Did Queen Victoria & Prince Albert Kill the Romanov Royal Family?

BookCoverImageHello all,

Shameless self promotion I’m afraid, so if this doesn’t interest you, turn away now.

As many of you know, I’m a know-it-all when it comes to history. I can’t read enough books or watch enough programmes and can’t talk enough about history. All history. Everything from Native American, to Colonial Australian to European.

Additionally, I’m a nature and science buff-freak. Ask me about the mating rituals of lions, go on, ask me, ask me… or genetics, or seasonal crop planting by the moon or bio-dynamic farming, or comets… and I’ll make you a coffee while I discuss the link between Halley’s Comet in 1910 and the beginning of WWI. 

I’m also ‘that person’ who comes up with the wildest theories and then sets about proving my hypothesis or discovers other peoples theories and then sets about confirming or disproving them! 

So, with all of that floating about in my head, I guess it’s only natural that history features in my fiction writing. But I’m about to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve written a non-fiction book:

TITLE: Did Queen Victoria & Prince Albert Kill the Romanov Royal Family?
SUBTITLE: How King Henry VIII breaking with Rome in the 16th Century ended the Russian Royals in the 20th Century

It’s not available yet, but will be in the next few days.

A factual account of events with a theory:
Everyone knows the story of the Romanov family, the love story of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert & that King Henry VIII had six wives with more than one losing her heart & her head.
What if I was to tell you that they are all linked?
And what if I was to tell you that the Romanov tragedy didn’t start with the Russian Revolution, or Stalin, or even WWI and that it really started with King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn?

I will be offering for as little as Amazon allows (the paperback version looks like coming out at $5.50 USD which is 5c off the cost to me print price). I’m waiting for an OK from Amazon Kindle before going live & am hoping the Kindle version can be offered for well under $1.00 as this is not a ‘money making’ project, but rather one from the heart.

What I’d like to achieve from this book is to put forward the historical facts and evidence and then put forward my theory, based on all the evidence, and then wait to see what others have to say on the matter.

With regard to the final cost, I don’t know the final cost for the Kindle version but I’m hoping it’ll be between 50c- 75c USD & the cost of $5.50 USD for the paperback is based on the very min. Amazon would allow me to price it at plus 10c, which I have done to cover any variations in the USD and AUD (rather than changing the price every month or so)

I’m terrible at promoting myself, I always feel like I’m selling door-to-door vacuum cleaners! Therefore I promise not to flood my posts with updates and ads, although there might be the odd-one here and here.

I expect the book to go live in the next few days. Anyone interested in knowing more can find out more via below:

BookCoverImageTwitter: https://twitter.com/Nik_Vukoja

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nikola.vukoja.94

Personal Blog: http://nikvukoja.wordpress.com/

GoodReads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8330140.Nikola_Vukoja

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/nikolavukoja

FYI – yes the cover is original. I took one of my paintings, manipulated the colour scheme to best match the font and cover colour and then put the two together. I like it but then again I’m fond of all shades of purple & blue so of course I would!

Thanks for reading this and if you happen to buy the book, thank you for that also.

Is the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance?

Antlers_WiFi_2011_5_13Hello All,

This is a long-ish post so apologies to those who like short ones! I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. And I have my own thoughts on this but I’ll share those further down, first how I came to thinking about this topic. A while ago I read on a Blog post about the 10,000-hour rule.

In 2008 Little Brown & Co published Malcolm Galwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success which, in a nutshell says that if anyone spends 10,000 hours on their preferred art-form, they will become proficient and successful at it. The book uses studies (namely the study of children learning to play the violin) to“prove” that if you practice your art, you will become something akin to a savant/genius at your chosen art.

Domonoks_7This got me thinking, is it really that easy and that hard?

Now, let me start by staying I am a FIRM believer in practice makes perfect. Whether you are a dancer, a musician, a writer, a painter (etc.) the more time you spend practising your art-form, the better you’ll become. However, I couldn’t help but question the logic.  After all, some people simply open their mouths and beautiful music comes out. Other’s put pen to paper and write amazing stories or brilliant symphonies, did they all spend 10,000 hours unbeknown to the rest of us?

