Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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

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First 1 1/2 Weeks In Germany!

Anyone who has ever traveled somewhere with a time difference of more than just a couple of hours will agree with this statement:

Jet lag is evil.

I landed in Germany on the morning of September 14th and have dealt with the daily struggle of fighting to stay awake halfway through each day. Slowly, it’s gotten better and if all goes well, I should be fully adjusted in a day or two. I hope.

Things have been normal while visiting my parents so far. Sleep, naps, catching up on some shows (Lucifer and Master Chef), trying out new shows (Lethal Weapon), and playing games (currently Ni No Kuni and Xenoblade Chronicles). Now that my mind isn’t as frazzled from jet lag, it’s time to get back into writing as well.

Starting Monday, I’m planning for daily writing with a hope of 10,000 words per week. If I manage 2,000 words each day during the week, that gives me either free weekends or time to get extra words written!

With National Novel Writing Month just around the corner, I need to finish the first draft of this book so I can start something new during that event!

That aside, I’ve successfully stolen the dog’s affections and have been walking her on occasion as well. Now, time to relax this weekend before writing kicks into gear on Monday!

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14 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

This was going around on Facebook and I decided that, instead of using it there, I’d use it as inspiration for a blog post! One of my dear friends – the one who made my gorgeous blog header – gave me the number fourteen. Why? Because we’re both mildly obsessed very fond of the game Final Fantasy IX.

Her logic is that the title has fourteen letters and its anniversary is tomorrow!

It’s pretty hard to argue with that logic, so without further ado, here you go!

14 Things


  1. You might know I love studying languages. But did you know that I have enough language-related books to rival the average college student? And I’ll be getting more in time!
  2. While writing, I mostly listen to video game soundtracks. Specifically the soundtracks to Final Fantasy IX, Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2, Persona 3, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. All these soundtracks inspire me to no end.
  3. Final Fantasy IX is my favorite video game of all time and has been since its release in 2000. The only game to ever challenge it is Persona 3 Portable.
  4. I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month right now. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s my fourth try and I’ve never won – but I’m on track right now!
  5. Drawing is something I wanted to learn before, but I quickly learned that I don’t have the patience for it. My creativity goes to my writing. I’ll leave visual art to others.
  6. My favorite movie genre is horror, and my favorite horror series is A Nightmare on Elm Street. I don’t care that it’s classified as horror-comedy. It’s awesome.
  7. I’ve never been to a gaming/anime convention before, but 2014 will be my year! San Japan in San Antonio, TX should be the first convention I go to. If I’m lucky, Pax Prime will be my second.
  8. I’ve lived in Washington, Kentucky, The Netherlands, and Germany. I’ve spent time in France and England. Next up on my list is Japan. I’m saving up to spend two or three weeks there. In a few years. Once I know the language better.
  9. Those language books? I put them to good use. I’m fluent in three languages, am currently perfecting my French (I can survive using it), and have started studying Japanese. Spanish and Russian are on my to-learn list. We’ll see what comes after that.
  10. Nine times out of ten, I’d rather be writing than socializing. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-social. I’m just picky. Also, these characters I write about are incredibly demanding!
  11. I hate loud noises, i.e. fireworks. Fireworks absolutely terrify me. Just ask my family. They learned just how terrified I am of fireworks on July 4th.
  12. Concerts are an exception to that loud noises rule. That noise actually makes sense. It’s more than just noise. It’s music. Speaking of which, I’ve been to four concerts, in the following order: 30 Seconds to Mars, Tokio Hotel, Panic! At the Disco, and Within Temptation.
  13. I’m an incredibly independent person who hates accepting help from others. If I can do something myself, then I will, no matter how stressful it is. I’ll often keep going until I can’t anymore, rather than ask for help.
  14. I have no desire to be in a romantic relationship, nor do I see myself having kids in the future. If I decide to have kids, my plan is to adopt.

That makes fourteen, so I’m off the hook. I was just spewing nonsense there, I think. I never know what to write for these, so I just wrote the first things that came to mind. I might have also looked at my friend’s version for some inspiration.

So, that’s that! Enjoy those fourteen facts about me. Did you know any of them? I’m curious.

Have a great day! 🙂


Why are characters so difficult?

Excuse me while I do a bit of ranting.

I wrote in my previous post about distractions and how, these past few days, I’ve been distracted by Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX. Now, I wrote that sometimes distractions are good, because they can refresh your mind and inspire you. That’s exactly what playing these games is doing for you.

Now, however, let’s move on to difficult characters. In particular Kieran and Avalyn, the characters shown in my blog header.

Mind you, I don’t necessarily mean difficult to write. No, I mean when I’m incredibly inspired to write, but then they’re incredibly forthcoming stubborn and absolutely ridiculous and secretive when I want to actually write.

Honestly, can’t I have immense inspiration and ideas at the same time? Apparently not.

I managed to write a few paragraphs just now (It was like pulling teeth, I tell you!), then hit a wall. I’m hoping to finish this chapter after writing this. I can’t be more than 200 – 300 words away from the end of the chapter!

Part of my problem’s most likely that I quit mid-chapter and stopped writing for two weeks. Once I get through this chapter and can start the next one, I imagine writing will become easier again.

