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?


The Forbidden Series: A Brief Look

For those of you who are unaware, “The Forbidden Series” is what I have dubbed the series of novels I am working on. Tales of The Forbidden, my current work in progress, is the first novel in the series and nearing its halfway point now.

Throughout the series, there is one character who is always present – a familiar pillar for readers to grasp. While he stays and undergoes small changes throughout the four novels, everything around him becomes different. People come and go in more ways than one and he remains the sole familiarity. To an extent.

Some characters stay for two novels, others three. In the end, he is the only one to rely on being there every step of the way.

The character who is always there.

Drawn by the amazing ~EnshroudedVixen on deviantArt, for my birthday of January 7th 2010.

Despite his presence throughout the series, it does not revolve solely around him. On the contrary; it is about everything happening in the world around him. He is a key player, yes – a very important one. But in the end, he does not control all the events. The people around him; the ones who step closer are the people who make the changes so desperately needed. A woman, a child, a friend; they begin the changes. Damien is just the person who takes control and whom the differences affect the most.

The Forbidden Series took two and a half years of planning. Planning.

You read correctly. Two and a half years. One hundred and thirty weeks. This thing frustrated me and at time made me want to rip my hair out. Things kept shifting, no matter how hard I edited the idea to make it just right. After two and a half years, I completed the initial planning.

Once I finished that, I finally started the book that is now nearing 50% completion. I spent so many days plotting, working out kinks in the storyline, or characters. Things switched places. Book One became Book Three, Book Two stayed Book Two and entirely new ideas came to create Books One and Four. So much to express; it took time and effort to discern how to do things and do them right.

I finally got it done.

Two and a half years in, I began writing Tales of The Forbidden. Damien’s origin. How he came into existence and who he is. The trials the mere idea of him created. By the end of the novel, Damien will live. And as of the second book, we will see much more of him. War, battle, trials, emotions, death, family and friends. All this and more exists in the series. In the end, the question is:

Will he reach his goal?

What is the longest you have spent planning a novel, or the longest you are willing to spend?


Continuing On: Writings and Trials

In my earlier post, I discussed the Tutankhamun Exhibition and mentioned my fondness of Ancient Egyptian history. Aside from history, Egyptian mythology and pantheon evidently plays a large part in my interests. There is little I enjoy more than reading about their lives in the past and the tales of Egypt’s many gods. Aside from writing, of course.

To quote from my post, Journey to Ancient Depths: Tutankhamun,

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.

I have ideas floating around in my mind, taunting me and waiting impatiently for me to get around to writing them. Not just about Egyptian mythology, but other tales, as well. Whereas Tales of The Forbidden and its sequels are my main priority, other novels are dying to get their turn. They are quite vicious in their antics. The most common way of distracting me from my focus is shoving so many ideas down my throat, that I can’t see past them to my dear characters of three years. Writer’s block, one could say; induced by other characters and ideas with no patience. Though annoying, it leaves me with nothing else to write. No choice in the matter.

Now, I am putting my foot down.

My beloved characters Lysire and Saria are begging for me to return my sight to their forbidden tale. Who am I to deny them? After all, characters from the sequels are eagerly (or impatiently) awaiting their chance to speak. An amazing inspiration that helped push me forward is this lovely creation.

The Main Characters of Tales of The Forbidden

Commissioned and created by the wonderful ~BlueSoulber on deviantArt.

This little gem poured intense inspiration into me and gave me only one option: Write.

I absolutely adore how the artist portrayed Lysire and Saria in this drawing and will treasure it for eternity. Seeing this brightened my day and reignited the core of my muse that I so desperately needed. Words can’t express my gratitude. I’m looking forward to lots of writing in the near future. After all, these two beauties are calling for more actions and characters from later parts of the series are doing the same.

How could I refuse?

What are the things that inspire you more than anything else? Do you have issues with too many ideas bothering you and if so, how do you stay focused on one story?


Collaborations: What They Do For Inspiration

I’ll be the first to admit that a collaboration is something I’ve never properly attempted, but I’m open to many things. Because of this, when a friend of mine mentioned the idea of us collaborating last week, I jumped at the opportunity. We spent this past week discussing details; the characters, in what kind of style to write and a vague idea of what we wanted to happen and more specifics for the first chapter.

Granted, we live halfway across the world from each other, so our only option for the joint project was online.

And we’re making it work.

It took us two nights of back and forth typing in MSN – her doing a section (anywhere from a one-line paragraph to multiple paragraphs), then me following suit and repeating that process until we finished the first chapter. I can honestly say that this form of collaborating is both intriguing and immensely fun and satisfying.

One of the pros for working together on a story is that, even if you don’t have inspiration, your partner in crime can continue. And what they write just might spark your muse and send you into a writing frenzy. I speak from experience when I say that writing with a companion changes so many things dramatically. By writing together, you inspire and motivate each other and keep pushing one another to write, write and write some more. It’s both a challenging and rewarding experience; something that is worth it in the end.

So long as you have someone you share interests with and can connect to and stay on the same wavelength as them, venturing forth into a collaboration will be easy. Have a rough idea of what you want, but make sure to discuss plans and ideas with your partner. The key to keeping a joint writing functional is to have constant contact with your friend or fellow writer. Always talk, always compare and always discuss things that could be done better or differently or not done like that.

Never close yourself off from constructive criticism; the other writer’s contributions are just as meaningful and important as your own.

Accept it with open arms. Knit it a little sweater. It’s meant to help you improve.

Teamwork is an essential part of collaborating, so make sure you’re willing to compromise and spend time changing or discussing things that you may feel are fine the way they are. But most of all – have fun. Writing should always be an enjoyable experience and a collaboration is no different. The only different in it, is that you’re two – or maybe more – authors working on the same story.

Don’t hold back. It’s an amazing experience.

Have you ever collaborated before and if so, how did it go? Do you have any advice for people who would like to collaborate?
If you haven’t; is it something you can see yourself doing?