I — Inquiry and Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought

Real quick, this is how Lake Tahoe looked in March. The water was getting closer but not reaching the Truckee River.

The mouth of the river (1 of 1)

Well big news, it just flowed over its natural rim and has reached the mouth of the Truckee River.

Wow just when I was thinking I was running out of time to do my Monday post and couldn’t think of anything, but when I signed in to start a long overdue visitation round for my blogger friends, I discovered to my amazement a comment from Sheri Kennedy who writes as Kennedy J. Quinn with an invitation to do this interview, tag a few other writers, and read her amazing interview! Her answers really are good; please do yourself a favor and read through them. Sheri does everything a hundred percent, and her interview is no exception. And Sheri, thank you for reading and mentioning The Last Straw. I’ve been meaning to get that book up here on my blog, but for now, here are my answers to your great questions

  1. If you could write full time, would you? Why or why not. If you already do, would you want to change that? Why?
    I write full time now, and I wouldn’t change it, I’m so grateful every day for getting to write fiction and my blog.
  2. Tell me about your favorite character in literature. Why are they your fave?Sherlock Holmes. He is so logical. I love logic and logical characters. I’m also a huge fan of Spock in Star Trek and Seven of Nine.
  3. How long did it take you to write your first book? How long to get it published? Six years (I was working at the time, and had a lot of learning to do!) I didn’t publish it.
  4. What do you think the best books have in common? Great question! I have no idea how to answer it! But for me a book is great when I lose myself in it, when I am more in it than in my life as I bumble through the rituals of the day thinking about the book the whole time until I can return to it. I’m reading one like that now, and it brings me so much enjoyment, especially since several friends are all reading it and we are talking about it.
  5. What do you like to eat or drink while writing?Organic unsweetened almond milk (yes I actually like it), nuts, water. When I’m really on a hot streak, slide it under the door. When I’m struggling I spend most of my time at the refrigerator grazing, with the expected consequences.
  6. Did you ever have one of your characters surprise you? In what way? If no, why not?Oh, I love this question because it just happened to me for the first time in the book that is coming out this month, Third Strike’s the Charm. The hero had a secret I didn’t discover until the end of the third draft. Then I knew why I’d had so much trouble with his character. I didn’t understand Jason Ward until then.
  7. Regarding writing environment: Quiet or Noisy? Alone or With Others? Indoors or Outdoors? Hot or Cool?Okay, both, both, indoors, just right. LOL! I’m picky about temperature and light, otherwise, I’m flexible. I LOVE long plane rides. I get so much done!
  8. Regarding preferred stories: Happy or Complicated? Fantasy or Reality? Character-driven or Plot-driven? Scary or Funny? Classic or Modern?Happy, reality but a dramatic version, mix of character-driven and plot-driven, funny, modern.
  9. Tell me about your favorite character in your work in progress. What’s your favorite thing about them?Devin York is an arrogant emotionally disconnected billionaire CEO who scowls and broods which is interpreted by others as being domineering and tyrannical but is really caused by the tragic death of his wife for which he blames himself. He’s emerged as a Gothic character set in contemporary times, and I adore him. He breaks my heart, makes me angry, and makes me laugh, sometimes on the same page. I am finding I love writing these over-the-top characters and am very grateful Devin arrived in time to save my manuscript from the previous hero… who was a lox.
  10. Why do you write?If I had a choice, I wouldn’t. But I’m incredibly grateful that I can and do. What can I say? It’s a love-hate relationship, like every good romance!

