Next in our interviews is Nicole Deese, author of A Cliché Christmas. Nicole and I started off talking about planners and personality tests, writing and “colorful” language.
So I edited most of that out, because I really don’t think everyone is dying to “hear” us laughing about our Meyers-Briggs types and our troubles with schedules. So, I started a few minutes into it when I realized that it was actually kind of important that we did the interview. WARNING! This is LONG!
Chautona: So suddenly, I can’t remember your main character’s name… Total brain freeze.
Georgia: Georgia is…
Chautona: Georgia!!! [sings the name like the song] Georgia…. Okay, got it.
Chautona: Okay, so Georgia! Let’s talk about Nicole’s quirks. She’s a quirky kind of gal. I like quirky gals.
Georgia: One weird thing that she always does is that she always has a blanket on her lap when she is writing anything.
Chautona: Really! Aha! I love it! So do I!
Georgia: Oh, yeah. There you go!
Chautona: I knew I liked her!
Georgia: Yeah. Even in the summer, she always has that cozy blanket. Oh, and she’s obsessed with water bottles—has a humongous collection of water bottles—and yet always buys another one at the store. She always has one in her hand, even walking around the house. She always has a water bottle with her. Oh, and another thing is that she loves angsty pop music. So that is what’s always on.
Chautona: Okay, so what constitutes angsty pop music? Because I’m really out of touch. If it’s pre-1960s I’m good, but otherwise…
Georgia: So the new Taylor Swift… you know, she’s listening to anything that has angsty broken hearted, heartache sounds, she always has on. In fact, [laughs] her husband walks in the room, and he always says, “Are you listening to that suicide music again?”
Chautona: [laughs] Suicide music—I love it! That’s awesome. And you know, it kind of fits. I have my angsty—sort of… ish. I like to sing the songs my dad sang when I was a kid, and they’re all pretty much “happy thing happening—someone dies.” [laughs]
Chautona: They’re the old ballads, you know. “Blind Child’s Prayer.” She’s going to meet her father’s new wife, she prays for them, she dies.
Georgia: Yeah, and it’s because, you know, that’s how authors write. It’s like that gives you that emotional connection.
Georgia: So that’s what is on in my office 100% of the time. That’s the muse. [laughs]
Chautona: [laughs] I love it, I love it. Suicide music. Okay, so any other fun quirks that you want to out Nicole on or… I mean, I know she likes nail polish.
Georgia: [maniacal chuckle] oh, yeah. She does! She’s obsessed with nails and nail polish—the party nail, which is the ring finger, so it has to be something different on it like something glittery or sparkly.
Chautona: Oh, really!
Georgia: Yep! The ring finger nail—the party nail.
Chautona: Okay, okay. So is it just the left ring finger or is it both?
Georgia: Oh, it’s both.
Chautona: That’s interesting. I never knew that. I bet my Andra does, though. She’s the nail gal in this house. That’s what she wants to do—do nails. That’s her dream.
Georgia: Well, I love it.
Chautona: So that’s pretty cool. Okay. So, Georgia—I’m having a hard time not addressing you as Nicole.
Georgia: I keep doing it too.
Chautona: I also keep trying to sing. I’ll be doing the …Geoooorgiaaa…thing all the way through this—from “Georgia on My Mind.” [laughs]
Georgia: [laughs] I know.
Chautona: Anything to keep her “on my mind,” right? Um, so what inspired Georgia? What inspired her to write you, and what do you like and dislike about yourself?
Georgia: I think Nicole knew that she wanted to write someone who was this determined, kind of feisty personality. Someone who knew what it took to have a career at a young age. And a successful career. And that’s probably what I like most about myself—that ability to keep goals and to push forward through obstacles in order to get success, no matter if that’s Christmas movies or just making my way through the whole Hollywood drill in L.A. but I think that can also be a disservice to me at times because it can also be how I’m not very flexible. Because if I have a goal or something in mind, it’s very difficult for me to change that. Or in relationships it’s difficult for me if I have an idea of how something is or should be, I’m kind of dead set in that and so I don’t want to change my vision which is exactly what happens with Weston. [laughs]
Chautona: [laughs] Yeeaaah…. It kind of did.
Georgia: She doesn’t find it easy to forgive others.
Chautona: Which is what gives the book its… um… it gives it that punch. You know when you’ve got that kind of… ahem… angst going. *cue Taylor Swift* [laughs]
Georgia: Yes, yes, there’s quite a lot of angst going on.
