The Journey

4:05 AM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

70 days ago I hadn’t had a driver’s license, let alone a car. I was living in sunny Las Vegas with my Taylor-bear and cooking for two. I had no plans on leaving. In fact, I was setting up for my next semester, still trying to decide what I was going to major in (for real, this time).


It strikes me as odd when I look at my calendar and realize how little time it takes to make a dramatic change. 54 days ago, I hopped into my brand new Subaru, the laminate on my new license still warm. In typical Nina fashion I was determined to make the drive from Vegas to Akron, OH in two days.

“It’s just a little more than 30 hours,” I said. “I can do 15 each day.”

When my family members told me I was crazy, I calmly responded with a number of variations of the same answer. “I spend 15 hours a day sitting at my desk. How hard could it be to sit and drive for the same amount of time?” 

Two words: Colorado. Mountains.

With the exception of Germany when I was four or five, I’ve lived in the South my entire life. Now, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen snow. Of course I’ve seen snow. But I’ve never seen snow like this. Snow that seemed bent on running you off the road, or worse, into the hazy red lights blinking in front of you. You know, the ones connected to an 18-wheeler. It didn’t help that, being brand new, my car’s tires were acting wonky. I ended up on the side of a winding mountain road, sobbing into my phone. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I called my dad and he calmed me down, assured me that the “low tire pressure” light on my dash didn’t mean that my engine would spontaneously combust.

I managed to believe him, but it was a close flippin’ call.

It took me four days to make the trip, for which I am eternally grateful. I tend to be a creature of Pride. I love the spirit of competition, even when I’m competing against common sense. Luckily, my sense of wicked pride vanished in the face of abject terror. I call that a win.

The scary drive notwithstanding, I had a great time. I love to travel, love hotels and seeing different towns. I met some cool people and some shady ones. My dad and MIL forced me to take pictures at every rest stop I visited…to prove that I was stopping.


I took pictures of everything (as you can see). From mountains dusted with fog…to stand-still traffic. I took pictures of my hotel rooms and windmills. I took pictures of my ridiculously expensive toll stubs. It was a great adventure, one I am glad that I went on. But I do hope that the next time I make a road trip like that, I take someone along with me.

58 days ago, I officially moved to Ohio. I rented an apartment I’d never seen (though I thoroughly checked it out first –I’m not crazy!) and moved to a town I had scarcely been to. It’s all so terrifying when I lay it out like that. Terrifying…and exhilarating. Welcome to life, Nina S. Gooden. Welcome.


The Reason

4:05 AM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

 As many of you well know, I love words. Not just the way they sound, but how they’re put together, the way they function. I love punctuation and syntax, it brings me joy to spend time learning about these things. To me, it’s like music. I appreciate a well-written symphony or a catchy tune from the radio (I still hear “Call Me Maybe” in the not so quiet places of my mind). But not only that. 

I love each note, the draw of a bow across cello strings. I love the conductor, high on his podium sweating and moving with the beat. I love the way DJs throw vibration and tweaks at a solid note until it is something different, something profound. And that is how I feel about words. It’s not just the end product, but the conditioning that fascinates me.

Now, all of that was just a really wordy (I’m feeling a bit poetic today) way of saying that I love editing. I’ve done it for as long as I’ve been writing, though I never thought of it as a marketable skill. Silly me, right? From high school newspapers to fan-fiction

to video game content, my appreciation for all things grammar eventually lead me to freelancing for several publishing companies but even as I enjoyed this, I saw it more as a method to fund my writing.

That’s probably an unsavory thing to admit, but it’s true and honesty is as much a part of me as my awkward love for tentacles. All of this time, I have been building on a second career (one that I love) without even knowing.

I probably would have gone on not knowing that these skills were something I could put on a resume if it hadn’t been for my sister. My beloved pregnant sister (who I will call D) was looking for a job on the internet. I, being the helpful person that I am, was busily distracting her with nonsense. I asked her if she wanted to freelance (something I know she would never do) and started to scour the net for freelance gigs she could do.

