Author: Natasha Lane

Natasha Lane is an author, booktuber, and owner of the site 24-n-writing. Initially making small splashes in the romance genre, Natasha has refocused her writing on literary fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi. Her first science fiction short “Plugged In” is due to be released this February. She plans to release her fantasy novel “The Mystic Stone” not too long after.

The Hardest Things About Writing

The Hardest Things About Writing

via GIPHY

I don’t think anyone with any common sense would say writing is an easy job. From the actual process of turning our jumbled thoughts into words to the relatives who constantly say “So, when are you going to get a real job?” Yeah… those two examples alone speak volumes about the struggles of being a writer. Still, this isn’t where it ends. There are so many parts of the writing process that make us want to pull our hair out and I’m going to talk about them because I’m at a hair pulling stage.

First, finding beta readers. Oh, my gosh, has there ever been a more impossible task? I think not. It took a lot “finagling”, a ton of back and forth, and a lot of what felt like pulling teeth. In the end, I had had about ten betas but out of those ten only two actually completed the story. Some betas just up and disappeared on me (ghosted…), while others gave me that one-time reply. Needless to say, it really boosted my faith in humanity…

Now, of course, some of my betas had to drop out for more legitimate reasons. A few realized they didn’t have the time, one had a family emergency, and etc. So, don’t think I’m not thankful for the betas I had and for what they contributed even if it wasn’t the entire story. I really am but, man, it sucks to be ditched halfway to the finish line. On that note, let’s talk about editing.

Editing is a part of the publishing process some writers may fear. I actually love the editing process because that means I get to take a break while my book is away being sliced up with red ink. What I don’t like is when I get the manuscript back from my editor because (1) it means my mini-vacation is over and (2) editing isn’t so much a correction of errors in the manuscript but more of a suggestion of what to change. So, even if your editor doesn’t like something in your novel, the final decision still rests on your shoulder as the author which is both a blessing and a curse.

And if you think your edits are going to simply be a few grammar corrections, you’ve got another thing coming, my fellow writer.

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Release Day Announcement

Release Day Announcement

I have to admit there were a few times I didn’t think I’d ever be writing this post. Yet, here I am, typing away at my keyboard with an official release date for my novel. Okay, so here we go.

My young adult fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” will be available for purchase on March 22nd 2018. Of course, it will be available on Amazon but I also plan on using other distribution channels for everyone to have access to it.

I’m really excited to be taking this big step in my writing career. I first started writing this novel when I was in middle school. A favorite teacher of mine had encouraged me to write after doing well on a Language Arts assignment in her class. At the time, I had no clue her encouragement would lead to years of writing, editing, writing some more, market research and…well, you know what I mean. To sum it up, this novel has been a long time in the making.

Additionally, if you’ve been following my journey for some time, you’ll know I’ve only gotten to this point after making lots of mistakes. Though I talk about it openly now, my horrible stumble in the romance genre used to be a sore point for me. Not only was I writing in a genre that I had no interest in at the time but I had no clue what it took to be an author. Of course, learning from those mistakes lead me here, so I wouldn’t change the experiences for anything.

Because this is just an announcement post, it’s not going to be too long. What I want to talk about before wrapping this post up are a few of the themes in “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone.” In the future, I may go into more detail about experiences I’ve had that are reflected in the story. However, for this post, I’m keeping it simple.

One of the major themes is living outside the standard, hence the use of the word pariah which means outcast or reject. Throughout our lives we’re told what we’re supposed to do, who we’re supposed to become and how we’re supposed to act. If you choose to purchase my novel, I hope the idea of breaking those standards comes across to you. Because throughout my life and throughout this writing journey, what I’m learning is that what fits for someone else doesn’t fit for me…and that’s okay. More importantly, I’m learning that there is no such thing as a planned life. Life itself is so sporadic it can never be held down well enough to really be planned.

Usually when one tries to do this, the result isn’t what they exactly expected and they may not even be happy with the life they end up living. So, with that said, live your life as you see fit. Be fearless in your dreams and deviate from the path because climbing a mountain of your choosing is more fulfilling than drowning in a sea of others’ expectations.

And never forget to write your way through life. See ya next week.

Author Highlight: M.G. Herron- Five Tactics Novelists Use to Rescue Themselves from the Soggy Middle

Author Highlight: M.G. Herron- Five Tactics Novelists Use to Rescue Themselves from the Soggy Middle

5 Tactics Novelists Can Use to Rescue Themselves from the Soggy Middle

I’m M.G. Herron, a science fiction author, content strategist, and the founder of the Indie Author Society, a community that helps writers learn the ropes of the publishing business. As an innately adventurous spirit with several years indie publishing sci-fi books and freelance copywriting, I’ve become somewhat adept at writing myself into a corner…and climbing back out again. Here are some of the tactics I employ when the going gets tough, which seems to happen most often in the middle of a novel. Maybe you can find a use for one of these tools in your own arsenal. To learn more about me, or check out my SF adventure/thrillers, visit http://mgherron.com.

