Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


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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!

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Getting back in the groove

I’ll admit, I haven’t really gotten any writing done this past week – but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on my stories.

This past week, I’ve reworked some ideas and done some additional plotting. So many ideas, so little time! Since the new month starts tomorrow, I’ll use that to finally start my writing again.

I’m torn between several ideas, but I think I’ve figured out which one to focus on first. Which one is that? Well, you’ll need to wait until I have some excerpts ready for you. 🙂

So, how have you all been this past week?


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New Design Is Here + Meet The Artist!

Welcome all to my redesigned page! New background, new header, new colors; so much new stuff! As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had a new design in the works. Well, it turns out that my dear friend and awesome graphic designer, Nakaya de Jong, got it all finished today!

A cover made for fun.

Personally, I love the new design. What do you think?

While we’re at it, it’s time for me to show a bit of my gratitude by showcasing Nakaya’s art a bit. All drawings and designs shown in this post were used with her permission.

Nakaya de Jong lives in The Netherlands and spent three years in Nigeria when she was younger. At twenty years young, she’s in her fourth year at the Grafisch Lyceum in Rotterdam, with a focus on Art & Design.

She is an amazingly helpful and kind person with brilliant art that can only get better and better as time goes on. Don’t believe me? Just look at these pieces she created.

A drawing of Sherlock Holmes.

Not only are we partners in crime an author and artist duo; we’ve been friends for several years now and it doesn’t look like it’ll change anytime soon!

A plushy made six years ago and her new and improved version, made this year.

As you can see, she creates various things in different styles and with different materials. This is just a small glimpse into her collection. She has much more art that is well worth taking a look at.

Don’t believe me? Why don’t you take this chance to find out!

If you’d like to get in touch with her or see more of her artwork, here are the two places where you can do so:

Nakaya’s deviantART | Nakaya’s Portfolio


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Friday Snippets: Werewolf’s Lair – Snippet of Chapter 13

With Friday here again and the weekend just around the corner, it’s time for me to share another snippet of my writing. This particular snippet comes from Chapter Thirteen of Werewolf’s Lair, which was written today!

Keep in mind that it hasn’t undergone edits, so it’s still a rough draft. Despite that, I hope you enjoy reading it!

“That’s circumstantial, at best. We gave you our reason for missing the hunt.”

Maddy’s play. The thought floated to the front of her mind and throbbed hard, in time with the thumps of her heart. Something didn’t fit. Something in that theory, that reasoning, fooled her into believing it. She shouldn’t believe it. No one should.

Paige’s eyes widened and she glanced from Matt to Luke, before focusing on Paul once more. “A play,” she began. “Tell me, Paul… Since when is a child’s play more important than a monthly hunt? Since when is a child’s play at school more important than a hunt with a rival, but friendly pack, meant to enhance the relationship between the two packs?”

The words sank in and she let them. His expression morphed, twisting between horror and disbelief. His mouth opened, then closed, as if he reconsidered his words. A frown plastered onto his face and he said nothing, attention directed at her.

“Tell me, Paul… If it was your choice, would you go to a school play, or maintain and even enhance a relationship with a fellow pack?”

He groaned in irritation and kicked a rock unfortunate enough to be close to him. “The pack. I would choose the pack.”

“Then why didn’t your parents?”

Around them, the downpour faded to a drizzle as if nature sensed the hostility lessen between them. Nature gave her blessing, accepted that peace would reign again. For how long?

She watched the struggle in his eyes, the fight to make sense of the situation and find a way to prove his parents’ innocence. His lips thinned to a line and he shook his head to banish his thoughts. Finally, his shoulders slumped. The small difference spoke wonders and he heaved a sigh, looking straight at her.

“I don’t know.”

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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Friday Fortune #8 – How do you choose what to read next?

Friday Fortune #8

Welcome to the eighth edition of Friday Fortune!

What is Friday Fortune? On Wednesdays and Sundays, my posts are generally serious and focus on specific aspects of writing or even life in general. Fridays are here to mix it up a bit. On Fridays, you’ll be surprised with giveaways, free snippets, general questions, and so much more! If you have any suggestions for questions I could ask or things I could do; let me know so we can make this interactive!

This week, I have a question for all of you, that a friend of mine brought up the other day.

How do you choose what to read next?

An unopened fortune cookie

If only we could open one and have the title of our next read pop out. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All readers know the dilemma. You just finished a great book and are glowing from the joy of it all, until that amazing sensation fades and leaves a hollow area within you. That’s when you realize, it’s time to move on to another book.

But, any self-respecting reader generally has more books stored away on their shelves or in their e-readers than they can read in one go. Perhaps alphabetized by author names, or book titles. On the other hand, maybe you have them organized by genre – perhaps even both. But that generally doesn’t help an avid reader select which pages to devour next.

