Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


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How’s your summer?

Now that we’re already into the second week of July, summer is well underway! Most colleges and universities have finished their semesters and now there’s a break until this August – or even September!

This means a lot of free time for everyone who still studies, and lots of vacation for the working people who choose to take their vacation during summer. Personally, I’d rather take my vacation in spring or fall, when it’s not so warm, but that’s just me.

This is a short post just to see how all of you are doing. How’s your summer and what are you doing during it? Reading, writing, relaxing, going on holiday? Share your summer in the comments!

Are there any things you would recommend people do?

If you need summer reading, check out my giveaway of Dominant Race by Elisa Nuckle!


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Life’s Distractions

This is just a short post to let all of you know that, yes, I am still here. As much as I hate having missed three blog posts, I needed to get through the week so that things can return to normal.

This week, I officially finished college, and also finished my time at my part-time job. Now, all my time will be going into writing, relaxing, and planning for my move to the States.

For anyone who’s curious, it should be somewhere around September.

Anyways! Stick around; regular posts will return on Friday, and Sunday, some real major writing will begin!


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How do you return to a project after a break?

Everyone knows how it feels. You’re fond of a project, doing a lot of work on it, polishing and trying to get it done. But then life interferes and you find yourself forced into doing other things for extended periods of time and suddenly, you’re away from that project for so long, that you start wondering:

How do I get back into it?

Book and apparatus for writing. Engraving (pri...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m enduring this now. As of yesterday, I started working on Werewolf’s Lair again. I wrote a whopping two paragraphs and then closed the document. Not exactly anything special, is it?

At the same time, however, I find that works best after a long break. Slowly build it up. Yes, I only wrote two paragraphs, but next time, maybe I’ll write a couple hundred words, and before you know it, I’ll be back to how it was before!

Another thing that helped is the fact that, while I did little to no writing for a month, I started reading again. Because of this, even if I wasn’t writing, I was never far away from writing. Was it my writing? No. Was it still inspirational and useful in the long run?

Of course.

I read books. I reviewed books. Speaking of which, you can find my reviews on Goodreads. If you want to updated with what I’m reading, then that’s the best way to do so!

In the long run, even though I was away from my writing, it still lingered in the back of my mind, because I was reading other books. I never fully separated myself from it and that’s important with any project – whether writing, drawing, reading, or anything else you may do.

So, for me, Werewolf’s Lair is slowly getting back on track and that progress bar will be filling up soon!

When it comes to projects, how do you get back into them after a break? Share your stories!


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Back in action!

Life. It is busy. I’m sure everyone has that overwhelming feeling when everything just becomes too much, every once in a while.

…Right?

Moving on, that is the reason for my recent absence. After my two-week holiday, I returned only to be thrust back into college and work life, as well as forced to start preparations for my exams. That’s right. Exams.

My written exams are on May 10th, 11th, 15th, and 16th. I still have a bit of time until my oral exam, however, as that one is on June 11th. Guess what that means?

I only have six days until exams. Oy.

As much as I will do my best to keep up blog posts from now on; if my posts are still a bit sporadic these next two weeks, my exams are to blame. They’ve already eaten up a lot of my writing time.

Fear not! After exams, writing will continue and regular posts will join it!

On a completely unrelated note: I’ve started reading more as of late! I just finished Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns and I recommend it highly! It was quite a wild ride and I’m looking forward to its sequel this August.

How have all of you been?


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Research: More than just a history lesson?

Let’s face the facts:

Growing up, just about every one of us had to take history as a class during our education. A lot of us thought it was boring – not necessarily because history is boring, but because most history teachers aren’t the best when it comes to bringing the history to life.

We want to really see how things were. Rather than somehow try to bring some life to the class, most history teachers just drone on and on and on. In the end, that makes us hate even the most exciting historical events.

I love history and am always dying to learn more about our past. Now, you might say that that’s just because I’m a writer and need to know these things for my books. That’s not true. I genuinely study history and languages and mythology in my spare time because I enjoy it and am fascinated by all these things that happened and legends and native tongues.

That brings me to my next point. When someone says “history”, a lot of people just think about memorizing dates of significant events and countless names of participating people. That’s wrong. It’s what history class at school makes it seem like, but it’s wrong.

Like I mentioned before, there are more things that tie into history. Yes, there’s the obvious, but just look at what else you can learn about:

  • Significant events: Why they happened, how they happened, who participated in them, and what the consequences were. It’s a lot more interesting to study when you’re not being forced to memorize dates and names for tests.
  • Languages: Language evolves over the years. As a language fanatic, I find it absolutely enthralling to progress from the old tongue to what the language is like today. Think of it as Archaic England and Modern English, just with other languages. It fascinates me.
  • Mythology: This ties into history, believe it or not. There are always reasons for the creation of mythological tales – real, genuine reasons. They aren’t all random scribbles some old man wrote in his dying years. No, there is a history behind them and a reason to how these myths came to existence.
  • Politics: Most people dread this more than they do history. Again, it ties into the past and it can be interesting to see how political power changes. Politics doesn’t mean just the modern politics; my favorite to delve into is royal families. Not only is it interesting to learn about, but also a great topic to use for fantasy stories.