Outliers doesn’t just touch on art-forms, it refers to pretty much every sort of profession, be that science, or business or web-design-genius’ such as Steve Jobs (etc.) So, given I love facts and figures as much as I love art (those that know me well will know I thrive on stats and graphs and all kinds of mathematical equations), I started looking into this. And it would appear many in the arts, sciences and business are questioning Malcolm Galwell’s “rule” as a, well… RULE.

2579886_5567648625_incon_by_ninjakato-d7r3bu2So what’s the truth? Is it a matter of clocking up the hours or is it raw talent or simply damn good timing?

Additional to reading the blog post, a few days ago I read a post on LinkedIn. The topic was the cost of hiring an editor. An author wanted to know what he should be paying and what he should be asking/looking for when hiring an editor. Most of the replies were a mix of other people’s experiences and freelance editors taking the opportunity to advertise their business. But there was one reply that had me re-visiting this TALENT vs HARD WORKquestion. Since adding their reply, they have deleted it so I can’t give you their word-for-word answer but it was along the lines of this:

…some people have natural talent, others don’t and no amount of work will change that, and people without talent should give up trying…

I found this reply really disheartening and also concerning. I don’t think the answer is to “give up” I think the answer is to work out what your motivation is and whether the drive comes from a deep passion. If it is passion then DO NOT GIVE UP.

Now I’d like to share my personal thoughts. I do not agree with that stand one little bit. However, I also do not agree with the 10,000-hour rule. I happen to think that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I also happen to think determination and perseverance play a MASSIVE part in an artist’s future, as does luck.

I’m going to ask you all to indulge me a little while I share my own life experiences as I believe this demonstrates my point.

let-me-love-you-sheldonI have been always been a duplicitous person. By that I mean, I’m constantly split between the Arts & the Maths/Sciences. And it runs in my family. My father writes poetry and sonnets (published) and paints a little. He is also a brilliant mathematician and worked as an Industrial Engineer. My mother is a wonderful artist and skilled at many hand-crafts. She won a full Fine Arts university scholarship and then went on to major in chemistry. My grandfather was a musician and singer, as well as having gone to university majoring in applied maths and physics. He worked for the government in the finance sector for a time and then (as he loved open spaces) became a forest ranger… but never stopped singing, playing and performing. There are many more examples in my family, (cousins/uncles/aunts), however you get the picture.

As for me, I have primarily worked in the finance and/or accounting sector’s but have also been writing and drawing/painting all my life. I was also interested in performing, having studied drama.

I had my first written works published when I was 13 years old (short story, local newspaper) and since then have had the odd additional thing published. I have never studied any formal writing or publishing subjects, I simply wrote what appealed to me (however, I have recently started a new BA in professional writing).

With regard to painting, although I studied the “greats” I have not had any formal art classes. This did not stop me from enjoying in indulging in sporadic bursts of painting energy.

Psychadelic-animated-gif-coloursIn 2004 I started taking my writing more seriously and began writing poetry, again, for my own benefit and without any real plan to have others read it.

In 2006 I began painting more often and in 2007 & 2008 I held exhibitions in Melbourne. In 2009, after sending jpeg’s of my artwork to several galleries in Paris & London, I was asked to exhibit in Paris – and I did, in October 2009…

The timing could not have been worse. The Global Financial Crisis had just hit, the European economy was flushing down the toilet and there was pretty much no hope my exhibition would be a success. However, I’d already booked my flight, paid for my accommodation, left my job and sent my artwork on its way to the gallery. So I was stuck with having the show and consoled myself with the fact that I’d be in Paris.

Here’s the thing. I DID sell pieces. In fact I sold enough to allow me to stay in Paris for almost 6-months. It’s also the place I started writing my first manuscript (but that’s another story).

Did I spend 10,000 hours on my artistic skills throughout my life? My best estimate 4,000-hours. Am I the most wonderful artist on the planet with an awesome talent? Hardly! Am I gifted with genes that have blessed me with a raw talent? Who knows? Personally I think my gift was the encouragement of my parents and these sage words by my father:

Remember, no one is better than you, but remember also no one is worse than you.

