Today my special guest is Nicole Highland. Nicole is the cover designer for the upcoming spring anthology, “Love in Bloom.” Nicole and I met on the New Romance Café Facebook group after becoming part of the anthology writing project.
Nicole: Hi, Sherri! Thank you for having me.
Sherri: You did a beautiful job designing the covers for the spring and summer anthologies. I understand that is your job in the real world.
Nicole: I currently work full time as a graphic designer for a lighting company, and I do freelance on the side. I graduated in 2011 with my Associate’s degree in graphic design. I worked a year in the medical industry as a front desk representative before landing a job in my field.
Sherri: That’s funny, the main character in my first novel, Chrome Pink, is a graphics designer for a lighting company, or she was before leaving that job to return to the town of Leeward and pursuing her art.
Nicole:In addition to writing, I love graphic design and photography. I love makeup artistry as well. I can usually sink my teeth into anything that gives me an outlet to express myself creatively. Basically, art rules my life! It probably won’t come as a surprise that I tend to write about creative heroines. In my Sweetest Love series, my heroine Natalie is a very artsy person.
Sherri: So, I take it, you don’t get to write full-time either?
Nicole: For right now, writing is just a hobby, though I would love nothing more than to sit in my pajamas and write all day. Maybe someday!
Sherri: I don’t know that I’d call it a hobby, you do have three books published. That’s a career, maybe a fledgling career, but I think you’ve earned the right to call yourself a serious author.
Nicole: I’ve been writing for a long time now, but I’m still very new to the publishing aspect of it. I’ve self-pubbed three contemporary/new adult romances so far, and one short story. They’re all in the same universe, though I didn’t originally set out to write them as a series. I have plans in the future to write a standalone paranormal vampire romance, and a standalone historical romance set around WWI.
I would love to be published by a traditional publisher someday in order to gain more exposure. But, I do love being in total control of every aspect of my writing, so I’m torn between the two. I haven’t queried with anybody yet, but I’m considering doing that later this year.
Sherri: With your abilities, going traditional offers you few benefits. So many of the writers I’ve talked to who are traditionally published, still have to do their own marketing and publicity. You may get a little more exposure through Harlequin but unless you are an A-lister, they don’t spend a lot of time promoting you or your work.
Nicole: I’ve heard that from other authors as well. The first time I heard that, I was very surprised. Maybe I’m on the right path after all!
Sherri: We’re sipping ice, cold Pepsis, the pride of the Carolinas. I don’t know if you know this but it was invented just up the road from us, in New Bern. It was called Brad’s Drink. Have you ever been to eastern North Carolina before?
Nicole: I haven’t been on the east coast much, but I have been to North Carolina because I have family down there. It’s interesting going through the mountains, since we don’t have any mountains around here! The only thing I dislike is when my ears pop as we go through!
Sherri: You’re from Indiana?
Nicole: I’m from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I currently reside here. Fort Wayne is the only place I’ve ever lived.
Sherri: I’ve driven through and flown over Indiana but I know very little about it.
Nicole: It’s a pretty good place to live. I’m not a fan of the winters, though! I’m a summer girl all the way.
Sherri: We have several things in common, being only children and writing romance. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Nicole: Oh, there are so many aspects I love! I love being able to create my own worlds. I love being able to make a reader smile. And I also love creating my own covers!
Sherri: You’ve started a second, or should I say, third business designing covers. Tell us about that.
Nicole: I’ve been doing graphic design for years, but I didn’t start working on book covers until 2018. It’s been so awesome to lend my creativity to my fellow authors! I absolutely love it. It’s always a wonderful feeling to hold the final product in my hand, knowing that I was able to contribute in some way.
Sherri: You write romance, is that what you read as well?
Nicole: My absolute favorite genre is romance. There’s something unbelievably satisfying about a great love story with a happy ending. This genre brings light and hope to a world that can be pretty dark at times! I don’t know if I have a single favorite author, but lately I’ve been really digging Jill Shalvis. I recently discovered her through my library, and wow, I’m glad I did! I’m also a fan of Debbie Macomber.
Sherri: We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I am terrible on grammar and prefer short sentences and a faster pace. My characters are often flawed, sometimes gritty from life. I think sometimes our weaknesses can be developed into a strength. What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses?
Nicole: I’d like to think one of my strengths as a writer is my ability to create realistic characters. For weaknesses: I go into every project full bore, so I tend to get burnt out easily. I also have a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases.
Sherri: I’m guilty of the over using certain words and phrases too. I’ve started seeking them out on edits.
It looks like our time is getting short. I’d like to give another plug for the upcoming anthologies. You have a short story in the summer anthology?
Nicole: Yes, look for my story in Hot Summer Nights.
Behind Brown Eyes (Book 1, Sweetest Love Series): books2read.com/u/bxZwKe
Sweetest Release (Book 2, Sweetest Love Series): books2read.com/u/4jDZxX
Sweetest Dream (Book 3, Sweetest Love Series): books2read.com/u/bzP55q
Short Story – Sweetest Kiss – Available for email list subscribers: https://tinyurl.com/y7nrn4l2