Holiday Giveaway Winners!

Chosen at random from my mailing list, the five winners of an e-copy of The Art of Getting Away are:

Congratulations to the winners!

Without all my readers, I wouldn't be here. Thank you! May you and yours be blessed this holiday season! 

Need to get away from the holiday bustle? Take a moment to relax during your busy schedule with these two short stories. Reviewers call the book "an excellent short" and "a pleasure to read." 

Holiday Giveaway!

Introducing Part 2 of
The Art of Getting Away!

Now you get both short stories featuring Carlos and Andie for the same low price. Only 99 cents!

Part 2 of my story finds Carlos head over heels for his sassy girl Andie. He wants their first Christmas together to be extra special. A romantic escape to the lake cabin where they met will be perfect. But Andie’s ex-boyfriend interrupts his plans, begging her to give him a second chance. Carlos suspects the former gang member isn’t telling Andie the truth, and decides he’s going to do whatever it takes to keep her. And if that means fighting dirty…

To celebrate adding the chapters of Part 2 to the book, I'm giving away FIVE e-copies! The winners will be chosen from my newsletter mailing list on December 18! Be sure to tell all your friends so they can sign up!

Don't want to wait? Get your copy of The Art of Getting Away now.

FREE Today! The Art of Going Home Ebook

If you haven't had a chance to read the novel Eat Sleep Read Review calls "...a book with depth, soul, and a fantastic plot..." here's your chance! It's ranked #77 in the Top 100 Free in Kindle Store at Amazon. Get your FREE copy today!

What is Women's Fiction?

The simple answer is Women’s Fiction is a book genre that appeals to the female reader.

The long answer is, well, long...

Nicole Sorrell, Women's Fiction Authors

When I set out to write my first book, I didn’t consider what genre it would be, I just wrote the story. When I finished my two book series called The Art of Living, pinpointing the category of the novels was not easy. What? you ask. You wrote the books. Don’t you know what the genre is?

Well, yes and no. How do you categorize a book that contains more than one type of story line? What if the plot contains a romance and a mystery and a young woman recalling childhood memories she’d previously suppressed? Is it a Romantic-Mysterious-Remembrance?

Not so much... While the elements of mystery and romance in my books will appeal to fans of these genres, there is a consistent theme that lies beneath like a foundation, if you will. Throughout the books, the main character uncovers shocking information about her family that forces her to reexamine herself, and she learns how to come to terms with what she's found out.

Aha! Now we’ve hit upon the driving force of the novels. The heroine’s journey of self-discovery! Women’s fiction is about the protagonist’s (male or female) experience of self-discovery, self-acceptance, self-improvement, and/or self-preservation. The genre of women’s fiction focuses on the main character’s voyage through personal trials that lead her (or him) to learn and change and grow while making mistakes. Other characters will impact the heroine, but not rescue her. In the end, she saves herself.

Can women’s fiction have elements of romance fiction? Yes, but the romantic relationship is not what steers the plot. (And by the way, I adore romance books.) Is women’s fiction “contemporary fiction”? The contemporary fiction definition is: stories that take place in the present that could happen to real people in real settings (i.e. The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe). It lacks the required self-discovery element of women’s fiction. Can women’s fiction have paranormal undertones? Sure, but it’s not what guides the story from beginning to end. (Yep, lots of paranormal books on my shelf.) Women’s fiction is not Chick Lit, (you guessed it, I love chick lit) which usually centers on the romantic problems of young women (think Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding).

Some examples of popular women’s fiction novels are The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; The One & Only by Emily Giffin; and All Fall Down: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner.

Sound appealing? They can make for some great summer reads.

What books have you read or that you would like to read that fall into the definition of women’s fiction.  

Introducing my Boxed Set!

The Art of Living Duet
On SALE -- Only $0.99 !

Two full length novels for pre-order at only $0.99!  
Sale ends on release day, February 6.
 Order yours today!

The three book series includes The Art of Going Home, The Art of Being Broken, and The Art of Getting Away


The Art of Going Home, Book 1: Maddie dreads going home after a decade to face the memories of her dead sister. As it turns out, the haunting reminders of her twin’s murder are the least of her worries. . .

Not given details of the drowning so many years ago, Maddie is persuaded to track down the killer. Her investigation brings to light suppressed childhood memories, and she begins to doubt everything she once believed. And everybody she thought she could trust. Including Zac, her high school crush. Though powerless to resist their attraction, Maddie isn't sure she can forgive his betrayal. Will the horrifying discovery of who killed her sister heal old wounds... or scar her forever? 

The Art of Retribution, Book 2: To celebrate a friend's wedding, Maddie again visits her small home town. But within hours of her arrival, joy turns to fear when she barely escapes a hit and run driver intent on killing her. Certain it's her father, who needs to silence her to avoid prison, Maddie devises a plan to bring him to justice. As she fights to survive his dangerous game of cat and mouse, she learns not everyone is who they say they are. The truth could finally free Maddie from her past... or cause her world to shatter. 

