Friday, December 02, 2016

November's Story On Patreon

Click here to go to Patreon! 

This went up on, well, the last day of the month, let's be honest. I thought it was done mid-month, but after a couple alpha and beta readers had one or two suggestions, I worked on it more. And then, you know, there was Thanksgiving and then my kids were sick, but I got it all finished before I GOT SICK TOO.

Seriously, if you're like, "Why haven't you posted since 2013?" It's due to a few reasons:

1) Now I have TWO KIDS. In 2013 I only had one and life was easy and fun-loving and I had time to write blog posts and books and fritter away the hours on beautiful things. Then in 2014, I had my second kid, Zoe, and since then living has taken on hurricane dimensions. Yes. Also, I started a website on Wordpress, and I like it much better. I'm pretty sure Google abandoned Blogger, for the most part. But what do I know? I usually don't hang out here. I hate the address, and the name, Talking to the Walls. Because yeah, I started this blog in 2005, before I even understood what the hell a blog was. So obviously, I was way into railroad ties and their innate poetry. Hence the ridiculously unrelated address.

2) Well, like I said. I started a website with a domain name that makes sense for me and what I do (I'm a writer, and my brand is me: Nicole Grotepas, the best brand name IN THE FREAKING WORLD).

3) But I can't just let this site DIE. Because it's my living record! So I leave it here. When I get a hankering to turn my life into an empire, I think, "My god, I'll double post! I'll double post the living crap out everything! I'll put all my stuff on my other website and this website and Patreon and FB and Twitter and Tumblr!!!" And like, right now, I do it for a few days and then quickly burn out. So yes. This site is still live.

4) Did I mention I have two kids? People with more than that are idiots. Well, I mean, I admire and pity them all at once. Sure, they can say to me, "It's fine. It's easy! Once you get past two, it's like THEY TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES AND THEN SOME." The and "then some" is that supposedly once they have a kid over 7 or so, that kid then proceeds to baby sit the younger ones. You've seen this on such disastrous (yet addicting, so I'm told) shows like that one that went down in flames because of some sex-abuse scandal. You know, where basically the parents don't even parent, because that's why they had thirty kids!

Ok, so I do think that people with lots of kids are a bit cuckoo, but more power to them! I do not feel personally responsible for their troubles. Or anything like that, I just know that for myself, I CAN BARELY HANDLE TWO. I adore my kids, I really do. They regularly melt my heart and make me laugh and grin so hard my face feels like it's about to crack in two. But, yeah, they also suck the life out of me. They're little energy vampires. I constantly mediate their battles. I am a warden. And at night, I can barely hang on long enough to possibly fold the laundry and watch a bit of some BBC police procedural on Netflix.

Anyhoo. Did I complain about being a parent? Yeah, well. I love it. And I don't. But mostly I do.

The point is, if you're looking for some new sci-fi, and you have .99 cents to spare per short story, I am on Patreon and I NEED YOU.

Monday, July 01, 2013

TEASER! A Boat Made of Bone

I'm excited to share this with you guys! It's a teaser from A Boat Made of Bone, my next book and the book that this Kickstarter campaign is for. If you enjoy this teaser, please take a moment and go pledge to help get the book published. Just $1 gets you a copy of one of my books. More pledge gets you more reward, of course--paperback copies, hardback copies, original artwork, and other cool shiz! Thank you so much to friends, fans, and family who have already pledged! I'm truly humbled and awed by your generosity. I love you!

