Author: Natasha D. Lane

Natasha D. Lane is a friend of most things caffeinated, a lover of books, and a writing warrior to her core. As a big believer in the idea that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” she graduated from Juniata College in 2015 with hopes of becoming a journalist. While she still holds on to that dream, after spending some time in the corporate world and then completing a year of service, she decided it was time to return to publishing. Her first fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is one of several works she plans on completing. If there were a single piece of advice Natasha could give to young writers, it’d be this: Write your way through life.
More Than Enough: Ingredients to Happiness

More Than Enough: Ingredients to Happiness

Life has a wonderfully horrible way of placing us in difficult situations in order for us to grow. While so much can be going right, like the completion of a novel and a book being published, behind the scenes so much can be going wrong. During the difficult stretches in life, it’s natural for us to reach out to those who support us: friends, family, the local bakeries, etc. However, I think it’s key that we also learn to rely on ourselves during these periods, as well. I say this because I think it is during our most trying times that we realize how strong we actually are. We realize that we are more than enough.

Several days ago, I found myself completely distraught with a troubling situation. Like anyone, I reached out to someone close to me for support which they gave and then some. The next day I wasn’t feeling much better. As if my friend has some psychic ability they messaged me and kept me distracted throughout the day. It was a very welcome distraction, trust me.

But the next day they didn’t message me and I found myself feeling a little sad. Yes,  the troubling situation had lessened some but I still wanted those happy texts to keep my mind from wandering. I thought of texting them but they had already done so much, I didn’t want to ask for more. Most importantly, I wanted them to want to text me vs. me constantly messaging them which, after awhile, can start to feel like begging. Soon I was frequently checking my phone “just to be sure” I didn’t miss a message. I’d do this even though I hadn’t heard my phone beep.

My actions started feeling desperate. Yes, what was happening was taking a large emotional toll on me but could I really ask someone else to carry that burden with me? Could I really ask someone to constantly be there to help me as I struggled?

To a certain extent, yes, but also no. Because the reality is, at the end of the day, the only person who is necessary in the recipe to my happiness is me.

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Knowing & Loving Your Scars

Knowing & Loving Your Scars

I’m not looking to bring bad news to people. I’m really not. Maybe it’s just the pessimist in me (I prefer the term realist. My friends disagree) but I don’t believe all “wounds” heal. It sucks to say but I believe in honesty, so, there’s my truth.

I do think that time can make wounds easier to live with, though it’s not likely to completely erase the infliction. Once I heard someone describe pain or hurt like a heavy stone in your pocket. At first, it weighs a ton and drags you down. Then, as time goes on, the stone shrinks. Eventually, it gets to the point you often forget it’s there and you go on living your life, occasionally remembering the stone that is now a pebble.

I’m pretty sure I read that in a book but, for the life of me, I cannot remember what book. If anyone knows, please post the title in the comments section.

Anyway, I’m quite comfortable with the idea that all wounds don’t heal and that they simply shrink over time. This concept appeals to me because I feel like it’s realistic. We’ve all have had “wounds” in our lives. Sometimes they’re physical like falling off your bike as a kid and scrapping your leg up. Other times, they’re emotional/mental like losing someone close to you and how we deal with these wounds differs, as well.

Not to be a Debbie Downer again but I think some people are overcome by their hurt, their wounds, their pain. This isn’t me passing judgment. I’m only giving a thought.

I think there are several factors that separate those who are overcome from those who turn the stone into a pebble. One of the biggest factors is an outlet. You have to be able to let out all your feelings somewhere. Of course, that’s not always easy and everyone’s situation is different.

For me, that outlet was and is writing. I’ve added other things in, too but writing has been a constant. There is something so empowering about taking pen to paper. Seeing the dark ink streaked across the blank pages, feeling the pen as it presses into the notebook and you begin to release all the things inside of you.

I love that feeling. I’ll never not love that feeling. Plus, it’s way better than going around just breaking stuff or punching people. 🙂

To wrap things up, I think what I’m trying to get at is that wounds–physical or otherwise–don’t just vanish one day. For some people, they fester. For others, they shrink, they fade into scars, they become pebbles.

And you can start your healing process right now. Pick up a pen, grab a piece of paper, write and leave everything on the page.