With sexy romance and heart-pounding mystery, the duology explores the exhilaration of falling in love, the anguish of loss, and the devastating consequences of secrets long held by family who will risk everything to protect us.



Nicole's Newsletter

Happy New Year!

2017 is here! I want to thank everyone for making 2016 special! And I've got big plans for the new year, one of which is to work on my next novel every day. My third book is in the planning stages. Hopefully it will be out by the end of the year!

Today, I'm releasing my NEW book trailer video! Take a look and tell me what you think.

Wishing everyone a safe, happy, and prosperous 2017!

Free 'til Dec. 3rd!

It's December already, and Christmas will be here before you know it! Take a break from your hectic schedule to relax with an e-copy of my standalone short story, The Art of Getting Away. It's FREE until December 3rd.  

On the blind side of a curve, she’s stranded when her SUV dies.

Driving to a vacation he doesn’t want to take, Carlos barely avoids hitting her.

Getting her vehicle to start again is the easy part. The hard part is to stop thinking about the sassy girl with the blue-green eyes. Aw, hell. She would've forgotten him five minutes after she’d stunned him with that thank you kiss. Besides, the last thing he needs is to get his heart all twisted up over some woman. He’s supposed to be using his time off to come to grips with his own problems. 

Until Carlos bumps into her again, then discovers the feisty beauty is in the crosshairs of the most violent outlaw motorcycle gang in the Midwest. He gets in way over his head when he tries to help her get away...

December GIVEAWAY!


I just released Book 2 in The Art of Living Duet, The Art of Retribution! To celebrate I'm giving 2 lucky winners signed copies of my books along with the short story! If you're on my mailing list, you're already entered.
Pass this on to a friend, so they can enter by signing up HERE by December 15. 
U.S. and Canada only.

Nicole's Newsletter -

Announcing the Release of The Art of Retribution

I'm ecstatic to announce Book 2 of The Art of Living Duet will be released November 28, 2016!

I delayed this month's newsletter until I could announce the release date for the final installment of my series. It's available for pre-order and on sale. From now until 11/27/2016, you can by for only $0.99 by clicking here!

Returning to her small hometown, Maddie was looking forward to celebrating a friend’s wedding and spending time alone with Zac, her long distance boyfriend. But within hours of her arrival, joy turns to fear when she barely escapes a hit and run driver intent on killing her. 

Certain it’s her father, who wants to silence her to avoid prison, Maddie devises a plan to bring him to justice. Entering a dangerous game of cat and mouse to lure him out of hiding, she soon learns her father will go to any length to hurt her, even harming the innocent. As she fights to survive, deeply buried secrets come to the surface, revealing not everyone is who they seem, nor is everything as it appears. The truth could free Maddie from her past... or cause her world to shatter. 

A sexy romance and heart-pounding mystery, The Art of Retribution explores the exhilaration of falling in love, the anguish of loss, and the devastating consequences of secrets long-held by family who will risk everything to protect us. 

And the winner is...

Last month, our giveaway was 2 signed paperback copies of The Art of Going Home and The Art of Getting Away. Our winners are:

Felicia P.
Catherine G.


Nicole's Newsletter

Autumn is here. It's time for a giveaway!

Happy October everyone! It's the time of year we drink hot cider around the bonfire and enjoy gatherings of family and friends. And I have some Big News! Book 2 of The Art of Living series book duet, The Art of Retribution is complete and in the editing process. Here's the cover. 

In Book 2, the story of Maddie and Zac continues when Maddie returns to her small Midwestern hometown for a friend's wedding. But before she can get to the bachelorette party, trouble finds her. It's the perfect balance of steamy romance and mystery. 

To celebrate, I'm giving away 2 signed copies of Book 1, The Art of Going Home. And as a BONUS, I'm including  signed copies of the companion short story, The Art of Getting Away! To enter, sign up for my Monthly Newsletter here. Everybody already on my mailing list is automatically entered (so if you're getting this email, you could win)! Tell your family, friends, co-workers, bosses, hair-stylist and barista! The giveaway ends October 16.   

All my books are available on Amazon, and are FREE with Kindle Unlimited. Check them out!