It’s almost the middle of November as I write this, which means that thousands of people around the world are approaching the middle of their novel projects for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

The middle of a novel is where a writer’s resolve really gets tested. Perhaps you have already felt bored, stuck, lost, or at a complete dead-end when you’re working on your book.

This is a signal that you’ve reached the soggy middle.

The Soggy Middle

It’s not uncommon for a writer to feel lost in the middle of a long project.

In fact, it’s perfectly normal—even to be expected.

Known as the “soggy middle” or sometimes the more pun-y “muddle,” this is the phase of the project where you, the writer, feel as if you’re lost or stuck.

This is a perfectly natural feeling to have. These, and many others. When Chuck Wendig sardonically constructs the “The Emotional Milestones of Writing a Novel”, the names of the arbitrarily numbered middle points run the gamut of fear and anger and self-doubt, from “Septic Dread” to “Destroy Boredom with a Hammer.”

Which is to say, you’re not alone!

To put it another way, as Stephen King said, “Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction, can be a difficult, lonely job; it’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt.”

The soggy middle is where you let that self-doubt overcome you.

It’s dark. It’s stormy. It’s scary.

You’re paralyzed. You’re frozen. You’re dead in the water.

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Publishing Your Novel In A Not So Nice World

Publishing Your Novel In A Not So Nice World

The thought of finally having your manuscript out in the world is both exhilarating and nausea-inducing. Something you’ve put so much energy, time, and maybe even some tears into (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything) is finally going to be available to the public. You’ll finally be a published author and while the thought of thousands of readers opening your book for the first time and starting the journey builds an indescribable sense of satisfaction in you, in the back of your mind there is doubt.

Because the truth is, not everyone is going to like your novel. Not everyone’s going to like my novel. It’s just how it is.

And while it’s nice to think you may have finally written the universal book, that’s a dream if I ever did see one. I mean, even Harry Potter with all its fandom has critics, reviewers who just weren’t satisfied with the final product. Perhaps, this is hard to believe because the series is so popular it seems to be adored universally and, maybe, it’s even your favorite series. But HP is not without some hate.

No book is.

If you’re like me, at this point in your thought process, you may be thinking “Oh, my green grapes! What if I publish my book and it’s a flop? What if everyone hates it? What if it gets the complete opposite reaction of HP?”

Yeah…

With the release of my novel roughly four to five months away (official release date coming soon), I’m plagued by these thoughts. I try to comfort myself by going through my publishing checklist which isn’t an actual list but more of an outline.

I remind myself of all the tasks I’ve completed on my publishing journey. I’ve had it edited twice, gone through the beta reading process, and ran through my manuscript several times myself. At this point, what more can I really do?

I decide to run through my beta feedback. Despite it being full of positives, I still wonder if they could be the outliers. What if they’re the only group of people who enjoy the novel I’ve been pouring myself into for years?

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All My Characters: The Pieces of Me

All My Characters: The Pieces of Me

This week I did a video on my YouTube Channel discussing why the main character of my novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is a red head. Obviously, this is an odd question to pose and I’m not sure if anyone will understand my purpose behind it but it’s a question I’ve asked myself several times.

Like many authors, aspects of who I am slip into my stories and characters. Some are more intentional, others are complete accidents.

To sum up the video, I realized Sarah was a red head because for me, as a child, being a red head was a sign of the “other.” It was a sign you were an alternative and not a favored one. Additionally, two of my favorite characters from literature are red heads. That is Annie from the musical ‘Annie” and Anne from “Anne of Green Gables.”

Besides their red hair, these characters had several other traits in common. They were witty, talkative, curious, and, sometimes, completely odd. They had a flair for the dramatic and in the end, it’s their own quirks that save the day and make them admirable heroines. Neither Anne nor Annie conformed to what they were supposed to be. Honestly, I’m not sure if they could. It just wasn’t in them.

After doing this bit of self-reflection (writing is amazing, right?), I have a good idea of why Sarah is a curly red head. But as curious as I am, I couldn’t leave it there. I started to wonder where else I had left the pieces of me in my characters and where a therapist would be best to look to get a good idea of my noggin?

Hmmm…

The best answer, of course, is my high school journals. There’s so much hormonal feeling combined with dysfunctional childhood crap in those pages, I think they’d even be too much for Bravo. Considering the dramatic “reality” shows they host, that’s saying something.