 

Question: What are some outlets you use to deal with crap? Do you think all wounds heal and that I’m just a Negative Nancy?

 

 

(Liked what you read? Did I mention I guest blog on readsandreels, too?
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Author Highlight: Heather Elizabeth King- Scaring the Crap Out of Your Readers Pt 1

Author Highlight: Heather Elizabeth King- Scaring the Crap Out of Your Readers Pt 1

Scaring the Crap Out of Your Readers

Hi guys! I’m Heather Elizabeth King and I write supernatural mysteries and paranormal romance. I’ve been a lover of scary movies and scary books since I can remember. By the time I put fingers to keyboard I’d probably seen over a hundred horror movies, so writing scary stories came naturally for me. Almost everything I write has a supernatural element in it, so it seems fitting for me to give advice on how to scare readers.

Like I said, I write supernatural mysteries and paranormal romance. And when I say paranormal romance, I don’t mean sexy lycan and brooding vampires. The paranormal element in my books is always something beastly and scary. I’ve tried to write about happy people living normal lives, but inevitably, a ghost pops up or an undead creature comes sauntering into town. I just can’t help myself. And when a reader tells me one of my books gave them nightmares, I feel it’s a job well done.

You may find it hard to believe that it’s possible, with only words, to scare someone so much that they have bad dreams, but it is possible and not as hard as you may think. If you’re thinking about writing a supernatural mystery or a horror, here are four ways to use DESCRIPTION to scare your readers senseless.

DESCRIPTION

Description is important in every genre of fiction. When I write erotic romance, the description I use is meant to arouse the reader. When I write romance, the description I use is meant to make the reader fall in love with the hero. When I write supernatural, the description I use is meant to scare the reader. But not only that.

A writer who has mastered the art of using description to tell a story is a writer who can transport their readers anywhere. Good description lets the reader feel like they’re in your fiction world. Good description will make the reader feel like she can smell the pumpkin pie your heroine’s mom is cooking, taste the hot tea the heroine is drinking, see the creature that’s partially hidden in the trees, feel the coarse skin of the thing that has cornered the heroine, and hear the heavy breathing of an assailant. Description is one of the most important tools in an author’s arsenal.

  • Use the senses – I touched on this a bit when I talked about Description. A character’s senses are a key ingredient in good description. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked. There’s so much that can be done with a character’s senses. Most authors use the sense of sight, but what about hearing. Does your character hear a sound that shouldn’t be there? Footsteps? The sound of a door closing in an empty house? These things are so simple, yet so perfect in creating the right, scary atmosphere.

Sometimes, the first indicator a character has that something is wrong is because they smell something that shouldn’t be there. In Patricia Cornwell novels, she does such a great job writing about the smells of a crime scene and autopsy suite that the reader nearly gags in disgust.

Using a character’s senses to let the reader know something scary is about to happen isn’t hard, but it’s very effective and worth the extra effort.

  • How do the characters feel? This seems obvious, but writers often forget to let the reader know how your characters feels about what is happening to them? Are they scared? Are they happy? Confused? Tell the reader AND show the reader. It’s vital the reader knows how your characters are reacting to what is happening to them and around them. Why? Because letting readers know how your characters feel is a great tool in telling your readers (without telling your readers) how they should feel.

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Author Highlight: Heather Elizabeth King- Scaring the Crap Out of Your Readers Pt 2

Author Highlight: Heather Elizabeth King- Scaring the Crap Out of Your Readers Pt 2

Scaring the Crap Out of Your Readers

PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

Below is an excerpt from chapter two of my novel, Doomsday. I chose it because it has all of the elements I discussed: using the senses, telling the reader how the characters feel, making sure the characters come across as human, and using imagination to draw the reader in a supernatural world.

Doomsday – A Remy Jones Mystery

My breath caught. Had I been wrong? Had I missed her pulse and mistaken her for

dead? Not only that, she had changed. She didn’t seem freshly dead anymore. Her skin had

taken on a sickly tinge, her flesh sagging as though it had rotted in the few seconds since I’d

turned away from her. To look at her, she could have been dead for days.

“Vincent,” I whispered.

He looked at me, then followed my pointing finger to the spot on the ground where the

woman was.

Her arm twitched.