Here's an excerpt from The Art of Going Home. During Maddie's first visit home, she's is having dinner with her best friend Tabitha (nicknamed Tabs). They're talking about Zac's previous relationship:

Pouring the last of the wine into my glass while trying to appear unconcerned, I rasped, “When was this?”
     “Zac ended it about ten months ago. Elaine talks bad about him behind his back, but would stoop to anything to get him to go out with her again. As if he would. Like my daddy always said, ‘You can’t shit in one hand and eat out the other.’”
     “I guess that explains what she said to him after the vigil. That he knew how to get in touch with her.” My hand flew up to cover my mouth. “Oh my God! Did they sleep together?”
     “I doubt it,” Tabs said, quickly backpedaling. “Who could blame any girl for wanting to? Mm, mm, mmm. With that body of his? Even though Zac obviously knows how good-looking he is, he’s a great catch. You need to take the opportunity to see how things develop between you two.” She went to the kitchen and brought back a second bottle of wine.
     “I don’t know. Zac and me? Aren’t we like brother and sister? And we live so far apart.”
     “Don’t kid yourself,” she scoffed. “He hasn’t looked at you like a sibling since you were a freshman in high school. And neither have you. There are ways to manage the distance.” She could see my hesitation, so she pressed, “Come on, you’ve known him your whole life. He’s a good guy.”
     “I know he is. Probably too good for me. Besides, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to trust a man enough to let him get close.”
     “You have to be willing to learn,” she said. “I bet Zac is the right one to teach you how to open your heart.”




Nicole's Newsletter


The Art of Getting Away

Big news this month! My short story is now available on Amazon for 99 cents, and it's FREE with KindleUnlimited! New cover, same great romance mystery.

The Art of Getting Away:
When her SUV leaves her stranded, Carlos helps get it running again, then can’t stop thinking about the sassy girl with the blue-green eyes. After discovering she’s in the cross hairs of the most violent outlaw motorcycle gang in the Midwest, Carlos goes in way over his head when he tries to help her get away.

Labor Day Giveaway!

To celebrate this Labor Day, I'm giving away e-copies of The Art of Going Home! 

The Art of Going Home:         While visiting her small hometown, things get risky for Maddie as she follows mysterious clues leading to her twin sister’s killer. The evidence ultimately reveals a dark and disturbing past. When the man she trusted deceives her, the future she’d just begun to hope for crumbles to dust. In this story about the extremes of loyalty and betrayal, love, in all its forms, is put to the test.

My novel and short story are also available in collections!

Check out Romancing the Heart and Stories of Sun, Sand and Sea. They're fantastic, and FREE with KindleUnlimited!  

No longer Available

No longer Available

Girls Just Wanna...

Drink wine.

I love wine. I fell in love with it during my years living in California. Napa valley was a couple of hours away, and spending a day touring wineries and tasting was something I always looked forward to.

Many people I talk to say they don’t like wine. WHAT? How can that be? There are thousands of types and brands of wine. How can you not like it? The answer is, they haven’t tried enough varieties to find one they think tastes good.

Wine is usually made from fermented grape juice. The earliest form of grape-based fermented drink was found in northern China, where archaeologists discovered 9000-year-old pottery jars. Yep, for millennia man has consumed fermented grape juice. Due to a natural chemical balance, grapes ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, water, or other nutrients. All you need to do is add yeast to consume the sugar in the grapes, which converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide.



Wine is usually named after the grape it comes from, such as Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay and Merlot. When one of these varieties is used as the predominant grape (usually defined by law as minimums of 75% to 85%), the result is a "varietal" as opposed to a "blended" wine. Blended wines are not considered inferior to varietal wines, rather they are a different style of winemaking; some of the world's most highly regarded wines, from regions like Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley, are blended from different grape varieties.

European wines can be classified by region (e.g. Bordeaux, Rioja and Chianti), while non-European wines are most often classified by grape (e.g. Pinot noir and Merlot). Market recognition of particular regions has recently been leading to their increased prominence on non-European wine labels. Examples of recognized non-European locales include Napa Valley, Santa Clara Valley and Sonoma Valley, Anderson Valley and Mendocino County in California, Willamette Valley and Rogue Valley in Oregon; Columbia Valley in Washington; Barossa Valley in South Australia and Hunter Valley in New South Wales; Luján de Cuyo in Argentina; Central Valley in Chile; Vale dos Vinhedos in Brazil; Hawke's Bay and Marlborough in New Zealand; and Okanagan Valley and Niagara Peninsula in Canada.

I love going to wine parties. Everyone brings a bottle, and you get to taste a lot of different kinds. Through my experience I’ve found I dislike chardonnay, but I do like dry wines because I don’t think they don’t have a lingering aftertaste. I also like sweet wines. Ice wine (or icewine; German Eiswein) is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. It is my all-time favorite. It is served cold and I’m telling you, this stuff is the nectar of the gods -- absolutely delicious. If you like Moscotto, you should try it.

The terms—dry, sweet and semi-dry—refer to a level of sweetness or residual sugar in a wine. A wine is considered “dry” when all of the grape sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation, while a sweet wine still has some residual sugar. “Semi-dry” or “off dry” wines have a mild or softly perceptible sweetness.

These terms can get confusing quickly, because sweetness sensitivity varies from person to person, and because sometimes a wine can be technically dry but give the impression of being sweet because the grapes were very ripe or the oak barrels imparted a sense of sweetness—like a caramel or cream soda note—to the wine. 

