Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.


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Back to blogging! Why I’ve been gone.

My last post was on April 19th. Yikes!

Let’s dust off these cobwebs, shall we?

It has been a long couple of months for me. Ever since that last blog post in April, I’ve been going, going, and going, and haven’t had much time to stop. On May 1st, I moved out of my parents’ house, and from Germany back to the United States, where I was born. I’m now sitting happily in Washington state, back home, surrounded by family I hadn’t seen in almost eight years.

The moment I got here, I had to get a job and get all my affairs sorted, which luckily didn’t take too long. Between that and catching up with family, I haven’t had much time to do anything.

On June 3rd, my grandmother passed away. She was seventy-six years old and in the best health she had been in for years. Her death was unexpected and a hard blow for my family. We spent weeks dealing with the service and everything else that we needed to do, and I couldn’t focus much on anything else during that time.

I got to pet, and play with, Mimi, a 9-week-old baby tiger! That was an amazing experience.

Things calmed down for about a week once July came around, but then I flew to Dallas with two aunts and two cousins on the 11th, and we spent twelve days in Texas and Oklahoma on vacation. We just got back from that yesterday afternoon.

Now, it’s time to get my stuff back in order. I want to slowly ease myself back into my usual routine. I need to start writing again, and my plan is to write three chapters per week to begin with. For now, I can’t guarantee three blog posts every week, but I will do my best to post at least once every week (Wednesdays), and if I have more time, on Sundays as well. Depending on my schedule each week, there may be Friday posts.

I’ll write more detailed blog posts about things I did on vacation and my move back to the US in the near future. For now, I just wanted to get this summary post written, and kick-start my blogging schedule.

Thank you to everyone who has been patiently waiting for me to return. More posts coming soon!

How’ve you all been?

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What difference does a detail make?

Details. These little buggers are what meld the separate parts of stories together and turn them into a whole. Not only that. They help other things – even those not related to writing.

Imagine that. A word common for all.

A few weeks back I mentioned the change of my saying, “I’ll try to write today.” to “I’m going to write today.” Believe it or not, such a simple change made all the difference. If I sit down and intend to write, I get it done; not always much, yet words hit the paper. That’s all that matters.

I recently discovered another such detail. Due to my absence from work until the 26th of October, most of this month’s hours were scheduled into the last six days of the month. Where I normally work once or twice per week, I now had 31,5 hours packed into six days unrelentingly. Six days of college, followed by work.

It has halted my writing, but with National Novel Writing Month just around the corner, I’m not worrying about that too much.

Initially, the idea of spending so much time at work terrified me. What if I got overworked, what if I got sick? So many questions and, of course, the physical labor this job calls for. Then, I realized something and this small detail has helped me through three of the six days.

It’s just work.

I go to work, do my job, and then go back home.

So what if something happens? This small difference has completely thrown my old perspective out the window and changed my mentality. For the first time, I don’t dread work, knowing I’ll be physically and mentally exhausted afterwards. On the contrary, these past three days have passed without any form of physical or mental exhaustion.

Maybe working full-time in France helped that. Either way: The small change and the working experience have banded together to help me. The next three days have longer hours and still my fear vanished – gone.

Remember, the smallest detail can make all the difference.


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Life in France: Day 26

Day 26, October 19th

Another day – gone. That fateful day where I leave and head off to another country approaches. The country where I live, and where a cat is waiting to tear me limb from limb for abandoning her.

There’s a reason her name is Trouble.

If that doesn't make her look guilty, I don't know what will.

On the bright side, Melanie informed me that there is a Mario reference and gave me a rough indication of its whereabouts. I’m going hunting tomorrow, to snap a picture of that. Expect evidence in tomorrow’s blog, should I succeed in this dangerous task.

Recap to Saturday. When Melanie and I were at the mall, I spotted The Lion King DVD and remarked that I love that movie, but haven’t had it since we had issues with a moving company and lost our VHS and all that other fun stuff. I didn’t buy it, though, because I opted for the sale which got me four movies for twenty-four bucks, rather than one for twenty bucks.

