Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Good day. My name is Nikki. I graduated college today. I have a book out for submission. I just finished reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett. I recently found out that Heart Bound is a game that exists, which has me really jazzed. At the end of the month I'm leaving what will probably be the best job I'll ever have other than writing. Who knows what'll happen next.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, photos? Yeah. Photos.
(Credit: Faith O'Leary)

Here's an old one of me for my friend's birthday. 

Here's a pretty cool one of me for a buddy's photo project. 

Here's one of me dancing at a friend's wedding.

Here's me setting up at said friend's wedding.

Here's a cool one I took for my website
 that I never ended up using. 
And... this one is from a day I spent with my friends
in Downtown Chicago.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

_News: switchswitchswitchswitchZELDASKYRIM._

Let me set up a scene for you. We’re in a Panera in the heart of Chicago’s south loop. It’s smack dab in the middle of three overlapping college campuses and during that awkward part of the day that’s not-quite-noon and not-quite dinner, when you’re starving but not allowed to admit it. The place is comfortably crowded, there’s still a solid amount of students lingering after the lunch rush with laptops open and plates littered with bits of lettuces and crumbs. Coffee flows freely, the smell of strong brew permeates in the air. There’s one, maybe two tables open with enough room for you and your squad. One of them is small but the other one clearly hasn’t been cleaned yet. Seats are taken, snacks are ordered, pages are out and felt-tip markers of fanciful colors are at the ready.

Now, the simple answer is to pass whatever work you have with you to the right, but writer’s aren’t simple. You’ve brought a couple of pieces, at request. There’s chapter 6 for buddy A-but don’t give it to buddy B because they’re not there yet. You specifically want buddy C’s opinion on this snip it from chapter 11 because you were emulating them while writing it and want to know how you did. You’re not the only one who brought more than one piece, of course not. Arms tangle together and voices combat each other for attention as every piece of paper on the table gets shuffled at least twice. At some point during this frenzy the waitress arrives and drops the food right in the middle of that mess.

At the ends, everyone’s got their own pile to work on. A silence falls over the table as eyes scroll past lines and lines of words.

Buddy A stops mid-read, looks up at buddy B, and slowly shakes their head. Buddy B looks smug. You worry about the pain about to be inflicted on your precious cinnamon roll, whom you’re fairly certain is in the scene that is currently disappointing buddy A. Not even five minutes later, you hear a small gasp from buddy C. Try as you might, you fail to smoother the grin that comes to your face. Buddy B snorts and scribbles a rather passionate note. In the piece sitting in front of you, you find yourself underlining every two or three sentences. You can’t help it. All of the imagery being used, it puts you to shame in all the best ways.

You are the first one to finish reading and, as such, have nothing to do but to stare at your buddies until they are done. You take this opportunity to go to the bathroom/refill your mug/actually eat something. One by one all Buddies finish. Rinse and repeat.

Finally, everyone is finished with all the reading and takes turns commenting on each other’s work. Buddy A’s sensory detail is poetic and beautiful, but they could use a little more inner monologue to connect with the characters. Buddy B’s dialogue is on point, all they need to do is keep writing. Buddy C got the bare bones but needs to expand on a couple of things. And you, as it turned out, nailed the characters. That’s exactly what you were worried about, so it’s a relief to hear that’s it’s not a problem. On the other hand, your plot is in danger of being convoluted, so best to keep an eye on that.

You glance at the pages you’ve received back. It’s stained in many colors, drawings, and witty remarks on what is happening on the page. Many lines are underlined and given an A+. There is are a couple of O_O, denoting all the tenser parts in the scene. On the last page, a Buddy that writes in blue asks “Why? Why? Did your parents not love you enough?”

Outside it’s getting dark. While Panera was once bustling, it is now comfortable sparse. You and the crew put away your pieces and spend an hour talking about classes, work, and things of a nerdy nature. After a while, you excuse yourself and start the trek home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

_news: *the day after new years* *stares off in the distance, haunted.*_

Guys, the places I’ve been. The things I’ve done. And look it, I made it. We all made it. It’s 2017, and we’re all still here, still taking pictures of our cats in shoe boxes and obsessing over the Nintendo switch.
So, yeah, let’s talk about 2016. It’s been…I don’t even know what it’s been. It’s been incredible, it’s been draining, it’s been heartbreaking and terrifying and unreal all in the same breath. The only thing it hasn’t been is boring. And looking back, I realized I had inadvertently followed through on a bunch of new years resolutions I didn’t even make. Seriously. I ate better, exercised more, advanced my career, and reduced my stress (as much as a college kid can), coming out the other end altogether leagues closer to the type of person I want to be, I found that what had changed was not my life but my perception. Objectively, I’m still in the same place I was a year ago, still have basically the same problems. But now, I feel like I can handle them. My problems don’t knock me down like they used too. So I figured, why not write a sappy post about it. Because, in the end, what else did any of you expect?

So, here. Try doing some of the stuff I did. See if it works for you.

Read a good freaking book.
Not a popular book, not an easy read, a good freaking book. A niche little cult classic that’ll stick with you long after the pages run out. Example, over the break, I read John Dies At The End by David Wong and BOY OH BOY DID IT WRECK ME. That, my friends, that was a good freaking book. The writing snob in me didn’t complain, not once. That...that has not happened far too long.

Just write. Write really stupid stuff. Write stuff you won’t show to anyone ever. Write something with the only intention being to be a story you like. Read it when you need to give Sophocles a rest. Then go back and write something that you want to shove in all your friends faces. That is how good stories are made.

Eat better.
Emphasis on the better. Don’t be a hero and throw out all of your ice cream in one go, you’re just going to be grumpy and have ants. Start by buying more fruits and veggies. Once you’ve got the hang of that maybe leave Captain Crunch on the shelf next time you’re at the store. Keep making little choices. You’ll get there in your own time.

Pretend you’re already a professional.
You see that open mic or get an ad in your inbox about a contest or get an offer to pitch your work to a pro, don’t think about how there’s no feasible scientific way you’ll succeed. Pretend like you already have. Surprisingly enough, it works.

Don’t stress about _______. 
Whatever ______ is, don’t worry about it. It’ll work out. Humans, by definition, are resilient and resourceful creatures. We naturally adapt to our circumstances and find a way to make it through. As a being with a pulse, you inherit that legacy. And, believe it or not, you can fix your problems and not worry about them at the same time. Revolutionary, I know.

Make plans.
Don’t let yourself get stuck, don’t let your life be work and sleep. Go sit down at a coffee shop, watch a movie you wouldn’t usually watch, go to a new restaurant. Refresh every once in awhile.

And that is what I’ve got. 2017, here I come.