Monday, March 2, 2015

Sylvia Nickels, Author

Georgia native, Sylvia Nickels has lived in Tennessee, USA, for many years. Her award winning short stories have been published online and in print. She published her memoir, Eight Miles of Muddy Road, followed by a volume of short mystery stories, Best Served Cold, Revenge a la Carte. She recently published a volume of her newspaper columns, Life Slices, a Medley of Musings after Three Score and More

Sylvia's most recent novel, Requiem for a Party Girl, has been published by Oconee Spirit Press. Requiem for a Party Girl features female PI Cameron Locke. Locke is a former abused wife who, with encouragement from a co-worker, a long-time friend and a police detective, escaped her tormentor and built a new life. In addition to being an absorbing story, Sylvia hopes the book will encourage other women who find themselves in a similar situation find hope that their lives also can be changed.

Welcome Sylvia!

When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
I thought about it when I was very young, deep in rural Georgia, but it just didn't seem like a realistic thing to even consider. I loved to read and it seemed almost miraculous that the printed words between the covers of books could transport me to many faraway places. Only after reaching adulthood, marriage, and motherhood did that old dream seem even a little bit possible. I'm very happy I've pursued that dream, even late in life.

What was the first story you penned?
My first published story was inspired by a novel, Robin Cook's Coma. It appeared in a small circulation magazine called Communities. Excerpt attached.

What books have you written?
The first book I published was a memoir, Eight Miles of Muddy Road, a recounting of my early years growing up on back country farms that my Dad sharecropped, with a little help from us older children. I queried several publishers but no one was interested. Then after the Internet exploded and more affordable options for self-publishing became available I was able to publish it myself.

After that I published a small volume of romance stories, Love Comes Home, under a pen name; then a book of short mystery stories, my chosen genre, and a collection of the columns I write for a local newspaper, Life Slices, a Medley of Musings after Three Score and More. Last year I published Disguise for Death, my first full-length mystery novel, which originally started life as a short story. During all this time I was querying traditional publishers and occasionally agents with my work. Finally also last year a small independent publisher did accept my manuscript for Requiem for a Party Girl, which co-incidentally also began as a short story which was published in the online ezine, Blazing Adventures and is still archived on the 'Net. Requiem is being released this month, February, by Oconee Spirit Press.

Does living in Tennessee motivate your creativity?
Possibly. I love East Tennessee and the mountains. They give stability to life, I think. Maybe if I'd stayed and always lived in Georgia I would still have become a writer. I don’t know.

Are your characters based upon your own life experiences?
(smile) Maybe 'impossible dream' experiences! I actually did inquire about becoming an apprentice/volunteer for a private investigator, like Cam in Requiem, but he never answered my letter. I've pursued writing for some years now, so that part of my character, Royce Thorne, is also related.

Who is your favorite character?
I have to go with Cameron Locke, PI. She kind of kept after me until I had to tell her stories. I've written two or three unpublished short stories with another character, a male former cop/private investigator that I like and would like to do more with when I can find the time.

Describe your writing studio...
You don't want to see it. It's piled high on every side with 'stuff' from all my writing activities. Three file cabinets full, four bookcases, more books and some manuscript drafts on the floor. I'm President of the Lost State Writers Guild so I have all kinds of stuff related to that in boxes and totebags. Also I'm Webmaster for Lost State and the Appalachian Authors Guild and have totebags of stuff about that, printer, scanner, computer disks, bulletin board covered with photos, name tags from events and other memorabilia. I like those old-type calendars that roll-up over a wooden dowel and two hang on the wall in front of me as well as an actual current calendar. I could go on but you get the picture!

What are you currently writing?
I keep my weekly column going with the Kingsport Daily News. And I need to get seriously to working on the sequel to Disguise for Death, the 2nd Royce Thorne mystery, tentatively titled Death Stalks the Wohlford. I have the 2nd Cam Locke novel finished. Its title for now, Lilies for a Throwaway Girl. Subject to change.

What are you currently reading?
I always have several books going. Fiction, inspirational, writing help and now marketing. I'm itching to get my hands on Dean Koontz's new Brother Odd book, Saint Odd.

Who is your favorite author?
Several! I anticipate Margaret Maron's and Dean Koontz's new books, as well as Linda Fairstein and Sue Grafton. I'm working my way through Jan Karon's Mitford series. And I'm very happy that Kathryn Wall, another North Carolina writer I like a lot, is back to writing.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
If you really, really want to write for publication, don't give up. Just do it. Persistence is key. Also take classes and attend writers' conferences as you can. There are some free classes on the Internet that you can get a lot out of as well as online critique groups. Many well-known writers and writing teachers freely share much valuable information, such as Randy Ingermanson, Holly Lisle, Lawrence Block. I'm on their mailing lists. Thriller writer Steven James writes great articles that are published in Writers Digest Online.

List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
I'm a great grandmother twice-over and I adore my little munchkins.

I'm kind of disorganized, you might guess from the description of my writing area.

I love country music, especially the oldies.

I like being with a group of writers, bouncing ideas around and getting new ones.

I like having friends over for small get-togethers.

I like learning new things. Once I get into learning something, I don't want to stop.

I like working with graphics/pictures on my computer.

I like surfing the Internet, though I get weary of Facebook.

I sometimes like to cook, but only occasionally.

I'm a night owl.

Connect with Sylvia…

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