You just read book XYZ in a series? The logical choice would be to start-up the next book, but do you want to speed through the series, or savour it by not reading it all in one go, and instead reading other books between those in the series?

Selecting books in a challenge. Figuring out what to read next always seems to be an impossible task. I know that, for me, books by my favorite authors tend to get read before other books – regardless of what order I bought them in. But for choosing books in general… I’m not sure I have a set way I go about selecting my next read.

What about you?

Do you have a strategy when it comes to choosing your next book? Share in the comments!

Tune in next week for whatever I have up my sleeve for you in edition nine of Friday Fortune.


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Theater: A Different View of Literature

Everyone knows about books and poetry collections, even Shakespeare. Theater is a part of literature that I feel is often overlooked except by specific groups of people. A lot of people have read Shakespeare – particularly Romeo and Juliet. Some have even gone to see a performance of that classic story.

Which brings me to theater performances.

Theater performances are a great way to bring a classic tale to life and bring it into perspective. Rather than reading the story, people who are interested in the story can see it before their very eyes, can really live through it without needing to visualize it in their mind.

And there are so many different groups that perform their own adaptions; take Romeo and Juliet, for example. How many different groups have performed that dramatic love story? Dozens? Hundreds?

Theater gives people a chance to see different actors portray it in their way. Readers or fanatics can watch different performances of the same tale and compare – figure out which one fits their view of it the best. Which one invokes the most feelings within them.

I once saw a performance of Romeo and Juliet. It was decent, but not quite what I expected of it, and included humor in spots that just didn’t fit. Does that mean I hate Romeo and Juliet? No, and that’s the beauty of theater performances. As I mentioned before, I can simply seek out a different group and see if their performance touches me more.

I’ve always enjoyed going to the theater, but never did it often; it’s time for that to change. On March 15th, I’ll be going to a performance of what is considered the best German literary work – Faust: Der Tragödie Erster Teil. In English, Faust: The Tragedy Part One. Part one of two, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

For those who don’t know the story, it follows Faust, a scientist who dedicated his life to every form of science and has reached a point where he realizes he can’t accomplish any more and that all other aspects of life passed him by. He delves into magic, and soon makes a deal with the devil, Mephisto. He promises Mephisto his soul, if he can give him another chance at life, and show him the things he missed.

It is an intriguing story and a bit of searching can lead to finding many references. In the anime Shaman King, the character Faust VIII is said to be the descendant of the original Faust, who delved into “dark magic”.

The band Kamelot has two albums that follow the story of a man and his love, Helena, a name that plays a large part in Faust; the man makes a deal with Mephisto, that his soul will be his to take if he can show him the joys of life.

These are just two references I know of; all in all, it is a story I would definitely recommend. I’m glad to start my journey into theater performances with this inspirational story. We’ll see how it goes.

What is your experience with theater?


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How to Achieve Your Goals

Friends

A friend's support for my first journey into National Novel Writing Month, last year.

Everyone has something they want to meet. It’s only natural and it’s our internal survival instinct. Survival of the fittest, people often say. Well, only those who take action can live among the fittest. Laying back and watching time fly by like the wind will only serve to waste precious moments that could have extensive productivity in them.

How you deal with this is your choice. A common question is how to maximize productivity, and not have it disappear. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Choose your goal!
    A deadline looms ahead – an essay, project, or test. Perhaps you intend to write a novel, short story or poem. Maybe it’s not even related to writing; lose weight or start working out. All valid goals, but small details are a necessity to making it that far. These goals are too open. Narrow them down.
  2. Narrow it down!
    So, you think you can make it work? Not if it’s that broad, you can’t. Set a deadline, a daily, weekly or monthly goal; figure out exactly what you want to do. You want to write a short story? How long, by when, and about what? Tomorrow, next week, next month? 1k, 2k, or 4k? Lions, tigers and bears, or something else?
    The more detailed you plan, the more likely you are to succeed.
  3. Solve the dilemma!
    So, you know the what, by when and how much. Great! Now, let’s figure out when you’re going to get around to working on it. After class or work, after dinner, before you leave the house in the morning? Pick a time and minimize distractions. For writing, turn off the internet during your writing period, so you can focus. Turn off your phone, bolt the doors and enjoy being alone.
    Figure out the best way for you to work productively. Without that, it’ll be a long ride.
  4. Find some support!
    What’s life without those people who stand by you? Without a friend or family member who will listen to your troubles and help you through them, how can you succeed? Find a person or two, however many you need, whom you trust and are close to.
    Inform them of your plans. Let them help you. You’ll be surprised how useful it is.
  5. Get to work!
    Now that you’ve figured out what to do, what stands in your way? The greatest enemy who stands between you and that task you wish to accomplish, no matter how small it is, is you. If you can’t make the time and discovery what works best for you and you alone, then how can you manage your time?

You can do it. All you have to do is try.