Browsing Tag


Favorite Banned Books: Lolita

September 25, 2017

It’s officially banned books week and that makes me smile as most of my favorite books are ones that were banned at one time or another. This week, I’ll be talking about some of my preferred banned books. After much thought I have determined that my favorite banned book is Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. According to Wikipedia (yes, I know it isn’t the best source, but…) Nabokov’s 1955 novel was banned in multiple locations all over the world, “French officials banned it for being ‘obscene,’ as did the United Kingdom, New Zealand (uncensored 1964), and South Africa.”

Lolita, for me, was a horror novel because it humanized a deviant pedophile and almost made me believe that his was not a story of an opportunistic monster, but a man finding love. While I hated Humbert for being the manipulative and sick predator that he was, his narrative allowed the reader an intriguing three-dimensional understanding that we often (and rightfully so) avoid with pedophiles in real life.

If you haven’t read Lolita, it’s a great tale for fall reading.

Jean Nicole Rivers





3 Ways to Boost Your Reading Experience

June 1, 2016


I LOVE reading, don’t you? If you have your hands on a good book, you are in for a good experience, no matter what, but below are three ways that I like to boost my reading experience.

  1. Play Music While You Read.

When you play music while you read, you engage another one of your senses into the story. Try music with no vocals that is fitting to the genre of book. Music makes the exciting parts more exciting, the sad parts more sad and gives you a more three–dimensional experience. It becomes almost like watching a film.

  1. Take a Moment to Daydream.

When you read a particular part of the story that you like, take a moment to put the book down, close your eyes and allow the story play out in your mind.  See the scene, hear the characters, feel the environment, take yourself there.

  1. Substitute People You Know Into the Story.

Have you ever read a book and said, “I know someone just like that!”?  I have.  If there is a character that reminds you of someone that you know in real life, place that face on the fictional character and it will give the story a whole new depth.

Happy Reading!

Jean Nicole Rivers

Award Winning Author of The Secret Keepers



@JeanNicole19 (Instagram and Twitter)



Black Water Tales: The Unwanted:  http://tinyurl.com/zacbfcl

Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers: http://tinyurl.com/zvoyfgq

Three Tips to Help You Finally Finish That Novel

April 19, 2016

The Unwanted

Recently, I completed my second novel, Black Water Tales: The Unwanted, a follow up to Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers. While this is only my second novel and I hardly consider myself a writing expert, I understand that when you are struggling to get your first novel on paper you are willing to try anything; with that in mind I want to share with you the three most important things that helped me finally complete my first novel in hopes that it will help you complete yours.

  1. Summary: Write a solid sentence that summarizes your entire novel. As simple as it sounds most people struggling to organize their ideas have not completed this fundamental task.

Ex:                               Marie has become a fast-paced, city girl who has lost herself in her climb to success in NYC, but when she travels back to her small lakeside hometown in Texas to see her mother who has been injured in an accident she is reunited with a cast of friends who live less than fabulous lives yet she soon realizes that they all have something she is missing despite all of her fabulous things…love and happiness.

  1. Outline:             The outline is crucial in order for you to transform the discombobulated plots, sub-plots, clever quotes and unforgettable characters into a story that other people can read, understand and enjoy. Write down everything that you have in your brain for the story; put it in some type of order similar to the way that you want it to unfold in the book. Details and exact timeline are not crucial at this point. The outline is imperfect in many ways, but you must have a solid beginning, middle and end.

Ex:                               We first see Marie doing something fabulous as part of her great NY lifestyle.

Marie gets a call that tells her that her mother has been in an accident.

Marie tells her agent, but he is hesitant as she has big upcoming show.

A reluctant Marie flies home.


  1. Free Write: Well…semi-free writing. You have your outline so get a  cup of coffee (even if you don’t drink it, it will keep you awake), put a pencil behind your ear (this just makes you look smart), put your outline in front of you and begin to write. Start with your first point and let the words play out like a movie in your head. This draft will be very rough, but the key is to keep writing no matter what.  Don’t get caught up on details like the names of characters, the way the house looks, etc. Get the main stuff on paper, you can make everything perfect later, that is what re-writes are for.

Ex:                               Marie Delano sat outside of the chic Sorrenta Café sipping the white mocha that she drank every morning, while she waited for her agent.  She was confident that her personal trainer would be able to get her into her designer dress for her opening despite her less than healthy eating habits. Marie held out her freshly manicured finger nails and reviewed them when she was startled by her ringing phone. She looked down and gasped when she recognized the phone number that belonged to her mother. She had not spoken to her mother in years and she knew instantly that something terrible had happened, she could feel it in every inch of her petite frame. Marie reached out and grabbed the phone abruptly as if the sound offended her ears. She answered and was told that her premonition had been correct.

Do this for your entire outline and once you get to the end, you have a novel. Don’t get too excited there is much more to be done, but the first step is taken and the first step is always the hardest.

Happy writing!





When To Let Go of Your Novel

April 1, 2016
When to Let God of Your Completed Novel

When to Let God of Your Completed Novel

Last week I pressed the “approve” button for the final edits on my first novel, Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers, and it was more difficult than I could have ever imagined.  Over the past year as I composed the novel I could not wait for the moment to finally be finished, to have completed one of the “biggies” on the bucket list, to be able to say, “I have written a novel, I’m a writer, I have arrived!”