Through a lot of trial and error, I found a red wine I like: Shiraz. According to the experts, it has dark fruit flavors from sweet blueberry to savory black olive. When you taste Shiraz you'll be greeted with a punch of flavor that tapers off and then has a spicy peppery note in the aftertaste. I don't know about all that, I just know it tastes good. 

So you see, with so many to choose from, there’s no reason you can’t find one you like. Have a party! Experiment! Drink up! 

I love to hear your comments! Tell me what kinds of wine you like...

The Labor Pains of Writing a Book

Today in my post I thought I’d give an update on my progress (slow as it is) on The Art of Retribution.

It’s the sequel to The Art of Going Home, and the final book of the series.

First, there’s the cover. It’s always a challenge to find one that will appeal to the largest number of potential readers, invite them to open the book, and coordinate with the first cover in the series. I’ve got a concept in mind, and I’m hoping to create it myself. My graphic art skills are rudimentary, though. Creating something beautiful will definitely test my skills (and tolerance for frustration!). Here is a crude mock up along with the first book.

I’ve found it’s harder to write the second book than the first. Maybe because in the first I had the freedom to do anything I wanted: to take the characters and/or plot in any direction. The second book has to answer all the questions left open in the first, and introduce a separate plot realistic in the context of the characters’ personality and the setting. It all has to be wrapped up in a way that will leave the reader satisfied.


I’ve written 38,000 words so far, and hope to reach about 66,000 words before editing (about 200 pages.) Don’t know if I’ll end up with that many, but we’ll see. I still have to consult with experts regarding the medical and legal details of the plot.

I’d hoped to get the manuscript ready to send to my editor by the end of July. Well... not sure THAT will happen. I have to edit it myself before I send it out. Self-editing is very difficult. Since I know what I’m expressing, it’s hard to see when the writing is unclear or confusing.

Then, there’s the step in the middle of all the editing that comprises the beta-readers. Beta-readers are the folks who agree to read the manuscript and provide honest feedback about a pre-published, still-to-be-finalized book. Depending on their feedback, re-writes could be anything from small tweaks to major modifications of the plot line. The last step is the proofreader, who fixes punctuation, grammar, repetition, and points any plot inconsistencies.

YIKES! I get nervous just thinking about it.

So tell me, is there anything you readers would like to see in the sequel? Any questions answered or anything happen to the characters?

I’d love your input!


Nicole's Newsletter

May has been a very busy month!
I learned that my publisher was going out of business at the end of the month. 
As of June 1, 2016 I will continue to self-publish my work, 
and apologize in advance if there are any glitches. 
The Art of Going Home can currently be purchased on Amazon, 
and will available soon through Barnes & Noble, kobo, iBooks, Scribd, and many more! 
Thank you for your patience during the transition.  

Stories of Sun, Sand and Sea
11 Beaches - Anything can Happen

The anthology is available for pre-order! My story, The Art of Getting Away, is included in a collection with ten other short stories, all set on beaches around the world.And, we're having a giveaway! When we've had 1,500 pre-orders of the anthology, someone will win $25.00 via paypal. When our pre-orders reach 2,500, we'll give away $50.00 paypal, a 10 signed paperbacks. When we reach 3,000 pre-orders, one winner gets the grand prize: $100.00 and 10 signed paperbacks of the authors' books! No purchase is necessary. Click here to enter the giveaway! 

#11Beaches -- 11 Stories of Sun Sand and Sea. 
Only 99 cents!

Click here to pre-order on Amazon! Release date June 28

Girls Just Wanna...

Curly, straight, fine or coarse. Doesn’t matter.

Girls just wanna have great hair.

Wait, what? That can’t be so hard. Can it?

You have NO idea.

For a woman, great hair is like the Holy Grail. We all know it could exist, but actually finding it may be a pipe dream, pie in the sky, Herculean task, and chimera, all at the same time.

Cutting, blow-drying, curling, styling. That’s just the tip of the ice-burg. Crimping, weaving, highlighting, straightening, singeing (personally, I would never let an open flame get close to my hair).   

Hair too thin? Try Rogaine. Hair too thick? Use thinning shears and apple cider vinegar. Too short? Extensions. Too long? Pin it, braid it, or tuck it under.

Let's look at a few types of Cuts and Styles. Some sound naughty, some satanic:

Bob (not the kind with batteries), Shag (remember, we’re talking about hair, not a carpet or... that other thing), pixie, up-do’s, braided (French, Dutch, three strand, waterfall, feather, ladder, fishtail, lace, twist, princess crown, V shape), vintage, Mohawk, fauxhawk, celebrity, ponytail, with bangs and fringes, layered, wacky (yes, that’s really a hairstyle) slicked back, textured Afro, retro, cornrow, undercut, razor cut, crew cut, buzzed, braided buns, messy (mine, unintentionally), wavy, choppy, curly, feathered, layered, emo, spiked, rat tail, devil lock (shudder), asymmetrical, bouffant, and finger wave.   

