Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


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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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Similarities: What are hobbies and relaxation to you?

Prior to this blog, I wrote a post titled Oddities: What is relaxation? in which I mentioned different options for relaxation and asked for your personal preferences on how to relax or what to do while doing such. What I did not discuss in that blog is how hobbies often meld into relaxation. Hobbies are things you enjoy and therefore ideal when it comes to wanting to take a step back from reality.

For many bloggers, reading or writing are enjoyable and help us stay calm and escape into a different world. Others prefer watching a show or movie, perhaps venturing forth into a video game world. In the end, it does not come down to what you do, but how much it means to you and that you have fun doing it.

If you don’t have fun doing something, how can you expect it to help you avoid the stress life causes?

My collection

My collection of books on Ancient Egypt and everything around it; extremely helpful for relaxing.

What you do isn’t important, so long as you enjoy it and it helps you. If you need to read an 800 page book, because your hobby is reading and it’s the best way to do it; go for it! It’s your choice what you do. Stay home for a day and read; take out that dusty manuscript and see if you can work on it some more.

Make a decision and stick with it. Be stubborn. Fight against the norm. It’s your life and whether people agree with your way of taking time for yourself or not, that’s their problem. Your life is yours to live, not theirs. Pick up a book, a pen, a controller or strike a pose. Whatever you do, remember to go for it and don’t stop.

Stay honest with yourself when it comes to what you want to do and what you don’t.

Honesty is what will keep you going.

Do your hobbies match up to what you do to relax? What are they?


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Journey to Ancient Depths: Tutankhamun

Anyone who knows me personally is aware of my intense fascination with Ancient Egyptian history. Because of this, my parents and I ventured to the Tutankhamun Exhibition in Cologne, Germany on May 21st. I originally intended to write about it shortly after getting back, but it slipped my mind. To make up for it, I will write about the day now.

The day started with a two-hour drive before we made it to the exhibition. I’ll skip the boring stuff and get straight to the exhibition. Upon arrival, we each received a small recorder and a headset. The creators numbered each section of the exhibition; pressing the number on the recorder started a discussion between two Egyptologists about the items in that section.

It started with general items and texts about Tutankhamen. From there, we moved on to two short films about how Howard Carter discovered the tomb, funded by Lord Carnarvon. It is amazing how lucky, one could say, Carter was, as he found the tomb on the last dig Lord Carnarvon wished to fund. Once can only wonder; what would have happened if he had not located the tomb then? Would we know about it now, or would it still lay beneath the desert sand, in the Valley of The Kings?

After the videos, the next part of the exhibition showed the antechamber, burial chamber and treasury of Tutankhamun’s tomb exactly how they were found in 1922. Following that came a large hall with each item from those chambers showcased, either alone or in groups of items that belonged together.

The world-wide known mask of Tutankhamun, recreated down to the smallest detail.

Throughout the time we spent there, I examined every object and listened to each part of the tape that went with them. Luckily for my parents and I, the tapes also came in English and not just in German. Not only did I see much of the Egyptian art and architecture; I learned so much about their history and the meaning behind what they created.

The God of Cemeteries and Embalming stares into your very soul.

The day took my breath away; seeing everything there was to see has inspired me for my writing and ignited my passion for Ancient Egypt and its pantheon even further. Since then, I have delved into my books on their history more often and find myself more drawn to anything that concerns them. The legend of Tutankhamun is an intriguing tale, in and of itself, but it is just the beginning of Egypt’s wonders. The intricate detail they placed in everything they did – the politics, religion and so much more. There is so much to learn and I eagerly spend my time doing so.

I will learn. And one day, I will portray this entrancing history in my writing.

What is your one historical passion that intrigues you more than anything else? Share and discuss!