Chautona: But it’s good, you know, because when things are over-angst-ed—cool, I just coined a word. Ansted. Will I make it in the dictionary? I don’t know. But if things are over angst-y—okay, that’s better—
Chautona: It’s annoying. But if there isn’t any angst, it’s boring. And I thought Nicole got a really good balance there. I never felt like… again? [laughs] You know? But I also never thought, “Maybe I should go get something to eat.” It was always, “What’s next?”
Georgia: Which is what she wanted.”
Chautona: Right. You want that. [laughs and a couple of jokes in here] You know, it’s a good thing that this audio recording isn’t supposed to go up raw or we’d be committed.
Georgia: [laughs] She always tells her husband, “If I die, take this notebook and burn it because people will think I’m crazy.”
Chautona: Oh, I tell you, I am terrified of the government deciding to look at my search history. [laughs]
Georgia: Oh, my gosh! I know!
Chautona: I would go to jail! [laughs]
Georgia: All of you writers would, I know it. The things Nicole has had to look up just this week for this novella she’s been writing.
Chautona: Yeah! I mean, it’s like, “how do you poison someone?” “How do you kill someone with an icicle?” “How do you… “ [laughs]
Georgia: [laughs] [transcriber aside: yes, we did a ton of laughing. How’d you guess??] “Oh wow… the things we learn! The things we learn.
Chautona: Right? And even the more mild stuff. You learn this fascinating stuff that you want to try. In my research for the Legacy of the Vines series, I learned that in the prohibition era, the wineries that didn’t—a lot of them just plowed under their vines and planted. walnut and plum trees.
Chautona: But the ones that didn’t, they harvested their grapes and they concentrated them into bricks. So they were just like bricks of concentrated grape juice that you know—
Georgia: Oh, my word!
Chautona: And then they wrapped labels around them that had a warning on them. And the warning would say: “Caution, do not put in a jug with this much water in a dark closet or it may ferment and turn into wine.” [laughs]
Georgia: [laughs] Oh, my word. That’s awesome.
Chautona: I’m dying to try to concentrate grape juice into bricks to see if I can do it! [gasps final words before erupting in laughter]
Georgia: That is so funny!
Chautona: You know that is making it in the series, right?
Georgia: Yeah, you have—yeah! Oh, my word, that’s hilarious!
Georgia: I had no idea. I’ve never heard that before.
Chautona: I hadn’t either. I actually saw one of the labels online and if I find it, I’ll send it to you. There are actually pictures of those labels on the internet. I was just looking at them going, “Oh, wow. This is amazing!”
Georgia: It is! It’s called getting around the rules, right?
Chautona: Yep! And man, we got off topic. Sorry. Okay, so… to clarify, exactly what do you… Geoooorgiaaaaa hate about yourself?
Georgia: I hate that I’m not very flexible in my thinking. I hold grudges. And um…
Chautona: But is this what Georgia hates about herself or is it what Nicole doesn’t like about her?
Georgia: No, I think I wish that I could be—that sometimes my determination and my one track mind gets me in trouble.
Chautona: So maybe that you could control your flexibility more.
Chautona: Because I can’t see you wanting to be flexible but rather to be able to be flexible if you chose.
Georgia: Yeah. Mmm hmm… Mmm hmm…
Chautona: Don’t you love how we talk about you like you’re real?
Georgia: No, that’s true. That’s true. That controlling-ness of me…
Chautona: Which fits your inflexibility. It keeps you true to character that you want that ability to be flexible regardless of whether you use it. That’s kind of cool.
Georgia: Yep, yep. That’s it.
Chautona: So, is Nicole going to use you again? Huh? You gonna be in something else or not?
Georgia: Well, I hope so, because the next book is Weston’s sister Willa, so unless she kicks me to the curb, I better be in that story! [laughs]
Chautona: [laughs] Awesome, so, so at the end there was that wonderful scene that I don’t want to give away but there was that wonderful scene—is that kind of a shadow of where their relationship is going to go? You know, with the gal in the next book.
Georgia: Yes, that is a shadow, um of where the relationship is going, and let’s just say that there should be some invitations sent out in this next book.
Georgia: To bring people to a certain gathering…
Chautona: And is that [stumbles, fumbles] will that go well with…
Georgia: Willa’s story?
Chautona: How is Willa going to react to that?
Georgia: Yeah, there’ll be a scene in Willa’s story.
Chautona: Cool. *cue suicide music* All right, Georgia. Since we know that you’re going to make a showing again, which is awesome—I’ll bug Nicole about it so you get enough page time. Um… next question. Oh, so where do you think Nicole would go if she could go anywhere?