And don’t get me started on color.
It’s not enough to dye your hair all the same color (horrors!). It has to have highlights and low-lights, or other, more complicated, stuff. For example, ombré (dark to light) is very popular, as is Balayage, which is applying the color solution(s) freehand, where the color is painted on.
You need a special dictionary just to understand the lingo:

          Semi/Demi-Permanent, and Temporary Colors: Just like how "Not all permanent colors are permanent", not all temporary colors are temporary. (See, hair color is freakin' confusing!) A demi-permanent color creates very minimal change in the hair's natural pigment. Semi-permanent and "temporary" colors are deposit only. They do not alter the natural pigments in the hair.
          Level 1-10: The Level System is a universal guide to how light or dark a color is. Levels generally range from 1-10; 1 being jet black and 10 being platinum blonde. Levels 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 create everything in between and can even be mixed to create half levels (i.e.: Level 8.5 strawberry blonde).
          Shade / Tone: Rather than level, shade or tone is actual color--purple, brown, red, orange. Shades and tones can be light or dark, so it's important to know what level and shade your hair is to start with, and what level and shade you want your hair to be.
          Cool: Cool tones are without warmth, such as "ash" or champagne. Most people do not wear cool tones, though cool-toned highlights can often look great.
          Warm: Warm tones include warmth such as golden, orange or red tones. Most skin tones are accentuated by at least some warmth, but not all, so talk to your stylist and hold up different hair color swatches to your face to see how different shades make your skin look.
          Neutral: Neutral tones are considered to be in between warm and cool, but because they lack warmth, they can tend to look a bit cool or "ashy" when applied alone. Neutral tones are great at covering grey hair, and work well when mixed with other, more vibrant shades. 
          Copper (or Kopper): Copper is a fancy word for orange tones. These aren't necessarily weirdly-vibrant orange-ness, rather, they're typically natural redhead tones.
          Auburn or red-brown: Darker natural-looking redhead tones or reddish brown shades.
          Brassy: A term used for hair that is golden or yellow-looking, especially after a lightening service. Brassiness can be controlled by counteracting the warmth. 
         Red: Fire-engine red tones don't naturally grow out of anyone's head. So what this term means depends on how it's being used. Natural redhead red is either a warmer, more coppery tone or a darker mahogany red-brown. If you're talking about crayon-red, it's not a natural hair color, but it can certainly be applied artificially!  
         Contrast: Contrast is how different one area of hair is than another. For example, black hair with blonde highlights is high contrast, while light brown hair with dark blonde highlights is low contrast. Lower contrast looks more natural; higher contrast looks more dramatic. 
         Porosity: This tells the stylist how strongly your hair will "grab" a color, and how damaged it may be. The stylist may need to take an extra step to make sure the color develops evenly, depending on porosity. 
         Dull: Hair that has little or no shine. Blonde hair tends to be naturally more dull. This can be fixed temporarily with glossing products. There are also chemical gloss products that add shine more long-term, but it is a fact that it's difficult to keep blonde hair looking sleek and shiny. 
         Over processed: Whether it's before or after your application, if your hair is over processed, it means it has been chemically beat down and damaged. It may look frazzled and "fried," it may include split ends or matted hair, and it will probably not be able to handle any further chemical applications without some major repair and treatments-- and time-- first. 
         Virgin Hair: Hair that has not had chemicals applied to it; it's in its healthiest and purest state. 
         Lift: Any lightening of hair, going from darker to lighter, even if it's a small amount. 
         Highlighting: Adding streaks or chunks of a lighter shade. 
         Lowlighting: Adding streaks or chunks of a darker shade. 
         Tri-Color: Using three colors to give a more natural look to the hair color. 
         Filler: A product added prior to the color, either to protect damaged areas of hair, or to prep areas of hair with a balancing shade. 
         Toner: A product added after the color, to balance out any outstanding remaining shades.
         Foil method / color weave: Highlighting/lowlighting method using slices of foil. 
         Cap method: Highlighting/lowlighting method using a cap with tiny holes, through which hair is pulled and colored. Tends to focus color on the top of the head, where the sun hits it. 

         Depth / Dimension: Naturally, hair has more than one shade in it, giving it a look with depth and dimension. To achieve a more natural look artificially, depth and dimension must be added. 
         Line of demarcation: The point or line of visible regrowth.  
         Existing shade or starting shade: The color of the hair as it is; a starting point from which color may be applied. 
         Double process: Any color application that requires two full applications, usually with a shampoo and/or rinse in between and afterward. These may take longer and may cost more, but should look more natural as well. 
         Grey Coverage: Any application designed to cover grey hair. Not all products are capable of doing so. (Yeah, now you tell me...) 
         Grey Blending: Any application designed to blend or camouflage grey hair.

And don’t get me started on unwanted hair. I’m exhausted before I even step into the salon. I think I'll start wearing wigs.


