? Book Two?
Black Hellebore’s theme: Never stop living.
White Hellebore’s theme: Follow your heart.

Share a hint of what’s to come in book three?
I’m liking the dual villain aspect. And there might be another love triangle. No mentioning any names though! 🙂

A hint of what you’re working on next?
I’m close to finishing Scarlet Magi, the last in the Heroes of Falledge trilogy. After that, who knows? 🙂

Buy White Hellebore: Amazon, B&N, Kobo

Where can readers find you on the web? Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Wattpad, Tumblr, Goodreads

Nicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially romance, whether fantasy, paranormal, or regency. When she’s not writing about knights, superheroes, or zombies, she loves to spend time with her loving husband and three energetic young boys. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll read anything. Her current favorite TV show is The Walking Dead.

A Writing Retreat & other Spring Cheer!

Phew, I’ve been a wee bit absent from the blog of late, because I’m busy reading theses and research papers, getting ready for the end of spring semester.

But I’m back! I teach a course called the Creative Life to college students. Since the students are artists, they’re writing really interesting papers about painters like Rothko, Basquiat, Pollock, Frankenthaler; and writers like DeLillo, Denis Johnson, Kafka, Vonnegut. It dovetails nicely with what I’m working on now–more of Sienna’s artistic journeys. It’s been fun writing about bad boy art star, Casper Mason and his new intern, Sienna for Book Two of my New Adult series, Private Internship. Have you heard of these creative heads?

Helen Frankenthaler and
her fabulous paintings
Jean-Michel Basquiat & his work

A young Joan Mitchell
in her studio
Denis Johnson, author of
the acclaimed, Jesus’ Son
The little stream at Rosement

I also teach creative writing workshops. In fact, I’m teaching at a weeklong writing retreat in June, and I’ll focus on writing new adult and young adult fiction! The retreat is at Rosemont College, which is in Bryn Mawr, PA, so it’s easy to get to for anyone around the Philadelphia/Jersey/Norristown area. The dates are June 20 to 27. Come chill under the summer trees, meet other writers and workshop your manuscript. It can be for college credit, or for your own edification.

I’ve taught writing workshops at The New School in NYC, Push to Publish, The Philadelphia Writing Conference and at Missouri U’s Summer Abroad Program.
Here are the Rosemont retreat links, the workshops, the faculty bios. To register!

I’ll leave you with a few amazing quotes from some inspiring writers and artists. It’s fun to think about how these might inform your own work.

“It takes close attention to see what is happening in front of you. It takes work, pious effort, to see what you are looking at.” –Don DeLillo, Point Omega

“Stories have no point if they don’t absorb our terror.”  –Don Delillo, Mao II

“I don’t want your candor. I want your soul in a silver thimble.”  –Don Delillo, Valparaiso

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”  –Franz Kafka

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”  –Franz Kafka

“What’s the point of being alive if you’re not going to communicate?”  –Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

“This wasn’t the sea of the inexorable horizon and smashing waves, not the sea of distance and violence, but the sea of the eternally leveling patience and wetness of water. Whether it comes to you in a storm or in a cup, it owns you–we are more water than dust. It is our origin and our destination.”  -Denis Johnson

“I’ve gone looking for that feeling everywhere.”  –Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son

“You are right in demanding that an artist approach his work consciously, but you are confusing two concepts: the solution of a problem and the correct formulation of a problem. Only the second is required of the artist.”   –Anton Chekhov

“I am only interested in the ideas that become obsessive and make me feel uneasy. The ideas that I’m afraid of.”  –Marina Abramovic

“The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art.”  -Jackson Pollock

“There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.”  -Helen Frankenthaler

Raining Romance Books Giveaway Hop, Tons of books!

It’s time for the Raining Romance Books giveaway blog hop, hosted by Stuck in Books! Idea City’s giving away a couple of juicy picks. Check ’em out below and see who else is playing!

The Star Catcher by Stephanie Keyes Paranormal Romance

Magick and destiny intertwine as he fights to save his kingdom and the goddess he loves. Her kiss…the feel of her skin…the beat of her heart…For seventeen-year-old Kellen St. James, each memory is marred by a single sentence on a lone strip of paper. Cali has been taken…

Armed with an amulet that channels the ultimate power of Faerie, Kellen searches for his love. However, control of the amulet’s energy comes with a price, and Kellen soon learns that Cali’s captor has plans for the stone. With the threat of the Star Catcher’s evil looming above Kellen and his kingdom, he’ll have to free the Heart of Faerie and break the curse the binds the Children of Danu to the darkness. But before that, he has to find his real father, the king. No pressure, right?