But instead of the triumphant (Rocky music playing in the background) feeling I had envisioned, I felt more like a mother standing at the glass doors of kindergarten, bawling her eyes out as she watches her baby leaving her.  It was a bit traumatizing.

There was a fear of losing something that had become so much a part of my everyday life.  For so long now, it has just been me… and the book, I have watched it develop, struggled with it, loved it, hated it and finally finished it.

Also, there was the fear of the big reveal.  Writing is personal and despite the fact that my novel is fiction, when people read anything that I write, they are getting a look into my personal thoughts and the feelings; they are literally reading from the pages of my diary. If you are human, you know the fear of letting people see the real you, with all of your vulnerabilities, insecurities and flaws.  One of our biggest fears as human beings is not that we won’t be seen, but that we will be.  It’s like stripping in front of a crowd and allowing them to make unencumbered judgments of your nakedness.

What if people hate it?  What if I missed a mistake? What if people read the first chapter and think that I’m unimaginative, long winded or just a complete idiot?

One would have to be made of stone not be intimidated.

When it is all done, I have done everything right, I have gone through the process of writing, re-writing, editing, re-editing, professional editing, more editing, peer review and the time had finally come for me to let it go, but how?

As I sat there in front of my computer with my mouse hovering over the “approve” button, vacillating in doubt, I remembered something a wise person once told me when it came to making tough decisions, they said, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

I pressed the button.

I realized that the story was complete and that I needed the story more than it needed me anymore and that was a sure sign that it was time for the bittersweet process of moving on.

Writing your story is the most empowering things that you can do, but letting it go is one of the most courageous.

Jean Nicole Rivers




How to Create A Book Trailer That Does Not Suck (Oh and on a budget)

March 15, 2016
On set for The Unwanted.

On set for The Unwanted.

As I finished up my sophomore novel, Black Water Tales: The Unwanted, I decided that I should take my marketing plan up a notch by creating a book trailer. Great idea, right? Yes, until I began my research by Googling “book trailers”. Talk about disappointment. Most book trailers (the ones not promoting big-budget authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling) were packed with stagnant images rolling languidly across the screen, music that failed to capture the sentiment of the story and bad font, but ALL of this was not even the worst part. When I began researching the companies responsible for these projects and their prices, I nearly fell out of my seat. To get little more than a glorified PowerPoint, prices started no less than $500 (and that was on the low side). For trailers, still simple, but with a more cinematic feel, I was looking at thousands, some of them up to $10K, which is ridiculous and completely out of touch with reality when targeting the indie or small press author.

But lucky for us, there’s a work around.

Because I also have some background in acting, I figured that I could produce my own book trailer and so can you. Check out my book trailer here:


Here are some tips for producing your own cinematic book trailer on a budget.

  1. Keep It Simple: A budget-friendly book trailer is simply NOT the place for moon walks, explosions and high-speed car chases, but uncomplicated does not necessarily equate to unimaginative or valueless. Simple equates to budget friendly. You will have to get creative, but creative is your specialty, right? If you have an action book, you may not be able to shoot the woman parachuting out of the plane, but you can film the assassin on top of the building about to take out his highly sought after target. No matter what genre you write or what your book is about, you can easily create a scene or theme to shoot that captures the essence of your work.
  2. Find the local film community: It will be a little more difficult if you live in Preston, Idaho, but even in smaller areas, you can find people. There is always a film community, it may not be the exact same kind or size that it is in Hollywood, but that is not important. Look into local film industry meetups or contact acting schools or community theaters, who many times have a database of actors and crew and would be happy to send out your crew call and casting call for free.
    1. Most times you have to pay your crew, but not necessarily. Everyone is always looking to gain experience. Shooting a horror trailer, you may meet a video editor who has all of her own equipment and is willing to work for little to nothing because she’s been wanting to add some horror to her portfolio.
    2. Actors are more willing to work for credit and footage. In no way am I encouraging taking advantage of actors; if you have the money, pay them, but if you are on a super tight budget and you will not be making any profit from the book trailer, your actors will likely be willing to participate in exchange for the professional footage for their demo reels.
    3. Be up front about your budget (or lack thereof). Let people know that you are paying for everything out of pocket and/or that you are on a shoestring budget. Trust me, if anyone understands money woes, your local film community does and may have mercy on your wallet.
  3. Get organized
    1. Shooting a film, even a super short that will ultimately be made into a book trailer is no small amount of work. By the time you hire cast and crew, you should have an outline of how you want the trailer to look, a script, a budget, etc. The most important role will be your cinematographer, hire that person first, then other crew if you need them and last, the actors.
  4. Trust Yourself
    1. No one knows your book or understand your vision better than you. So what, if you have never directed a book trailer before, ultimately all that you are doing is bringing your work to life and no one will work harder to extract moving, vibrant life from your work.

By no stretch of the imagination am I saying that my book trailer is the best one out there, but what is key is that it is an authentic reflection of my work and within my financial plan. For a professional cinematographer, actors, editing, the little stock footage (images, sound, etc.) that I did use, I spent approximately the same amount that I would have paid a company for one of those slow moving PowerPoints. By producing my own trailer, I got a product that I am proud to put my name on and I could not ask for much more.

Jean Nicole Rivers