At one point this evening, Melanie entered the living-room carrying two wrapped objects and said they were for me. Surprised? Understatement.

One of them was The Lion King.

The other a book on Ancient Egyptian history.

I… couldn’t really express my thanks in words. Have you ever had that feeling where you think you know what to say and then your mind blanks out and you sit there like a fumbling idiot? Yeah. That’s how I felt. I hadn’t expected her to buy me anything, let alone stuff like that.

Not only is that book about a topic I adore, but it’s also in French. That means not only will it brush up my history skills, but my languages ones, as well. Got to love unintentional multitasking like that.

So, for when she reads this: Thank you.

That book will give me something to do during the ride back home and that DVD will endure usage more often than I count. My parents should know how often those songs echo throughout the apartment when I get my hands on a copy.

Now, off to bed and then to my last full day at work, followed by Mario hunting. I still need to figure out what I want for dinner, too, as Melanie told me to choose since it’s my last night.

Dilemma.


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Life in France: Day 25

Day 25, October 18th

And so the day of returning home grows ever closer.

Found this Saturday at the mall. This right here gives France bonus points, in my book.

I can’t say today was overly special. Work, then back to the apartment and relaxing. I did beat the first play-through of Plants versus Zombies with no deaths! That’s something major for me; I never make it through games without a game over. I think this was the first time.

Definitely a happy time.

Aside from that, I just browsed online and spent time enjoying the peace.

Sunday, at the beach.

Back to work again tomorrow, for one of my last days. Monday it’s back to college. We’re working full-time while the rest of the college enjoys a two-week fall vacation. Not fair. We get back in Germany just when college starts up again. There’s no rest for us, it seems.

Travel by train starts at 2 p.m. on Friday and we arrive in Germany at 11 p.m. Of course, then we need to get from there to our homes.

It’ll be a long day. I swear, I’m not getting out of bed until noon Saturday – if not later. After this busy month, I need a good night of sleep in my bed. There’s nothing better.

Until then, it’s time for sleep here and preparing for another day!


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Life in France: Day 23 + 24

Day 23, October 16th

Meet Fidu. He's a three-year-old lapdog and I am apparently his new friend.

Sunday was a busy day. Melanie and I left the apartment at 10:30 and proceeded to endure an hour-long car ride to her parent’s vacation/weekend house. Once there, all of us went for a walk along the beach – dog included.

After that, we ate a fancy, elaborate lunch. It included raw Salmon (which I passed on. Raw fish and meat just… doesn’t work for me), followed by rice and chicken with mushroom sauce, and baguette, followed by cheese and then a dessert. We then returned to Melanie’s house.

That evening, she showed me around town a bit, then we headed off to her parents again; this time their normal house, only twenty minutes away. There, we had dinner with her parents, brother, sister and her sister’s husband. Little pretzels as snacks before dinner, then a cucumber salad, followed by a beef and carrot stew, with a baguette, followed by cheese and then dessert once more. Though Melanie’s mother did tell me they don’t have dessert like that every day. She seemed worried I’d think badly of them.

By the time we got back to the apartment, I did very little before bed, hence yesterday’s blog post is today. I promise, for the last of my days in France, daily posts will resume!

Day 24, October 17th

Back to work today. The day passed easily enough. Did some labeling of shelves and whatnot and at one point, Sylvie and I went to buy new English study-related books. I’d never looked around that bookstore before, so I sought out the English section and found more of the Penguin Popular Classics.

Including Dracula!

It is now mine. Including The Wizard of Oz, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

No more bookstores for me. It’s bad that there’s one with a good English selection only two minutes away from where I work. It takes me fifteen/twenty minutes to eat lunch and then I need to figure out what to do for the rest of my hour, sometimes nearly two-hour, long break. It often leads to browsing, which leads to discoveries.

Discoveries are bad.

