Monthly Archives: July 2013

Help! RSS feeds: Can anyone tell me how to set up one?

Help!  I am being held captive by the techno wizards.  I need an RSS or Atom feed to link my blog to my Goodreads account and I am not sure how to do that.  It is asking for the external blog feed URL.  i don’t even know if I have one of those.  I am not at ground zero, but I would not rate myself higher than about a two right now.  Any and all assistance would be greatly appreciated.  Sorry to be such a bother. ~ S.K. Nicholls

What makes someone Sexy? A question for girls and boys in blogland

Interesting questions with more interesting comments. People! Are you paying attention? This is important!

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After discussing the great American romance novel with a group of ladies earlier in the day, I wanted to pose a question to the ladies and gentleman, respectively. Whilst there are many ways to approach a character’s sex appeal in a novel, be they male or female, my question is this: What makes a character sexy?

Men: What do you find makes a woman Sexy? Is it purely physical in the beginning or are there other things you look for?


Ladies: Same question, except about the men. What do you find sexy about a man?


It seems many romance novels are written from the perspective of a woman and the authors tend to give the men qualities they wish they had, rather than those that are commonly found. Does this happen if a man writes a romance novel? How much of this is simple stereotyping?

Thoughts please…

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Widgets and Headers and Footers, Oh My!

Yes, I know, it is rather dark. I have been commenting but not posting for the last few days because I have been lost in the world of WordPress themes.  Did you know that there are over 250 themes available from WordPress, and many other themes that are WordPress supported?  I have now tried out most of them.  It took a while.

I felt like Dorothy looked when she stepped out of the tornado ravaged house into the land of OZ.  Of course, as many of you know I can be a bit of a clux when navigating the ins and outs of the blogosphere.  I lost all of my widgets going back and forth between themes and had to reestablish them.  Being over 50, with my subsequently impaired memory and inexperience, I had to relearn how to do all of that.  Sometimes, things don’t stay with me like they should.  I also spent some time organizing old posts into more appropriate categories.

When I first started with WordPress , a few short months ago, I picked the Quintus theme only because it was the first theme listed in the examples.  Being WordPress and weblog naïve, I dove in without a clue.  Since that time I have become bored with my theme, so I decided to change it.  I wanted one that would allow for a header image that I can change at liberty.  I also wanted it to appear more contemporary, yet retain some degree of elegance.  Not that there is anything wrong with traditional, it’s just not where I am right now.  With my WIP, I am seriously trying to focus on the future.

I thought about using my facebook banner as a header image because it has my book, Red Clay and Roses, across it and I like the way it looks spread out at length across the page.  With the book on the right hand side, where you can click on the image to go to the novel page it was really overkill, so I decided against it.  There are other reasons why I wanted this particular image.  This is the skyline of Orlando over Lake Eola downtown.  Orlando is not a terribly big city, but it is young and fresh and beautiful.  It plays a part in the work in progress that I have dedicated myself to getting accomplished.  There is a clickable image added to my right sidebar that shows Cypress Cove Resort, my family’s nudist resort, here in Florida for anyone who might be interested. Orlando and a fictional location patterned after The Cove will be featured in the first book of my murder mystery series that is my primary work in progress.

I have joined a local group for writing and critiquing that is being established in my neighborhood here by some aspiring authors who have not yet published.   We will be meeting at least monthly, maybe bimonthly.   I am thinking it will be fun to learn and to share with them the wonderful things you all have taught me in the past few months.  I thank you for bearing with me through this learning curve we all must go through.  Have a great and inspiring day.   ~ S.K. Nicholls

Uncle Charlie Trashcan


Sketch by N. Wilcox at deviantart

The lines on this face drawn by an artist’s hand, forged by a subject’s soul

Tell the stories of a man once young grown old

Homeless, not knowing from where he came nor where he is going to land

Living his life according to no one’s plans

There was an old man in my childhood whom I will never forget.  My mother helped me to remember.  She wrote a story about him that got published in the LaGrange Daily News.  He became rather famous whether he wanted to be or not.

This old man lived in The Heart of LaGrange Hotel that sat in the middle of the “Y” intersection where Hines Street met Hill Street just up the road from where we lived.  He was not totally homeless, but he might as well have been.  I was no more than about five or six years old.  My older sister and I would see him coming up the sidewalk pulling his little red wagon.

coke-bottle_chronology1When we saw him, we knew it was time to run in the house and gather all of the glass soda bottles.  Back then they were worth 10 cents apiece.  A few dollars could easily be made off of generous children.  The store on the other end of the street collected them for recycling with more soda.  We could have exchanged them or sold them ourselves, but Mama had a purpose.