Want more Girls Just Wanna...  posts? Click here for the March 21 blog, and here for the one from February 29.

What's In A Name?

Sometimes when I’m watching a baseball game, the names of the players will catch my attention. Is there such a thing as a quintessential name for a baseball player? One that can call to mind the sounds, smells, and excitement of being at the diamond?

Well, yes.

"Buster" Posey is such a name. If he was anything other than a baseball player, it just wouldn’t work. Can you picture a Reverend Posey? Didn’t think so. The baseball player’s father is Gerald Dempsey “Buster” Posey II. Obviously “Buster” III is carrying on his family name tradition.

Dennis Ray “Oil Can” Boyd is also a great name for a major league player. He was a pitcher from 1982 to 1991. The nickname is from his drinking days in Meridian Mississippi, where the rot-gut whiskey from the local moonshiner was referred to as “oil.”

How about Russel Jay “Rusty” Kuntz? That name belongs to a baseball player for sure. In the American League from 1979 to 1985, he’s been the first base coach for the Royals since 2012.

Frank Edwin “Tug” McGraw is a classic name for a pitcher. He got his nickname from his mother when he was a baby. He was one of the top National League closers in the early 1970’s.

Mordecai Brown was a pitcher from 1903 to 1916 (There's just something about the name Mordecai that fits America's favorite pastime). The press dubbed him “Three-Fingers” because of a farm accident that resulted in the loss of most of his right index finger. His handicap became an advantage when he learned to throw a baseball with an unusual amount of topspin that resulted in ground balls.

Kirby Puckett is one of my favorite player names. He was an outfielder with the Minnesota Twins from 1984 to 1995.

Cornelius Mack has a nice baseball-y ring to it. He started with the Washington Senators in 1888, and played in the big leagues until 1896.

Astacio “Melky” Cabrera is a left-handed outfielder from the Dominican Republic. He started with the Yankees in 2005, and is currently with the Chicago White Sox.

Some names sound like a seafood restaurant menu: Catfish Hunter, Mudcat Grant, Dizzy Trout, Hank Conger.

Others have names that seem to refer to the game itself: Homer Bailey, David Mark Winfield, Roland Glen “Rollie” Fingers, “Bombo” (means"fly ball" in Spanish) Rivera.

And I can’t fail to mention those names that make you think of other things (I’m stealing this from Dayn Perry’s article from last year): Tucker Tubbs (sounds like a County Sheriff from The Dukes of Hazard); Earl Burl (could be a saxophonist on a street corner in New Orleans); Skye Bolt (A Norse God-of-Making-Out-With-Cheerleaders); and Rock Rucker (sounds like a redneck who could fend off attackers with a severed deer head and crescent wrench).

And of course, I can't resist mentioning Hunter Pence, which sounds like "underpants" if you say it fast enough.

All right, I'm out.


Sneak peeks into The Art of Going Home

Here's a short peek into the book that is exclusive to this blog post. Yep, it can't be found anywhere else (except the book, of course!): 

     Pouring the last of the wine into my glass while trying to appear unconcerned, I rasped, “When was this?”
     “He ended it with Elaine about ten months ago,” Tabitha said. “She talks bad about him behind his back, but would stoop to anything to get him to go out with her again. As if he would. Like my daddy always said, ‘You can’t shit in one hand and eat out the other.’”
     “I guess that explains what she said to him after the vigil. That he knew how to get in touch with her.” My hand flew up to cover my mouth. “Oh my God! Did they sleep together?”
“I doubt it,” Tabs said, quickly backpedaling. “Who could blame any girl for wanting to? Mm, mm, mmm. With that body of his? Even though Zac obviously knows how good-looking he is, he’s a great catch. You need to take the opportunity to see how things develop between you two.” She went to the kitchen and brought back a second bottle of wine.
     “I don’t know. Zac and me? Aren’t we like brother and sister? And we live so far apart.”
     “Don’t kid yourself,” she scoffed. “He hasn’t looked at you like a sibling since you were a freshman in high school. And neither have you. There are ways to manage the distance.” She could see my hesitation, so she pressed, “Come on, you’ve known him your whole life. He’s a good guy.”
     “I know he is. Probably too good for me. Besides, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to trust a man enough to let him get close.”
     “You have to be willing to learn,” she said. “I bet Zac is the right one to teach you how to open your heart.”


