Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


How does completing a project make you feel?

For writers, the journey of writing is long. Whether it is a short story, a poem, novella or novel, a long, grueling process accompanies the task at hand.

It will be hard to say "Farewell" to them.

The idea comes first. A vague inkling of something that could grow into something wonderful. Developing the idea and writing it down go hand in hand for some. Others do the planning first and only then begin the writing process. Even then, having a completed first draft is but the beginning.

Editing follows.

Every person, every author, has a different amount of times they need to edit their manuscript before it pleases them – before they feel that the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears that they put into it, paid off.

A long process follows the first writing and editing, but that is for another day entirely.

I have written short stories and poems in the past, but never have I completed a novel. Now, Tales of The Forbidden approaches its end. Despite the good 15,000 words that remain, butterflies have taken hold of my stomach and I feel the nerves – the excitement. Finishing a novel is something new. As the first part in a series that I started on September 30th, 2008, it is my precious. This entire series is.

Finishing Book One causes mixed emotions; I’m sure everyone has a system to these things; a specific way they feel when they reach their goal.

For me, the remaining 15k seem both so far away, and yet so close. It’s bittersweet. I really don’t know how I’ll feel once the last words hit the page.

What are your experiences with similar situations like and how do you cope?

And, to not forget; a bit of National Novel Writing Month sharing!

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 17,636

“We will find a way, Saria.” Lysire’s voice drifted into her ear. “I promise, but please, listen to us and let us help you. You cannot do this alone.”

Saria’s anger wavered. Lysire’s words penetrated the thick wall of rage and other emotions returned in a dizzying flurry. The flaring powers around her withdrew into her body and as they did, she weakened. Strength left her muscles and her legs wobbled.

“He killed them,” she muttered, legs giving out beneath her. “He killed everyone.”

Let me know what you think, and don’t forgot to tell me about your experiences; I’m dying to compare.



Irregularity: Is it possible to prevent it?

Blog posts have been irregular these past two weeks and for that, I apologize. I am working on falling back into my normal Wednesday/Friday/Sunday schedule, but between college, work and National Novel Writing Month, my blogs took a back seat.

Starting today is my attempt to get back into that rhythm. Blog posts will follow the regular schedule unless something extreme comes between them. Of course, there are rare days where things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to and I doubt that I can prevent that. I rarely use the WordPress feature to schedule posts in advance, because I tend to write my posts on the days themselves.

I might try to use that occasionally, but overall, my system does work – life just threw a lot at me, what with the extensive amount of writing and, to be fair, poor planning on my part.

Things will fall into place.

Do you have any advice for keeping a schedule, despite other things interfering?


Battle of Words: Word Wars

Word Wars. I can guarantee many people are unfamiliar with the name. It stems from National Novel Writing Month and is a technique for writers I only recently discovered. As recent as last night, even.

Inspiration. Books and History.

The concept is simple. Two people, or more, plan a specific time frame during which they will write, write, and write some more. Every person participating does this. Whether five minutes, twenty minutes or thirty; the idea is to put the pen to paper, fingers to keys, and get those words that evade you when you try to write, down.

Last night, the wonderful Elisa Michelle and I accepted the challenge. We went for twenty minutes – not too long, nor too short. And wow, did it help. At the end of the twenty minutes, 793 words twinkled at me from my computer screen. Oh, sure, they need editing, but they’re on paper. Fewer words that I must still write.

After that, we did another twenty minutes. 779 words. And once more. 775 words. That, combined with what I wrote earlier that day, put me at 2,548 words for the day! So close to 3,000 in only an hour and a half of writing; that’s double what I write during the best of circumstances, alone.

Elisa and I have planned many more little word wars between us, in the future. Even after NaNoWriMo, we will venture forth and battle for the queenly crown of words. Our plan is to do a couple, once a week. If we get more than that done, great!

There’s something about writing in such a challenging way – both with and against someone. It spurred me on and shot my word count to heights unimaginable before. I think every writer should find someone to go to war with, even if just to try it out. Find an opponent, pick a time frame, and write!

You know you want to.

Total NaNoWriMo word count: 12,121

Have a free snippet of Tales of The Forbidden, freshly written during yesterday’s word war!

Her bottom lip trembled and tears stung behind her eyes. The exhaustion faded from her body and she pushed to her feet. Aziel’s words tormented her – floated within the cavern of her mind and echoed louder and louder.

Worthless. A waste of time. A disgrace.

Aziel’s expression softened. “Saria –“

She ran. Away from them. Away from everyone. Her legs carried her around the castle to the furthest edge of Eteria’s capital. Blood rushed to her head. Someone called after her but Saria didn’t listen – could not hear. The words flew past her.

The grassy ground vanished behind her as she reached trees and other greenery. Bolting into the thicker nature, Saria ran as fast as she could. Adrenalin rushed through her, spurring her on. A branch tore skin off her upper arm. The pain registered as no more than a dull tug.

Walls appeared ahead – tall, thick and secure to ward off enemies. Beyond that, Jezil’s barrier awaited.

Trapped. Locked away where she was hated.

Let me know what you think! Opinions are always welcome and rewarded with the giver being showered in tinsel and sparkles and other random things I think of at the time!


Excitement: Do you look forward to writing?

I do. Or, I am now and have been for the past few days, since I started my National Novel Writing Month adventure. The fact that writing is going so well is making me have much more fun during the real writing process. I’m looking forward to writing, instead of eventually opening the document and staring at a blank page. National Novel Writing Month

I’m on a roll. Chapter Twenty-One is complete and, look at the right of this page. See that progress bar? I have officially passed the 60,000 words mark!

This excited feeling is new. The last time I felt it was when I started developing The Forbidden Series back in September, 2008. Even then, it was nowhere near as wonderfully enigmatic as now.