Kellen and Cali will battle bewitched armies and unknown foes as they fight to stay together. Will Kellen embrace his immortal destiny? Or will his world, and the man he is fated to become, be destroyed by The Star Catcher?

Model Position by Kitsy Clare New adult romance novella

In Manhattan’s glitzy gallery scene love and art are perilous games. Will Sienna dare to play?

All too soon, artist Sienna Karr will graduate art school and be flung out into Manhattan’s glamorous but cutthroat gallery scene. Luckily, she’s just met Dave Hightower, heir to the hippest gallery ever. He’s asked her on a date, and offered to introduce her to the gallery owner, his intimidating Aunt Lydia. Sienna’s excited! Now she’ll be able to climb the ranks and make those all-important art connections.
Trouble is, she’s falling hard for the sexy live drawing model, Erik, whose sizzling green eyes seem to pierce right into her soul. Dare she risk losing those potential art contacts for love? Erik insists that Sienna is a real talent and her painting stands out above all the others. But she worries that he whispers this come-on line to every pretty art student who flocks around him during breaks. And her friends worry, is Erik up to her pay grade? What kind of guy chooses modeling for a living? Who is he, really? Her choice may be her ruin… or not, but she must decide fast. Everything in Sienna’s super-organized life is turning to terrifying yet sweet chaos.

Enter to Win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fresh New Fantasy Novels for Spring!

Today Idea City is featuring two new novels for spring. Bloodlust is by veteran fantasy author, Nicole Zoltack, and Finding Me is an urban fantasy by debut author, Angelica Brazil Steward.

Bloodlust by Nicole Zoltack:

In a world torn by prejudice and hatred, six races struggled for supremacy. Desperation…

Barbarian-Princess Ivy is unwilling to allow her father to provoke the other races into war and forms an unlikely alliance with Lukor the goliath to save her people from utter destruction. Betrayal…

Unbeknownst to her, Lukor blames the barbarians for murdering his sister and plans on sabotaging her goal. Bloodlust…

Almost despite each other, they grow to respect each other on their journey to decode secret messages from the trolls. But nothing Ivy can do will prevent the war as her father is blinded by Bloodlust and incites it himself. Not even killing him and becoming Barbaroness can stop the tide. And when Bloodlust claims Ivy, forcing her to kill everyone in her path, she must make a choice to destroy even Lukor, who she may have started to fall for and him in return.

Buy Bloodlust on Amazon for Kindle and on B&N for Nook

Follow Nicole’s blog, on Twitter, on Facebook

Finding Me by Angelica Brazil Stewart:

Sixteen-year-old Chloe Carmichael’s perfect world is in chaos. 

It’s not because she has a vision of her boyfriend murdered. And then he’s found dead exactly as she saw. It’s not because she suddenly has the ability to move objects when she’s upset. It’s kinda cool to close a door without touching it. It’s not her overbearing mother who only cares about appearances. Chloe’s grown accustomed to her families distance. So what has Chloe cringing in fear? 

It’s a love that defies reason. It’s a love that speaks to the heart. It demands attention. But Chloe struggles with a love that exposes the soul. What will her family think? What will her friends think? And is she worthy of his love. It’s having to become another person for a new group of people. Chloe knows she’s not perfect but apparently she was when she was Amanda in another life. Her new friends won’t let her forget. It’s the stench of death that hoovers over her every move. It’s the threat of finality as she tries to acclimate to a life of super human proportions. It’s an enemy she can’t see, doesn’t remember, and can be anyone she’s ever known. But her enemy knows her well. She’s the lone person with the ability to destroy him. But she doesn’t remember. 

And it’s never discovering who she really is before finality meets reality. 

Buy on Amazon for Kindle

Interview with Amy Kathleen Ryan on Flame

Now that my tour is over it’s time to talk about other writers and books! I’m pleased to feature my friend Amy Kathleen Ryan and her wonderful space opera trilogy, and specifically the last in the series, FLAME. She’s here to answer questions. But first, about Flame:

In the thrilling conclusion to Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Sky Chasers series, Waverly, Kieran, and Seth struggle to survive on-board the New Horizon—and take down their enemies before it’s too late.