We take two lifts to the top of the tower, transferring halfway up. When we step out onto the balcony of the top level, I gasp in stunned amazement. The city of Paris stretches to the horizon, a dark river of stars, an arm of the Milky Way, flowing away from us like a black lake filled with incandescent pebbles. The contrast of light and darkness is stark and humbling. I’ve never seen a more beautiful city. We walk to the nearest railing and Will wraps his arm around me, standing at my side, quiet and reverent like the moment seems to ask for.
Humans have created a lot of beautiful things and a lot of miserable things. While I’ve only seen a small bit of the ugly, I’ve witnessed a good share of the wondrous. I know as I stand there absorbing the experience that this—Paris at night at the top of the Eiffel tower—is one of the best. And maybe it’s just because I’m here with Will. Maybe it’s that I can smell his musk, and around it, the fragrance of summer in a city. Or perhaps it’s the imperfect mirror image of the city of light beneath us and the star speckled sky above us. Together the endless city and the eternal night sky make me feel so small and insignificant. The only thing that saves me is Will—his breath against my neck, his arm wrapped around me so that I realize I am known and perhaps even loved, that I am not just some unknown speck on a huge, seething planet of human life.
Being in such a place, we could be laughing, acting drunk with elation that we’re together at the top of the world, but instead we’re a bit somber. I feel stunned at the sight—I honestly didn’t anticipate being so prompted into silence.
“Want to see the other side?” Will whispers. His lips brush my ear and chills flash across my neck...
I should mention that while this teaser is in first person point-of-view, the finished product will be in third person POV. I began the first draft in third person, and about five or six scenes in, I switched it to first. And then, when I was almost done with the first draft, I decided third person would be a better vehicle for this story. I know, it's like I have a decision-making-disorder or something...

On the Kickstarter page, there's a link to the first chapter, which is in third person. I haven't finished making the POV switch in the entire thing yet. So you will notice some inconsistencies in POV. If you have an opinion or insight into this change, feel free to speak up. It's been a difficult debate for me and I love getting input, even if I shoot it down and don't follow it. Bwah ha ha ha!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hey, My Kickstarter Is Live! Check This Out . . .

This is from Burgandy Ice's promotional page for it: I am very happy to announce this fun KICKSTARTER by Nicole Grotepas!!  Supporting her new release gets me a copy, which is UBER-exciting, but... there's more!!  Sharing this announcement enters me in a giveaway for $100!!

YEA!  It's like... getting chocolate and eating it, too!!  Or having a tea party and discovering we all love the same book!  Support awesome author... get copy of the book... and entered to win $100!!  (Too many exclamation point? I do like them.)

Please welcome Nicole, who says it much better than me:

Hey everyone! The Kickstarter for my next novel, A Boat Made of Bone, has launched! Watch the video above and go here to reserve your copy (digital, paperback, or hardback) now! Share the news to enter to win $100 - details below.

For those of you curious about WHAT this book is about, there's a link posted on the Kickstarter page that will allow you to read the first chapter. More chapters will be unlocked when funding is met and if we can reach stretch goals. See all the stretch rewards at the bottom of the Kickstarter info page. 

I'm so excited to be doing this. I love Kickstarter and have found myself nearly ADDICTED to it. Seriously, I have to rein myself in or else I'd back every cool projecting happening ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

I'd be broke. But I'd be happy. And projects would be funded. Right? 

As the campaign progresses, I'll also be posting teasers from deeper in the book, which will reveal delicious details about where the story is headed. So once you're hooked, I hope you stay tuned for more sweet delectable tidbits from my next book. 

In fact, while we're talking about it, here's one now. 
Will closes his eyes, unfolds his arms, and takes a deep breath. When he opens his eyes again, the intensity of his gaze sears me. “You’re right. That is what I’m doing, Kat. I’m sorry. Because—because what I was once, when I was alive, doesn’t matter to me anymore. What matters to me now is you. I find it difficult to know that you have a life that I’m not a part of.” He steps toward me and takes hold of my upper arms. His grip is tight, but not uncomfortably so. “I regretted everything I did, everything I was, until I found you. It’s a second chance, and I don’t even know why I’ve been given one. Only, I’m not real. I’m dead. And I can’t even touch you, your flesh, the real you.” 
Aaaaand scene. 

Well, there it is. I hope you’ve enjoyed that little foray into the depths of A Boat Made of Bone. There’s more where that came from if you stick around. Heh heh.