There is more. There is much more that ties into history and to list it all this post would be pages upon pages long. In the end, the thing to remember is that, even if you hated it in school, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at it now that you’re free from that. Learn at your own pace, in your own way.

That’s the best way to make sure that you enjoy it.

So, for writers: The next time you’re dreading doing research for your novel or story, remember that research is much more than a history lesson.

It’s life.

If you enjoy history, what do you like learning about? Any specific countries?


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Choosing Your Path: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

Oh no, could it be? Is this another one of those generic “Let’s show pros and cons” blog posts? Maybe. Perhaps every single word I type on my laptop keyboard is just the same thing someone else has already said; I could be repeating things everyone has heard.

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I’m still writing it, so sit back and read these words that you might have heard before, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear something unique – something that will pique your interest. Something unique to me. Will you? I don’t know. Let’s take that journey together.

Self-Publishing

Let me give you a taste of the pros in this matter:

  • You earn more royalties – up to 70% on Amazon.
  • You choose the prices.
  • You avoid the hassle of finding an agent, then publisher.
  • You make your own schedule.
  • You pay for printing.
  • You choose what stays and what goes.
  • You have full influence over the cover design.
  • You make all the decisions.
  • In short, you are the boss.

However, each pro has a con to go with it. Let me share those:

  • You pay for editing, cover design, formatting, etc.
  • You deal with advertising, as well as accompanying costs.
  • Planning takes away writing time.
  • A heavy workload induces stress.

As you can see, while there are many pros, the cons are there to balance it out. In the end, it’s a risky move and writers need to consider their options, all of their options, before they jump off the deep end. Is self-publishing for you? It might be, but let’s take a look at the other option before making any hasty decisions.

Traditional Publishing

So, you would rather go for the traditional method – get published through publishers. It might be for you, so let’s take a look, shall we? After all, the self-publishing world has much to offer, but that doesn’t mean traditional publishing is old school! Let’s start with the pros:

  • You pay nothing up front.
  • Editing, cover design, and production gets managed for you.
  • You could receive an advance.
  • Some advertising might be provided.

So, there are some pros, but are there cons? Of course. Black and white, evil and good – opposites. Two sides of the same coin and I’ll show you the darker side now:

  • Low royalties, generally between 7,5% and 15%, depending on the version of the book; paperback, hardback, eBook.
  • Long wait times, often years, before an agent accepts you, and longer still for publishers.
  • Advertising is often not provided and falls on your shoulders.
  • The advance is often not jaw-dropping, nor paid out at once.
  • Less input on editing.
  • Even less on cover design.

I do not claim that all these things are true for every publisher, nor that these are the only pros and cons. These are common ones that people think about the most and are very important when considering which path to take.

Self-publishing may seem like the right choice, but it is also a lot of work if not handled correctly. Traditional publishing might not seem worth it, but it depends on your relationship. Relationships must be nurtured and if you land an agent and a publisher, those relationships are no different.

The important thing to remember is that if you can do something, then why shouldn’t you? One of my favorite lines from the song “Nine in The Afternoon” by Panic! At the Disco, is the following:

You could ’cause you can so you do.

What does this mean? If you could potentially do something, then it means you can do it and if that’s the case, what’s stopping you? Take the plunge and do it!

Because whether you choose the path of self-publishing or go the traditional route, there’s one thing to remember: It’s a choice. In the end, you must make the decision. Weigh the odds, check out the competition; heck, give both a try if you’re not sure!

Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to take action. If you do that, nothing will stop you.


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Back in the groove!

After weeks of difficulties when it came to writing, things are improving. As you can see in the progress bar on the right side of my page, I added a couple hundred words to the draft of Mercy of The Forbidden.

It’s not much, but a start, and this start is helping me find my way back into a pattern and schedule.

Slow and steady wins the race, right?

It’s still a bit of a struggle, considering I also have college and a part-time job to deal with, and want to have time for reading and just other things, but I’m much closer to finally finding the method that just works for me.

I read a lot these past two days – manga, sure, but it’s a step back towards reading more regularly. Even manga can become a great source of inspiration.

I have tomorrow off from both college and work, so I intend to get some major words on paper. See that word count? I want to write at least double that; see about finishing chapter one.

You’ll find out how it went on Wednesday.

Until then, have a great week everyone, and enjoy the last of your weekend!