True Tales Radio

For those who didn’t get the chance to tune in to 106.1’s True Tales radio program, I’m happy to report that you can still hear it today. The official WSCA website has the whole program online, so if you want to hear it – and it’s a great show, with amazing stories – you can roll on over to the archives section of WSCA’s official site, and check out the 2-23-2016 edition of audio theater.

Alternatively, if you’re short on time, you can listen to my interview and story in the following videos!  The first one is my true story – “Past the Horizon Line” – and it’s followed by an interview with Jon Nash, where he asks me about my work, my coffee obsession, and my habit of wearing Hawaiian shirts. Thanks for listening, and I hope all of you have a great weekend.

 

Say Hello to the New www.NicholasConley.com

It’s updated, it’s refinished, and it’s loaded with new information: you’re now at the new http://www.NicholasConley.com! So stay for a while, grab a cup of coffee, and browse around.

The website and the blog have finally merged. The menu on the top will guide you through the site, which now includes the following sections:

Let me know what you all think. If it were possible to offer free cups of coffee here I would, but such luxuries will have to wait until another century (or perhaps only a decade, considering the current rate of technology).

Cheers!

 

Pale Highway is the Winner of the Preditors and Editors™ Readers’ Poll!

That’s right, everyone! I’m excited to announce that Pale Highway is the winner of the 18th Annual Preditors and Editors™ Award for Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel in 2015!

Pale Highway - Nicholas Conley

Pale Highway – Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

To check out the final rankings and see other finalists, including Guy T. Martland’s The Scion, check ’em out here. A huge thank you to all of you who voted: every vote made a difference!

Cheers, and I hope you all had a great weekend.

Alzheimers.net: “Why I Wrote a Novel about Alzheimer’s”

Nicholas Conley - Pale Highway

Nicholas Conley

In the image above, you can see a younger version of me. A bit less scruffy, wearing my scrubs. In physical years, this picture was taken just a few years ago, but in my mind a lifetime has passed since those days. Back when this picture was taken, I was still working fulltime at the job that would one day inspire Pale Highway.

The people who I took care of back then have remained with me, forever becoming a part of my inspiration to be who I am, do everything I do, and help people whenever I’m able to.

On that note, I’m posting today to announce that I have a new feature up on the official blog of Alzheimers.net, an amazing online community that seeks to educate, advocate and support those with dementia. In my article, I answer a question that many have asked me in the last few months: why I wrote a novel about Alzheimer’s.

Pale Highway - Nicholas Conley - Alzheimer's

Pale Highway – Nicholas Conley – Alzheimer’s

To truly care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, one must first understand them as a human being, and give them the freedom to be who they are without fear of judgment. Through experience, I learned to be there for the residents of the nursing home, to talk to them about their life stories even when the stories got mixed up, to hold the hands of people who were dying, and take care of them until the end. Working in a nursing home, Alzheimer’s is something I became familiar with. Understanding the quirks, the common trends, the progression… to a caregiver, all of this becomes second nature. When someone reaches those later stages, having a good caregiver is more important than I can possibly express.

Thanks to all of you for giving it a read, and a big thank you to everyone who has already finished reading Pale Highway, and taken the time to tell me your thoughts and feelings about the book. I can’t even express how fantastic it is to hear this feedback, and it absolutely makes my day every time sometime talks to me about their impressions of the story.

For those of you who are still awaiting the release of the paperback, don’t worry!  It’ll be here next week.

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In other news, the Pale Highway blog tour has been proceeding fantastically! I’ve been interviewed by Lisa Haselton, as well as Live Laugh & Love Books. I’ve also been honored by a wonderful review from Ste J of Book to the Future, who says the following:

With a growing elderly population, this book serves as not only a character study on one man’s fight against his own mind and body but also to highlight the continuing need to help the older generation and try to understand before it is our turn.

And finally, to round it all off, I also have a guest post up on BigAl’s Books & Pals, where I discuss a certain moment in my nursing home experience that made a deep impact on me:

Working second shift in a nursing home, the last half hour is when exhaustion finally sets in. After eight hours—or often in my case, sixteen hours—of working with all of the residents, racing from call bell to call bell, and getting everybody comfortably settled in bed, this is the point where the workers can finally sit down for a moment and finish documenting about the events of the day. It’s also the moment where the body’s aches and strains finally make themselves apparent. The lights are off, most of the residents are asleep, and everyone is getting ready for the overnight crew to come in with bags under their eyes, and tall cups of gas station coffee gripped in shaky hands.

Pale Highway

Pale Highway Nicholas Conley alzheimers slugs dementia healthcare

Preditors and Editors Award 2015 Nicholas Conley Pale Highway science fiction fantasy

Get it on Amazon

“Steeped in suspense, Conley’s novel delves into the darker recesses of the medical establishment. Gabriel is a sympathetic character, and the reader is pulled into his private struggles.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Pale Highway brings his struggles for survival along with his fierce desire to hold off his symptoms long enough to save everyone around him to brilliant, beautiful life.”