If you remember that you are as good as anyone but no better than anyone, you can achieve what your passion and perseverance drives you to achieve.

So how did I sell works of art, enough works of art (remembering galleries take between 40-50% from each sale) to allow me to live in Paris, without finding any other work, for six months, and also pay the rent on my place back in Melbourne?

Again, honestly, I’m not 100% sure. But I will share with you what I did, perhaps differently, to others and also what those who bought my pieces said.

First what I did to make the exhibition a success, (FYI I knew no one in Paris and my French was pretty much no existent)6af0d44337bd206bb42bfc8c47bb2636576da5f66679533e1b9329a498113b7c

(i)                 Almost 12-months prior to leaving I started forming contacts with other Aussie’s living in Paris.

(ii)               Prior to arriving I printed flyers of my artwork and my exhibition date.

(iii)             As soon as I arrived I met-up with as many people as I could from my contacts.

(iv)             Every free or super cheap event that was on in Paris, I attended. I didn’t care if they all spoke French or not, I needed to get my face and name out there.

(v)               Every single café and restaurant I visited more than three times I told the waiters about myself and my exhibition.

(vi)             At every art supplies, or workshop that would allow me to, I left flyers.

(vii)           I attended the opening nights of all three exhibitions prior to mine at the gallery. I got to know the artists and mingled with potential buyers and whoever was interested, I offered them a flyer. It was in the same gallery so there was no conflict of interest.

(viii)         A week before my gallery opening, I walked into every single shop, café, business on The Avenue des ChampsÉlysées and offered any of their staff a 15% discount on any artwork they wanted to buy, all they needed to do was bring in their special flyer (I signed them) and offer it at the time of purchase.

(ix)             And this one was a bit sneaky I left random numbers of flyers at bank and post office counters all over Paris.

Wh9jLIn other words I worked my butt off getting word out. It’s called marketing. And it’s vital, no matter if you are launching your novel, your play, your bands gig or your exhibition.

As for why I sold artwork, a relative unknown in a city full of artists? Aside from literarily flooding the city with my flyers, it was my artistic style. It didn’t “fit” any label. It was uniquely me. I wasn’t trying to paint like anyone else, though naturally I was influenced by many wonderful artists. So, my work was unique in a city that was filled with hungry artists trying to recreate the masters.

So what’s my point? My point is, don’t believe everything your read and only half of what you see. The world is made up of magic and illusion. Do your own thing. Make it unique to you. Don’t try to copy or emulate others, you’ll never succeed unless you are you.

Art doesn’t lie. Sure it fakes and misleads but it does so openly, whether it’s fiction-writing or an artistic interpretation of a seascape. Be it a photo-shopped image of the Grand Canyon, manipulated for the sake of art, it openly fakes the truth and therefore it is not a lie. Don’t dishonour this concept by trying to be someone other than who you are.

As for 10,000-hours make you a success, in my opinion its a load of CRAP. There is no FORMULA written in stone for success. There are things you can do to help achieve, but they vary in style and aptitude and attitude for every single individual. What works for me will not work for the next person.anigif_enhanced-buzz-14927-1382223438-15

Yes hone your craft. Practice your art. Get involved with groups and mentors and fellow artists and learn from them, but don’t think… “OK, so I’ve worked it out, I have done 7,892-hours, I’m almost there…” because if you do get to 10,000-hours and have not achieved what you call success, you’ll feel a failure. And you are NOT. As much as it would be great to believe there is a magic number, there is not. Timing, luck, persistence, patience, positive attitude, respecting others and hard work is all part of the equation. Some people write their first novel and it’s brilliant and becomes a best seller and is made into a movie and they live happily ever after. Others may write ten novels before they break through. And still other’s many never reach the best seller list.

anigif_enhanced-26837-1398300220-21As for natural (born) talent, I’m still of two minds on this one. I truly believe everyone can draw and paint however we become conditioned to believe we cannot because when we were eight, or ten, or twelve someone was better at it than us and we began to believe we were not good at drawing or painting. Having said that, great singers, in my opinion, are born. You can improve your voice with 10,000-hours, but I don’t think you can be truly great (and I’m not talking famous, I’m talking brilliant voice) if you were not born with the right vocal cords.