She died when I was eight years old and there are so many things about her character, like the character in the man’s face in the sketch above, that I will always remember.  His lines came from years of sorrow and joy.  Her altruistic compassions came from a giving heart.   She intuitively knew that we had nothing to fear from this old man.

He would come by in the morning to collect the bottles that we readily shared, and come back in the evening with a handful of pecans that he had collected along his way to share with us.  He told us outlandish stories as we sat on the roots of the ancient oak by the street.  We listened with eager ears.

I asked him one day what his name was and he told me, “People call me Uncle Charlie Trashcan.”

“What is your real name?” I wanted to know.

“I don’t know.  My father wrote it down on a corn shuck and the cow ate it before I learned to read,” came his reply.

One day some preteens and teenagers jumped him and beat him up.  They left him in the bushes for dead.  His lunch box was smashed.  His wagon was stolen.  My mother found him on a walk.  She brought him in the house and cleaned him up.  He had a bath while she washed his tattered clothes and she bandaged his wounds.  He told us stories while his clothes dried.  She fed him dinner at the table with us.   She packed him a lunch for the next day in a shiny new metal lunchbox with a coffee thermos.  He seemed so very proud when he waved his good-byes that evening.images (4)

Mama’s article in the paper produced a new wagon and he got some much needed social services and quite a bit of fame.  That did not stop him from pulling his red wagon up the sidewalk to gather soda bottles, or from bringing us handfuls of pecans in the evening.  It did not stop the storytelling or the smiles that made more lines on his face.

Book review: “Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero” by Charles Yallowitz

Hero Cover Final

Book cover art by Jason Pedersen 

To my readers:  As you know from my book reviews, I am trying to broaden my horizons by reading more outside my genre of Fiction>Drama, and Murder Mystery.  I joined a book club for this reason, but this month they are reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins and that was a bit heavy for me.  I have been pleasantly and delightfully entertained by Charles Yallowitz on his blog, Legends of Windemere, so I decided to read and review his book “Beginning of a Hero” instead.


The “Beginning of a Hero” presents the compelling and intriguing story arc of the Legends of Windemere series.  The Prologue of this book was shocking to me.  I don’t often read fantasy but love fantasy movies.  It was gripping and horrific.  I almost had to set the book down because I had a very visceral reaction to the brutality.  I knew right away that this was not simple “Hobbit” fiction.  It is set in centuries past, in another world, where the undead and the living are vested with magical powers.

I continued reading.  Written in the present tense, third person, it was unusual for me but I quickly adapted and found myself really enjoying the visual reality of the read.  After the introduction, I was immediately transported to the fairyland enchanted and magical Visindor Forest with pixies, ladybugs, deer and squirrels. The imagery that the author conjures is fantastic.  It became very obvious to me why the introduction had been so brutal.  Something very evil, sinister, wicked and demonic would be necessary to destroy the beauty of it.

The places the author takes you, like Visindor Forest, Hamilton Military Academy, and Caster Swamp become very real.  His cast of colorful characters and creatures, both good and bad, is varied and well developed. The Gods and Goddesses have many friends and foes in this literary work.  Half elves are the protectors and defenders of honor.  The protagonist, Luke Callindor, a youth, is growing into his manhood as he learns to be the hero that he expects of himself.  I adored Stiletto, Nimby, Fritz, Aedyn, and Fizzle, his faithful companions.  I loathed the Lich, the Hellfire Elf, and the vast Army of otherworldly creatures who did their bidding.

The plot was solid and the pace steady with many minor quests for Luke and his friends before the climactic battle on a killing field.  While the work came off as a bit sophomoric to me, I am attributing that to the genre not the author.  I thoroughly enjoyed the read and would highly recommend it.  I am looking forward to seeing how both the author and the protagonist mature with the next book in the series.  I would give five stars for a worthy read and the awesome introduction to a new genre for me.

Red Clay and Roses book review

Thank you so much for taking the time to brighten my world 🙂

Year 'Round Thanksgiving Project

First of all, I’m not much of a reviewer. Mostly because I’m a talker, not a writer. But I did want to review this book because I enjoyed it so much. If you are looking for a more in depth review, check out the one written by Ionia.

I loved this book. The word pictures were so well done that I felt like I not only knew the characters, but I have mental images of them. Historical fiction can be ho hum or it can be as if you are living it. The author did a great job of inviting the reader to live it with her. I thought the book started a bit slow…maybe not so much slow, but it seemed much of the very beginning was unnecessary. Of course, once I finished the book, I saw it all tie together.

I highly recommend this book. It was…

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Mood Setting for Reading


I have places that I love to read certain works.  Some people can read anything anywhere and be taken to another world through their own imagination.  I like to afford myself the luxury of setting the mood whenever possible.