Okay, enough about me! Here are my questions to any writer who happens to read this but specifically for the writers linked at the end, should they choose to participate:

  1. What is your favorite project that you have completed? Why?
  2. If you had to pick one book to read while you were stranded for a long time on a desert island, what would it be?
  3. What do you do when you get stuck with a story or article to get unstuck about the story or article and going all the way to the end?
  4. Do you ever write with pen and paper? If so, why? If not, why not? What do you like more about writing on the computer or about writing longhand?
  5. Who is your favorite character in literature?
  6. Do you believe in “muses” or inspiration? If so, how do you cultivate the inspiration?
  7. What made you want to write?
  8. Do you prefer reading or writing fiction or nonfiction? Why?
  9. What book, author (including blogger and journalist) has most influenced or inspired you?
  10. What would be your favorite place to write if you could write anywhere in the world?
    Here’s some inspiration for that thought!


John Holland

Cynthia Harrison

Robena Grant

Margaret Lynette Sharp

Ann of Anroworld

Susie Lindau

Ann Sandler

Marie Tuhart

Leanne Cole






#Giveaway Australian literature & sale

Ebook Heartland 2015

As many of you know, I did the editing and formatting for my friend John Holland’s four novellas. Now there’s a collection of all four in one book and it’s on sale today. There is also a one month long giveaway of the paperback edition on Goodreads for USA residents (due to budget constraints with shipping).

If you read it and see the editor is Nia Simone, don’t worry, that’s me!

Here is the description:

Heartland is a collection of four novellas connected by the theme of life in the Australian outback.

Somewhere Far from Iris:

In this noir style tale, a depressed man seeking to heal himself by returning to his hometown walks into an explosive situation that threatens friends old and new and is somehow entangled with the secret of his origin.

The Light at the Bottom of the Garden:

In this light mystery, Senior Police Constable Mick Creedy faces his toughest case: a governess gone missing, perhaps because she followed the legendary Min-Min Lights. When the young woman’s mother, Eveling, arrives from England wanting a full investigation, including into the possibility of a paranormal event, Mick needs to balance his no-nonsense methods with a grieving parent’s needs. Eveling further complicates matters as she endangers herself and threatens to distract Mick.

Bitter Bread:

In this noir-style story, a severely scarred reclusive man who moves to a small town after his wife’s death finds himself embroiled in a violent labour dispute that forces him to become involved with the community.

Left of the Rising Sun:

In this survival adventure, a boy who is the only one to walk away from a small plane crash in the remote outback of the Australian Northern Territory believes he won’t be found and decides to walk 300 kilometres home. His trek requires resolve, knowledge of the harsh wilderness, and ingenuity and leads to surprising friendship and maturity.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Heartland by John  Holland


by John Holland

Giveaway ends January 17, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

For today only, the digital edition is on sale at these outlets:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NQpg5M

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/heartland-38


Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heartland-john-holland/1122933938?ean=2940152459661

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/591821

Find John online here: http://poetrysansfrontieres.weebly.com/

Stormy skies and a writing contest

I love thunderstorms.


We really don’t get many in my neck of the woods, so they are extra special when they happen.


A new writing contest has been launched on Poetry Sans Frontieres with some great prizes. The contest is free to enter and only requires a max of 500 words for poetry and 1,000 for flash fiction.

You have to write something that responds to this prompt, which I think is a really fun one, so I’m posting it here:


There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad on a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that led swiftly before him through the moonlight. He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time. He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars and over the face of dead matter that did not move.

~The Call of the Wild, Jack London~

Day 3, 2015, writing musings

2015 so far is very good! We’re just three days in, but each day is a mini lifetime.

How are you faring in 2015 so far? Well, I hope.

I am busy working with John Holland to finish the middle-grade fantasy we are co-authoring. Here’s my Aussie friend and co-author:

John Holland
John Holland

Here I am right now (you can see the WordPress editor on my monitor). That is my new plant, a lucky bamboo supposed to bring prosperity, fortune and happiness.

Author at work 2
Nicci Carrera

Our middle-grade book is coming along well.

When I edited the last of John’s four novellas, Left of the Rising Sun, I realized he has a great voice for kids. One of the things I like the most is how much humor comes out in all of John’s books.

He allowed his mind to drift off into daydreams, a distraction from the danger.

