Williamsburg Book Festival 2022 Appearance!

Come see me at the Williamsburg Book Festival in Williamsburg, VA on October 1! I’ll have an outdoor booth and, depending on the weather forecast, maybe a DOG WITH ME!!! Come see a dog! If I can have a dog with me, weather permitting, it will likely be Aggie The Fierce Rottweiler, the cover dog of First Watch! Maybe she’ll even paw-tograph your copy of First Watch that you buy at the Williamsburg Book Festival!?!!

No promises. Many possibilities. You’ll have to attend to find out!



When I’m writing, I commonly leave myself brackets around words that I either need to go back in the typed document to fact check, or that I need to find a synonym for. In the pictured case below, it’s a fact check. I hand write my drafts and my first line of editing is when I type my written sections up, usually a chapter at a time. Do you do this? If not, it might help! For me, it gives me permission to keep writing and not stall my progress with a word check.

Location, Location, Location

I mentioned the importance of cultural immersion in the previous post, and given a recent development I thought I’d elaborate a little on that; in particular on the importance of creating a genuine Location (or Setting) in your writing, and how to do it convincingly. DSC_0098






I’ve recently been inspired by local Virginia Beach 18th and 19th century history to work on a third book in the series started by Hollow Thunder. Something that is crucial, to me, is to fully understand and experience the environment in which your story lives. This involves going there if it has been inspired by a real place, and Experiencing it. Only through legitimate Experience can you portray a legitimate Setting. Readers are much more likely to stick with your story and to sympathize with its temporary reality if they can envision themselves in it; isn’t that why we read, down at the heart of it: to transport ourselves into another realm, another life, another existence? So serve your readers well and discover the tangible details that blur the distraction of the feel of the paper in their hands, the weight of the book on their lap, and whisk them away without their even realizing why they feel like they’re simply returning home and not discovering a brand new world.

First hand details are key, and are best when learned first hand. To that end, I worked as a costumed interpreter on the historical streets of Williamsburg. I have Experienced that city in all the seasons, at all the times of day. I know how it feels, smells, sounds, and looks to live in 18th century Williamsburg; and by infusing my novels with little sensory details here and there my readers are given the tools to mentally fly to that time and place. My otherwise incredible characters are made much more approachable and believable because their Location is genuine. Of course there is a werewolf living among the townsfolk as a hatter. Why not, when everything else is so very normal about the town?

I have been given the rare opportunity to step foot in several historical homes in Virginia Beach, and next week I will get to immerse myself in Pleasant Hall, the key location for the sequel to The Loyalty of Dew, itself the sequel to Hollow Thunder. Late in 2016 I hope to gather the funds to travel to the Orkney Islands and Experience the places that star in Civil Dusk, my upcoming third novel anticipated for release by 2017.

The presentation of your first hand details is as delicate a process as presenting aspects of the characters in your story. It is best done gradually, and can be as subtle as interjecting a word or a phrase with each action that your main character takes. For example, if I were to tell you that “William slogged down the sodden street, his thoughts as cold as the water that seeped between the manure-caulked cobblestones”, you are immediately cast into a  sympathetic opinion of William. You don’t yet know that he’s a bigoted hypocrit who will kill someone later; right now, all that matters is he’s clearly miserably wet and cold, and everyone can relate to that. But you know more than that: you also know that the street on which he’s walking is frequented by horses and is paved in an old-fashioned way. In one sentence you already have a mental picture building of the world in which William exists. You are inclined to feel sympathetic with William because he is already relate-able, and you might suspect something of his motives. Why are his thoughts cold, you may wonder?

If I only told you that “William walked down the street, his thoughts cold”, most readers would only wonder “So what?” They’d put the story down and go do something else, and never turn a second thought to William. But by inviting the reader into William’s world with sensory details, they become involved and engaged with the story. That’s what makes readers keep reading.



Once Upon a Rainy Solstice


Riley recommends starting your morning right every day by enjoying the warmth of sunlight on your ears. This, along with naps and a Kong full of kibbles and peanut butter, is how he’s celebrating his winter solstice. I think it’s a lovely way to welcome the return of the sun upon the world.

The birds, too, are enjoying this day. The light rain and unseasonable warmth (70 degrees today!) has them hunting in full force, storing up for the winter that we’ll eventually see in March. Their raucous songs – full of territory and love – play the melody to the staccato drizzle, and I have all the windows of this house open to let nature’s music in. When the evening comes I’ll set a candle to burn next to the sprig of rosemary which is my saved piece of evergreen. And through the mutual magic of this time of holidays, the seasons will continue to turn. So I thought I’d take a moment to discuss the use of existing belief systems in literature.

When I first thought of placing an indigenous tribe of people in Hollow Thunder, my intent was to honor the trials of the historical native tribes local to Williamsburg that were forced into extinction during the Colonial period. I did not give the People a name for two reasons: 1) because most tribal names genuinely translate to “the people” within the language of that tribe, and 2) because I did not want to call out one specific group of peoples. Similarly, New Attercliffe is at times very obviously meant to be Williamsburg, but it is also crucially different. This change of names allows me to combine, rearrange or relocate events from history without being obliged to follow the exact progression of the time. I can tell the story that I want to tell, while still giving a nod to the history that inspired it.

The same philosophy applies when speaking to cultures. Still, there are some guidelines that must be adhered to in order for such a blend to be successful and not overt or fake.

  • Always Be Respectful. Whenever you share someone else’s stories, no matter how many things you change to make them unique in your world, you must always be respectful. There is power behind words, and an intent behind every story. To use these flippantly or casually is not good practice and will cheapen your own story.
  • Give Credit. Whether for the peace of mind of those descended of the culture, or simply for good moral practice, give credit and explanation when you directly pull on an ideal or detail. In Hollow Thunder and in The Loyalty of Dew, the People speak Irish Gaelic and Welsh and I take a moment to explain why at the end.
  • Research. Especially if you directly name or call out the culture or historical aspect that you are using as inspiration, do your due diligence and research fully. This means experiencing that culture first hand if you can, or at least accessing sources that are local to the source. There is nothing like primary evidence to give your story the real spice of genuine local flavor.



The inaugural welcome post.


You’ve found your way to the blog of Nicole R Ordway, urban fantasy author. I plan to use this blog to reach out to my readers about various topics like wine  the writing process, wine self publishing, and cider incorporating historical elements into the occasional beer fantastic fiction.

Fun, right? Right!

Stay tuned for inane ramblings infused with useful tips and insights.