Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

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


Which songs inspire you?

We all like specific types of music and different music inspires different things.

I’ll be frank, I mostly listen to video game soundtracks while writing – but that doesn’t mean music with lyrics can’t inspire stories or ideas. While I write with (mostly) lyric-less music, I do enjoy a lot of music with lyrics and by listening to songs, ideas tend to spark in my mind. My current side-project, for example, was in part inspired by the song Haunted by the band Disturbed.

However, while writing Tales of The Forbidden, I tend to listen to the Persona 3 soundtrack. Here’s one of the songs from that soundtrack that manages to inspire various things. I could put it on repeat for hours. But don’t get me wrong: I love the entire soundtrack.

Which song inspires you the most? Do you work best with or without music? Let me know in the comments!


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Review: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

It’s no secret to my friends and family that I love Disney movies and love good RPGs. I’ve played games like Final Fantasy for over a decade and I’m always willing to spend time playing a good game. The Kingdom Hearts series never fails to keep me entertained. I got Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for my birthday and have played it a lot these past few days. I just finished it last night. So, what better way to share my opinion than through a review? Here goes.

Played on: Beginner Mode.

Didn’t: Beat optional bosses, get 100% collectibles.

This review focuses mostly on the story, gameplay, and characters.

Kingdom Hearts 3DRating: 4,5/5 stars

This game does something fans have waited for, for years – it advances the plot. After several games that include spinoffs and prequels, fans have been anxiously awaiting Kingdom Hearts 3. While this isn’t that, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, we get to play as both Sora and Riku. This is reminiscent of Chain of Memories, but in contrast, the fighting style is more in-tune with other Kingdom Hearts games. I enjoyed playing as both characters and it was a lot of fun to see Riku’s side of things. He’s an interesting character and it’s obvious that over the course of the past games, he has developed quite a bit as a person.

We get to see a lot of old characters and enjoy the journey through various worlds that are new to the Kingdom Hearts series. The amount you can see in these worlds, and the amount of treasure you can find, is astounding. There are some sneaky places with hidden treasure chests and it’s a lot of fun to hunt them down and to try to get that treasure percentage per world up as high as you can get it.

The gameplay is smooth, the fights are fun, and I adore the dream eaters. It’s cool and creative and I admit, I probably spent more time than I should have training them – and yet I only used a handful of different ones. I’ll need to expand my team more in my next play-through. The drop system was surprisingly less of a hassle than I thought it would be; I got used to it very quickly and didn’t have much of a problem with it.

The story amazed me. I’m not ashamed to admit that my jaw dropped several times during cut-scenes and I may have also squealed during some. The plot drew me in and as it developed, my dislike of some characters grew, as did my admiration for some of the other characters. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance opens a lot of doors for future installments in the series and I’m looking forward to seeing it progress.

One thing that bothered me was that the game was shorter than other games in the series. It’s not a huge problem, but it was something that felt very obvious to me. In most other Kingdom Hearts games, you visit each world two times. In this game, that wasn’t built into the plot (for obvious reasons). It’s still a great game and I’ll play it again. I finished in 21,5 hours – and keep in mind that was on Beginner Mode, without fighting optional bosses, and without 100% completion. More like 52%, actually.

I’ll be playing through it again on Normal Mode soon and will aspire to collect everything I possible can then. Something tells me that it’ll take me a bit longer than 21,5 hours, next time.

Half a star knocked off for length, but otherwise, this is a brilliant game and I foresee myself having a lot more fun with it in my future! Definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of the series.


Which things distract you?

Note: This post has nothing to do with me being distracted today or anything. Or maybe it does.

We always have things that we know we need to get done. We need to write, or work, or get groceries, make dinner – all kinds of things that demand time, time, and even more time! But there are also things that we enjoy – things that always manage to distract us. A favorite game, movie, or book, perhaps?Kingdom Hearts 3D

Admittedly, I got an early birthday present today, namely Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for my Nintendo 3DS. So I’ve kind of been… away from my laptop today, you could say. Games are things that always manage to distract me – especially games in series I absolutely adore. And I happen to love the Kingdom Hearts series.