Until then, however, I’ll keep pulling teeth to get these words written.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated? Let me know in the comments!


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Distractions: Good or Bad?

The closer you get to the light, the greater your shadow becomes.
– Kingdom Hearts 1

It’s inevitable. Every now and then, something shows up that will distract you from your goals. For me, that’s happening right now (although I yanked myself away from it to write this blog post).Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX

Most people say distractions are horrible, but I beg to differ. I believe that every now and then, you need to be distracted from everything else. Allowing yourself to stray from your path for a while can relax you and even inspire you. That’s why my current distraction is one I welcome with open arms.

Today I got the limited edition of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX in the mail. I’ve had that game pre-ordered for at least three months and I’ve eagerly awaited the release for even longer than that.

For me the Kingdom Hearts games are incredibly inspiring. An inspiration boost is just what I need for my writing, so I’m allowing myself to indulge a bit. The next few days will include much video gaming, but in the long run, it’s not a waste of time – because it’s fun, it relaxes me, and most important, it inspires me.

I know that after just a few hours of playing this amazing game, it’ll recharge my inspiration and will increase my desire to write. And that’s exactly what I want.

What are things you do to relax or to find inspiration? Share in the comments!

Have a great week, everyone! 🙂

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What will you be doing in the future?

I’m writing this post while listening to the soundtrack of my favorite video game of all time. Odd, to be inspired to write a blog post by a video game, or is it? This post in particular centers around a quote by one of the playable characters in the game.

The main playable characters of Final Fantasy ...

The main playable characters of Final Fantasy IX, from left: Quina, Freya, Eiko, Garnet, Zidane, Steiner, Vivi, and Amarant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The only dependable thing about the future is uncertainty.”
– Amarant, Final Fantasy IX

Blunt, to the point, and true.

Do any of us truly know what’s coming, what will happen? No. The future is a gaping void that looms over our heads and expects us to try to figure out what will happen. Will we be successful? Will we fail? Will we reach our goals?

Only the future knows, but that doesn’t mean we should ever give up. We can’t decide the future, not in the long run. This doesn’t mean it’s pointless.

Can I guarantee that I’ll one day find a literary agent who loves my work, and then get a publishing contract? No, but what I can do is fight for it. I can write, I can improve my craft, and I can keep trying. Whether or not I’ll succeed, I don’t know, but at least I’ll know that I’m trying my hardest to carve out the future I see for myself.

We can plan short-term things. Going out to a movie with a friend next week? Sure. Saving up money for an eventual vacation? Absolutely. Even short-term, though, things can interrupt our plans.

We keep trucking along.

Never give up. That’s the moral of this story. Even though the only dependable thing about the future is uncertainty; keep going. You’ll get there.

Fight for what you believe in, for what you want. If you do that, then your future will be worth it. 🙂

What are your plans for the future?


Week #1 of Writing: Success!

On Monday I started my new project with a very simple goal in mind. Write three chapters per week. At that pace, I’d have the first draft finished in three months – four if anything happens to interfere. And that’s my goal.

Four months.

In this first week, I wrote chapters 1 through 3 and therefore successfully reached the goal I’d set for myself. Having a good start is really motivating for me; it makes me want to continue and I feel like this project will keep running smoothly.

I know there will be times when I’m less motivated, but I’ll push my way through them. Nothing will stand in the way of me and my four-month deadline.

So far, I’m really pleased with the story’s progress and that has me in a good mood. So, enjoy this short excerpt from chapter three!

“Talking to yourself, hmm?”

Avalyn whirled around, coming face-to-face with the foreign noble.

“You do realize most people would question your sanity… correct?” Kieran stepped out of the doorway, sauntering towards her.

“But you don’t?” Her momentary peace dispersed and her muscles clamped up. He made her uneasy and that discomfort made her drop her polite façade. “Tell me, what does that make you then?”

You know, I don’t know why, but I get the feeling that Avalyn doesn’t like Kieran. Huh. Go figure.The World Ends With You

That’s all for this post! Here’s hoping week #2 goes just as well as week #1!

How was your weekend?

Now I’m going to barricade myself in my room and play more The World Ends With You. Just bought it this week and I’m having fun with it!


Day off + writing progress!

If you read my previous post, then you’ll know that I created a new writing schedule that I feel very strongly about. I think it’s a schedule I can stick to, and so far I it hasn’t proven me wrong.

Halfway through the first week of this schedule and my writing is going absolutely swimmingly. As you can see from that lovely progress bar at the top of the sidebar, I’ve already passed the 10,000 words mark in my current project!

Three days of writing and I’ve written that much. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true and I’m absolutely ecstatic about it!

After two days of getting a lot of writing done, today was a welcome day off and I’m glad I chose to take Wednesdays off. It will help keep me energized, so to speak. But it’s only for one day!

Tomorrow, I will get back to work! Many words are waiting for me. I must write them. All of us need to do the things that call to us! I wish all of you luck in accomplishing your goals.

Let’s do this together. 🙂

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play some more Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword to finish my day off.

Have a great day, everyone!

How has this week treated you so far? Let me know!