Georgia: Well, she is constantly talking about Ireland these days, so she would love to go to Ireland and Scotland and try to think up a story so that her trip can be…
Chautona: A tax write off? [laughs]
Georgia: Exactly, a tax write off. [laughs] That would be so…
Chautona: Seriously, if you’re going to go anywhere, you might as well do some research, get some information, and write it so that you do have a legitimate business expense in there.
Georgia: That is exactly right.
Chautona: Not to mention it broadens your um… what’s the word I’m looking for—it’s not expertise…. Well, whatever it does, it broadens it does it, and it’s not your backside, which is really good because mine is broad enough. But it does that… broadening thing. [laughs]
Georgia: [laughs] Yeah, well it broadens your perspective and I think—
Chautona: YES! Perspective! Thank you!
Georgia: And it helps your ability to—I think it changes your creativity to see other cultures and even just nature. It does that, so…
Chautona: See I have a friend who was a missionary in Ireland—her husband is Irish—and she said that the green we see in pictures and on calendars and things—she says they’re almost dull compared to the real thing That the vegetation in person is almost florescent.
Nicole interjects: Oh, yeah wow. That’s how things are in New Zealand. I almost said that, but I’ve been there, so I’d want to go there.
Chautona: Oh, see, I want to go to New Zealand. I’ve got this book in my head that I want to write—takes place in New Zealand—but I know I’d get culture and customs wrong. I’d have to go.
Nicole: No, you wouldn’t. It’s seriously like the most beautiful place I’ve ever—I can’t even describe it. It’s so unreal. It’s like, it’s like, you know in Mary Poppins when she jumps into those stories on the sidewalk, you know? It’s like that, because you’re there, and you’re like turning around and the grass, like you said, its so… almost like neon. There’s no color to describe even the lusciousness of the nature like that’s all around
Nicole: It’s like you’re just in an image because it doesn’t seem to be real. You know, really beautiful.
Chautona: [sighs] Yeah, between cultural differences and the idioms…ou know, they would have their own idioms
Chautona: I just need to go. I may have just put it in the budget.
Nicole: Yeah. That’s how I felt I just talked to this couple who are missionaries in Scotland. They were there for three and a half years. And that’s how I feel about that too. There are so many things I can see on TV and read all about, but when you live there for a certain amount of time it’s how you take away what would make a story. It’s real life versus a fake story—you can just tell.
Chautona: Exactly. I’ve got this book that takes place in Seattle and the Yakima valley and one scene involves a road. I mean we’re just talking about a road. I’ve followed the whole road from Seattle to the Yakima area on Google maps, but I need to really drive it. So yeah, I have to fly to Washington to drive a road! The thing we do!
Nicole: Yeah! I’ve had that happened. Last year’s was in New York. It actually worked out because I actually hadn’t planend to go there, so I did all this research online and that’s just so hard because you don’t get the smells or the sounds. Once you go to New York, you’re like, “Oh, the smells.” Smells are a big part of that.
Nicole: So for that book, I got to go there with my husband on a business trip. And Iwas so grateful for that opportunity because I feel like I wrote from such a different place—not just having New York mentioned in the book. I was really able to describe things and just use metaphors that I wouldn’t have thought about before.
Chautona: Right. Exactly.
Nicole: It taught me a really valuable lesson in that if I can’t get there, then I need to get to the next closest thing. I need to do whatever it takes to make that book come alive. You know…
Chautona: Exactly. I completely agree. Okay, well Nicole has to go away so we can do this interview thing. So… Georgia. Geeeooorgiaaaa… I’m gonna do that a lot—warning you. It’s who I am. My life is a living musical. So what would you tell Nicole if you could tell her anything? If you could just stand up—you’re a hologram or you’re real. You sit down on the couch, you hand her a water bottle—put on a bit of suicide music—[laughs]
Georgia: [laughs] And her blanket…
Chautona: And her blanket!!! And you say, “Listen, Nicole…” What would you say?
Georgia: Since my character is very success driven, I think I’d tell her to dream a whole lot bigger than she has. I’d tell her to set some much bigger goals and much bigger dreams for herself than what she keeps setting. [laughs]
Chautona: Right? It took me a second, but no I get that. Because, we do tend to make our goals fit what we think we can accomplish—we alter our dreams instead of just living it! And I actually have that in this non-fiction book I’m writing that goes with one of my series. One of the things I have is “how do you dream big?” What do you do to dream big?