I started this post asking if the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance? The truth is, I believe, it’s both, but it is the part in our genes that doesn’t allow us to give up that makes the difference not our skill with a quill or brush or ebony & ivory keys. And it is the willingness to go the extra work, the marketing, self-promotion, mingling, learning, studying the greats while maintaining our individuality that will make us stand out, not the number of hours clocked.

Devil-wears-Prada-gifs-Miranda-Priestly-Emily-Blunt9_zpsb87dd4b3Yes do the hours. But no don’t do them as you would a class, something to “over-and-done-with” but rather as an avenue to achieving your personal objectives.

And do not let ANYONE tell you to GIVE UP because frankly, they are wrong, wrong, wrong.

Failure and rejection is part of success. I’m serious. The more times you fail, the more likely you are to know what success is. And while we are on the subject of genius and 10,000, I’ll leave you with this quote by Thomas Edison regarding inventing the light bulb:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Anaiah Press Launch – Join in the Celebrations!

Hello all, As most of you know, #Nestpitch is all about spreading news, helping promote opportunities and offering help and guidance wherever and whenever possible. Today I can share wonderful news and with it wonderful opportunities for writers across many … Continue reading

Full Manuscript Evaluation by Erin Niumata, Folio Literary Management (+ 1-Hour Phone Consult!)

Aside from the annual #pitch comp I run here, this blog serves as a sounding board and as an avenue for information and opportunity to improve and discover more.

erin-240x300To that end, I am super pleased to let everyone know about a wonderful offer Erin Niumata from Folio Literary Management is offering: Full Manuscript Evaluation (+ 1-Hour Phone Consult!) with Erin. This is such an amazing opportunity for feedback from an agent who is a leader in her field and who also happens to be a lovely person.

To find out more go to: http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=3276005

for details and full guidelines – oh and two things, there’s only four (4) days left to take advantage of this offer and I checked with Erin, if you’re not in the US and your’s is the manuscript that wins, she’ll still arrange the phone consultation – so that’s a massive WooHoo!

So go on over, take a look at the guidelines and conditions and take advantage of this rare opportunity.

You can find Erin on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ecniumata

And you can find out more about Erin and Folio Literary Management here: http://www.foliolit.com/


Have you been paying attention…?

samuel-l-jackson-catWell if the answer is YES, then you’ll notice we now have TEN agents from NINE different agencies taking part in #nestpitch with the lovely Erin NiumataSenior Vice President – Folio Literary Management joining us! school-pics-9-3

Now, for those playing along, you’ll know that Erin will have taken on a Bunny Mask; which one?  Some of you will know straight away, the rest… told you to follow us.

We have such a STELLAR list of agents and agencies. I would like to take a moment to personally thank every single Agent and Agency, not just those participating as Secret Bunny Agents, but those who’ll be playing along as Magic Bunyips and those who couldn’t be part of this year’s fun but wished the best for #nestpitch.  I feel honoured and a little humbled by your support – THANK YOU ALL!

I’ll also send out a wonderful THANK YOU with hugs and a kiss to my amazing team of author’s who’ll be working tirelessly to find the best pitches.  You’re all super-stars!

And before I forget, I need to send a special thank you to those who have helped over the past 6-months or so by reading the drafts of #Nestpitch, offering suggestions, tweeting about #nestpitch and/or generally being generous with their time. There are so many of you so I’ll not list you all, but love & kisses to you all.

Now, down to business. mc-wed-298

With the Submission Window now hours away, yep, that’s right… 12noon 1st April USA EST, I wanted to run through a few points.

(i)                 Please read the rules & conditions, it’s vital that you follow the rules because the last thing we want is to have an awesome pitch that has forgotten to add their genre/category (for example)

(ii)               #Nestpitch is open to everyone, world-wide.  All can enter, subject to following the rules and conditions.

