Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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

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Writing? Yes, please!

I found my new writing spot!

For the first time in over a decade, I’m now in possession of a library card! The local library isn’t even a five-minute walk away from where I live, so I can grab my laptop, head over there, and enjoy the peace while writing.

I got my card yesterday and tested out the environment. Verdict? 2,003 words written in 1,5 hours. Today, I went back to the library since I don’t work until tonight. One hour of writing netted me a whopping 1,643 words. That’s faster than my average writing speed when at home!

Plus, walking to and from the library gets me a little exercise. 😉

Of course, I won’t do all of my writing at the library. It depends on my work schedule and all that fun stuff, but when I have the time and chance to go, I’ll definitely make use of it.

This leads me into something else: Multitasking.

I’ve got two stories and their characters have had a tug-o-war in my mind these past two weeks. “Write about us!” “No, us!”

Well, I finally told both parties to shut it and am going to attempt multitasking. I finished the first chapters for both stories in the past two days. One of the books, tentatively titled Solitary Spirit, is the sequel to Silent Spirit. The other book’s the first in a separate series. My plan is to write both at the same time. How? With a specific schedule.

Monday: Solitary Spirit (Book #2)

Tuesday: Untitled (Book #1)

Wednesday: Solitary Spirit (Book #2)

Thursday: Untitled (Book #1)

Friday: Solitary Spirit (Book #2)

That leaves me the weekend to either just relax or, if I want to, work on whichever story I feel like at the time. As you can see, Solitary Spirit is my priority and hence has been given three days of my attention. My goal is to write one chapter every day, making a total of five chapters a week – minimum.

Now, I’ll be testing this schedule in the next week to see how it suits my schedule. By Friday I should know if this is a schedule I can work with. I feel good about it so far, so here’s hoping I still feel that way after trying it out!

What are your plans for the upcoming week? Let me know in the comments!

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Progress: Silent Spirit

I finished editing Silent Spirit today. A few days ahead of schedule. Of course, after finishing it, I looked over the book again, tweaked some minor things here and there, and did all that fun stuff. But now…

I’m letting it fly out into the world! Will people like it? I suppose I’ll know in the next couple of weeks. I’ve done what I can do. We’ll see if it pays off.

For now, it’s time to start plotting out the sequel.

Kieran and Avalyn’s story isn’t over yet!


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Editing, editing, and… more editing!

Yep. The title is pretty much the reason for my somewhat irregular blog posts as of late. I’m knee-deep in editing the first draft of Silent Spirit.

This morning, I forced my way through chapters 16 through 21. That took a big chunk out of what I’ve got left to do and put me on track again, since I fell behind for a while. My goal? February 28th.

What’s left? Chapters 22 through 29, plus an epilogue.

The end is near.

Now, let’s see if I can make my brain function again before I need to work in a few hours, after all that editing turned it to mush.

That’ll be interesting.

And here, have a tiny snippet!

“I’d like to speak with the manager, please.”

“Are you certain that’s who you’re here to speak to?”

The smooth voice came from my right and my left fist clenched instinctively. Familiar, oh so familiar; Kieran spoke with a distinctive noble tone that crept under my skin like skittering insects. After one slow breath, I turned to the right.

Kieran descended one of the spiral staircases, one hand running along the railing. The purple cape he wore brushed just beneath his rear, shifting with every step. His smile didn’t seem like a smile, but more a predatory leer masked with manners.

“What a pleasant surprise.” He reached the bottom of the staircase and waved a hand in the other man’s direction. “Dismissed.”

“Yes, milord.” The employee bowed his head and quickly left the room.

I now stood alone in the room with Kieran, who wore that same predatory smile as he approached me.

Let me know in the comments what you think! Have a great weekend, everyone. 🙂


Silent Spirit, Chapter 1 – Teaser!

The title of this post speaks for itself. Since I’m in the process of editing Silent Spirit, I figured I’d post a snippet from chapter one here.

