G’day everyone and a huge thanks to Heather for having me here on her blog today to coincide with the release of my debut medical romance Intensive Care set in Australia.
To get started today, Heather and I thought we’d have a little chat and let you listen in! However, as I live in Australia (about an hour south of Melbourne in the city of Geelong) and Heather is on the other side of the world in the USA, it’s not that easy for us to catch up over coffee and cake and have a chat, so let’s pretend if we were to sit down and meet face to face, this is what Heather and I would talk about. (Just so you know, Heather and I ‘met’ online around two years ago through our involvement with Proverbs 31.)
Nicki: I don’t think there was ever one “moment”. More like one “decision”. I always wanted to write and I always felt like God was calling me to write. At the start of 2014, my hubby gave me a journal with a bible verse written inside. The moment I read the words, I felt God commanding me to speak.
“Now we are all here before the presence of God to listen and hear everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” (Acts 10:33)
To speak means to say something in order to convey information or to express a feeling. It means to utter words, articulate sounds and talk. The moment that word was dropped into my heart lots of ugly insecurities rose up inside me and a little voice screamed “who wants to hear what you’ve got to say?” But just as quickly that voice was drowned out by God’s voice:
“Then the Lord said, ‘Who made a person’s mouth? And who can make someone deaf or not able to speak? Who can make a person blind? Who can make a person able to see? I am the one. I am the Lord. So go. I will be with you when you speak. I will give you the words to say’.” (Exodus 4:11-12)
That was all the encouragement I needed. God would give me the words to say. Now, those who know me well know that I’m not often stuck for something to say, but as I prayed about this word, I felt God was actually challenging me to “speak” in a different way. And that was to write.
For past couple of years, ever since I discovered Proverbs 31 ministries and met Melissa Ross Taylor through Online Bible Studies (an absolute God-ordained thing, let me tell you), I have been writing a blog called Day to Day Trusting God. I’ve loved the outlet this has given me to “speak” and share my voice, yet I didn’t feel God was leading me to write a non-fiction Christian book based on my blog. I felt like He was allowing me to fulfill a lifelong dream of writing a novel. I guess you could say it was a “bucket list” kind of thing to do. Once I’d started writing, I was hooked and wondered why it had taken me so long to get started.
Heather: What are you currently working on?
Nicki: I’m currently writing a follow up to my debut novel Intensive Care, called Emergency Response. This book will form the second of three in a series of medical romances set between Sydney, Melbourne and the fictional towns of Birrangulla in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales and Iron Ridge in the Western Australian desert. I have also written another rural romance set in the tiny fictional town of Stony Creek in South Australia. The working title for that medical romance is The Peppercorn Lease and it’s currently being considered by publishers.
Heather: What’s the best piece of writing advice you received and by whom?
Nicki: Two friends, both authors (best selling Australian Christian author Meredith Resce and Fiona Leonard, author of The Chicken Thief set in Africa), gave me the same piece of advice. Just start. And then make sure you finish.
The other advice I’ve received more than once is “write what you know“.
And I’ll add to that: “write what you love“.
I know and love nursing (I’m a registered nurse currently working in a busy emergency department and prior to that I worked in an intensive care unit); I know and love romance (blessed to be with the same man since I was 17); and I know and love Australia. Hence I’ve combined all that advice and all my loves and written an Aussie medical rural romance. If you want, you can read about my publishing pathway here.
[As a side note, if you’re interested in checking out Australian rural romance as a genre, you might like to check out this website which lists all the popular Australian authors, many of whom have become my friends. Be warned though, there’s everything from sweet romance (like my book) to the very sexy on this site!]
Heather: You describe your romance as “sweet”. What does this mean?
Nicki: Although I’ve written for the mainstream market, not the Christian market, I believe the end result is a sweet romance that could sit easily in both markets. I guess time will tell of course! While I don’t have any overt Christian elements or messages in my book, as a faith-filled believer, hopefully my faith and godly views will shine through in my writing. You might even see the theme of forgiveness that threads its way through the storyline of Intensive Care. Early reviews on GoodReads have already commented on the sweet nature of the book.
My editor described it as “an utterly absorbing story packed with warmth, heartbreak and hope…”
Intensive Care touches on issues of infidelity, grief, abortion and loss, and focuses on the need to forgive before you can move on. It has plenty of medical scenarios, plenty of emotional moments and a happy ever after ending without my hero and heroine ending up beneath the bed covers.
Heather: Can you describe your “perfect” hero then?
Nicki: My “perfect” hero loves me unconditionally, laughs with me (and sometimes at me), forgives my annoying habits, does all the cooking, and is my best friend. He’s also a fantastic dad, a leader in the community and well respected by others. My “perfect” hero is the one I can imagine growing old with. Perhaps I should just include a photo of my husband!
Heather: What has been your biggest adventure to date?
Nicki: Perhaps very cliché, but my marriage is an awesome adventure. I’m married to someone who loves change and is always dreaming of what’s next. We have so many more wonderful adventures planned and we fully intend to keep dreaming and coming up with new ones before we get too old. And of course motherhood is an amazing adventure too. I have four kids, now 14, 16, 18 and 20.
Heather: What is your “ideal romantic evening”?
Nicki: Don’t laugh, I’m sure it’s not romantic at all! My ideal romantic evening is sitting in front of an open fire, husband by my side, stomach full after a yummy dinner (not cooked by me) reading a book or watching a movie, and knowing I don’t have to go to work the next day!
Heather: What is the one modern convenience that you cannot do without?
Nicki: My mobile phone. And the internet. (Of course you say cell phone, we say mobile phone!)
Heather: What is your favorite season? What do you love about it?
Nicki: Autumn is definitely my favorite time of year. Of course, in North America, you call it Fall. The days aren’t too hot and it’s cool enough at night to light the fire. I lived in Canada for a year when I was 16 and fell in love with the Fall colors around Niagara-on-the-Lake, near to where I lived. Since then I’ve visited Canada and America a number of times, always in Fall and love the colours on the trees – there’s nothing even close to that in Australia.
Heather: How would your family and friends describe you?
Nicki: I may have been called the “Energizer Bunny” once or twice!