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. <>.