After about 10 minutes of that I got bored and went to make dinner. She continued, however, and came back with a seemingly innocuous reply. “Hey, weren’t you talking about this company a while ago? You know they’re hiring a Managing Editor, right?”

Silly, silly sister, surprising me while I’m holding a plate. I dropped it in very dramatic fashion. I’m pretty sure there was slowmo and everything. You see, I have major industry crushes. Author crushes (call me, Gena), Agent crushes, and most definitely Publisher crushes.

If this company were a guy, he would be a tall, dark, and handsome warlock with hair the color of a raven’s wing. He’s have sapphire blue eyes that change with his emotions. He’d be a geeky DnD player with a great laugh and strong family values. He’d be attracted to overemotional, creepy girls who love books and video games. He’d be can’t-walk-for-days-I-think-my-hair’s-on-fire good in bed. He’d be perfect. And here he was, beckoning to me. “Join me, Nina. Crawl into my bed where I will feed you grapes and let you lick melted chocolate off my body.”

I thought, surely, I had no chance in hell of getting the job. A lot of my experience was in indie video games, managing content writers and programmers. I’d been writing romance for years but it had taken me a long time to get to the point where I thought it was good enough to submit. I’d only had two years experience editing straight romance and they is a bit spicier than most.

But I submitted. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. We spent a week polishing my resume within an inch of its life. Went through all of my odd jobs and selected the strongest options to put in that limited white space. I’ve never been more intimidated by a blinking cursor. And I’m an author.

I won’t go too in-depth about the hiring process because it was a whirlwind romance. Needless to say, I loved everyone I spoke to. I did my phone interview in the car in 90 degree weather because my 2-year-old nephew was as excited as me. I was in North Carolina…in the summer. Humidity in not your friend.

For my in person interview, I met a warm, delightful woman who would be my boss. A boss has the ability to make or break a company experience. She is the person I go to when I’m having trouble or when there’s a situation I am unsure of. Almost immediately, I got the sense that she was someone who could be relied on. A boss, for sure, but someone grounded and fair. Someone you wanted to work for.

I met another woman who, for some reason, was the most terrifying of everyone. She is a fount of knowledge and procedure. We would be working closely, as publishing and editorial often run hand-in-hand and I worried that it would be difficult, establishing myself as the “new kid” while rubbing shoulders with someone so deeply rooted in the company. It’s funny that I was so intimidated, knowing what I do about her now. She’s hilarious and helpful, one of the coolest people I have ever met.

I also met the CEO. I haven’t spent much time with her, as you would expect when someone as busy as she is. Still, there’s no denying the air of confidence and strength she gives off. Silly, I know, but I watch too much TV and expected the CEO of a major company to be cold. Detached. Not her. She’s passionate and savvy, knows exactly what she wants for the company.

After meeting all of these characters, I was foaming at the mouth excited to work for them. And with a chance to work intimately with something I was already passionate about, with a company full of cool people, how could I not be? In such a short time, I had found a new lifetime goal to go with my writing and it was obtainable. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance, no matter how difficult the journey?

I've used two Deviations in this post because I just couldn't decide on just one. They're both gorgeous. 

The first is called Book of Romance, by breathing2004. If you want to see more by this artist, please go here:

breakthing2004. Book of Romance. 2012. DeviantArt, Unknown. Web. 19 Nov 2013. <>. 

The second is called Book Spirit Hiramori, by curlyhair. If you'd like to see more by this lovely artist, please go here:

curlyhair. Book Spirit Hiramori. 2010. DeviantArt, Unknown. Web. 19 Nov 2013. <>.


An Editor.

12:48 PM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

If you had asked me just a few months ago about what I was doing with my life, I would have immediately responded that I was writing. That is what I have always done and what I always saw myself doing. However, I didn't realize that while I was writing I was building the foundation for a career.

Like many other writers when I first started putting pen to paper, I sucked. Of course I sucked, there are many different rules and facets to writing that you just don't know when you first start. Sure, you read a lot and you see the punctuation, grammar, and syntax spread out before you, but that's not the same as starting from scratch and finding out where those things go. So, my writing journey actually began with editing.