Georgia: Yeah, because for Nicole, she has struggled on a spiritual level, she feels like if she dreams big then it’s prideful. So what happens is with things like Cliché Christmas and even being picked up by Walmart. I mean, this was a story that I was going to indie publish the year before, but my sister died, so that got put on hold, so I didn’t even know what was going to happen with it, so when Waterfall called, it was the one that I had. So like everything that happened with it—I mean, I didn’t have any expectations. It wasn’t because I didn’t believe in it, but I hadn’t thought that anything significant was gonna happen and now it’s being looked at for a Hallmark movie and it was in Walmart and had great sales. All this stuff was happening and I think what God has been showing her is that reality has gone so much farther than her dreams even started.
Chautona: Right? Your dreams are trying to rev up and your reality is at the finish line.
Georgia: Yeah, so I feel like it’s been really neat for her to see that people like me have overwhelming confidence in what we do. I mean, I know that I’m good, I’ve had some success—I mean, she wrote a quote on Facebook the other day that she heard in church that says “Stuff happens in two places. First in your mind second in reality” and I feel like in her mind, she needs to be setting each thing she writes—each new year and new resolutions—to meet a standard of excellence. Because that is what Christ has for us.
Georgia: Any right thing that God has in store for us is right because it’s going to glorify Him the most. Y’know, and so it’s like for her, if there’s going to be major success in something that she writes because God knows it glorifys him. And that’s what she wants. That’s what success looks like, and she needs to embrace that. So that’s what I’d say to her if I could. She needs a whole lot more pushing forward and dreams.
Chautona: Dream big, girl. Dream big! I like it. Um, so… spinning off that. Let’s get in there and learn some dussies, um… what is Nicole’s worst habit? [silence] It could be a writing habit, it could be a food habit or whatever.
Georgia: Hmmm… let me think of a good one.
Chautona: And here I was thinking you were thinking, “hmmm… let me figure out how to narrow it down…”
Chautona: Because I can tell you right now, that’s what all MY characters would be doing with me.
Georgia: Well, I will say that one of her worst habits—ONE of them—is that while she writes, she has horrible posture and she clenches her teeth during any kind of dialog scene. Just any kind of upcoming emotional scene, her jaw aches because se’s constantly clenching.
Chautona: I’m sure her dentist is pretty ticked off about that one.
Georgia: Any kind of emotionally driven scene or heated conversation and every muscle in Nicole’s body is tense.
Chautona: That’s funny. See, my kids tell me that my face mimics what I’m writing. If I type “smiled” I smile. If I type frowned” I frown—whatever.
Georgia: That’s Nicole too.
Georgia: You’re like mimes to your own books.
Chautona: That’s so funny. Okay, so… Geeoorrrrgiaaaa… Now it’s become a tradition. Um…so what situation did Nicole get you into that you never thought she’d get you out of?
Georgia: I think when I fell asleep at Weston’s house, I was more than a little annoyed when I woke up in his living room after being so, so , so tired. And he’s the last man I wanted to be near and so he was the last man I wanted to fall asleep by. I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to affect the rest of my visit in Oregon and what I had to accomplish, and working along side him was the other situation [I didn’t think she’d get me out of].
Chautona: And let’s face it, when you’re in a small town, tongues are gonna wag. Period.
Chautona, “Y’know and it’s just how it works. I mean, our town isn’t even that small and it would happen here. [laughs]
Chautona: Maybe because we’re isolated and remote and nothing else is going on.
Georgia: Yeah, you want to talk about me falling asleep and not going home.
Chautona: Right? I mean, c’mon! No, definitely. That was a really good scene. I thought you handled it well. I—uh—okay, this is really interesting, because the words that almost came out of my mouth was “you didn’t do the old cliché” [laughs]
Georgia: [laughs] Yeah…
Chautona: But it wasn’t. It wasn’t the same scene that you’ve read over and over. And I can’t even pinpoint what was different about it, but I didn’t feel like—because you know it’s coming—as you start reading and—you know it’s coming. So you’re waiting for the same thing you’ve always read, but Nicole something different. It gave it a fresh–… I can’t even think of the word I’m looking for. Clearly my eloquence is on vacation. And I’m kind of ticked off that it didn’t take me with it. *cough* Okay, so Geeooorgiaaa… Which character do you wish Nicole had never written? It doesn’t have to be in your book. You can read her other books. I mean, this is a fictional world, so…
Georgia: Well, it would have helped my life out greatly if she’d never written Sidney Parker. So I would say Sidney Parker hands down. Although that woman is growing on me a little. But it’s going to take a long time to grow on me all the way. [laughs]
Chautona: [laughs] And growing on sometimes—that’s like a fungus. It’s not always a pretty ivy or a rose trellis type thing. Sometimes it’s just a fungus—or mold.