– Examiner.com

“Pale Highway by Nicholas Conley is at once a tautly written sci-fi/fantasy novel, a probing character study, a medical thriller, and a literary gem that explores the complexities and nuances of the human condition.” 

– Michael Fedison

With a growing elderly population, this book serves as not only a character study on one man’s fight against his own mind and body but also to highlight the continuing need to help the older generation and try to understand before it is our turn.

– Steve Johnson

Beach_GabrielSchist

Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.

When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus. Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.

As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?

 

New Interview in the Portsmouth Review

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I have a new interview in the Portsmouth Review, a publication based out of the New Hampshire seacoast. In this piece, I talk to Rebecca Skane about Pale Highway, why I love writing, and even some of my family background.  Check it out at the link below!

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The Portsmouth Review Talks to Local Author Nicholas Conley

When I was first forming the skeleton of what would eventually become Pale Highway, I batted around a lot of different title ideas, most of which related to Gabriel’s dementia, none of which stuck. Then, there was this one night where inspiration just struck me. As soon as the words “Pale Highway” entered my brain, I knew for the first time what my novel was going to be about, really about, and I was ready to write the first draft within a few months. I can’t go too much into detail, as that would spoil some pretty major points, but trust me – that title is important.

COVER REVEAL: Nicholas Conley’s PALE HIGHWAY

Here it is, guys!

As you all know, I’ve been hinting about the mysterious “Novel #2” for a long time.  Now, it’s time to pull back the shroud of secrecy and show you what I’ve been working on.

So, let’s cut through the curtains and see what’s waiting on the other side:

My next book, PALE HIGHWAY, will be coming to you this fall, from Red Adept Publishing!

PALE HIGHWAY

Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.

When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus. Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.

As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?

Coming Fall 2015

Echoes of Leaving

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Remember the day you first moved out?

It’s certainly hard to forget.  Though a person’s life will always roll forward like an ocean—never stopping or hesitating, always rushing forward—there are occasionally moments where one can actually hear the rustling paper of a page being turned, as one chapter ends and another begins.

That first day that a teenager moves away from his parents is one of those times.  Though it’s usually an event preceded by lots of buildup and preparation, there’s a truly palpable sense of closure when it finally occurs.  It’s one of the defining moments in life, really.  The child becomes an adult.

Though I’m originally from the West Coast, I spent my teenage years in the mountains of North Carolina, where much of my family still resides today.  The first place that I rented out, on my own, was also in North Carolina, about a twenty minute drive from my family; I moved out in the middle of my senior year in high school, to thrust my feet out into the world and to get a feel for how all these strange adult things worked.  That itself was an important move, significant in many ways.

The move that really mattered, though, was after I graduated.  I’d always had an adventurous side; an ache to see the world, a piercing desire to experience everything, and to have stories from wherever I went.  So after graduating, I decided that I would move to California for a while—and that, on the way there, I would travel the entire country, living on the open road and freely moving from place to place.

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I went by myself, with nothing but a car full of stuff, a notepad, a camera and a box of snacks.  Every day, I enjoyed a cup of coffee in a different town.

It was, quite possibly, the defining trip of my life.  I first took off on the morning of December 31st, so that I could begin the trip with a bang…and by a bang, I mean that I started my journey by going to Times Square on New Years Eve, and watching the ball drop—an event which is everything it’s cracked up to be.  After that, I roamed the US highways, going from state to state.  I saw Boston, New Hampshire, Connecticut.  One day I’d be at Gettysburg, the next day I’d be in Hershey.  The next, I might go to Ohio.  Missouri.  Chicago.  Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Everything was open, available and waiting for me.  Every highway exit was an opportunity for exploration.

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But before the trip, there was that morning—the morning of December 31st, the day I truly moved out, the day I took off on my adult life.  It was dark.  There was snow on the ground.  And, of course, there was coffee.

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For those of us who love coffee, our affection for that dark, caffeinated substance is usually more than simply a liking for the taste.  The distinctive smell of good coffee connects us back to memories of our most cherished moments—all those other times when we sat down, took a break and enjoyed a cup.  The coffee I had on that morning of December 31st will never leave my memory.

That’s why I wrote about it.

coffee

Echoes of Leaving is a piece of flash fiction that first appeared in the wonderful anthology The Coffee Shop Chronicles, Vol. 1: Oh, the Places I have Bean!, published by A Word With You Press.  While Echoes of Leaving wasn’t the first story that I published, it was the first one that appeared in print, so it’s always held a special place in my mind.  It was first published in September of 2010, nearly five years ago.

Today, I’d like to share that story with you guys, right here.  While it’s certainly a story that stems from my life, I believe that it’s more universal than that.  I was taking off across the country, sure, but someone else might have been going to college, starting a new job, getting their first house, or any number of other situations.  I believe that this is a story that, in one way or another, almost everyone has experienced for themselves.