Remember to share this Kickstarter to enter to win a $100 gift card from Amazon or Paypal cash. The drawing will happen when the campaign reaches it’s funding goal. I can't wait to give someone a hundred dollars!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Lighning Dust "Fantasy"

I got this album pre-release to do a review for an online music magazine. This isn't my review, it's just a preliminary write up about how great it is! I love finding new music, and while I feel like I've heard them before, I don't remember their other albums.

So far my favorite on the album is "Diamond" and I think the band must know what a great song it is because it's the first track on the album.

But I've been known to fall out of love with my first love. In songs, that is. And on albums. And then I fall in love with other songs, like for example, "Six Weeks" wasn't my favorite song on the first "Of Monsters and Men" album, but it is now.

And oh, yeah, why I haven't I been more faithful in writing on my blog? It' know...amazing. I feel like I've just come out of a cocoon. A hibernation.

Anyway, back to the album. "Fire Me Up" is another excellent track. I love "Reckless and Wild" and it's pretty sweet. The vocalist is strong, and they have a few tracks where she's the main feature of the piece, but I feel like the band is best when they incorporate more sounds and instruments into their songs.

I'll post a link when my review is up.

And holy crap, I just found this video on Youtube, and not only that, I discovered that these guys were in Black Mountain. I have a Black Mountain 5'' somewhere....

Sample the excellent "Diamond" below. You'll want to have it on repeat just like me, I'm sure of it.

Kickstarter Pre-Launch Campaign and $100 Gift Card Drawing

So Laura at Prism Book Tours is doing a campaign pre-launch of my Kickstarter campaign for my next book. Here's the info about it if you want to participate! If the project gets funded, we'll be doing a $100 drawing for an Amazon gift card or Paypal cash. EXCITING!!


Nicole GrotepasHey everyone! I'm borrowing this blog for a moment to invite people to sign up for the Kickstarter Launch Blast we're organizing together to spread the word on the publishing campaign for my new book: A Boat Made of Bone.

Kat Miller has been having recurring dreams about the same man . . . a dead man. Will Marks, to be exact, a celebrity who died long before Kat had any reason to pay attention to celebrities. 

While the night-world she enjoys with Will beckons, her waking world has suddenly gotten intriguing. Ty Watts--a guy with looks that could set a thousand housewives free--just walked into her life. He's got a smile that hides a secret Kat wants to know. 

But is Ty a distraction or a savior?

Kat's dreams threaten to take over. She must negotiate the edge of reality, solve the mystery of her nightly rendezvous with Will and either set him free or lose herself forever in the seductively dangerous world he inhabits. 

A Boat Made of Bone is a love story that spans worlds, generations, and reaches beyond death into the realm of fantasy. 
--This book contains mature themes that may not be suitable for those under 18. 


1 - Share this super-fun announcement with me, Nicole Grotepas!  (Details in form below)

2 - Post the campaign launch on June 22nd  (Details via email) 

3 - Share fun subject-to-change sidebar graphics as the campaign grows!


The intent of the Kickstarter campaign is to raise funds through pledges (each pledge secures some type of copy of A Boat Made of Bone) to finalize publication of the book. There are various reward levels ranging from a $1 pledge, to $10 pledges all the way up to $2000 with many stops in between. There's something for everyone!

There are also unlockable rewards for pledgers at each $5000 level such as more chapters from the book and reward add-ons ranging from posters of the cover art to tote bags with the cover art. Be a part of all the excitement!


Every blogger who participates in sharing this announcement will be entered in a drawing for a $100 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash. 

Enter again by posting the Kickstarter June 22nd! 

This is separate from the rewards offered in the campaign - to be among the first to receive Nicole Grotepas' new book, be sure to check out the Kickstarter, too... choose your pledge and secure your copy of A Boat Made of Bone!


Fill out this awesome form designed by Prism Book Tours and we'll enter you in the drawing for $100 and you'll hear from us soon! 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blue Hearts of Mars Book Blast and $50 Giveaway

Blue Hearts of Mars by Nicole Grotepas

Retta Heikkinen knows the unspoken rule of society: love between androids and humans is forbidden. A simple enough edict until Hemingway Koskinen spends an evening charming her with his intense gaze, bewitching smile, and sparkling conversation that hints at so much more than the usual obsessions of high school boys. Rules were meant to be cast aside, especially when love beckons.

