In writing circles, I go by Nicholas P. Adams. I typically write SciFi, but I dabble in high fantasy. My most recent published work is an anthology I co-edited with my critique group and my current WIP is a futuristic SciFi Thriller/Mystery.
From Planning to Published
When did you start writing and why?
Author: I caught the writing bug in 2013 when I came across a quote, I believe by Toni Morrison. “When you can’t find the book you want to read, you must write it.” I’d had a story idea (favorite world for daydreaming) in my head for over ten years, so I decided to chase the lightning. That quest became The Angels’ Secret, my first self-published novel.
How long did it take you to finish your first book?
Author: I wrote the first 80K word draft in a month (I knew nothing about NaNoWriMo at the time) and spent the next year revising and adding content until It became the 147K behemoth it is today.
If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?
Author: See the previous answer.
(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?
Author: Not really. After writing my first novel, I got into submitting short stories to the Writers of the Future contest. Partially, it was to get practice writing, but mostly it was to trying to get discovered.
Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?
Author: I’m an indie-publisher still hoping to get recognized by a big house, but I’m also looking at smaller and hybrid publishers for a high fantasy novel I finished last year. I started the indie route because I wanted to see my author name on a cover, so I suppose it was more for vanity’s sake, but since then, I’ve enjoyed the process of exploring some of the issues we face in our modern world in a way that engages a readers imagination and sense of wonder.
How did you determine your target audience?
Author: I don’t. I write for me. If my stories resonate with individuals, that’s wonderful. If somehow I can cast a wider net and reach a larger audience, that’s all gravy.
What is your publishing process?
Author: It’s progressed over the years. I started out as a pure pantser, but I’ve learned how plotting first strengthens the ideas I start with. I tend to write my first drafts in chronological order, and I edit as I go. I then put it through Grammarly to help me with punctuation, repeated words, unclear sentences, tenses, etc. Then I share each chapter with my critique group to get feedback. After I incorporate their suggestions, I consider it final. If I decide to self-publish a story, I’ll hire a cover designer directly and get feedback from the writing community on each iteration until I select the final design.
What platforms do you use to publish your works?
Author: Only Kindle Directly Publishing so far. But my anthology is published through a small house that manages it on all the other platforms as well.
How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?
Author: I get alpha critiques from my writer’s group. I enlist fellow writers from social media for beta feedback. I’ve also hired independent editors on small projects. It’s hard to afford professional editing services when you have a small writing budget. However, I would say that hiring a developmental coach to help me plot my WIP was the best money I’ve ever spent. I feel like I can do my own chapter by chapter editing after she helped me nail down the plot points and structure.
Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?
What is your launch plan for your works?
Author: In the past, I’ve used Goodreads giveaways and promoting myself on social media. For my fantasy novel, I’m hoping to get picked up by a literary agent or small press and work with them on promotions, setting up a local launch party, giveaways, etc.
How do you get reviews for your books?
Author: I used to use Goodreads giveaways until they started charging, but when I had a limited writing budget I had to forgo that avenue. But my co-publishers and I will be doing a giveaway on Goodreads for our anthology early in 2021. And I’ll be investing in them for all my future works.
How do you promote your content?
Author: Mostly on social media. I like to participate in daily writing prompts on Twitter and post snippets from several stories in hopes of building up a fan base.
What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?
Author: Unless you’re a newly discovered rising star: Time. It’s hard to break in without a fanbase, and it’s hard to get a fanbase when you’re an unknown, and it takes time to build up a fanbase without heavy promotion through representation and ads.
How do you define success as an author?
Author: I feel like I’ve been successful when someone says I wrote something that resonated with them. But, also being able to write full-time and make enough to keep a roof over my family’s head and food in their bellies would be fantastic.
About Your Work
What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?
Author: I like to write epic SciFi because I’m a geeky nerd at heart. I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, and I love books with fantastic worlds and cultures. But, I also learned I like high fantasy because it allows me to explore human issues with non-human characters. I dabble in poetry, and I wrote a screenplay once (just for the experience) and I spent the last five years writing short stories for the WofF contest. I’ve found that writing short stories is good practice for writing chapters in a novel, and a good novel is a series of short stories with an overarching plot.
What genres and subgenres do you write in?
Author: I like to write speculative fiction, which I consider SciFi/Fantasy crossovers. But I would say my subgenres are mystery and adventure.
What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?
Author: I consider my brand is embodied in my author photo. I hide my face because I want to be known for my writing. I decided on it when I started because I want to retain a degree of anonymity. What if I become really famous? Anonymity. What if my writing really sucks? Anonymity.
How many works have you published?
Author: I self-published one SciFi novel and two short stories. One of my short stories was published in a small-press anthology, and I co-published an anthology of short stories, all of which were honored by Writers of the Future.
(If applicable) Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?
Author: Cresting the Sun is my awarding winning anthology, recently won the 2020 Gold Quill from the League of Utah Writers for Published Collections. All 12 stories are award winners from Writers of the Future. It’s available on Amazon and other platforms, and we’ll be starting a giveaway on Goodreads in early 2021.
Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.
Author: This is a difficult question to answer because I’ve experimented with so many elements over the years. I think the best stories are good vs evil, but I like my villains to be sympathetic. I want the reader to see both sides of the issue, and understand the reasoning of both the protagonist and the antagonist. And I love a good twist. I love a story that seems to be going one way, and then after you get hit with the twist, the clues were there all along so it’s not out of the blue.
What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?