     I sat at Zac’s kitchen table with a glass of wine. He was cooking dinner for me that evening, after he’d finished his martial arts class and I’d exercised in my room.
     The house he rented was a ranch style on the edge of town. It was about twenty-five years old, red brick on the outside, and boring beige inside, with two bedrooms and one bath. It was a typical bachelor pad. He had a huge flat screen TV, black leather sofa, secondhand coffee table, ancient dinette set, and an old weight bench with weights in the spare room. There was very little else.
     He was making spaghetti. I was thinking about Aunt Ceci’s letter, and my conversation with Tabs. I was also admiring his cute rear end. And his broad shoulders. And his muscular thighs.
     I was on a mission. Determined to get to the bottom of his relationship with Elaine, I needed to come up with a way to broach the subject.
     “So,” I began. “You said yesterday after our picnic that I could trust you. That I could tell you anything, right?”
     “Of course you can,” he said, not looking up. “What’s on your mind?”
     “Does it mean that you’ll be open and honest with me, too?” I asked.
     “Yes.” He responded quickly, with a little less conviction. I let the silence stretch while he fixed our plates and set them on the Formica table. After we ate for a time, he caved. “Is there something you want to talk about?” he asked.
     Finally. He’d taken the bait.

Nicole's Newsletter

The Art of Going Home is the first book in  Art of Living series. During May I'll be working diligently on the second book. Its title isThe Art of Retribution and concludes the story of Maddie and Zac.
Available this fall!

What Reviewers Are Saying About
The Art of Going Home

     "Maddie’s journey is both emotional and powerful. It was a real joy to read and I love the happy ending to the book, though it doesn’t reach a full conclusion. I will most certainly read the next installment and very much look forward to it.
     If you want a book with depth, soul and a fantastic plot as well as a host of intriguing characters and a scorching hot love interest, this one’s for you. It is honestly one of the best books I have read this year. Have the tissues handy and set aside some time, it’s a real page turner and all round fabulous." - 
Eat Sleep Read Review

Last month in my newsletter I revealed the cover for my short story, The Art of Getting Away. It will be released in an anthology with eleven other stories. The collection is titled  Stories of Sun, Sand and Sea, and will be available for pre-order May 16! Check out the Facebook page  and enter to receive free giveaways!

Girls Just Wanna...

Get their beauty sleep.

Yep, it’s really a thing.

We all know that getting a good amount of shuteye has a range of benefits for our health. It allows you to concentrate better, you’re less likely to get sick, your mood improves and it can even prevent you from putting on weight. Another benefit has emerged. Sleep has been proven to make us more attractive.


A study conducted by University Hospital Case Medical Centre in Ohio examined the process of “catabolysis”, which is a natural purification process that helps your skin cells get rid of internal debris that can cause cellular damage. Translation: it’s the important process that eliminates the stuff that can diminish your beautiful looks. The researchers investigated catabolysis in connection to our sleep and their results were seriously surprising.

They found that people who didn’t get enough shuteye lost 30 percent more water 72 hours after a skin barrier disruption, such as exposure to UV light, than those who regularly get their required amount of snooze time.

Our skin cells are running on a natural 24-hour rhythm, repairing themselves at night and protecting themselves during the day; so less time spent sleeping means your skin has less ability to repair and replenish itself. Hello: dull and dry skin!

The real clincher? The study found that poor sleepers had twice the amount of signs of ageing. Think: fine lines, uneven pigmentation, reduced elasticity and slower recovery time from sunburn. So how can you get the best sleep possible to look the best you possibly can?

And for those of you who believe a person’s looks are secondary to their intelligence, here’s what your brain does when you sleep:

Makes decisions

The brain can process information and prepare for actions during sleep, effectively making decisions while unconscious, new research has found.

A study published in the journal Current Biology found that the brain processes complex stimuli during sleep, and uses this information to make decisions while awake. The researchers asked participants to categorize spoken words that were separated into different categories — words referring to animals or objects; and real words vs. fake words — and asked to indicate the category of the word they heard by pressing right or left buttons. When the task become automatic, the subjects were asked to continue but also told that they could fall asleep (they were lying in a dark room). When the subjects were asleep, the researchers began introducing new words from the same categories. Brain monitoring devices showed that even when the subjects were sleeping, their brains continued to prepare the motor function to create right and left responses based on the meaning of the words they heard.

When the participants woke up, however, they had no recollection of the words they heard.

“Not only did they process complex information while being completely asleep, but they did it unconsciously,” researchers Thomas Andrillon and Sid Kouider write in the Washington Post. “Our work sheds new light about the brain’s ability to process information while asleep but also while being unconscious.”

Creates and consolidates memories

While you’re asleep, the brain is busy forming new memories, consolidating older ones, and linking more recent with earlier memories, during both REM and non-REM sleep. Lack of rest could have a significant affect the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory creation and consolidation.

For this reason, sleep plays a very important role in learning — it helps us to cement the new information we’re taking in for better later recall.

“We’ve learned that sleep before learning helps prepare your brain for initial formation of memories,” Dr. Matthew Walker, a University of California, Berkeley sleep researcher, tells the National Institutes of Health. “And then, sleep after learning is essential to help save and cement that new information into the architecture of the brain, meaning that you’re less likely to forget it.”

Makes creative connections

Sleep can be a powerful creativity-booster, as the mind in an unconscious resting state can make surprising new connections that it perhaps wouldn’t have made in a waking state.