If only it were as simple as being in love.

Trouble is brewing, not just for Hemingway--for all androids. Secrets have been kept, lies propagated, and Retta soon discovers that a frightening future awaits thousands of androids if she doesn’t do something to stop it. Worse yet, she will lose the one love she’s ever endangered herself for: Hemingway.


"Nothing like I've read before. A true original story! Everything is so well described. Now if they could make a follow up book and movie, that would be great!" ~Mrs. Z (Amazon)

"I was addicted to this book from the beginning. Life on Mars was very real and not at all a sci fi world I didn't understand . . . I found myself rooting for Retta and Hemingway from the very beginning. Easy reading, couldn't put it down and had it read in a weekend. Waiting for a sequel!" ~TNielsen (Amazon)

"The ending of this book is exceptional. While it was different from what I imagined, the way the author brought in a shocking revelation was amazing. I probably reread the last chapter 3 times letting it sink in and the meaning behind it. It was truly beautiful . . . I would love to see more of Retta and Hemingway!" ~Kat Meyer, (Goodreads)

"I love how the author populated Mars . . . so descriptive and comprehensive . . . I could clearly picture everything as if I was seeing the movie &/or was along for the ride. . . . Retta, the main character, is strong, opinionated, and a great champion for her cause." ~Megan (Amazon)

"I had been in the worst reading slump ever and came across this on Goodreads and thought I'd give it a try. Well, I was pleasantly surprised on how funny and exciting and mysterious it was . . . Mei, Retta's bff, had me laughing out loud quite a bit as well as Retta herself. I'd definitely hang out with those two." ~Deanneluvbooks (Goodreads)

Blue Hearts of Mars has made it to the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Readers are invited to download the excerpts (here) and rate and comment on the entries. So please, if you want to contribute, download and rate Blue Hearts! Your support is incredibly appreciated!

Or purchase the full version of the book here: Amazon

Author Nicole Grotepas

Nicole wrote her first fantasy novel in 7th grade on her mother's old Brother typewriter. It was never finished but it strongly resembled a Dragonlance plot and she's forever wondered what happened to the manuscript and Tonathan--the handsome elven protagonist. After living in Nashville where she worked as an editor, she returned to the Utah desert where she was raised. Nicole now lives near the Wasatch mountains with her husband. She writes and raises her son and three cats full time.

Tour Schedule

Book Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 4/14/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ronnell Porter as a Cover Designer

I don't like to slam people and it really grieves me to do so now, but after my experience with this designer, I really feel obligated to warn other authors who may be taken in at first blush by Ronnell's quick email responses and apparent flexibility and helpfulness. He's very good at first, when money is on the line.

When I was looking for a designer the first time, I found Ronnell's website and I jumped right in. I should have checked him out better, but I didn't. Rookie mistake.

Here's the thing, Ronnell says on his website that he requires payment up front and I also asked him about it and he told me that's the way he works. So that's what I did. If you or anyone you know is looking for a cover and you choose to go with him despite the warnings everywhere from others, do not pay him up front. He even advises against this elsewhere, but I'll get to that more later.

In any case. I paid him and he did the cover, and he did it quick and did a decent job. I asked him to make one change and it took him two weeks to get back to me with it. During that time, I got worried that I was never going to hear from him again and did a more thorough search online about him and that's when I found some discussion threads relating to him stiffing people.

Most often, these customers had paid for the services beforehand and then they never heard from him again. In one thread, Ronnell speaks up and says he's handling it with the customer and then he gives the advice to never pay for the services in full up front, as though the problem isn't Ronnell, it's the trusting idiots who hire him.

I get what he's saying, because I agree, he's not to be trusted. But when you're new to the industry, it's easy to make the mistake of letting the person you hire run the show. That's what I did because I was naive and new. Luckily, this time, Ronnell pulled through.