(iii)             The window will be open for 24hrs, so there’s plenty of time to enter, no matter where you are in the world.

A quick heads up re: time differences (OK I might have to follow Snow White’s example to stay awake):fri-mc-6

New York USA 12 noon 1st April

London UK 4pm 1st April*

Melbourne Australia 3am 2nd April**

*UK & the rest of Europe please take into account Daylight Savings Start Dates in your countries and adjust accordingly.

** Daylight Savings will end on April 6th Melbourne timezone.

To help everyone, I’ll be opening for a quick Q&A on Twitter between 7-9am NY EST Sunday 30th March, that’ll be 10-12pm Melbourne Australia Time.  I’ve picked these times as it’s the best option for all time-zones, however, if you see me flittering about on Twitter during the day, feel free to ask any questions.

A quick reminder of the schedule:

Apr 1st -2nd        Submission windows open 1st April NOON USA EST until 11.59am 2nd April USA EST

Apr 3rd -10th     1st Round – Slush Bilbies select top 120 nests*

Apr 12th           Match Agent to Bunny Mask window open NOON USA EST until 8.00pm April 12th

 Apr 11th -15th  2nd Round – Nest Bloggers  pick their 72 nests*

Apr 16th              3rd Round – Nest Bloggers post their top choices

Apr 17th -19th   4th Round Secret Bunny Agents  stock *nests

Easter Sun.     Stocked *nests* revealed/Secret Bunny Agents identities revealed

Apr 21st           Unmask the Agent Winner Revealed

Apr 22nd          Bunyips can now offer belated presents*

Apr 23rd           All #NestPitch requests should be received by Secret Bunny Agents.

Apr 28th           All Bunyip requests should be made& sent

Apr 30th           Special additional surprise revealed!

May 1st            Update on #nestpitch Blog thanking everyone + a special <surprise>


I’d also like to take a moment to remind you of two other #pitches in April. berry-break-018

#LV14 – the submission window will open on April 4th.  This pitch is for Y & NA only. For more information go to:  http://likeavirgin.kristinaperez.com/

Also there’s #PitchSlam April 20th. http://tangynt.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/pitch-slam-battle-of-the-bands/

Both #pitch comps look like a lot of fun & I’d strongly recommend aspiring authors (with polished manuscripts) give them a go.


hello kitty cat Good luck to everyone!

Five Minutes With… Agent Cate Hart – Corvisiero Literary Agency

Here at NestPitch we will run a semi regular page called Five Minutes With…jobinterview Cat

where we will have a quick chat with Agents, Authors, Editors, Publishers… the idea is to offer insight into the agenting/publishing industry from all angles & have some fun doing it too 🙂

For our first Five Minutes With…we have the great privilege to interview Cate Hart, the newest recruit to Corvisiero Literary Agencyhttp://www.corvisieroagency.com/  Cate has recently become a Junior Agent and is now actively seeking submissions in her preferred genres An author herself, is also participating in #NestPitch, so reading the below may help you not only with submitting to her in the future, but may also assist with your #Nestpitch submission. There could even be a clue or two in the answers below as to which Bunny Mask Cate’s hiding behind!

A little about CatePictureCate

Cate is all about guilty pleasures. She loves salted caramel mochas, Justin Timberlake, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, and Steampunk. As a native Nashvillian, Cate’s biggest guilty pleasure is watching Nashville.
When she’s reading, Cate looks for character-driven stories, a distinguished voice, and intriguing plots. She loves characters that surprise her, like the pirate with a heart of gold and plots that keep her guessing until the very last page.
When she’s not reading queries, Cate works with clients to build their platform, works on PR projects to help promote clients, books, and reads manuscripts with an editorial eye.

Cate seeks unique stories with well-crafted plots and unforgettable characters with a strong voice. Her favourite genre is historical, whether it’s Middle Grade or YAAdult Romance or something even spicier. The time periods she loves most are Elizabethan England, the American and French Revolutions, the Victorian Era and the Gilded Age. She loves Scottish and French History. If it’s steampunk, clockpunk, or candlepunk she wants it.