“Damn,” he said.

Not exactly what I wanted to hear. If he was nervous I figured that meant I should be

scared witless.

“Remy,” he continued, speaking in the same quiet voice I had used, “I want you to walk

slowly out of the food court. When you get into the square, run for the corridor. You got me?”

Mouth open, I was breathing too heavily to give him a verbal response. I nodded. “Let’s go,” he moved from behind the counter. “Keep it nice and calm.”

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There Are Two Types of Writers…

There Are Two Types of Writers…

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A few weeks ago I saw a tweet that I haven’t been able to forget.

It was a few days before the new year and an author I follow had tweeted about being positive for 2018. Specifically, she mentioned not comparing yourself to other writers, writing what you want to write and other sentiments along those lines.

I actually replied to her tweet and commented about my own feelings for the new year. Like many authors, I sometimes fall into the trap of comparing myself to others in the industry. Not the big wigs like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. I understand gaining success like that takes (1) time, (2) talent, (3) hard work, (4) perfect timing and (5) the stars aligning just right.

That said, I never compare myself to such successful authors. However, lesser known authors with solid fan bases and high ratings who write stuff I read on Quizilla when I was in high school…yeah, sometimes I fall into the trap of comparison here.

Now, of course, this may make me sound like some sort of literary snob. The type of person who swoons over the classics and longs for “the better days” of literature, right?

Well, I’m not. Far from it, actually. I’m a big believer in reading what you want to, as well as writing what you want to write. No questions asked. However, I’ve read several books that have darn near perfect ratings on GoodReads and Amazon but offer me nothing as a reader (this is only my opinion after all). Usually, these books will do several things right. They’ll have instances of suspense that draw me in but, then quickly deflate me. Overall, the stories don’t develop well and I’m left wanting more.

Still, these authors have a solid following and are making bank (from an outsider’s perspective, at least).

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And isn’t that what every author dreams of? Having a solid fan base? Living, if only in part, off their writing?

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The Countdown Begins!

The Countdown Begins!

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Holy kapoodle sticks! I’m nine weeks and six days away from my release date. In that short period of time, the story I’ve been working on for years is going to be available to the world. Deep breath, Tasha, deep breath…

 

 

Aw, who am I kidding?

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I can’t wait. I’m like a kid going to the state fair for the first time. Basically, I’m in this constant state of happy shock. Does that make sense? It’s like I know a lot of crap is happening, a lot of last minute frustrating crap but when I think of my book releasing, I’m back in my happy place. And everything’s wonderful in my happy place.

But, like I said, there’s still a to-do list:

1) Order all the giveaway items
2) Finish the paperback formatting
3) Complete the plan for my blog tour
4) Complete the plan for my FB Release Party
5) Stay sane

Not sure I’ll be able to do the last task, at least not successfully. One through four seem doable, though but seriously, guys, I’m really excited. All joking aside this is a very important moment for me. There was a point in my life I didn’t think I’d ever publish this novel—my own piece of writing that I actually want to publish.

In a way, by finally getting “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” released, I’m doing a type of self-confirming. I’m proving to myself that I can turn my dreams into a reality and that I am capable of transforming pieces of me into something others can relate to.

That makes me feel pretty good.

And in celebration of all this goodness and awesomeness, I’m doing a giveaway!

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Okay, so it’s simple. Follow this link here to win a free copy of the science fiction short “Plugged In.” It’ll take you to a page where you’ll be asked to subscribe to my newsletter (I don’t spam so no worries). Once you’ve subscribed and confirmed your subscription, you’ll receive two emails.

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2018 Going My Way

2018 Going My Way

Hi, lovelies and happy Wednesday!

I hope your new year has gotten off to a good start. Of course, with the new year comes a lot of new year resolutions. I have to admit, I’m not big into the whole concept. I enjoyed it when I was younger, especially in my teen years but as I’ve gotten older I’ve kind of fallen off. I think the more confident I’ve become the less I’ve needed the resolutions because if I want to do something, I do it. I don’t wait for the next year to roll around.

Now, please, don’t think I’m slamming those of you who use new year resolutions. For a lot of people, they work wonders. Many people use them as a type of spark for the new year that drives them until the year concludes. People grow and develop at their own pace. But I’m not that patient which can be both a blessing and curse.