I am enjoying writing and am pumping out words that are not only high in quantity, but also quality for a first draft. I am falling in love with some of these scenes. Things are falling into place and I’m loving it.

This self-made NaNoWriMo goal may turn out as the best decision I’ve ever made.

Here are my daily word counts so far for the month of November!

Day 1: 325
Day 2: 1,380
Day 3: 1,310
Day 4: 2,318
Day 5: 1,000
Day 6: 2,381

Total: 8,714

And to hold you lovely folks over, here’s another snippet of what I’ve written in Tales of The Forbidden!

“Saria, go to the throne room. Wait for us there.”

Confusion flickered across her face. “Why –“

“If the person sees you too soon, we cannot be sure what will happen. As far as they are concerned, you are a traitor. Let us judge the situation; you will see the person when we bring them before Lysire’s father.”

“You are a distraction,” her mind translated Aziel’s words to. A quick shake of her head chased away the thought and she allowed herself a nod. “Very well.”

It sounds like things are heating up, doesn’t it?

I’ll be back Wednesday to post updates on how this writing adventure is progressing. Here’s hoping it continues this way; after all, I’m almost three days ahead of schedule!


Can you feel the love tonight?

Or, yesterday eve, as they say in my novel.

Day four of my self-planned challenge for National Novel Writing Month, namely finishing the first draft of Tales of The Forbidden. As you’ll see on the right of this page, the nifty little progress bar is filling up and the percentage is rising.

I’m even ahead of schedule! On Day 4of 1,000 words per day, I’m meant to have 4,000 words. Instead, I have 5,333 words. Not too shabby. This gives me something to fall back on if I miss a day, or don’t quite hit 1k one day. Still, why stop now? Tomorrow, it’s back to work for another 1,000 words!

My own work. Created using "Inkscape"...

Image via Wikipedia

I wrote a whopping 2,318 words today, successfully completing Chapter Twenty. Here are my daily NaNoWriMo word counts for the interested among us:

Day 1: 325

Day 2: 1,380

Day 3: 1,310

Day 4: 2,318

I blew that bad start away, didn’t I? Let’s continue this and see how quick I can complete the draft! Once it’s finished, I’ll let it sit for a little while – two weeks or so – and then buckle down for some heavy editing. Well, a general read through and small edits first, and then a second time with heavier, more intense edits. This story will feel my wrath as I tear it apart and turn it into something shiny and new.

To end this off, here’s a little snippet of today’s words for any interested readers. Romance is in the air and finally in my novel, too. Introducing sub-plot!

“Father,” Lysire began, pausing until the king’s attention was on him. “You have often told me that I must focus on finding someone to care for.”

Understanding sparked in the older man’s eyes, quickly suppressed by a serious gaze. “This is not the time to focus on that, Lysire.”

“What if it is already too late to turn back?”

Saria’s eyes widened slightly as realization smacked her in the face. The princess of Cavor and the prince of Eteria. Together. Change loomed ahead for their kingdoms – especially should they regain Cavor from Haral’s incapable hands. If she and Lysire maintained their relationship, what would become of the two kingdoms?

King Theodor kept silent and Lysire said nothing as his father glanced from Lysire to Saria. “Does this have to do with what Jezil informed me of yesterday eve?”

Saria nearly choked on her drink. Oh no. He didn’t –

And cut! Let me know what you think. Editing is still required, but general opinions are most welcome and gifted with little ribbons and sweatshirts for the cold season. Until Sunday, all!


Word Count: How high can you go?

Word count. Something that is important to any story. Some people go for daily word counts, others for weekly word counts. In the end, no matter the pace, getting the words down is the key to writing any story.

Some people only write a couple hundred words per day and others can knock out a whopping 10k. As long as writing gets done and the words make it to paper, then who can judge by the amount?

This brings me to National Novel Writing Month. A challenge to push writers to their limits and try to write 1,667 words per day, for a whopping 50,000 in a month.

I’m participating, though not going for the 50k. My goal is to finish my novel, Tales of The Forbidden, for which I expect to need a rough 30,000 words total. 1,000 words every day.

I’ve put two days behind me and am at 2,222 words – right on track. Here’s hoping this writing pace keeps up and that, at the end of the month, I’ll have a completed first draft!

That would be one book (of that series) down, three more to go! We’ll see how it turns out. Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What are your goals and how are they panning out so far?


What difference does a detail make?

Details. These little buggers are what meld the separate parts of stories together and turn them into a whole. Not only that. They help other things – even those not related to writing.

Imagine that. A word common for all.

A few weeks back I mentioned the change of my saying, “I’ll try to write today.” to “I’m going to write today.” Believe it or not, such a simple change made all the difference. If I sit down and intend to write, I get it done; not always much, yet words hit the paper. That’s all that matters.

I recently discovered another such detail. Due to my absence from work until the 26th of October, most of this month’s hours were scheduled into the last six days of the month. Where I normally work once or twice per week, I now had 31,5 hours packed into six days unrelentingly. Six days of college, followed by work.

It has halted my writing, but with National Novel Writing Month just around the corner, I’m not worrying about that too much.

Initially, the idea of spending so much time at work terrified me. What if I got overworked, what if I got sick? So many questions and, of course, the physical labor this job calls for. Then, I realized something and this small detail has helped me through three of the six days.

It’s just work.

I go to work, do my job, and then go back home.

So what if something happens? This small difference has completely thrown my old perspective out the window and changed my mentality. For the first time, I don’t dread work, knowing I’ll be physically and mentally exhausted afterwards. On the contrary, these past three days have passed without any form of physical or mental exhaustion.

Maybe working full-time in France helped that. Either way: The small change and the working experience have banded together to help me. The next three days have longer hours and still my fear vanished – gone.

Remember, the smallest detail can make all the difference.