Anyway, as I flipped through my journals and old notes, reading bits of stories I wrote (hey, that rhymed!) I noticed a trend. In almost every story I wrote as a kid, the villain was always a woman, often she was the main character’s mother. Though she wasn’t always the evilest of villains, there was a trend, a very disturbing one actually. Because as funny as it is, I have mommy issues.

Ugh, it even reads weird as I’m typing it.

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Dear NanoWriMo: Thanks But No Thanks

Dear NanoWriMo: Thanks But No Thanks

If you’re an aspiring author or in any way involved in the literary community, you’ll know it’s National Novel Writing month. Every year, during the month of November, writers all buckle down in hopes of completing a 50,000-word manuscript in four weeks. Of course, this is no easy task but most things worth having, aren’t easy, right?

Years ago, I participated in NanoWriMo, though I was much younger and didn’t take it as seriously. More recently, I participated in the Chance Challenge which had writers set a goal of 50, 000-words in one month. Despite, me having participated in these challenges years apart, one thing remained true: Writing challenges are just not for me.

I almost hate myself for saying it. NanoWriMo does so many good things for the literary and writing community. Not only does it give a spotlight on new and rising authors, it also gives some writers that kick in the butt they need to finally put pen to paper. Well, more likely finger to keyboard, still the sentiment is the same.

There’s also the amazing comradery it creates! Writers are always stereotyped as being lone introverts who spend hours typing away and tucked in a small shabby room. Yet, not only have so many authors proven this untrue (some of us are extroverts, believe it or not) but social media has opened the door for writers to communicate all over the world. And, now, every November, aspiring authors across the globe cheer one another on as they pound away in the hopes of turning their manuscript into a reality.

Basically, it’s amazing and I wish I could feel that comradery every November and not miss out but the truth is I suck at writing challenges. Not necessarily because I don’t complete them.

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When You’re Over It: This Writer Speaks

When You’re Over It: This Writer Speaks

Okay, this post is going to be pretty short. There will be no editing or prep. I’m just going to write because my brain is mush and I can’t even think about forming proper sentences. I really don’t even want to be staring at the screen right now. My eyelids are fighting to stay open but I’m going to make this happen.

If you follow this blog, you’ll know I haven’t posted in about three weeks. Honestly, I am so sorry about that. I really try to be consistent on all my social media channels bu lately I’ve been done. And that’s what I want to write about. It would be wonderful to think that writing your novel is the easiest part. Sadly, that’s a lie we writers like to tell ourselves. Perhaps, so we get better sleep? Maybe we think lying to ourselves will ward off writer’s block? (P.S. It doesn’t.)

The last two months I’ve been the victim of an endless to-do list. Like, it never stops! There is so much to do and despite my own preparations, I doubt anyone could be 100% ready for this. The post-writing process of a novel includes self-editing, finding an editor, finding a cover artist, beta readers, reviewers, ARC readers, distribution channels, and probably several other things I’m forgetting. Like I said, my brain is mush.

Not to mention, book conventions! They’re fun but they’re also a great place to network with authors and meet potential readers. I mean, to be honest, who wouldn’t have a blast during a weekend dedicated to everything books and writing?

Now, while you’re doing all this stuff for your book, you still have to have a life. Or, at least, some semblance of a life. Oh,, and you have to work, too. Where do you fit all those things in, you ask?

When you figure it out, let me know because I’m going a little crazy over. The freelance work has been rolling in which is good. On the other hand, I crossed my book budget (Did I mention you should have one of those?) and am now expecting to go way over what I would like to. Ugh. Life is cruel and cold I tell you. My budget would still be in tact, for the most part, if I hadn’t have had to hire another editor. My first one was great but I realized I needed one more polish before formatting and uploading it.

Speaking of uploading…

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Author Highlight: Jill Archer-How to Write A Terrific Book Blurb

Author Highlight: Jill Archer-How to Write A Terrific Book Blurb

How to Write a Terrific Book Blurb

Hello, all! I’m Jill Archer, a former lawyer turned librarian who writes fantasy from rural Maryland. As a lifelong reader and frequent peruser of book stacks and shelves, I’ve read a gazillion book blurbs. Some are better than others.

Book blurbs are one of those things (along with synopses and query letters) that writers don’t like to write. If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will likely write it for you, but even then, you should be able to write a good one yourself. Like an outline, a book blurb can be a valuable tool that helps you maintain focus during the drafting stage. Many book blurbs are written after the manuscript is completed, but you don’t have to wait. I always write mine before the book is finished.

(A quick aside: book blurbs are sometimes referred to as “back cover copy” and a “blurb” can also mean a quote from another author who has something nice to say about your book. Confusing? Yeah, I hear you. Lots of things in publishing are.)