Her first love will always be YA. She will consider any genre, but is looking especially for Fantasy and Magical Realism.
For Middle Grade, she is looking for Fantasy, Adventure and Mystery with a humorous or heart-warming voice and a unique concept.
For Adult, she is only accepting Historical Romance.
Cate will also consider select LGBTQ and Erotica.
For Non-Fiction, Cate will consider select histories and biographies. She is looking for secret histories and little known facts and events. She enjoys reading about the everyday heroes of the American and French Revolutions, something more beyond the tactics of war.

To Submit:present 2
Cate prefers you attach your 1-2 page synopsis and the first five pages of your manuscript as a separate Word .doc.
Cate will respond to every query. You can check her website:http://catehart.com/ for “current through” dates as well as updated wish-lists.

Follow Cate on twitter: https://twitter.com/CateHart  and Corvisiero Literary Agency on: https://twitter.com/CorvisieroLit

And now to the Questions!fun-cat-picture-aware-you-are-a-lamp

Qu1. Cate, as an author, why did you make the leap to the other side as it were?

I am passionate about publishing, and to work completely in publishing, both writing and agenting, has been one of my long term goals. As an author, I wanted to understand more intimately the other side of publishing. Because I am an author, I realize the process it takes to create a manuscript and the steps it takes to really make your work shine.

Q2. Do you think being an author gives you a better insight into the mind-set of an aspiring author?

Oh definitely. I’ve been down the road of publishing, having an agent, being on submission, and I have many author friends who are at different stages in their publication journey. I understand the excitement, the frustrations, and the discouragements.

Qu3. I note in your submission guidelines you say you reply to every query.  Do you:funny bunny 1

(a)   read all queries or do you have someone helping you?

We do have interns that read the queries and make suggestions, but I do read every query.

(b)   read all sample pages or only if the query interests you?

I’m a reader, so I will read sample pages. If I find the writing is poor, filled with grammar errors, or even amateurish mistakes, I will stop pretty quickly.

Qu4. In a query letter do you like to see:gorilla reading

(a)   a brief bio and if so what would you expect included?

Yes, it’s good to have a brief bio. Include your publishing credentials or list writing groups and affiliations, like RWA. I don’t need to know you entire resume unless it is pertinent to your manuscript.

(b)   something personal about the author (a bit of chit-chat)?

I don’t mind one to two sentences of personalization. It is nice to have a little line or two before diving right into the query.

Qu5. I see you request both the synopsis and first five pages sent as an attachment in a query submission.  Do you prefer:

(a)   the attached pages to be single or double spaced?

Please double space. My eyes are getting old. This is why I ask for attachments, sometimes copying into an email makes the font so tiny.

(b)   If the manuscript has a prologue do you want to see the prologue within/as part of those five pages?

If the prologue is part of the first five pages, include it. My stance on prologues is an author should really consider if it is necessary. I’ve found that in most cases it’s not.

(c)    manuscript title, genre, age-group and word count at the beginning or the end of the query?

I’m not picky. If it flows better at the beginning, place that information at the beginning.

Now for some fun facts about Cate:funny-cat-picture-you-are-no-match-for-my-cuteness

Qu6.  What one thing would you tell your high-school self if you could go back in time?

What you think people think about you doesn’t really matter.

Qu7.  Which is it, vacation by the sea/ocean or in the mountains?

Both equally my favorite places. But the ocean/beach wins every time.

Qu8.  Other than your keys, wallet and mobile phone, what one thing would we always find in your hand-bag?

Tickets to the last movie I saw.

Qu9.  Are you a cat or dog person? funny-cat-picture-rules-for-the-cat

Cat person (additional from Nik, as fellow cat person I know Cate will appreciate the JEPG I added)

Qu10. Stay-at-home movie night sees you eating what favourite yummy treat? 


Thanks for joining us Cate!


Come back on March 20th for the Bunny Mask Reveal

Drafy Nest Pich Logo last stage