Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


Goal Accomplished: The Magical 50k

The title says it all. After the rough challenges of getting past difficult scenes and moments I came to dread, 50,000 words now sit neatly in a document. The progress bar shows a new level of, well – progress. 35,000 words are left until the estimated end of my novel. A measly word count compared to 50,000. Together, they will merge to become the first draft of Tales of The Forbidden.

I’m ecstatic just thinking about having a completed novel!

Once finished, I won’t have much time to relax. I intend to dive right into writing the second novel of the series, Mercy of The Forbidden. After a short break, I’ll also get into the editing process of the first book. Turn this mistake-infested disaster into a real book. All this in between college and a part-time job.

I’m the type of person who tends to work better when I get pushed; when I have limited time. If one day, I have nothing planned, I’ll say, “I’ll write today.” and it will take much more effort to get myself to write. When I have a lot to do, I jump from task to task. Done with class and two hours left until I need to work? I’ll write – use the time available to me. For me, it’s the best way to do things.

Don’t be fooled. I can get a lot done on days I don’t necessarily have plans for. It’s just a matter of getting myself into gear and starting. Once I start, I don’t stop until I feel I’ve gotten enough done.

The first step is the hardest.

That step of my novel is behind me – now it’s time to finish it.

I also now have a Contact page for my blog. If you want to contact me outside of WordPress, that’s where you will find out how!

How do you work best? When busy, or when you have little to do?


Character Behavior: How does it make you feel?

In this post, I’ll be delving into specific characters and what they make me feel and how it changes throughout the novel. Specifically, there’s one character I’d like to point out, but we’ll get to him later.

Expect much ranting.

First off, the main character of my novel. At first, Saria may seem like a depressed young woman, but when you look into the causes, you’ll realize that her attitude is actually very natural for what she’s gone through. And it only gets worse. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong for her – save for the occasional exception. She has it rough, but she pushes through.

I can relate to her, to an extent. She is extremely attached to a particular character, as am I. When certain events took place, that attachment allowed me to write her reactions spot on with utmost ease. Those events made me want to smack something and torture other characters, but that’s a story for another day.

Saria’s opposite, however, is a different character. His introduction isn’t the best, but at first he seems like a good character.

The young version of my cat

I r smart and cute kitty. You must luv me!

Not long after, though, he starts to get annoying. Then aggravating. Shortly after, he turns into the kind of character you want to smack over the head with the nearest heavy object to put everyone around him out of their misery. And for your own pleasure. But that’s another story entirely. The point of this is that he’s a character who at first seems like a sweet, kind and – dare I say – normal character. Until he does things that get him on my bad side, and I’m sure readers’ bad sides, as well. Halfway through the novel, I intend for readers to collect pitchforks and knives.

He will not survive.

Side-note; this will be the start of a new trial blogging schedule. I will be testing out a thrice-a-week schedule; Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, to be precise. Let’s see if I can keep it up!

Do you have characters that change how you feel about them throughout the course of the story? If so, for better or for worse?


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?


Change of Pace: Summer Holidays

Very little feels better than getting that piece of paper that signifies your grades at the end of the semester and coming to realize that you passed with flying colors. Top of the class and on to the next year.

One of the things that surpasses that sensation is time off; six weeks, exactly. As of yesterday, June 22nd, my holiday has begun and I will have freedom until the 9th of August. A month and a half that I will use to work on my novel, catch up on my reading and just general relaxing. My novel is at a solid 36,000 words now. By the end of my holiday, I intend to have at least 50,000; it is very likely I will overcome that obstacle and venture even closer to my last word count.

To give a more precise plan: It is my goal to write a minimum of 5,000 words per week. With that schedule, I shall reach 50,000 by the midway point of my vacation. By extent, it means I could easily hit 65,000 words by August. Let’s make that my secondary goal, shall we?

The nifty little progress bar on the side of my page will change when I complete a chapter. After the holidays, it’ll reach at least 50%. Making my secondary task will have it at 75%. That’s progress, if I ever saw any.

I plan to get so much writing done, because I have a busy year ahead of me. As it is my exam year, I’m unsure how much time I’ll have to spend on my novel – and writing in general. It is a journey into the unknown. When the time comes, we will know how matters turn out. I will make it work. Nothing, even impending exams, will keep me from finishing this book by my nineteenth birthday.

As for unknown and uncharted territories; I will find my way into one from the 24th of September until the 21st of October. For four weeks, I will live with a yet-unnamed family in France, for an obligatory abroad work experience, organized by my college. For almost a month, I shall live and work in France; I will learn the culture, improve my language skills and find inspiration in ways that I never would have otherwise. Even if I cannot write while there; when I return, I will have inspiration aplenty.

Nothing will stand in my way of completing this novel, nor commencing the editing process and its sequel.

What are your plans when it comes to writing this summer? Do you have specific plans for your blog, reading or writing? Or do you have different plans altogether?


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?


New Place; Alive and Still Kicking

In the very least, this past week has been hectic.

Between working overtime at my part-time job, having my last busy week in college and getting ready to move to a new apartment; life wanted to make sure every shred of my time went to those three things. Needless to say, I have done little to no writing this past week, but change is coming!

College is nearing its close, I expect work will be less severe and as of today, we moved in.

This means I won’t need to spend as much time on those matters and will free up time for my writing. A very good thing, I do believe. I intend to do a lot of writing throughout the summer holidays. I have a word count to catch up on and I want one novel finished, at the very latest, by the end of 2011. My last chance to get a fair amount of writing done might be summer, as after the holidays I will enter my college exam year. As if it couldn’t get any worse, I will also be abroad for four weeks. While the prospect is intriguing and I am very much looking forward to working in France for a month, as part of my education; it will cut into my time. Depending on how things go while I’m abroad, though, I will attempt to get writing done every day, even if it’s only a paragraph.

But for now, I’m going to spend the rest of the day relaxing and hopefully getting some writing done. It’s been a long day, so I’m looking forward to kicking back and letting the rest of the day pass by; uneventfully, preferably.

My next blog will focus more on my writing, promise.

How do you deal with writing while life is throwing obstacles at you? Have you ever worked or studied in a foreign country and if so, how did you deal with it?