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered, and their home ship destroyed. Their mission to rescue their parents didn’t go as planned, and now they’re at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Kieran has been pulled under Anne Mather’s wing, but is she really trying to make peace, or just using Kieran to build her own power? Meanwhile, Waverly is taken in by a mysterious old man who wants to help her bring Anne Mather down—but the more Waverly cooperates with him, the more dangerous her position is, and the more at odds with Kieran she becomes.

Seth’s situation is worse. After setting out from the Empyrean on his own, with only a vague strategy to guide him, he’s a fugitive aboard the New Horizon. He’s doing what he can to challenge the power of Anne Mather, but he’s hurt, and getting sicker. All the while, unknown to him, the terrorist Jacob is making plans of his own. Will Seth ever see Waverly again? Will his health hold out long enough to help her topple their enemies? And will Waverly find a way to unite with her friends before they all fall? 

And now, take it away, Amy.

Tell us about Flame, Book Three of The Skychasers
Flame is the conclusion to the series. The Empyrean has been destroyed, and our heroes Waverly, Kieran, and Seth are now forced to live on the New Horizon with their enemies. After a lot of conflict between the central characters, suddenly they need to find ways to work together if they’re going to survive.

Give us your favorite line from Kieran
He felt he was in a trap, but he couldn’t see the walls or feel the chains, as though Mather had somehow gotten him to lock himself in.

From Waverly
She would always remember that nebula as a graveyard for so many of the crew of the Empyrean, people she’d known her whole life. That’s where I died too, she thought. Waverly Marshall the innocent is buried there.

From Seth
As the guards pushed him into the captain’s office, he understood finally what his life had been about: Revenge for his mother’s death. To be a hero. To save her. To undo it somehow. To bring her back.
Was this clarity, or delirium? His fever ate through his thoughts. When had it gotten so bad?
“No wonder I’m so fucked up,” he said under his breath as the tall office chair at the desk swiveled around, and he was face to face with a matronly, plump old woman who could only be Anne Mather, the anti-mother.

Watch Amy talk about the villain!    Click to watch

What first attracted you to write about space travel?
The setting! A space ship is a pressure cooker for a story. You’re in the middle of nowhere, and no one can come help you if you’re in trouble. You’re essentially in a life boat, and you have to make it work with the people who share it with you, even if they are loathsome. It narrows the choices your characters can make about how to deal with their situation. They’re trapped.

Book Two
Book One

Tell us an important lesson about writing a trilogy
The second book is twice as hard to write as the first, and the third is twice as hard as the second. If I ever write another epic, I want to have the entire story written before I sell the first book. It will help to make the story tighter.

What truly inspires you and fires up your vision?
Reading! Reading anything by anyone. I get good ideas from brilliant novels as well as from so-so books. Reading feeds right into the part of my brain that wants to make up stories.

Where do you write?
I’ve got three young children, and they dominate my house. I start out my writing session during naptime, but eventually the house gets noisy, and can be distracting. It took me a long time to figure out the best place to write: In my master bedroom closet. It sits right next to my master bath, so I can close three doors between me and my little hellions. If I run the bathroom fan, I hardly hear them at all. It’s cramped in there, and not glamorous, but I get a lot done. (If I turn off my internet connection that is!)

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I like to garden. I have a sizable plot. Not picturesque and riddled with weeds, but I get delicious produce out of it. I also watch too much TV, but I’ll confess some of the best writing I’ve seen lately is on the boob tube. I recently binge watched Breaking Bad and I am so impressed with the writing on that show.

Which aspect of crafting a novel is most challenging? Most fun?
Most challenging? For me, getting it to where I think it’s good enough. A lot of self-doubt goes into that process. I’m actually afraid to be too confident because then I might not feel that burning fire that makes me keep working. Most fun? I love writing the first draft. Finding my way through the story is always just like playing with my imaginary friends. It’s a rocking good time.

A hint of what you’re working on next?
It’s about a shoplifter. Her father abandons his family at a crucial time, and it sends ripples of shock through every character, making them all act out in different ways. It’s about how a split second decision can change the rest of your life forever.

Buy the Skychaser series! Amazon, Indie Bound, B&N

Find Amy on the web  Website & Facebook

About Amy: Amy Kathleen Ryan is a graduate of the New School Writing for Children MFA program. She lives in Colorado with her family.