Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


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Music: An Inspiration

This week, I took the time to listen to some music I haven’t heard in a while. Some of the bands, singers, and artists I’ve neglected recently. From Within Temptation to Tokio Hotel to The Gazette – English, German, Japanese. I returned to it all. There are two reasons for this, but one of them is a specific cause.

Panic! At the Disco’s new album, Death of A Bachelor, releases on Friday. My favorite band since I was twelve and the music I can always turn to and be entertained by; how could this upcoming release not excite me?PATD_Cover_FINAL_Death of a Bachelor

I’ve stayed in the loop as they released singles. I’ve listened to them all.

Now, I’m ready to hear the final product.

You might wonder why this led me to listen to other music. It’s really quite simple. Music is inspiration. Singers are artists. Writers. Storytellers. Music is one of my greatest inspirations. The right song of album can guide me through scenes I need to write. Finding the right song can create that burst of inspiration, that EUREKA moment that gets me unstuck if I’m struggling.

Music is a large part of my writing.

With the release of their new album, a new burst of inspiration is sure to come. I need to be ready for it.

How does music inspire you?


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2016 Writing – It Begins

I’ll admit it: I’m a horrible person because I haven’t written anything yet this year. My excuse is that I worked extra hours around New Years and that my third quarter of Japanese started last night. Between work and class, I haven’t had a chance just yet.

It’s time to change that.

I won’t waste too much time here, because I have writing to do. So for now, I’ll leave you with the opening paragraph. Expect updates to come more frequently from now on.

I worry sometimes that everything I’ve done will accumulate, one day at a time, until eventually it will erupt and bring with it horrible consequences. The future eludes me in that way. All I have are speculations – situations I think may happen to me one day. But what good are speculations?

What are your 2016 plans?


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A New Year – 2016

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone transitioned from 2015 into 2016 safely with their friends and family. Me? I was in bed at 10 PM since I had to be up by 5 AM and at work by 6 AM. The transition for me, therefore, was spent in bed.

Not a bad thing, if I dare say so.

For the next few weeks, everyone’s bound to discuss their New Year’s Resolutions. Personally, I’ve decided not to go with any clear-cut resolutions.

My goal for 2016 is to be happy.

While 2015 was in no means a bad year and there were several highlights (I joined a writer’s group, spent a weekend at the ocean, went to San Japan, went to Pax Prime for the first time), parts of the year dragged on and came with some challenges. I don’t regret 2015 and by no means will I disregard it, but my goal for the coming year is to make it better.

Happiness.

Naturally, I hope each and every one of you has a fantastic 2016.

Let’s make this the greatest year yet!


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How do you get back in the groove?

It’s happened to everyone before. Whether you like to write, draw, study, or do something entirely different – eventually you hit a slump and want nothing to do with whatever it is you like doing. The inspiration isn’t there and even if you want to do what it is you do, you can’t push yourself to actually do it.

“I guess I’ll work on it later,” you might say. Or, “Maybe I need this break.”

Or maybe, just maybe, what we all need is to give ourselves a swift kick in the rear and get back to work!

For me, my passion is writing. Fantasy in particular, with darker undertones to it that make it so much more intriguing to me. Sure, I love writing, but every once in a while, life decides to throw stuff at me and then I hit the inevitable, “I really don’t feel up to this.” stage.

You would think that while sitting at home awaiting surgery for a good month that I would’ve gotten a lot of writing done. Believe it or not, I didn’t. Why? Because the accumulation of everything else going on made the idea of actually writing utterly unappealing. In hindsight, that doesn’t make sense, seeing as writing never fails to make me feel better. No matter how awful the day, I feel better if I write.

Writing draws me into the story, into another world, into the lives of different people. It is the best way for me to wind down, relax, and feel better.

But no. I waited and waited for surgery and got very little writing done. So, this week, I decided to kick myself back into gear.

See this? It's convenient located right underneath my television. It's the ultimate guilt trip whenever I want to watch something or play video games.

See this? It’s conveniently located right underneath my television. It’s the ultimate guilt trip whenever I want to watch something or play video games.

The best part about that little guilt-trip-inducing message? I’ve written at least double what that white board suggests every day since writing it.

This small gesture, this guilt trip, helped me get back to work. What I’ve realized also helps me is the location. At home, there are distractions – books, movies, those darned video games I just mentioned – so I have to go elsewhere. My safe haven is the library. Nobody bothers me there and when I’m there, I’m completely and utterly focused.

Yesterday, I wrote 4,760 words in just under four hours at the library. Today? 2,168 words in under two hours. The best part? These words have pushed me past the 50% mark for this book which has ignited a new spark of inspiration in me.

So for me, taking the time to go to the library to write, and having this visual guilt trip, is a great help in getting me to write. It might not work for everyone, but I’m hoping this post will inspire some of you to take a look and see what helps you write, draw, study, or whatever else it is that you do!

In fact, share what helps you in the comments! What helps you might help someone else. 🙂


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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!


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Best writing day – ever!

2013-Participant-NaNoWriMo-CoverThe title of this post really says it all. Today was, by far, the best day I’ve ever had for writing. I’ve never written so much in a single day. Do you want to know how much I wrote?

Alright, I’ll tell you. But shh. It’s a secret to everyone. 😉

7,240 words.

I completely and utterly shattered my previous record for most words written in a day. Before today, my record was somewhere around 5,300.

Here’s my NaNoWriMo progress:

This means I’m three days ahead for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve never been ahead. I’ve only just stayed on track – and I’ve never won. The most I’ve gotten is 30,000. Six days in, and I already have half of that.

This is my year. I just know it.

Are you participating? If you are, how are you doing? If not, what are you doing this November?

Let me know in the comments!

If you’re participating and would like to add me as a writing buddy, you can add me here.


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Why are characters so difficult?

Excuse me while I do a bit of ranting.

I wrote in my previous post about distractions and how, these past few days, I’ve been distracted by Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX. Now, I wrote that sometimes distractions are good, because they can refresh your mind and inspire you. That’s exactly what playing these games is doing for you.

Now, however, let’s move on to difficult characters. In particular Kieran and Avalyn, the characters shown in my blog header.

Mind you, I don’t necessarily mean difficult to write. No, I mean when I’m incredibly inspired to write, but then they’re incredibly forthcoming stubborn and absolutely ridiculous and secretive when I want to actually write.

Honestly, can’t I have immense inspiration and ideas at the same time? Apparently not.

I managed to write a few paragraphs just now (It was like pulling teeth, I tell you!), then hit a wall. I’m hoping to finish this chapter after writing this. I can’t be more than 200 – 300 words away from the end of the chapter!

Part of my problem’s most likely that I quit mid-chapter and stopped writing for two weeks. Once I get through this chapter and can start the next one, I imagine writing will become easier again.

Until then, however, I’ll keep pulling teeth to get these words written.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated? Let me know in the comments!