For dystopian fiction or fantasy that is otherwordly, I like to go out on my back porch that overlooks The Jungle with the banana trees, travelers palms, pygmy palms and wisteria creeping invasively though the philodendron.  The hanging spheres of stag-horn fern in globes of dripping greenery  seem to set that mood. IMG_0852The angel’s trumpet with its intoxicating fragrance but deadly seed takes me to enchanted places. For some more wicked reading, I like to go out there during the lightening storms that we seem to have every summer day.???????????????  For a soft sweet romance nothing could be better that  to curl up on the living room sofa and light candles in the dark. images (4) That’s why I love the readers with backlighting.  Or I crawl between the sheets with my husband. fireplace-3d-screensaver-6359 I love classics , like Jane Eyre, at the mountain cabin, in front of the stone fireplace during a long soggy week of rain,

and  for murder mysteries and thrillers I like to seal myself away to the comfort and safety of my bedroom and close the door.imagesI call them bookdrops. I hear from and speak to writers a lot, and writers are also readers.  Do you  enhance or set the mood, or do you depend on your imagination exclusively?

Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls <3

I go out for a four hour meeting and come home to find these awesome words. Then I cried for another hour. This story was so very important to me and I am so grateful that it is coming across to the reader as intended. Ionia, I love you ❤

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Might I just apologise to the author of this book first. No, no it isn’t the usual sheesh it took me a long arse time to get to this book and I am so sorry. Nope. I would like to apologise for underestimating her skills and my ability to enjoy anything with the word “historical” attached to it. Here’s the deal, right? I read a historical novel and pick it apart from beginning to end finding every fault I can. I can’t seem to help it. Guess what? S.K. Nicholls knocked this one out of the park. Bloody hell, woman, where have you been hiding? Go write me another book!

Also, you can find her excellent blog by going here:My Brand of Genius


And now onto some words from our sponsor. Me, and a brief description from Goodreads as well.

Set in the Deep South during a period…

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Are Pseudonyms Outdated?


Photo: Reuters

The original purpose of pseudonyms was to allow women to write in a man’s world.  In the 1700 and 1800s men were of a mind that women could only produce emotional memoirs successfully and men wrote the serious literary work.  Like Charlotte Bronte writing as Currer Bell, a name that could have been male or female, but allowed her to publish more readily.

I don’t want this piece to come across as author bashing.   I am curious on what your thoughts about pseudonyms today are.  Do you think their use is outdated?  Are the purposes different?  Do they have to do more with confidentiality and protection?

I have a girlfriend who writes erotica under a pseudonym.  I don’t blame her.  People could easily stalk her in our high tech society.  Serial Killers could single her out. (Okay, maybe I watch too much Criminal Minds.)

I wrote Red Clay and Roses using only my initials and last name.  Originally I did that for anonymity.  It was my first work and I didn’t want to embarrass myself if it turned out that it was crap.  When others started reading it and telling me to publish it, I felt better about it, but still felt that going public like that would open a whole new world and I was not sure I, Susan Koone Nicholls, was ready for that and I wondered if my family was ready, being such a revealing factual based story.   I think they are okay with it now, but I have not yet submitted to my hometown paper.  That might change things.

I have a murder mystery in progress.  I am very seriously considering writing under a pseudonym because I believe that genre is better accepted as a male dominated genre.  Then I think about  Faye Kellerman, Sue Grafton, Karin Slaughter, and other female mystery, thriller, crime novelists who have become quite successful in their own right without any use of male pseudonyms, just good writing.  For marketing purposes it might be better to write under an already established platform as S. K. Nicholls.  After all, not all of us can be J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith and unmask when reviews are great but sales are soggy.  I think she did a great thing to write under a pseudonym anonymously in that she is already famous.  Do you think she would have unmasked had her work received the same reviews as “The Casual Vacancy”?

Writing for yourself First

I couldn’t agree more with the last sentence of this post. I want to share it with anyone who is “struggling” to write a piece.

Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors

I was reading on a forum today where an author asked how he could get the joy of writing back. He was worn out and bored with everything he started. The thought of writing another word was akin to pulling his own teeth with a pair of pliers.

As I read through the comments it became very clear to me, despite all the great suggestions given on how to help him, that his true problem wasn’t writer’s block or burn out. It was gearing his writing toward what he thought readers wanted from him. It was suppressing his own creative voice in an attempt to give his audience what they wanted. And it was boring him to death.

You see, he loved his daily writing pages. He enjoyed warm up stage before the critic’s voice came in to kill the fun. He still daydreamed new pitfalls for his characters.


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