Keep in mind that it will still undergo another round of editing or two, before it’s completely refined. However, the first five chapters are, in fact, second drafts now!

Enjoy the snippet. 🙂

The princess rarely ventured outside the castle, but when she did, I usually accompanied her. Today was one of those days. A special market, so much grander than the regular one, filled the main streets of the capital. An extravagant market to join the yearly festival, run by local merchants and traveling shopkeepers from all over the continent. The young princess browsed the market every year.

Everyone celebrated the end of summer. Halfway through the eighth moon, joyous festivities took place throughout the kingdom. Here in the capital, they took the celebration seriously.

The princess halted near one of the stands and I stopped by her side. Rena reached up and gently brushed her fingers against the feathers dangling from the bottom of a dream-catcher.

“This one’s beautiful,” she said, slightly breathless as she examined the dream-catcher.

Several moons passed since I last saw her so enamored by something. Growing up with her, I learned the signs – how to know what she thought.

The princess was sold even if she hadn’t realized it yet.

“Would you like it, princess?”

Rena opened her mouth to speak, “I -”

“Princess?” The seller turned towards us, a glint sparking in his eyes the moment he laid eyes on Rena. “You like it? For you, twelve copper!”

I choked back a gasp. “Twelve copper? Just what bird did you pluck those feathers from?”

The man’s dark eyes narrowed just slightly, before he flashed a smile. “Too much? If you don’ like it, this one is only seven…” He gestured towards a smaller, much less detailed dream-catcher. “But this is special bird. Very rare.”

Rena frowned, her gaze lingering on the more expensive dream-catcher. I let my attention drift so I could take it in.

Large and dyed a dark shade of green, the maker had woven the white web in the center to look like crisscrossed flower petals. Three smaller webbed circles hung from the bottom and beneath each of those hung small bundles of feathers; green for the outer two and red for the center.

Despite the man’s words, the princess’ attention never shifted from the dream catcher that had caught her eye. Rarely had I ever seen the princess so enamored by something. Often, she let others choose for her. They decided how to garb her, how she wore her hair, and her schedule. Sometimes she got a chance to choose for herself. When she did, I always felt my resolve shatter into tiny pieces and I could never tell her no.

This was that same scenario.

“Is this the one you truly want, princess..?”

“Yes.” The answer came without hesitation.

I used all my willpower to suppress a sigh, then took a pouch out of my bag and slipped twelve copper coins out of it. “We’ll take it.”

The shopkeeper grinned, showing rotten teeth. “Perfect.”

I stupidly gave him the edge in that round. Mentioning the word princess… Screaming, “We have money!” would’ve had less of an effect. Of course any self-respecting merchant would jack up the price.

Pressing my lips tightly together, I conceded and handed him the coins. In return, Rena received the dream-catcher she desired.

“Have a great day, your highness.” His smile became a smirk when he glanced at me. “You too, ma’am.”

If I could’ve gotten away with it, I would’ve smacked that smirk off his face. As things were, all I could do was show him an insincere smile and wish him the same.

Let me know what you think in the comments! I love hearing from you.

Now, back to more editing!


Let’s write – a new project!

That’s right. I’m finally going to kick my butt into gear and put my pen to paper. Or, in this case, my fingers to my keyboard. My muse decided to fling a new project at me and I’ve been writing the character bios and the rough outline this weekend.

My goal? Start writing tomorrow, on Monday, and go for at least three chapters every week. Going at that speed, it should only take me roughly three months to write the book! Four if anything interferes. So I’ll go for just shy of four months.

December 1st. That’s when I plan to have this novel finished.

My lovely new board that I bought last week to keep my projects organized! I'm so happy with it. Just wait until I fill it up with all kinds of little notes.

My lovely new board that I bought last week to keep my projects organized! I’m so happy with it. Just wait until I fill it up with all kinds of little notes.

The project will be dark fantasy, set in a world of my own creation, that mixes technology with magic and ancient kingdoms.