You can read the story right below.  Enjoy.

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The day I moved out, my mother made me a cup of coffee. I definitely needed it. It was 5:00 AM and the sky was still black. The ground was covered in snow. It was going to be a long day and I wanted to get a head start on things. I decided to leave as soon as the coffee was finished.

As she sat down across from me, I remembered a similar scene four years ago. It was the first day of high school and as I waited for the bus, she’d made a cup of coffee then, too. It almost felt like reliving a photograph. I looked at her, wondering if she was also remembering that time. She stared out the window as I drank my cup and she drank hers, the familiar warmth of the coffee easing the surreal transition that was about to occur. After 18 years of living at home, I was going to be leaving.

 A long time ago, my mother wrote a poem anticipating this event. I guess everyone imagines it before it happens, both parent and child; it’s one of those defining moments in life. She’d predicted I’d feel a kind of resolve, that I’d have pictured the whole scene in my head well ahead of time. She was right, but not completely. The day when you move out is the kind of thing that sneaks up on you. It’s something you can’t be ready for. All the speeches you planned in your head evaporate like mist on a sunny day.

We’d exchanged no more than a few words. I kept grasping for something significant to say, some way to show how much I’d grown up, to make her feel comfortable with the fact that I was departing. I couldn’t. There were no regrets, I knew that this was something I needed to do, but at the same time it felt more like a chapter in a book than a real moment. There’s nothing quite like that feeling when you first realize your world is truly yours and no one else’s.

So as soon as I finished my cup of coffee, I stood up. Tears were in my eyes, but they weren’t going to be released until I started driving. We hugged goodbye, said a few token words, and just like that, I left. I stole a final glance at the house I’d grown up in, and then charged forward into the real world. My car rolled out of the driveway, chewing up gravel beneath its tires. I whipped around the corner, taking off into the first streaks of dawn. The arrows pointed forward and life was mine for the taking.

Sometimes, as much as you love the comforts of home, you have to leave them. You need to step into the world and carve your place into it. You can’t look back too long, or you’ll never move forward.

All you can do is go.

 

Nicholas Conley, 2010. 

Nicholas Conley - photo from January 2010.

Nicholas Conley

Wintery update!

redadept

Okay guys, so here’s the scoop.  The continually top secret Novel #2 has entered the official editing phase at Red Adept Publishing, so for the past month I’ve been working night and day with the editor to iron out all the kinks.  Luckily, this editor is absolutely amazing, with an incredible eye for detail (always a good thing!) and so it’s been a highly enjoyable process, all around.

As usual, more updates soon!

In the meantime, taking a step back to look at my first novel again, here’s a new review of The Cage Legacy, courtesy of Lizzy Baldwin of MyLittleBookBlog.  That review can be found here!  And, to give you guys a small preview:

The character profiles are built up brilliantly and developed consistently throughout. Ethan displays a split personality; both desperate to open up but also terrified of giving too much away.

…thank you, Lizzy!

The Cage Legacy, by Nicholas Conley - Art by André Levi Machado Chasqueira.

The Cage Legacy, by Nicholas Conley – Art by André Levi Machado Chasqueira.

To close out, I can’t finish without mentioning the one word that, right now, is currently on the lips of everyone here on the East Coast United States: snow.  Snow, snow and more snow.  For my fellow East Coasters, you know what I mean.  For everyone else, well, let me just say that we here on the east side have basically been hit by a big ol’ wintery fist to the face.  That said, I actually really like snow, so I’ve been enjoying it.  So far, no power outages!

Cheers!

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FAQ About My Next Book

Hello there, everyone!

So I’ve received a number of questions about about my next book, set to come out in 2015.  While I can’t say too much yet, I’ll take this opportunity to do a little FAQ and shed (some!) light on the proceedings.  Let’s begin:

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Okay, so what’s the title?

Top secret!  For now, let’s just call it Novel #2.

Is it a sequel to The Cage Legacy, or possibly connected in some way? 

No.  Novel #2 is completely separate from The Cage Legacy.  At the moment, it seems to me that The Cage Legacy is a complete story, and I don’t necessarily see any need for a sequel.  That’s not to say I’d definitely rule it out, as one should never say never, but at this moment I don’t plan on writing a second story in that world.

How similar is the tone/style/storyline?

Similar in some ways, wildly different in others.  The psychological focus is very much the same.

So can you say what this story is about?

Of course not, it’s too early for that!  But answers will be coming soon.

Okay.  But really, what’s it about?

Sneaky!

What genre?

Science fiction.

Is it YA?

Not this one, no.

Who is publishing it?

My publisher for this book is Red Adept Publishing, a press based out North Carolina.  Red Adept has made a name for itself in multiple genres, with such books as Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski and Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan.  The novel Thought I Knew You, by Kate Moretti, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller in 2012.  Needless to say, I’m both proud and humbled to be accepted into the RAP gang.

Anything else, sir?

That’s all for now!  More answers in the future, so stay tuned!

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