When I’m grown right up into a big tall man, I’ll come back here and bring a girl. That girl will probably be Sally. I’ll show her how tough I am. She’ll be amazed by the way I catch food, and I’ll be really handsome, too!

Buck wasn’t sure he was going to be that tall or big, though. His mother was short and a little plump. Dad was average height and slim.

But maybe I’ll take after my great grandad! He was a big tall man and he was a great man, too. He used to captain a pearl lugger at Broome. Probably was a pirate as well. He certainly looked a bit like a pirate in the old photos his grandmother had shown him. A big man in a captain’s cap smoking a pipe. He looked fierce and very tough in the photos. I think I will look a bit like him when I’m big.

Or I might become a boxer or buckjump rider. Dad buys The Ring Magazine and Hoofs and Horns. The life of those people in the magazines would be great. Both are dangerous sports, but I’ll be big and tough enough not to feel danger. I’ll just laugh quietly, and everyone will cheer at how good I am. Sally will be in the crowd. She’ll be so proud of me! She’ll want me to marry her, and later on, I will. But first I’ll tell her to go away, because she used to like Reggie more than me.

She’ll cry and go on a bit about how sorry she is, and she’ll say that Reggie isn’t as big and handsome as I am. So I’ll relent and say, okay we can get married.

I didn’t have a lot of experience with kids, but when my husband and I met John Holland and his family, we were introduced to some of his grandchildren. Spending time with them made me want to write for them, and edit for them, when the material is appropriate, like Left of the Rising Sun. John’s grandchildren were thrilled to receive their granddad’s signed book as a Christmas present.

All of this led to our decision to write a middle-grade book together, using the world-building manual my husband helped us create for the book we wrote together last year. (My husband is an avid science fiction reader, and…well…just really smart. He’s a big part of our team.)


I’m really gratified and thrilled by the Amazon reviews for Left of the Rising Sun. One of the reviewers called it a “deceptively simple book.” That’s how I felt about the book, because the writing is straight-forward in style. That style allowed me to enjoy seeing Buck’s character and his growth as he was set against trials and when he found himself responsible for another person.

As a writer and as an editor, I have to tell you, that’s the real joy, when a reader says she or he saw and felt what you thought and felt about the story.

If you want to check out John’s books, please see the right frame. Click on any of the book covers that look interesting, and you will be delivered to the book’s Amazon page.

I’ll close with a mountain shot I took over the holiday.


I hope you enjoy the third day of the shiny new year.


Aussie novella, Heartland series book 2, a mystery

Thank you for the great support for Somewhere Far from Iris. John and I appreciate your interest and efforts.

The second installment in John Holland‘s Heartland series, a novella length mystery, is now available.


A lovely English governess goes missing from the homestead on a local cattle station in the Australian outback. The local people think the mysterious Min Min light has something to do with her disappearance. Senior Police Constable Mick Creedy doesn’t buy into paranormal explanations and is exploring foul play. However, when the young woman’s mother, Eveling, arrives from England wanting a full investigation, including the possibility of a paranormal event, Mick needs to balance his methods with a grieving parent’s needs. Eveling’s inclinations further complicate matters as they might lead her into a danger Mick does not yet understand. Pressure mounts as unexpected feelings for the victim’s mother raise the stakes in this case that seems to have no leads.

Editor’s note:

I suggested to John, “Hey, you should write a mystery.” We were on Google Hangout, so I could see his sly smile. A few days later he sent me The Light at the Bottom of the Garden. Once again I was drawn into his straightforward style and was delighted by finding John’s humor in the story. I still laugh every time I read the scene between Mick and Bessie.

We hope you enjoy the story! If you do get a chance to read this installment in the series, a review at your favorite online book review forum will help other readers discover John’s unique voice.

Nia Simone

You can read the first 20% of this fun book at these outlets.

Kindle electronic book: Amazon

and Smashwords (electronic book formats: epub, mobi, PDF, lrf)

You can also check out this nice interview with John at Smashwords. There’s another really good interview I just found out about here: Patti Roberts and Guests.