Personally, I’m excited to start writing! The characters are calling out to me and I can’t wait to bring life to their story. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. Maybe I’ll go to bed early so it comes sooner. 😉

I hope you’ve all had a great weekend, and have a fantastic week!


Editing: Choosing when to start

Almost a month has passed since I finished the first draft of Tales of The Forbidden and since then, I haven’t even opened the document. I chose not to for a specific reason – to distance myself from the characters I spent a year with, the trials I endured with them, and the twists and turns in the plot that I laid out for them – the words I weaved.

Many writers say to take a break from the draft after finishing it; I concur.

When you first finish a draft, you’re exhilarated, high from the rush and perhaps even sad that it’s over. Many writers want to whip the draft into shape as quickly as possible and dive into editing straight away.

That makes it easy to overlook mistakes.

Distancing yourself from your first draft is the first step to disconnect yourself from your characters and the world you created. That way, when you dive into it headfirst after your break, you look at it with fresh eyes, from the view of a reader, or an editor – someone who is rediscovering an old tale, something you have a vague recollection of in the distance shelves of your memory.

Editing with this fresh view allows writers to spot mistakes they would have been too blinded to see otherwise. Plot holes, no matter how small. Typos, sentence structure, grammar, wrong word usage, and every other little thing that shows up when you’re powering through words to get that first draft on paper (or a screen).

This is the reason I delayed my start of the edits of Tales of The Forbidden to February 1st.

Choosing that date gave me a month to relax and focus on other things, to use some of this much-needed time for myself and some fun things, like catching up on some reading and videos games.

But, fear not! In just ten days, I will begin edits and get into writing the sequel, Mercy of The Forbidden.

Let’s get this show on the road.

Don’t forget about my current giveaway! There’s one week left to enter. Click here to learn more.


Why is starting your novel a problem?

In my earlier post, I discussed eBook prices. Now, however, it’s time to wind back the clock a bit and focus on a different topic entirely.

Writing your novel.

English: Book and apparatus for writing. Engra...

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It sounds easy: Write the start, the middle, and then the end. Get the characters from point A to point B and once the final climax has happened, dive into the editing process. Editing is another topic entirely that I’ll focus on in a future post.

Back to writing.

It sounds simple. It sounds like something everyone can do. Maybe everyone can. Sure, throw down a few words and call it a draft, a novel – a book.  What so many people fail to realize is how much thought and planning goes into novels. Some get a spark of inspiration and start right away, their fingers a blur as they type away, struggling to keep up with their muse, who leads them perfectly from start to finish.

Others plot out every detail, every chapter, and every character before they start writing. Again, others plot out major events – a handful of scenes that steer the story in the right direction, and then let their muse deal with the rest.

I’m a half-plotter. I know major events key to the story and must simply move from event to event, scene to scene, filling in the gaps.

Starting the novel would help that situation.

Since I finished, Tales of The Forbidden on December 31st, all I’ve wanted to do is edit. Revise the monstrosity that I know that draft is. I refuse to edit before February 1st, to distance myself from it for a month so that I will spot more mistakes when the time finally comes. The problems start when I sit down to focus on Book Two.

Mercy of The Forbidden.

I wrote the prologue without a problem. On January 1st, the 885 words that formed the prologue sat neatly on a page. I had the urge, I wanted to start the second novel.

Now, uncertainties plague me.

I have two ways the first chapter could go and figuring out which to use is tearing me apart. It’s a draft. I just need to write it. I know this, but still I have this fear that is holding me back. Maybe after working on one novel for so long, the thought of starting a new one scares me.

That doesn’t mean I’ll sit back and let that fear take control. I’ll enjoy a break this weekend – after all, tomorrow is my birthday. Nineteen. Twenty is approaching, as my parents keep reminding me.

I may take a break now, but come Monday, this draft will get underway.

The only way for you to fix the problem of starting your draft?


What are your tips when it comes to the struggle that is writing?