Several months later, I was looking for a cover to a new book (Blue Hearts of Mars), so I contacted Ronnell. He responded right away that he had time. When money is on the line, I've learned, he usually responds fast. It was naive of me to go with him again, especially after the stuff I read on Kindleboards about him--but I hoped that if I didn't give him all the fee up front, that he'd do better.

At the time that I hired him again, as now, Ronnell was running a promotion where if you bought the eBook cover, you got the paperback cover as part of the deal. I noticed that after I'd hired him and he was working on the cover. When I asked if I could get that too, he responded that he'd include it but that he'd need the proper specs and trim sizes. Since I didn't have those at the time, I didn't send them to him.

But I had them a month later. I sent Ronnell a message asking if he could do the cover for me. No answer. I was ready to submit through Createspace to have the book available for print-on-demand, but I didn't have a cover. The next day, I emailed Ronnell again asking if he would let me have the Photoshop files (thinking that if he didn't want to do it, he could let me). His silence was unnerving. It made me anxious, which is the reason I asked for the Photoshop files, because without his cooperation, my project was stalled.

The first cover project Ronnell did for me was for World in Shadow, which is the first book in a series. His refusal to acknowledge my emails over the paperback cover for Blue Hearts of Mars was frustrating because now I was beginning to wonder what I'd do for the sequels. In a series, you want to have the same style of design, but would another designer be able to copy Ronnell's design? I don't know. Possibly. But do I even want a cover that's been done by him?

I sent Ronnell a few more emails, one asking if he'd be able to do the sequels to World in Shadow (at the time, I was slated to release it in March).


I was seriously beginning to wonder if he'd died. I found out today that he's still alive, just ignoring me. I guess Ronnell has a problem with people who ask for adjustments to the covers he does for them.

To illustrate, the first version of World in Shadow looked like this:

It was great! Except that the title is World in Shadow and the world through the portal is green and verdant with blue skies. Yes, there are shadows in the foreground, but the overall vibe of this cover is fantasy. World in Shadow is an adventure story with hints of sci-fi. I asked Ronnell to change the world through the portal and that was it. He changed it.

So, we were OK with one change because when I asked Ronnell to do my next book cover, he responded immediately. I must have asked for too many changes on this one. Here's the first version:

Ronnell actually sent me two versions of this cover. The other one has less detail around the heart. I loved this cover. But I felt like with the skin tone, it was TOO sexy, and too much like a grocery store romance novel (you know the kind). This book is for a YA audience and so I asked Ronnell to make the guy grayscale. An easy change. I know Photoshop and I know how easy it is to manipulate layers. I also requested that he change the red tones to an orange tone--the red, white, and blue was too patriotic.

So Ronnell did that, but he sent me back the version with the less detail around the heart (see the difference?). So I asked him to fix that (my email was clear, Ronnell just made a mistake, although in retrospect, I should have used the numbers rather than the words in my email "the one with more detail around the heart"). He fixed it and sent it back. By this time, I'd really decided that I didn't like the weird font choice--there's too much variation in the spacing, so I asked him to change it to something with more even spacing. He did.

By then it was perfect. But also by then I'd noticed a weird dot on the guys belly between the M and the A, and I asked him to delete it for me. He did and then I never heard from him again once I sent him final payment.

Maybe it was that freckle that really did it, that broke the camel's back. If I'd known that Ronnell had a threshold, would I have asked for that? I don't know.

He has the right to ignore me, yes, and at least I got my product (most of it) before he cut me off. But now I am crippled. I can't get him to acknowledge me and so when I needed the cover for the paperback, I had to improvise--incidentally, this cover looks great for an ebook, but not so much as a paperback.

If I want to use my cover to market my book, normally I would just email the designer and ask for some stuff and pay him. Uh, can't. Ronnell. Uh. He's ignoring me.

So I will have to pay a designer to come up with new artwork, because the version I have of my cover is jpeg, which means it's flattened, which means I can't get rid of the titles. If I want the paperback cover to look different, I may potentially have to get a new cover designed.