I poured myself into the references sections of the libraries I visited. I checked out books on the comma and the semicolon. And as I was learning to write and build stories I was also learning to become a reputable source of story knowledge. I will go into my whole resume, I worked as an editor as a means to supplement my writing ambitions. And while I wasn't looking what had begun as a means to an end... became a second passion. Perhaps even a stronger passion.

I still plan to write. This blog will go through some changes, but it will still be about my journey as a writer. However, that journey has taken an unforeseen turn and now I am officially an editor. I had done freelance editing in the past, but this is now the start of a new career. Will I be able to juggle both? Only time will tell.



10:40 AM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

This isn't going to be a pretty post. I won't even add a Deviation for it....mainly because I'm too sad.

Failure tastes like bitter spice in my mouth. It burns and stings my eyes. I'm in class, else I'd probably be wallowing in my bed. Ash and Diamonds was rejected by Samhain. It comes as a harsh blow, because...well, I really love this book. I've worked insanely hard on it. It's been scrubbed and brushed and raked and shaken into what I'd calls damn near perfection.

Unfortunately, sometimes writing a good book isn't the point. This is a business and certain things don't sell well. That's the only way I can look at this rejection, because I refuse to think that my writing just wasn't good enough. Ash is a paranormal romance. I'll admit that it's my favorite subgenre for Romance, but maybe it's too much already. I've heard it's hard to get them accepted, but I'm not sure...there's always these rumors about which genres are expanding and which are shrinking.

I don't know. Either way, I'm going to keep doing what I can. I still have two submissions waiting for an answer. Hopefully I'm in line for better news on them.

Ash is a damn good book. Eventually, it will find its home.



11:35 AM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

So....hiya, ya'll....

I know, I know. My posting lagged like you wouldn't believe. It's been months since I've even opened Blogger. But I have a good reason! Well, reasons. I've been horrible busy. Mainly, it's been school. I started back this semester, and me being the little overachiever that I am, decided to major in Computer Science and minor in Japanese.

Well, obviously that's not happening.

I'm a pretty good student (if I do say so, myself). I did that whole IB/Honor's Society when I was in high school. I love science, I'm good at math, and English is my issh! Yeah, I said "issh," because it is! Still, I'd forgotten how time-consuming the whole process is and with such a heavy course load, (plus my two super secret editing jobs), I've gotten absolutely zero writing done these months.


So I figure I'm going to have to either drop the Computer Science bit or the Japanese, so CS got the cut. I would just like to note that that decision, so neatly presented in white and black pixels, took my foreeeeever to stick with. I was so torn! Thank goodness for Taylor, who was infinitely patient with my wails of "What do I dooooo?!"

In the end, it was a no brainer. I'm very much aware of the chances of me "making it" as a writer. Many people don't. But I'm going to. I wanted to go to school in order to have a fallback career, but ultimately, I want to write for a living. So, meh, Computer Science got the cut.

Instead, I'm taking Graphic and Web Design and majoring in the ever-so-vague "Art." I think it will be fun. I'll learn a skill I can apply to my career and I'll still be able to explore my newly discovered appreciation for history. Only, it'll be Art History. And without the maths and engineering classes to obsessively study, I'll actually be able to make time to get words down onto paper.

All I have to do is survive this last month of classes. Whoo!

This Deviation is by an artist that goes by hjstory. I love everything this member does. They're little comic strips that put a smile on my face every time I look at them. In fact, I love them so much, I'm going to put the deviantArt link, here, AND the tumblr account, here. Check it out.

HJ, Story. Work Hard. 2011. DeviantArt, Seoul, Korea. Web. 7 Mar 2013. <>


The tasty bits.

9:52 PM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

I wanted to share with you guys a few of the foods Tay and I have been eating. Forgive me if this post is full of typos, I'm doing it from my tablet. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, we're trying quinoa tonight. It cooks like rice but looks like couscous, which neither of us likes, but you can't ignore the potential benefits, we what the hell?

We went with this recipe, off the Whole Foods website.