Georgia: I have to say, we’re learning how to coexist in a 30k person town.
Chautona: Okay, I’m going to limit you a bit now. The question was supposed to be, “Who is your favorite character and why?” I’m gonna say that you can’t say Wes.
Georgia: Okay. Nan. I actually wasn’t going to say Wes, so don’t tell him. [laughs]
Chautona: That’s exactly what I’ve been wanting in here. This is great. Okay, so Nan is your favorite—why?
Georgia: Because she’s my nan!!! And my life would not be what it is and I would not be the person that I am if it wasn’t for my nan. She is truly my best friend. You know, in every way. My guru, my advice giver. My um… yeah. My inspiration and… she’s my favorite person in the world.
Chautona: Yeah, she was—probably—yeah, she might be my favorite character that I read all year.
Georgia: Oooooh… that is—that is such a compliment. Thank you, Chautona.
Chautona: I really, you know, I’ve been thinking about it, you know when you start writing these questions from the perspective of a character and your brain gets stuck on the character. So I was like, “Who are my favorite characters this year?” And I would say I kept trying to … lean other ways and it kept coming back to her. There was something very engaging about nan. I was drawn to Tammy’s Matt, but I know part of that is because Tammy’s Matt is like my Matt. I felt that connection with him because he was like a character that I already love. And if you combine my Leo and my Matt you would have her Matt.
Georgia: Wow… that’s cool.
Chautona: so you have that connection there, but no, Nan really just… yeah. [transcriber aside: Man, I’m eloquent!]
Georgia: She’s just a good one. I wish so much that I had a Nan in my life. That’s who I would want.
Chautona: And isn’t it funny that I cannot remember her first name? I only think of her as Nan?
Georgia: Yeah, well it’s Nan-cy so…
Chautona: Oh, well that’s why I think of her only as Nan. I forgot that. Huh!
Georgia: That was one thing Waterfall made Nicole put in. [laughs] “Why is she called Nan? Because the whole town calls her that.
Chautona: yeah, well that makes sense then. I did not remember that though. I mean, Nan stuck with me. She is Nan. My brain shortened it from Nana so I just… poof! Gone.
Georgia: Well, that’s kind of what Nicole did because that’s what her mom goes by with her own kids, so she always thought “Nan” but…
Chautona: It worked really well. I think Nicole did a really good job with that.
Georgia: Well thank you! I love her.
Chautona: Okay, so if you could, Geeeoorgiiiaaa… [transcriber aside: If Nicole could have bopped me over the head by now, she would have—and I wouldn’t have blamed her] Okay… So if you could go back and tell yourself one thing at the beginning of Cliché Christmas, what would it be?
Georgia: To not run… well I think I just wanted to get in and get out and do the job.
Chautona: Instead of enjoy the process?
Georgia: Yeah. I think going in with a much more open mind and giving the town a chance and the people a chance rather than limiting them or the town to what I had remembered from when I was a teenager.
Chautona: Yeah, I like that.
Georgia: That would have been a much easier lesson if I would have gone into it thinking that way versus having it beaten into my brain.
Chautona: And don’t we do that? Our perspective as a kid is very different from our perspective as an adult.
Georgia: Mmmmhmmm… absolutely.
Chautona: We tend to go in as an adult with a previous perspective holding us hostage and so, yeah. I really like that. So what do you want Nicole to do with your character?
Georgia: I want her to let me marry Weston! [transcriber aside: The tone here has a decided, “Well, duh!” ring to it. Thought you oughtta know. 😉 ] [laughs]
Chautona: Well, let’s hope!
Georgia: I want a wedding!
Chautona: So are you going to be into the whole wedding thing where you’re really into it or are you going to be more simple and sweet and let’s “get ‘er done”?
Georgia: I think I want to keep it simple and sweet. I think with this last year with moving from L.A. to this small town, I’ve learned who my friends are and the benefits of living a much more simple and uncomplicated life, and so I want, of course, a simple affair but it can still be beautiful and what can make it beautiful is the people I want there in it—you know, Willa and Nan.. those are the people that we really care about.
Chautona: Yeah, that seems to fit—um, I mean I can see if she were still in California I imagine her with something big and flamboyant—
Chautona: But going back to Oregon, I don’t see you wanting this. And I can almost see you going automatically—in kind of an intuitive move—where you start planning this big thing and just look at this paper and rumple it up and throw it away saying, “No. This is not what I want—or who I am anymore.” But because the other had been such a big part of her, I can almost see her doing that at first.