I edited an Aussie novella…


My friend John Holland let me edit his Heartland novella series. I love his work! We released the first installment, Somewhere Far from Iris a couple days ago.

A man struggling with depression travels back to his Australian outback hometown to reconstruct himself and walks into an explosive situation that is somehow entangled with the secret of his origin.

Here is the longer blurb. I also included my editor’s note for some background on how this project started.

Clinically depressed Shane Morris is trying to learn how to cope with his condition and find balance within the turmoil of his mind. He embarks on a mission to reconstruct himself by going back to his roots in the Australian outback town of his childhood. In Iris, this man who thinks he is nothing discovers at its extreme, life has two poles, the tender and the brutal. In the fires of the worst and best expressions of man, Shane learns he’s far from nothing and just where he fits into humanity’s broad spectrum.

Editor’s note:

When I first opened this file, I was sitting in our friends’ house in Sydney. We had left Townsville just days before. My husband and I spent three weeks with John and his family so John and I could collaborate on a novel. John sent me an email saying this story idea had poured out of him after we flew out. But, he said, he didn’t know where it was going and wasn’t planning to finish! No fair. I was riveted. So I demanded he finish. And when I received the finished draft, I was thoroughly satisfied with the story.

I never know what John’s going to come up with next for his stories. I found Somewhere Far from Iris to be twisty and intense.

I am pleased and honored to be John’s editor and thrilled to help bring this book to you.

Your reviews will really help other people find John’s work, so please post your review at your favorite online book review forum. Your support is very much appreciated.

Nia Simone

Available at Amazon: Somewhere Far from Iris

Smashwords: Somewhere Far from Iris




Reading, Wheels Within, by John Holland

This poem had a profound impact upon me as a beautiful and mystical articulation of my own philosophical bent. My husband and I traveled to Australia recently to meet the poet, John Holland. Afterward, I was inspired to record this reading of Wheels Within, at dawn, at my husband’s and my apartment in Townsville.

“Are we all interconnected by a cord/twisted from the strands of pure/white fabric no man can truly name?”


Giveaway/Inside the Artist’s Mind: interview series 2, John Holland

UTDS Hammer and Anvil (1)

Today’s interview is with author/poet, John Holland, whose latest book, Under the Dog Star, has hit number one and stayed near the top in Amazon Books > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Australia & Oceania. If you don’t win one of the five freebies I’m giving away today (or even if you do win and want to give copies away as gifts), you can buy it here:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00E64XY2M

Autographed print copies:  http://poetrysansfrontieres.weebly.com/online-store.html

Welcome, John, and thanks for being interviewed for my Inside the Artist’s Mind series. Note to the audience: I’m giving away 5 copies of John’s new book of poetry today, to a random selection of anyone who leaves a comment or emails me by going to my website (niasimone.intuitwebsites.com) and clicking the “Email me” button. (I don’t post my email addy here in case of spam.)

Nia: John, you are another of what I call the “open spigot writers,” meaning your writing seems to flow out of you. You are a very prolific poet and I happen to know you are also working on a novel. Let’s start with the poetry. Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

John Holland: I find my methods difficult to explain.  In some cases I start with a line and just write whatever comes into my head as quickly as possible.  A brief revise, mainly line breaks.  Then leave it at that.

At other times I might spend a lot of time writing and revising a short poem.

Nia: Your new book, Under the Dog Star, has a mix of styles in it, something of a range between spare bites and stream of consciousness and shades in between. Another Helen struck me as an in-between one because it has a dream-like quality to it even as it alludes to the classic Helen of Troy story. (“day slides/slipping away/from under me…” Holland, John (2013-07-25). Under the Dog Star (Kindle Locations 113-114). Hammer & Anvil Books. Kindle Edition.) Can you tell us about your process in writing that poem?