Here are some tips to help get you started on writing the book description type of blurb:

  1. Keep it short. Shoot for no more than 250 words. A longer blurb won’t make a reader want to read your book. A succinct hook and an enticing, brief description will.
  2. Keep it simple. Some writers are tempted to over explain or cram their entire story onto the back of their book. Don’t. Take some time to figure out what your core story is. Don’t include subplots. Try to use words that don’t require explanation.
  3. No spoilers! Don’t give away any plot points that occur after the first third of your book.
  4. Don’t include too many character names. The blurb is where you paint the broad brushstrokes of your story. Identifying more than three characters by name is off-putting, even to readers who like stories with myriad character viewpoints.
  5. Anchor the reader in space and time. Readers like to know where and when the story will take place. Don’t make them guess.
  6. Follow genre conventions. Romance blurbs usually reference both the hero and the heroine. Urban fantasy blurbs talk about the main character’s magic or special power. Mysteries usually involve a murder or a crime. Epic fantasies often center on wars or quests. Readers should be able to tell what type of story the book is by reading its blurb.
  7. Hint at something significant. A big risk. Something dangerous. A monumental love affair. A transformative journey. Make sure the reader knows that they, through the characters, will experience something meaningful by reading the book.

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Baltimore Bookfest: Finding Your Tribe

Baltimore Bookfest: Finding Your Tribe

Have you ever gone somewhere and felt like you belonged? Like you were with people who got you and you got them? Well, that’s exactly how I felt at this year’s Baltimore Bookfest. This reader nerd (I say it with pride) festival was three days of any book lover’s dream. Not only were there tons of books for sale (which I brought a very nice amount of) but there were so many panels on both writing and reading.

Needless to say, I was in a sort of reader bliss. But what really trumped it all was the feeling of community. Perhaps I’m gushing over nothing. I mean, there are tons of ways to connect with readers and fellow writers both online and offline. Yet, how often do you get to bond with this many literary lovers for a whole weekend? I mean there were hundreds of bookworms gathered at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor this past weekend and though we have some disagreements (met a few fans of “Twilight” which I am not), we still share that common love of a cozy book.

Two organizations present at the Baltimore Bookfest were the Science Fiction&Fantasy Writers of America and Maryland Romance Writers. I spent most of the three days going between these two groups to attend various panels. The panelists were (of course) members of their respective organizations but they were also experienced authors, some self-published, others traditionally published, all offering great insight into the world of professional writing.

Two of my favorite panels were “Cracking the New York Times Best Seller List” and “How to Self-Publish Your Novel.” What was so enjoyable about these panels was the sheer honesty. The authors were very candid in their own statements and in their responses to questions. Nothing was sugar coated and, let me tell you, if you thought the panel on the New York Times was going to be some setp-by-step, boy are you wrong. Instead of getting some crappy how-to guide, we attendees got a nice dose of the truth aka there’s no key to cracking the New York Times list. The list itself isn’t even based on who has the highest sales. You can imagine my face when I heard that. Jaw dropping doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

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“Saving Jace”: A Review

“Saving Jace”: A Review

Title: Saving Jace
Series: A Fada Novel Book 4
Author: Rebecca Rivard
Genre: paranormal romance (sexy/steam)
(can be standalone)
Release Date: September 25, 2017

THE DARKTIME ISN’T OVER…

Jace Jones, a Baltimore earth fada lieutenant, lost nearly his entire family in the clan war known as the Darktime. Scarred by the deaths, he pours his soul into rebuilding the clan. The only person who has a claim on his heart is his niece. Then an attack by a night fae assassin leaves him dying on a human’s doorstep…

Tough, edgy Evie Morningstar is doing her best to raise a teenage brother on a waitress’s pay. She has no time for men—until the sexy jaguar shifter is stabbed just steps from her house. Evie hides Jace from the night fae, saving his life—only to find that both she and her brother have been drawn into the fada’s dangerous world.

(This post is a part of a blog tour. Keep reading for a chance to win a giveaway!)

Excerpt:
Someone was watching her.
Evie gripped her keys and glanced around.
The watcher was standing in the shadows across the alley. His eyes gave him away: a faint, luminous green.
Her heart kicked into a gallop. “Jace?” she called. “Is that you?”
Please let it be him.
He stepped out of the shadows. She blew out a breath. It was Jace.
He crossed the alley in a few long, loose strides. An atavistic tremor went down her spine. This was the real Jace—and he was nothing like the injured, feverish victim of last week. No, this man was dark. Powerful. Raw-boned. A panther in a T-shirt and jeans.
She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, because damn it, she’d saved the man’s life. She refused to let him spook her.
He stopped a few feet away. “Hello, Evie.”
He was bigger than she remembered, but then, last week he’d been hunched over nursing his injuries. Now she realized he was a good half foot taller than her with the lean, hard build of a soldier. Another shiver went down her spine—but this one had nothing to do with fear.

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