So, what always distracts you, no matter how hard you try to focus on things that need to get done? Let me know in the comments!


I received the Versatile Blogger Award – Twice!

What a pleasant surprise awaited me this weekend. Many thanks to Ritesh Kala for awarding this to me, and many thanks to Elisa Michelle for awarding it to me over a month ago. I also offer my apologies for not acting on it back then.

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award state that I must:

  1. Thank the person who gave it to me and link back to them in my blog.
  2. Share seven things about myself.
  3. Pass this award on to 5 other recently discovered blogs and let them know.

So, here goes. Let’s start with seven things about myself that not all my followers know:

  • I love video games – preferably RPGs. The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Castlevania, Kingdom Hearts and others; there are very few things more inspiring that diving into a video game world and living through different lives.
  • I knew only two Dutch words when we moved to the Netherlands when I was seven. The words “nee” (“no”) and “oma” (“grandma”).
  • After moving to Holland, I spoke the language fluently within half a year and wrote it better than most Dutch kids my age.
  • I have three wonderful friends who mean a lot to me: A fellow writer with whom I often discuss ideas and write with, an artist who lets me rant about my writing and many other things, with whom I share shows we like, and another artist with whom I share shows we like, as well as anime/manga, and who is also an avid gamer. They mean the world to me.
  • I love Yu-Gi-Oh! This anime/manga inspired my fondness of mythology, particularly Ancient Egyptian mythology and history, and I have no shame in saying that it plays a large role in my life.
  • I love horror movies. My first time watching them, I’ll cling to a blanket or pillow. After that, watching the movie becomes second nature. My favorite series in A Nightmare on Elm Street. No words can express the awesomeness that is Freddy Krueger.
  • I am not perfect, nor will I ever claim that I am.

Enjoy that little look into the person I am, and while you’re at it, go check out these five amazing bloggers:

Again, many thanks to Ritesh and Elisa for passing this award on to me!

Also, let me apologize to everyone for missing the Friday and Sunday posts. Between Christmas approaching, the last week of college before the holidays, and work, it overwhelmed me. Regular posts will continue now!


Life in France: Day 11

Day 11, October 4th

More registering books and magazines today. Same old, same old. What was new at work was that I essentially became a teacher in an English class for an hour. Before the class, I got the homework to correct both in grammar and spelling, as well as the contents of the papers.

Then, in the lessons, the students (nine guys) had to read their texts out loud and I’d ask them questions about the text, correct major pronunciation mistakes and let them know how their accent is when speaking English. A pretty interesting way to spend time, I must say.

One mistake they all had, which I linked back to the French language. When writing the name of a country, they’d write “the Turkey”, “the Belgium”, etc. All of them made that mistake. In French, they say “la France” and “la Belgique”. They essentially translated too literally from French to English and didn’t pay attention to the grammatical rules in English.

Oh well; I told them about that, so with any luck, they’ll keep that in mind.

I found another game reference on a wall. I swear, I just need to go for a walk in this city and look at walls - see what else I find. I demand a Mario reference!

The temperature is finally cooling down, thankfully. It’s been too warm for my liking ever since I made it to France. I need cooler weather! We even had clouds today. Clouds, I say, clouds!

Too bad they didn’t last all day.

Still, the temperature should keep dropping and make it to real autumn weather.  Wind, cooler temperatures and rain: I can’t wait for it to get that far!

Aside from that, today was rather relaxing. No extra stuff done after work; I just went back to the apartment and am now relaxing. Days like these are necessary.

I’m going to see about writing tonight, though. I need to get back into that habit, even if I don’t write every day due to everything going on. I at least want to get a few words in every now and then.

I must make progress!

Writing tonight, back to work tomorrow. I’d better make the most of my evenings.