John: Another Helen was written as “a stream of consciousness” poem.  Or more correctly, my version of that.  Almost automatic writing. I did have something in mind when I wrote Another Helen.  But still allowed it to flow with the “stream”.

Nia: On the further end of the spectrum, Wheels Within seemed very stream of consciousness. How did that come about?

John: Wheels came out of thin air.  Another Helen was written with a purpose in mind.

Nia: I can relate to different modes of writing. I’ve had similar experiences. Although I didn’t get anywhere near Wheels Within or Another Helen, I had those kinds of experiences in the spring when I was writing so much poetry. I love that kind of writing. And dream-inspired writing, even prose, is my best. But you can’t really decide to write that way, can you?

John: I can.  At least to a degree.  But it is probably not a good thing for most poets. The work does come out a bit disjointed and “jiggly” as your mind quickly reacts to the preceding line.  Of course you can revise when you are finished.  But I think any more than minimal revision destroys the whole purpose of the exercise.

Nia: I agree, don’t overdo the revisions. There’s a fluidity to the auto-writing that is powerful and beautiful. Thank you for sharing a bit about your poetry writing process. Now, you are also working on a novel and I’ve seen bits of it. Okay… for readers who’ve made it this far, you’re the first to know… John and I are co-authoring a series of novels. So, I’ve seen quite a bit of your writing and it interests me because we are opposite types of writers in many ways. I like to think through and do a lot of planning on plot. I tell you what I have up my sleeve and you’ll say, “That sounds good.” Then I don’t hear anything. Then you tell me you have a little time to write today. Then I get 2,000 fantastic words from you, with likeable characters, vivid scenery, realistic and individual dialog, all aligned with the big picture of the plot. Do you do the same thing as you did with Another Helen? Have an idea of what is needed (from the plot) then let it pour out of you?

John: Yes and no.  I do write fairly quickly while the thoughts are fresh in my mind, but I take a lot more time to revise.  With poetry you can leave more unsaid and allow the reader to put flesh on the bare bones.  With prose I try to add that flesh for the reader.

It has been a learning experience for me to work with you on our first novel of the series.  But I think our styles blend together well.

That we are both intensely interested in the metaphysical aspects of our perceived universe is a big plus I think.

Nia: Way to slip in a sneak preview of the theme, there, John! Writing with you has been a learning experience for me, as well, and a lot of fun. I can’t wait to finish telling this long saga with you and sharing a bit of our totally different backgrounds, Australian Outback and California Sierra Nevada, through the vehicle of this story.

Thank you for sharing a bit from inside your artist’s mind and best of luck with Under the Dog Star.

I’m sure John will answer questions if you would like to post one here and comments are always welcomed. Today they are also rewarded! So, do say hello.

10 new titles, a Giveaway, and a New publisher’s debut release


Hammer & Anvil Books is the new imprint for coloratura fiction and international poetry from the creative team behind Danse Macabre. Comment on this post and be entered to win a book of your choice from this new list!

Nightmares – A Collection of Tales, by J. Eric Castro: author of Rowdies

The Water-Lily Bloom, by J.C. Frampton: a one act play

Quicksand, by Arlene Greene: a debut novel

Phantasizer – Tales of Dread and the Fantastic, by Kyle Hemmings: short stories

Under the Dog Star, by John Holland: author of the #1 bestselling/Kindle regional poetry Dry Bones

La liebre de marzo / The March Hare, by Marosa di Giorgio: newly translated by Kathryn A. Kopple, author of Little Velásquez

A Feather of Fujiyama, by Bozhidar Pangelov, poetry in Bulgarian and English

Into the Blue on New Year’s Eve, by Valerie V. Petrovskiy, flash fiction

Kate Moss & Other Heroines, by Samantha Memi, short fiction with dark humor from a British chef and author

Death of a Lottery Foe (The Harry Krisman Mysteries), by Tom Sheehan, called “…the sort of writer who comes along once in a reader’s lifetime.” by the Midwest Book Review