It might be worth it. Ronnell D. Porter isn't exactly the name I want associated with my books any longer. If you're a designer, you may be thinking, "Wow, I'd cut you off too. Those requests you made were totally unreasonable, you whiny jerk." Well, maybe they were. But I was paying for it, and if his cost structure doesn't have the extra time factored into it to make a client happy with a few small revisions, then that's his fault. Not mine.

I know how it is to work for people. I've worked in marketing and in production editing, so I know how it is to try to please a client. It can suck. My husband also works with clients on projects where they're constantly wanting to tweak things. He's an audio engineer and clients are often wanting to change a final mix. "Oh, bring the guitar up here, please," even though Stoker put the guitar down in the mix for a reason.

But Stoker doesn't ignore clients when they email him. Yes, sometimes it may take another email to catch his attention because as everyone with an email account knows, if you open an email on your phone (or even on your laptop) but can't respond right then, it goes to the bottom of the pile as more email comes flooding in. I gave Ronnell a chance to prove that this wasn't what was happening, and it's not.

If my story doesn't make you want to run screaming from this designer, consider these other stories:

Keith's experience
Sacha's experience

There have been more, but the threads have been deleted. Not sure why. If I find them, I'll update here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blue Hearts of Mars Out Now!

So Blue Hearts is out now, as the post title states. And guess what? Today it's free! So if you hurry your butt up, you can hop over to Amazon and get a copy for free! The best part about free stuff is that it's FREE. And even if you don't plan on reading it now, you can still get it and then read it later!

I'm feeling very exclaim-y today. I usually NEVER use exclamation points. Because in real life my humor is extremely dry and sarcastic. Honestly.

And all I ask of you, my reader, is that if you enjoy the book, rate it on Goodreads or Amazon. You don't even have to write a long review, just a line or something that testifies of how completely awesome I am and how you'd love to meet me and have lunch with me and if you say that, I will sincerely consider inviting you to lunch.

I mean, as long as you buy. Me. A. Steak.

In case you've forgotten how awesome Blue Hearts is, here's the cover image in high resolution:

Yep. It's young adult sci-fi romance. I had no idea that was even considered a genre until just a few days ago when I saw a thread on Goodreads of people looking for sci-fi romance. Who knew? But I'm glad I'm not trying to break ground on some new genre because let's face it, I'm no pioneer.

That said, the science fiction is very light. At least, in my opinion it is, because I'm not into hard core science fiction myself. I'm more of an Orson Scott Card fan and less a Larry Niven fan (I really just wanted Ringworld to get into more details about the relationships and stop telling me about the diameter of the world and etc). I loved the idea of Ringworld but became exhausted at the description of how tall the mountains were and the floating building and stuff.

So go download my book while it's free!

If you miss the free window, it only costs $2.99, which is almost free. That costs less than that grande white chocolate mocha you're drinking right this minute, and the book is infinitely more rewarding than the drink as well. I know from experienence.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Blue Hearts of Mars Cover Reveal

Here it is, the cover to my next book. My designer, Ronnell Porter, did an amazing job, plus he was really patient with all my changes. The book is set to be released to Kindle just before Christmas. It takes place on Mars, but that's not the main thrust of the story, so if you're not a huge fan of sci-fi, don't worry, it's still a fun, exciting read.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


I've found someone to do the maps for my upcoming book.  Or rather, he found me . . . through Cartographer's Guild.

He's done some amazing maps and it makes me wish that I had something more epic and complex for him to map. Like maybe if I'd written The Wheel of Time books or something. I totally could have done them.


The mapmaker goes by Sapiento on deviantART and lives in Austria but has perfect English and, literally, some of the most gorgeous maps I've seen. Think that's just hyperbole? See for yourself.   

Anyway, I'm thrilled to be working with him and someday, I may even do an epic fantasy just to utilize his talents more. I could definitely do an epic fantasy.


In a week or so, I'm hoping to have a map to post here before I publish the entire book just before Christmas. So, check back. The map will be so worth it. I promise.