A 2007 University of California at Berkeley study found that sleep can foster “remote associates,” or unusual connections, in the brain — which could lead to a major “a-ha” moment upon waking. Upon waking from sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to make connections between seemingly distantly related ideas.

Clears out toxins

A series of 2013 studies found that an important function of sleep may be to give the brain a chance to do a little housekeeping.

Researchers at the University of Rochester found that during sleep, the brains of mice clear out damaging molecules associated with neurodegeneration. The space between brain cells actually increased while the mice were unconscious, allowing the brain to flush out the toxic molecules that built up during waking hours.

If we’re not getting enough sleep, our brains don’t have adequate time to clear out toxins, which could potentially have the effect of accelerating neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Learns and remembers how to perform physical tasks

The brain stores information into long-term memory through something known as sleep spindles, short bursts of brain waves at strong frequencies that occur during REM sleep.

This process can be particularly helpful for storing information related to motor tasks, like driving, swinging a tennis racquet or practicing a new dance move, so that these tasks become automatic. What happens during REM sleep is that the brain transfers short-term memories stored in the motor cortex to the temporal lobe, where they become long-term memories.

Be beautiful. Be smart. Sleep.



I'm Thankful for Lexemes

Baseball season has officially started! And that got me thinking about baseball words and terms. And drinking. Don’t know why, but the two seem to go hand in hand.

A lexeme is the smallest or minimal unit of lexicon in a language that bears some “meaning”. A lexeme has a morphological form, semantic content (or meaning) and a syntactic category. Lexeme is basically an abstract notion used in linguistic morphology, the concrete realization of which is a word.

Okay, enough of the boring stuff.

There are a surprising number of baseball terms that are also cocktails. Here’s some that I found:

Airmail - A baseball slang for an errant throw where the ball flies high over the intended player’s head.

Shake together 1 ounce light rum, 1/2 ounce lime juice, 1/2 ounce honey syrup, and 1 cup ice. Strain into a champagne flute. Top off glass with champagne.

Bender - A curveball.

A wild drinking spree.

Bomb -A home run.

Also called a depth charge, a mixed drink that is made by dropping a drink in a shot glass into a larger glass of alcohol.

Caddy - A substitute in the late innings of a lopsided game to act as a defensive replacement for an aging power hitter or to pinch run.

Mix 2 shots whiskey, 1/2 shot cherry liqueur, 1/2 shot Martini Rosso, 1/2 shot angostura bitters.

Cement Mixer - A baseball pitched with the intent to break out of the strike zone that fails to break and ends up hanging in the strike zone. 

A shot drink consisting of 1 part Bailey's Irish Cream, 1 part lime juice. (The drink is traditionally ingested by taking the shot of Bailey's, holding it in the mouth, then sipping the lime juice and swirling the two around the mouth. The acidic lime juice causes the cream-based Bailey's to curdle. The curdled Bailey's rapidly gains viscosity and sticks to the drinker's teeth, reminiscent of cement.)

Chase - To swing at a pitch well outside of the strike zone.

To chase an alcoholic drink that you've imbibed, you follow it with a stronger or weaker alcoholic drink. 

Double - A hit where the batter makes it safely to second base before the ball can be returned to the infield. Also a two-base hit.

To increase the number of shots or measures of alcohol in a drink. 

Handcuff - A hard-hit ground ball that bounces directly at an infielder may be difficult for him to get his hands up in time to grab. He may appear to be handcuffed in that situation. A pitch thrown high and inside may handcuff a batter because he can't get his hands far enough away from his body to swing the bat. 

Mix 1 oz. Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum, Coca Cola, 1 dash Vanilla Extract.

Granny - A grand slam home run.

Mix 2 shots rum, 1/2 shot apple schnapps, 1/4 shot cinnamon schnapps, 2 shots apple juice.

Hammer - To hit the ball hard, typically for extra bases. A curve ball, usually of the 12 to 6 variety.

Mix 3 ounce coconut rum, 2 ounces peach schnapps, 2 ounces 7-Up.

Moneyball - refers to Michael Lewis's 2002 book. "Moneyball player" most often refers to one who has a high on-base percentage, and does not steal a lot of bases.

Mix 2 oz. vodka, 5 oz. Green River Soda, lime dollar sign ($) twist, and ice. Strain.

RhubarbAn argument or fight in a baseball game. Hence, Rhubarb, a novel by H. Allen Smith.

Mix juice from 1/2 lime; 10 muddled mint leaves; ice; 2 ounces vodka; 1 ounce raspberry vodka; 1 ounce Cointreau or other triple sec;  1 ounce rhubarb syrup. Strain and garnish with 2 lime wedges and 1 long, thin slice of rhubarb stalk.

So, I'll bring my adoxography (add-ox-OG-rah-fee -- skilled writing on a trivial subject) of musings to an end.