Georgia: I am thinking, and you can put this in or not, but it will involve the community theater.
Chautona: Ooooh nice! I like it already!
Chautona: Now I’m drumming my fingers [transcriber aside: I really was. You can hear it on the recording] when is this going to be done? Shouldn’t I be reading it as you write it so I can give all my insightful input? *coughs* [laughs]
Chautona: So um… Geooooorgiiiaaaa… Which of the author’s other characters do you wish you could meet?
Georgia: Um… I think that there is a character in Nicole’s second book, All She Wanted, named Charlie Lexington. And she is a character that I would get along with very well. We have similar humor and personalities and I think we’d have a whole lot of fun together.
Chautona: Oh, that sounds like fun. And that was, All She Wanted?
Chautona: Okay, so I’ve got to put that down so I can get it and see if I agree. [laughs] Any excuse to read another book, right?
Georgia: Hmmm, huh, yeah. We can talk about that later. Nicole would say you don’t have to read any of her first stuff.
Chautona: So we know how Nicole writes. We know she sits with terrible posture, under a blanket—
Georgia: With suicide music playing…
Chautona: Yes, with suicide music playing… Where does she write? Is she on the couch or does she write anywhere and everywhere, and if she writes in a coffee shop, does she drink coffee or her infernal water bottle and bring the blanket?
Georgia: Yeah, well the blanket goes everywhere, but Nicole’s husband—because Nicole wrote the first three book 85K word novels in the chair downstairs in the living room, and complained about sore shoulders, neck, and back, [laughs]
Georgia: He made her an office upstairs. And makes her actually works upstairs. So now she has a beautiful office that she actually uses, despite many arguments about being confined to an office. She has a desk and a chair and a laptop plugged into a monitor and she has a whole wall of inspirational quotes and um, just this—it’s quite a cute room. The walls are pained a lavender gray, and it’s just really creative mind-friendly.
Chautona: I don’t suppose Nicole’s husband would take a picture of her in her chair in her room for the post would she… Um, he. He! I’m pretty sure her husband isn’t a she…
Georgia: Yeah—[laughs] But not today though because Nicole is still in her PJs and um… not really… yeah.
Chautona: [laughs] C’mon people! Let’s get real here! Wait, no. We don’t do real. We do nails.
Georgia: Yeah! [laughs] That’s scary real. That’s scary real.
Chautona: So, yeah. That would be absolutely cool [transcriber aside: My eloquence astounds me here] if we could talk him into that. Just sayin’.
Georgia: Yeah! Sure. She also has her piano in her office, because she plays the piano.
Chautona: Oh, I did not know that! She plays the piano. Cool.
Georgia: She’s been playing the piano since she was five. That is something that probably a lot of my readers don’t know.
Chautona: That’s fabulous! [Transcriber aside: Because then you get the scoop right here, people. Channeling my inner tabloid reporter] Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that’s really cool. So what is her favorite song to play?
Georgia: Okay, so this is going back to the angsty music. So obviously I play a lot of worship music, but I also love [laughs] to play Jewel’s “Foolish Games.”
Chautona: “Foolish Games.” Got it. I’ll have to look that up.
Georgia: Yeah, I’ll link you to it.
Chautona: Oh, yeah. Thank you! Then I can try to imagine the angsty um…
Chautona: Yeah! The suicide songs. [laughs] You know one of these mornings, you’re going to wake up and there’s going to be a post on Facebook that says “Heard any good suicide songs lately?”
Georgia: [laughs] yeah right. Any suicide music yet today?
Chautona: [laughs] You know it’s going to happen! So… Geeeorgiiaaaa… Does Nicole plot out every detail or does she sometimes surprise herself?
Georgia: No, no. Certainly not. She doesn’t usually even know the end when she starts.
Chautona: Oh, I love her. I am so glad it’s not just me.
Georgia: No, oh my word sometimes I know she wishes she was a plotter, but indeed she is not. She’s somewhere inbetween a plotter and a pantser. But um,
Chautona: So, let me ask Nicole. Have you ever read K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel?”
Georgia: No… is it good?
Chautona: It is fabulous. I read the book because my editor recommended I read it.
Chautona: Yeah. Right. Shut up. [laughs] So I read the book. And she’s got a million questions in there. So what I did is I took an Excel file and put every single one of those questions in there. So that I could just go through it. So then I took a book that I had just started and had no idea where I was going to go with it. I just had this character and an opening idea. I started answering the questions in that thing. And you’re supposed to have the questions there to give you ideas for what you want to do with it or where you want to take it. I found that I had every single answer. I didn’t think I knew how I wanted to do it, but I had the answers immediately. Boom!
