Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


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Plotting: New Story

For the past few days, I finally caved after my muse sparked an idea within me and started plotting this new story. The history of its world, the basic plotline, the characters, the cities and villages, and anything else that was relevant.

Except for character names and a title. I don’t have those yet, nor do I know how many books it’ll consist of. Mildly vital information, right?

Of course, that’s why I’m just in the planning stage and not writing the actual story yet. It’ll come – eventually. I have a lot on my plate right now, anyways.

I’ll be finishing up Werewolf’s Lair by August 31st, then getting the editing out of the way while starting to write the second book, Vampire’s Lair, planning for this new story, not to mention working on another project that will be revealed once I get into the final stages of it – most likely towards the end of 2012 or the start of 2013.

This new story will also have what I’m sure is my largest cast of protagonists. Sure, there is one main character, but there are five others who are just as important, and are not just support characters.

That’ll be a challenge, but I’ll see how it goes! For now, it’s all about the plotting.

In the meantime, let me know how your summer’s been so far! How are you spending it?

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How’s your summer?

Now that we’re already into the second week of July, summer is well underway! Most colleges and universities have finished their semesters and now there’s a break until this August – or even September!

This means a lot of free time for everyone who still studies, and lots of vacation for the working people who choose to take their vacation during summer. Personally, I’d rather take my vacation in spring or fall, when it’s not so warm, but that’s just me.

This is a short post just to see how all of you are doing. How’s your summer and what are you doing during it? Reading, writing, relaxing, going on holiday? Share your summer in the comments!

Are there any things you would recommend people do?

If you need summer reading, check out my giveaway of Dominant Race by Elisa Nuckle!


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Summer Goals: What are yours?

I’ve written about goals before and how setting goals is an excellent way to push yourself to your limits. To fight to accomplish them. To work hard and in the end, celebrate when you realize your efforts were not in vain.

Guess what?

My relaxation for this summer. It will be mine by mid-June

Summer is a perfect time to reevaluate your goals!

Summer. A double-edged sword to the extreme. For many, it’s the time of year when they have more time to do things other than work and college and high school or just general classes and other things you may take throughout the year. Summer is a time for relaxation, to spend hours loafing around every day!

But what if you could use that time for productivity instead?

I mentioned that summer is a double-edged sword and I will stand by that. Why do I say it? Because of the heat.

Some people bask in the blistering heat that shines down on it for these three months – we just hit 30 °C (the high 80s fahrenheit) today! – and absorb the energy to go full speed into projects old and new. Others, myself included, hate the heat and struggle just to move from the couch to the kitchen to get a drink. Writing, reading, drawing, exercising? Ha! We’ll save that for another season.

And then find some other apparently random reason about why we can’t make our goals. It’s a vicious cycle. So, what can we do to actually get stuff done?

The answer is easy.

Set goals!

Don’t let the heat get to you. Figure out in advance what you want to get done during the summer. Do the planning before the heat gets to you and fogs your brain. If you can get the planning done, it’s easier to say, “Hey, it might be way too hot and I hate it, but I have things to do!”

If you haven’t done the planning yet, that’s something you’ll have to force yourself to do before you get to actually work on what you need to. That extra step is all it takes to wipe out any and all traces of willpower you had for your goals.

I’ve made my goals. Writing, reading, and exercise. Want more details?

  • Finish Werewolf’s Lair by August 31st. That means at least 1,000 words per day.
  • Read one book per week. Biweekly, if absolutely necessary.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day. What else did we get our shiny new cross trainer for?

And the best part? If I schedule my time well, I’ll still have plenty of time for relaxation. So, my question to you is: What are your goals for this summer?

Let me know if you have any; I’d love to hear from you! If you don’t have any goals, why not and do you intend to still make some? I recommend it! Don’t let the heat hold you back!

We can work together to accomplish our goals. Together, we will leave others in the dust when we speed off towards victory!

As Hannibal from the A-Team always says:

“I love it when a plan comes together.”


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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?


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Down With The Sickness: Defeat It

As of this moment, I will do my best to update regularly.

I will blame my lack of updating on the fact that for the second time in six weeks, I ended up with an infection that affected my ears, throat and sinuses. It wasn’t pretty. The last time I had it, it started on a Sunday morning, I stubbornly went to class on Monday, then finally went to the doctor’s office Tuesday morning. I got sent home with medicine and a note obligating me to stay home for the rest of the week.

This time, I was perfectly alright. Tuesday evening, my throat started to act up. I went to bed, hardly slept due to it worsening and went to the doctor’s office first thing Wednesday morning. I wasn’t taking chances. This time, I got sent home with the same medicine, along with antibiotics and nose drops, and a note matching the previous one. In total, I had to take six pills a day; it was not pleasant, but I survived.

That weekend, a week ago, I felt well enough to write and I ended up spewing out words like there was no tomorrow. During the course of the weekend, I wrote over 3,500 words. To top matters off, I wrote 2,960 words this Wednesday. Three chapters completed within five days. If anything, getting ill helped me find my muse. Not only am I ecstatic that my inspiration is treating me well, but it has inspired me to create a new goal.

I will finish the first draft by the end of June, the start of my summer holidays.

While I don’t know yet how long this novel will be (probably in the 60,000 – 80,000 range), I do know that I’m at 19,057 words now and still have a lot to go. But that won’t deter me from hitting that goal. If all goes as planned and I finish the first draft by the end of this school year, I’ll let the draft collect dust throughout summer as I start the second book. When college starts back up again, I’ll get the draft off the shelf and start the editing process. How it goes from there, I’ll see when that time comes.

Instead of just informing about my writing habits, I’d like to give some advice that I find helpful. Have someone proofread your novel, whether they read each chapter as you finish it or wait until you’ve completed the draft. Assistance from a friend or family member is essential and not only does it help you to improve your writing, but hearing what someone else thinks about what you’ve written will keep you motivated.

Before, my urge to write wavered. Now, I have an amazing friend who not only reads each chapter when it’s written, but who is always willing to discuss in great detail what she thinks of the different aspects of the story. Her help makes a huge difference and there is nothing I can do to express my gratitude properly.

Thank you.

What do you find useful when you write and edit? Do you have one, or multiple, people proofread your draft, or do you do things a different way?