Saturday, February 20, 2010

YA Author Kieryn Nicolas Debuts with RAIN

When Echelon Press publisher Karen Syed approached me last year with a request that I edit a YA spy novel for the company, I almost turned her down. It wasn't the subject matter that I objected to -- I'd edited YA novels before, and like those, this one was a mystery -- but the age of the author I'd be working with. Kieryn Nicolas was a high school freshman, a girl barely in her teens, for goodness sake! What could she possibly know about writing??

Quite a bit, I discovered when I finally took a look at her manuscript. Oh, sure. Kieryn made the usual newbie mistakes with her novel: too many ...'s and --'s and some chapters that ran on forever. But those were easily correctible problems. What impressed me about Kieryn's writing was her ability to create several distinctly different characters that I could care about. I saw her protagonist mature over the course of the story, changing from an up-tight child who equated emotion with weakness to a young woman who was aware of her own failings and vulnerability.

Kieryn was a delight to work with. Helping her shape RAIN into a publishable manuscript was an enjoyable experience. I'm happy to say that her novel is now available in ebook format and will be released in print later this year. I'm also happy to have Kieryn guest blogging here today. A former competitive figure skater, Kieryn sees an analogy between skating and writing and tells us why in

by Kieryn Nicolas

Writing a novel is like landing your first axel.

Okay, terminology first. No, this axel is not that little rod thing between two wheels. This axel is the epitome of all figure skating jumps. In figure skating, the axel—or double axel—or, if you’re superman/woman, triple axel—is a milestone jump. The regular axel is the jump skaters learn right before they start learning doubles, and the other axels are taught in the same pattern. Once you have landed an axel, your skating career has become a lot more intense.

It’s a similar story with writing and finishing a novel. It will take a while to complete a rough draft. The rough draft is what equates to the first time you land an axel, which will have taken, on average, about a year of work. The first axel you land will come out of the blue. Slowly you’ll blink, and realize that, while the jump was shaky and lacked power, you did not end up on your butt. The same feeling of shock and awe washes over you when you type the last word of your rough draft. Really? I landed it? becomes, Really? I finished it?

Of course, just like a rough draft is far from “done”, your first axel is far from competition worthy. During the “revision process” you start to become more consistent in landing the jump, and gain necessary power. In the writing stage, this is when you are working through plot kinks and inconsistencies.

Once your axel is consistent and powerful enough, you will start to use it. This means it will now be in your competition program, for everyone to watch and judge. In the novel process, this is when you send your work out for feedback. That also means more hard work, more revision, more hours of axel repetitions and attempts with combinations and tweaking of the plot.

Then comes the point when you realize you now “have” an axel. It is consistent, it is powerful, and it is usable. In the parallel, your novel is complete, revised, and ready. In skating this is when you move on to double jumps and beyond, using your axel knowledge. I have found that completing your first novel—or your first novel that you and others actually like—is key in motivating you to write more.

And that is exactly what I plan to do!

Rain is available from Echelon Press at

Rain is available from Amazon at



  1. I'm not very good at balance or skating, but I do enjoy making my manuscripts shine by doing revisions, like using better words. When I have to go back and re-check to make sure no stray letters appear or formatting problems are on there, I'm not happy.

    Speaking of happy or not happy, Mary, on Monday, you will be one of the recipients of the Happy 101 Award at

    Morgan Mandel

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