Author: My first goal was to become famous and independently wealthy. Has it changed? Yes, and no. I still want to be independent enough to write full-time, but I want to be known for writing good, thought-provoking stories that emotionally resonate with people and give them a glimpse of a hopeful future, not the dismal one I see so often these days.
Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?
Author: I have a blog where I promote fellow authors and write reviews of the books I read.
What do you want your readers to get out of your works?
Author: I want to whisk them away to another world and help them see from someone else’s perspective for a time and realize we’re not that different after all.
What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?
Author: Finding representation.
What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?
Author: Getting messages on social media or through my website that someone was deeply moved by something I wrote.
Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?
Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?
Author: I usually read SciFi, but I’ve also branched out into other genres when fellow authors ask me to review their work. It may not resonate with me as a reader, but I do get ideas on how to improve my writing as an author.
What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?
Author: As I said earlier, I started out as a pantser. Then I started plotting my short stories using the 7-Point Plot Outline (which is based on the Star Trek RPG Guide) as presented by Dan Wells at LTUE years ago. Then, for my WIP, I hired a developmental editor to help me outline my novel after I’d spent months tinkering with ideas and trying to outline it myself. Sometimes, we’re too close to it that we need someone else to help us see and map out the big picture.
Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?
Author: I mostly connect with my fellow authors on Twitter, and then on Instagram.
Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?
Author: Having a regular 9-5 day job, I have to pace myself to a little time each day. On rare occasions, like when my family is gone for the weekend, I can spend a Saturday writing uninterrupted.
What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?
Author: Patience. I suppose I had unrealistic expectations as to my meteoric rise to fame and fortune. After all, it’s ever been easier to get published. On the other hand, it’s never been more difficult to get read. I’ve heard KDP has over 1,000 new books published every day, so getting someone to choose your book over the (literally) millions of others makes getting noticed harder each day.
How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?
Author: I’ve yet to find success with queries. Agents, like all people, have subjective tastes and it comes down to the laws of supply and demand. Agents and publishers are looking for stories that will sell. I hear that getting a deal with the big 5 publishers is still the best road to fame and fortune, but it’s a hurdle I’ve not figured out how to surpass. My advice to budding writers: learn all you can about the writing craft (structure, grammar, editing, etc) and write the stories that make your fingertips tingle on the keyboard.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?
Author: Attend local or virtual writing conferences. Listen and learn from those who are further along the path. Sign up for newsletters and, like Stephen King said, read, read, read. You can learn as much about what NOT TO DO from a poorly written book as what TO DO from a well-written one.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change?
Author: I wouldn’t have started by pantsing a novel. I would have started with short stories and developed my voice before taking on a novel-sized project.
Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?
Author: A little bit of all three. I’m shameless about sharing snippets of my work on social media, tentative when it comes to promoting my works available for purchase, and (unfortunately) wait until after publication to announce a new work for sale.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Author: For me, writing is like moving. If I don’t do it for a couple of days, I start to feel restless. Even if it’s just a 280-character off-the-cuff piece on Twitter, I need to exercise my creative muscles on a regular basis. Most days, I can only go for a short jog. On others, I can do a marathon.
How do you combat writer’s block?
Author: I don’t force it. Step away from a project. Go for a walk. Set it aside for a couple of days. Do something physical. It’s amazing how much inspiration comes when I’m exerting physical energy that my mental back-burner is simmering and fresh ideas bubble to the surface.
Also, I pray. I pray every day for inspiration that will touch the minds and hearts of the people who will read my stories. I want them to feel encouraged and hopeful, even if my stories are riddled with bleak moments. In the end, I want them to find hope for the future.
What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?
Author: Investment. I never knew how much blood, sweat, time, and tears authors invested to get where they are today.
How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?
Author: My family and friends were, and remain, ardently supportive. My parents especially (perhaps so much that I doubted their objectivity). But, for the most part, my writing has been well-received from family and friends (old and new).
What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?
1) We’re all coffee addicts. I’ve never drunk it in my life. I get my caffeine from soda.
2) We’re all book junkies. I enjoy a good book, but I also like stories in visual formats (theater, TV, and films)
3) We’re all introverts. Well, that one is more true than not. I know one author I’d classify as extroverted.
What do you listen to while you write?
Author: Nothing. I’m easily distracted. I actually write best in absolute silence.
Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?
Author: Not especially. I do enjoy taking a cliche and revising it to fit the theme or world I’m building. It was fun to do in my high fantasy because the characters are hybrids of avian, primate, and marsupial species.
Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?
Author: I have a home office, from where I’ve worked my day job(s) for the last three years. I love not commuting, and I can use the extra 90 minutes per day I’m not driving a car to write.
What book are you reading at the moment?
Author: I just finished Icarus by Rron Knave, an indie-author, but I haven’t picked up a new book yet. I’m also reading the Fablehaven series to my kids at bedtime, so I guess that counts.
What is your favorite literary trope?
Author: I love a good villain who’s convinced they’re the hero.
How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?
Author: I like genre crossovers and retelling of an old story in a different genre. Fractured Fairy tales appeal to me. I also think that the characters all need an internal conflict, as well as an external one, that drives their decisions. If their decisions don’t fit their personality, the plot becomes formulaic and trope-driven and not conflict-driven.
What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?
Author: I love writing more than reading. If I have to choose to spend an hour between writing a paragraph or reading a chapter, without hesitation I’d rather write.
What is your favorite writing snack and drink?
Author: Coke Zero with shots of lime and raspberry.
Do you have a writing companion?
Author: I’m not a pet person. Does God count? Yes. Yes, He does.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Author: Write what you love, because your passion will come across from the page and it’ll excite the reader.