Nicole: [took over] Yep, yep, I know what you mean.
Chautona: So I thought about it and—okay, have you ever seen the Anne of Green Gables movies when Megan Follows thinks she’s lost some of her papers and the guy Morgan says he hopes she hasn’t lost any and she says, “I have it all filed away in my imagination anyway?” That’s how it was! IT was amazing to discover that I had all that information in there!
Nicole: Yes, that’s exactly what I do too.
Chautona: It was such a shock to me!
Nicole: So is it a good book?
Chautona: Yeah, it’s great. I mean, she doesn’t overcomplicate it like so many writing craft books do. Too many of them overcomplicate it and I’m like, “What is the point?”
Nicole: Yeah. Exactly. The one I like is… can’t remember the guy’s name. It’s called um… It’s Write Your Novel from the Middle.
Chautona: James Scott Bell?
Nicole Yes!! James Scott Bell! I love that book. I don’t love his other books he’s written because they’re too complicated for my head, but that one is great because he writes for three different people. He writes for the Pantser, the plotter, and the inbetweener.
Chautona: And that’s going in my Amazon cart now…
Nicole: It’s the same thing we’ve seen, but he’s saying it in ways that we can all hear because of how we write. And he really points out that that middle he’s done hundreds of hours of what the midpoint is and if you go to every single Hollywood movie and go right to the middle, there’s one of three types of midpoints on there and it’s always the death of something career, physical person, or a relationship. At that point, what does your character do? That’s the turning point for your character. He calls it the mirror moment. Where you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re either going to go left or write. I wrote the first book of the twins series using that method, and it helped me so much. So I have that midpoint scene in my head. So I wrote that midpoint. So I wrote everything up to it, and then everything after it And I’d never done that before, but it was super helpful. And then for me to have that kind of bookend moment. The whole idea is that what happens in the middle—is that determines your end.
Chautona: Yeah, right. That’s good.
Nicole And they need to be reflecting each other. It helped me understand it in a new way. So I really appreciated that.
Chautona: Yeah, I like that. I’ve got to get that.
Nicole: I hate most craft books, but that one was awesome.
Chautona: I do too! I find that I’m not a very good writer because I don’t like people telling me how to do it. I mean it’s one thing when an editor is looking at a specific section and and says “this doesn’t work.”
Nicole: Mmm hmm…
Chautona: That I totally fine with. Because basically, if a reader or an editor says they don’t like or understand something, “I have a problem with this sentence or this scene,” 99% of the time, I change it.
Chautona: I just assume I’m too close. But once in a long while, I override them for specific reasons. Like if my editor who lived in Ireland for so long doesn’t get something I know everyone else will. I override her.
Nicole: Oh, I have that—I think that’s wise.
Chautona: But usually if anyone balks at all, I change it.
Nicole: Well it’s taking them out of the story
Chautona: Exactly. Every once in a while, I won’t change, but definitely.
[here Nicole asked about the workbook for Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland and we talked about it for a bit. I edited it out because it’s just a huge rabbit trail, but I wanted to add the next part here because I found it fun and I thought other writers might like it.
Chautona: One thing I use it for a lot is because I work on multiple things at once, so if it’s been a while since I worked on a particular book, I’ll pull out that file and look over those questions to get a feel for where I was going with it again—to capture that tone again. I mean, one of the first things she has you do is write the “Perfect Review” If someone wrote the review that sent you over the moon about your book, what would it say?
Nicole: Mmm… yeah.
Chautona: So I write that review out every time now, and it’s so helpful
Nicole: And you do, you write such good reviews.
Chautona: Oh! Thank you! I always feel like I write terrible reviews, so that’s funny that you say that. That makes me feel good. Thank you.
Nicole: No, your review of Cliché Christmas is one of my very favorites. You did great.
Chautona: So anyway, just reading that perfect review reminds me of my goal for this book—my passion for this book—sometimes you just read through those questions like the list of scenes you want to do… and I don’t fill out all those questions, but I fill in some that I know I want and don’t want to forget to do, so I just jot those down so I don’t forget what was so important to me. Because if you don’t look at it, you can write yourself out of where you wanted it to go somewhere. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but if I really wanted something in there, I need to keep it in my mind. I don’t want to get to the end of the book—and it hasn’t happened yet but it has almost happened a couple of times—where the one scene I wanted the most I had gotten focused away from it and it didn’t happen, so I had to go back and write it, and if you get too involved, that becomes a huge rewrite . And I’m sorry but rewriting for me–man, I’d rather write a whole new book than rewrite a section.