It wasn't hard to make and we found all the ingredients without a problem. I didn't have time to make shredded chicken, so I just cut breasts into strips. I'd you do have the time, I'd recommend the shredded. I found myself missing the chicken after my chunks were gone.

All in all, I liked this. I'll give it an 8/10. It needed a little Season-All (the one staple I REFUSE to give up) and the quinoa took a minute to get used to, but I liked it.

The hubs said it "tasted fine. Wish it had more chicken." That's as good as it gets with him.



12:59 PM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

It's been forever since I've written posts, just to write them. My impossible goals list for this quarter is going to be a challenge, but I'm up for it. I'm not doing the Amazon contest after all. I know, I'm so wishy-washy, but what I did was get all excited about something without doing the proper research. I have, now, so I'll be sending out the very completed and very shiny Ash and Diamonds (it's with some readers right now, so we've got a couple of days to wait) to a few of my favorite agents. If it isn't picked up I know exactly where I want it to land, but that's already in the works.

Right now I'm tweaking Pedal to the Metal. I never really liked the title, but I've been using it for almost six months, so it's stuck. It's a novella, and M/M, so it shouldn't take too much time to iron out all of the little aspects I didn't like about it in the first place. It already has a solid query and a killer synopsis (if I do say so myself), so it's ready to go as soon as I'm satisfied.

 By the end of the week, I should have two projects subbed. As I said before: huzzah!


My baby.

3:14 PM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

I like to think that I'm normal every once in a while. It's a farfetched little fantasy, but hey, it's mine. That's why when I think about my "baby" project, I always get these little warm fuzzies. Everyone has one of these projects. It's the story you've b een working on for so long. The one you're sure is going to be your "big break" in the industry.

I've had plenty of big breaks, all carefully cultivated with hard work and a ton of white-out, but Ash and Diamonds....Ash has always been my baby.

It's been finished since before my first publication. And by "finished" I mean...okay. It was an okay book. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it was crap. It was just...okay. But I loved the concept and the world I'd created so much that I couldn't settle for "okay." So it's been sitting on my to-do list, being rewritten here and there for years. Now, there's this contest (my constant motivator) and I've thrown myself into reworking my baby.

It's a big contest and it deserves a big novel.

Today I finally finished it to my liking. I hate to toot my own horn (ha!) but it is really good. Like...I opened it to start editing and got lost in reading it for a couple hours. It's good! I'm so excited. Even if I don't win this contest, I have something amazing to sub. This is the start of my YEAR!

I can feel it.


Eating healthy, number 2.

7:33 PM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

A little while ago I posted about my husband and I deciding to eat healthy. I want to share with you guys, a few things I've learned in this short week.

1) Healthy food is expensive as all hell. 
I mean, don't get me wrong, it's totally worth it...but I can go to McDonalds and Tay and I can have lunch for $10-$16, depending on what we order. We're eating at Whole Foods now and it usually comes out to about $18. Which, yeah, is not THAT much more expensive, but it adds up. Buying free-range, grass-fed, organic, ect. ect. chicken is better for me, and at $7.99/lb, it's not bad compared to what I was getting at Vons in Organics packages ($8.99), but then I look at the non organic stuff and it's on sale for $1.49/lb in these big value packages and I want to shoot myself in the face. I'm a cheap person. I'm not afraid to admit it. Spending more than $8 on a t-shirt, when I can go to Walmart and get a whole slue of them frequently makes me want to vomit. I spent $150 on a juicer today. I just about passed out. Which actually brings me to point number....

2) You have to rethink everything about the way you eat.
This one may seem obvious, but I was really shocked about how it went down. I thought, "okay, I'll have to cook more at home. That's cool, no problem." But the fact of the matter is, today's busy schedules don't ALLOW for that shit. There is a REASON fast food is doing so well. Because we don't have time to spend thirty minutes to an hour at the store and then come home and make lunch, which could take another hour. That's two hours, every day, every meal (though you would already have what you need for dinner after your first trip). Yes, I realize that eventually my husband and I will stop being complete noobs and figure out how to shop for more than one day at a time. But right now, we're not used to that. What if we get the stuff for enchiladas today and want beef stew tomorrow? It's a total first world problem, but in our household, it's a real issue. That's the difference between eating food and having it go bad in our fridge because we're always buying something new and never have time to eat what we have. We suck. I know. But it's still an issue.