More playing Plants vs. Zombies during my break, it seems. Or Angry Birds. I have enough games on my phone to keep me entertained. Of course, I’ve almost finished the main first play-through of Plants vs. Zombies. Level 5-8 and no deaths yet! There are only 5-10! I refuse to let this blind no-death run go to waste in the last three levels.

Moving on!

After work, Kujtesa and I had some dinner together and looked around the town a bit. There’s still no sign of a Mario reference. Four days left; think I can still find one?

Four days and I’ll be home. Time to get the unnecessary items into my suitcase tomorrow, just to start cleaning things up a bit. I also need to mentally prepare for the attack of Trouble. And by Trouble, I mean my cat. She’s going to kill me when I return. Leaving her for four weeks.

What was I thinking?


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Life in France: Day 22

Cover of "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: ...

Cover via Amazon

Day 22, October 15th

And so began my extremely busy weekend last night, by going to the theater to see The Three Musketeers. I enjoyed the movie a lot. It doesn’t follow the original storyline 100%, but aside from that, it’s a really good movie.

Then, this morning, the day started with Melanie and I heading off to the mall. I ended up buying four movies for 24 bucks. They had a five for 30 bucks sale going on with specific DVDs, so Melanie found one and I found four; we put our money together to get them.

The movies I got are:

And one movie I haven’t seen before, of which I don’t know the title by head. I know a lot of people feel these movies are really bad, but I enjoy them and honestly, in today’s film age, there are much worse creations to worry about. These might not be the best movies ever, but I really like them.

Some friends visited in the afternoon and stayed for a few hours; all of that went well.

In the early evening, we went out with one of Melanie’s friends for a few rounds of bowling. Five or so years passed since I lasted bowled. I came in last in both rounds, tonight.

After bowling, Melanie and I had dinner and proceeded to watch the above-stated Percy Jackson movie. She’d never seen it before, but really enjoyed it, so overall, it was a fun, but busy, day. Looking forward to the newly-announced March 2013 release of the second film.

Tomorrow won’t be any nicer, going by how busy it’ll be. Out of the apartment by 10:30. Then again, that’s a tale for tomorrow’s blog, isn’t it?


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Life in France: Day 20 + 21

Day 20, October 13th

Work passed easily enough today. After work, Kujtesa wanted to take a look at something in a big electronics story, so we headed there. They have each game console set up and for the Xbox 360, had the new game Just Dance 3 displayed and available for people to play – well, dance.

27 - Just Dance 3 Wii Pal

I have never really danced before in my life. Still, I had the urge to give it a try, but not alone. It took me five minutes to convince Kujtesa, as she worried about people watching us. I finally convinced her though, and we decided to play.

We ended up doing five songs.

Wow. That game asks for a lot from the players. Those five songs exhausted me and made me crave my bed. Of course, I had to travel half an hour to the apartment and by the time I made it there, the fatigue had faded to the back of my mind.

Good game. I might get it or one of its predecessors; I need the exercise!

I took the day off from writing, just to relax after writing so much these past few days. I did reread what I wrote and make small edits; I always give my writings a once-over. Nothing major: Just small details that bug me when I read it. Extensive editing comes later.

Day 21, October 14th

No writing done today. Work until 17:30, back at the apartment at 18:00. Right now, it’s 20:00 and in half an hour, Melanie and I are heading off. First off, dinner at McDonald’s, followed by checking out the new The Three Musketeers movie. I’m going to assume in French.

English: Awesome.

French: I’ll live.

Worst case scenario, I’ll watch it in English some other time. It’s not really that much of a bother, plus, watching it in French will help my language skills a bit, even if it’s just a little.

You’ll have to wait and see how it turned out, since the movie is at 22:30 and we’ll return after midnight, probably around 01:00. That counts as tomorrow, so perhaps a mini-review will be in order for tomorrow’s blog!

As for tomorrow, Melanie and I will head off to what is supposedly a huge mall. Maybe I’ll find something interesting? We’ll see.

I’ll let you all know tomorrow; have a nice weekend!