Nicole Oh, my gosh! Me too! I’d rather do a million rough drafts than a rewrite.
Chautona: It’s like quilting for me—I’m a quilter—and I don’t want to take old clothes or scraps and cut them up for quilt pieces. I want fresh new fabric—slice it up and sew it up. It’s the same with my writing! I don’t want to go in and FIX. Just let me start over! I’ll do a new 90k word novel without a problem.
Nicole: Yep… mmm hmmm… that’s how I am.
Chautona: You know, it’s kind of scary how alike we are on so many things.
Georgia: I know…
Chautona: I mean, we’re very different, but we’re not, but we are, but…
Nicole: Mmm… hmmm… I think it’s that writer in us.
Chautona: And the difference makes us not redundant, which is good. If we were exactly alike, that could be scary. So… next question for Geeeorggiaaa… Man, it’s a good thing that this isn’t going to be played back as audio, or my readers would never listen to me again. They’d be like, “Aaaak. She can’t stop singing!”
Georgia: Uh, huh. Mmm hmmm… [Transcriber aside: Is that a hint, Nicole?]
Chautona: So what does Nicole have planned for 2015?
Georgia: Well, she has, um… a special unique fun Valentine’s Day…esque
Georgia: Novella coming out on Valentine’s Day. And it’s kind of a satire rom com type thing called He Said, She said. She wrote it with her—well, what she calls her “writer wife” Amy Matayo . And then she has a twin series that she’s hoping will be published next year called St. Claire Sisters series. It’s just a two book series. And then she has a novella coming out in summer that she’s writing with a few girls. And then the Christmas novella which should be out in October.
Chautona: So what is this Christmas one? Is it the sequel?
Georgia: Yes, it’s Willa’s story. It doesn’t have a title yet, but—
Chautona: Yes! How does she do that? I can’t write the first words on the page without a title!
Georgia: She can’t write without a title either, but she haven’t started it, so…
Chautona: Oh, well. Whew. I feel a little better then. Literally, without a title, I can’t write that first sentence:
Georgia: Well that’s how she has been, but it’s funny because… so the book she’s working on now—60% done and she doesn’t have a title. She’s never done that. She can’t find one she likes because either it doesn’t work, or there’s already something out there like it, or ugh. It’s horrible. So she always calls it “Whatever Stella.”
Chautona: [laughs] I do that too. Despite their titles, all my books end up becoming known as the main character’s name.
Georgia: Yeah, she’s gotta figure that one out still. Whatever Stella won’t work.
Chautona: Yeah. Okay, so I have to ask. Does she like short and snappy titles?
Georgia: She does. And for that one, it has to match the other one, which is “Guarding Stevie.” So yeah, she does like short titles—usually three words or less.
Chautona: Me too! Now you can see why I call Deepest Roots of the Heart, DROTH. [laughs]
Georgia: Yeah! [laughs]
Chautona: I was going nuts. It got longer every time the title came up. I was like, AAAAK!
Georgia: Yeah, yeah.
[another long bunny trail here talking about editing, titles, covers, and cover images. Considering we’re at over 7K words right now, I didn’t bother to add it in.
Chautona: So what dream does Nicole have that you wish you could make come true?
Georgia: I don’t… hmmm…
Chautona: Oh! I know what Georgia would say!
Georgia: Oh, what would I say?
Chautona: You would say that she would make Hallmark turn the book into a movie!
Georgia: That’s right! That’s what I would say!
Chautona: Don’t you think?
Georgia: I would. I would.
Chautona: See! I’ve channeled my inner Georgia!
Georgia: You did. You really did.
Chautona: I’ll start singing again. Ahem. And how do you picture Nicole’s retirement? I know my answer to this one, but I don’t think people would like it.
Georgia: You know what, I don’t think Nicole will ever retire. She will always be telling and writing stories. But she would love to do it from some cabin up from a tall mountain with a fantastic view—be surrounded by mountains and um. You know.
Chautona: I picture my retirement in a coffin. I’m not retiring until I’m in a coffin. Once I’m dead and gone, just toss my laptop in with me and I’ll retire then. [laughs]
Georgia: [laughs]Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. That’s funny.
Chautona: Well, I got through every single one of your questions. Wow! Only 2 hours later. Wow.
Of course, here we got off on discussing serial novels and planners. I didn’t have a smooth way to end it, so I just cut it off. We had a great time, and I really appreciate Nicole giving up two hours while feeling a bit under the weather. It was very generous of her.