3) Not all "health food" is created equal.
There are always sources out there that will give you alternating information. Some studies say that organic food isn't any different than regular food. Commercials say that high fructose corn syrup isn't harmful. I'm not here to convince anyone otherwise, that is research we all have to do on our own and decisions we have to make. But one thing I have noticed is, just with foods in our "regular" grocery stores, just because the labels on these health foods say one thing, doesn't mean it's good for you. For instance, just because a food says it's organic, doesn't mean that it doesn't have questionable ingredients. I mean, some of the things that I am avoiding in my new-found health state come from bug products. They're not harmful, really, I'm just grossed out by the news that that shiny candy coating is made from boiling beetles. It doesn't hurt me in any way to eat it, and honestly, if I were out in the wilderness and my choices were: starve or eat some bugs, I would be walking around full of beetle-goodness.  But that's just a choice I made after I was burdened with the knowledge of where my food was coming from. That's just me.  It's all about personal preference.

4) Exercise is part of the deal.
Seriously. No matter how much we clean up our diets, we're not going to be healthy unless we get away from our screens. No if, and, or buts about it. It's just fact. Also, I'm going to add here: you shouldn't be hungry. Some people think that a "diet" (though I hate that word. I'm not dieting, I'm changing the way I eat) should leave you hungry. I've found that's not the case. If I'm hungry, I eat. I just eat something worth eating.

5) Food addiction is a real thing. And it sucks.
This picture pretty much sums up how I've felt all day. I've had this persistent, low grade headache for two days now and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what it was. Then we went to the mall (to buy the aforementioned juicer) and the smells....oh, sweet Gaea, the smells. Just a whiff of the Cinnabon counter and my headache let up a bit. I almost flipped out when I saw a bottle of Crush (strawberry, my favorite). I've been achy and sleepy (though that's not abnormal, because of the next thing on this list) and my insomnia is back in full force, despite my careful regulation of my sleep schedule. It wasn't until I remembered a conversation I had with a friend who was trying to kick her daily coffee fix that I realized what was going on. Withdrawal. Like kicking a damn drug, I was jonesing for an Auntie Anne's pretzel and considering violence in order to get one.

It's only been a couple days, but...yeah. I'm going to keep posting about it, in the hopes that I don't totally relapse but there's sooooo much temptation. There is a Krispy Kreme 9 minutes away from my house. I'm just saying.

This Deviation is by an artist that goes by ManueC. If you want to see more of her work, go here!

Coté, Manuella. Headache. 2008. DeviantArt, Canada. Web. 1 Jan 2013. <


My husband is a gamer.

1:19 PM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

I'm convinced that my husband's copy of Far Cry 3 is trying to break us up. I know that sounds crazy, but just hear me out. There is a conspiracy going on and I am going to get to the bottom of it.

 I'm trying to talk to him all morning. I'm making plans and asking him what he thinks. He's agreeing with everything, which really, should have been my first clue. I asked the man if we could paint our bedroom for Goddess's sake. So, yeah, he's turned into a caveman video gamer and is answering me in grunts and nods.

Now, I'm a bit of a gamer myself, so I know how it is. Usually, I'd cut him some slack.  And, for the most part, Tay is attentive even while he's playing, so I rarely have to get uppity. But this particular game is zombie breeding material and we were supposed to go to the store.

Anywho, I finally turn into a crazed dancing-in-front-of-his-screen lunatic. This does nothing but make him laugh, since even as I'm dancing, I'm careful to stay out of the way of important things. I storm off to get my shoes and my man turns his head for half a second to tell me I'm cute.

He dies.

What does this tell my poor, sweet man? Even half a second is too much time to spare from Far Cry. This happens TWICE (I read him this blog post and he died when he stopped to grin at me). It's out to get me, I know it!

But knowing is half the battle. I'm on to you, Far Cry. I know where you live.