Thankfully, I’m not alone and one way I started this year right was by following Leigh Bardugo.

If you follow me on any of my social media, you’ll know I’m a fan of Bardugo’s. I started following her on Instagram and Pintrest when 2017 was wrapping up. By following her, I found her #BAYMTGO tag on Instagram. It stands for “begin as you mean to go on.” Basically, start your new year as you want it to continue–set the foundation.

Me, being as impatient as I am, I was down for this mantra. Additionally, it gave me the final push I needed to refuse all those New Year’s Day celebrations. In a way, I felt like I was being rude by not jumping at the invitations as soon as they came in. However, the truth was I had no interest in attending them. I was really over the holidays which makes me sound like a Scrooge but it’s true. I hate feeling forced to spend time with people because it’s a specific time of year and society dictates I do so. I can engage with family and friends as we see fit, so holiday ” social requirements” can come off as a little pushy.

Does that make sense?

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Anyway, I spent New Year’s Eve alone. And I was so happy. I watched some anime I needed to catch up on, got a decent amount of work done and headed to bed early. Of course, everyone shouting at midnight woke me up (idiots) but, hey, I fell back to sleep eventually.

I also spent the first day of the new year working, too. Did I take it a little easy on myself? Yeah, I guess you could say that but I still had a to-do list I knocked out. So many people were celebrating though. People were going to see family, friends, they were going to parties and other events, holding off starting their new year until they were done celebrating. It was the socially acceptable thing to do but not what I wanted to do.

So, instead, I watched the hashtag, watched Ms. Bardugo’s stories on Insta and did what needed to be done. One thing I’m particularly proud of is that I added over a thousand words to the second book I’m working on. After doing this, I checked my calendar and I realized I was on track to finish my second novel by February if I write a thousand words each day. I’m over the hurdle and I started my new year right–by doing what I plan on doing for the rest of the year, by doing what makes me happy, not what’s expected.

Of course, it’s only the third day of 2018 but my to-do lists have been getting done and I have to say I’m happy.

Things really are going my way in 2018. I have two new group boards on Pinterest (for writers and for readers), two review companies have gotten back to me, I’m going to be featured in a webzine, and, to put it simply, I’ve been killing it on the business end.

And I don’t plan on stopping.

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What I’m Learning About Myself Through Self-Publishing

What I’m Learning About Myself Through Self-Publishing

First, I should start by saying sorry, or at least explain where I’ve been. It’s been about a month since my last post which is out of the norm for me. If you consistently follow this blog, you’ll know I post once a week, usually on Wednesday mornings. Well, that hasn’t been happening and to put it simply, I became a bit overwhelmed. Having so much to do with so little time in the day led to a big burnout and, so, I stepped away from the blog. However, I’m back now, my tail is fluffed, and I’m ready to go.

During, my “break” (or breakdown, your choice) I had time to do a lot of introspection. I could actually sit down and just think about how I was feeling and where the heck my life was going. This lead to a revelation.

As stressful as it may be at times, self-publishing has taught me a lot. Yes, there are some “hard” skills that I’ve acquired such as KDP/Createspace formatting and some skills in Photoshop. More importantly, however, it’s taught me more about myself including how damn tenacious I really am.

I’m always odd about discussing myself, specifically giving myself praise. I believe in humility, yet sometimes I think I need to give myself props. We all need to give ourselves a pat on the back every now and again.

With that said, I am a determined, relentless, ambitious, awesome, damn-near-close-to-an-Amazonian warrior badass. Yes, I said it and damn does it feel good. Call me arrogant if you’d like but typing those words felt REALLY good. Like ice cream sundae and fudge brownie on a swing good. You know what I mean?

As a self-published author, I had to go through a huge learning curve. I’m a big planner and I put a lot of thought into every aspect of my novel including the writing, editing, marketing, distribution and etc. Basically, I didn’t just jump into this head first and let the waves take me where they must, at least not with this novel. Some of my past work has been another story…

Anyway, there were some things I had to learn as I went along and there were so many times I wanted to quit. But I didn’t.

The other day I was setting up my first landing page with MailerLite. Now, hear me out here. I am, in no way, a tech person. I don’t wait for the latest gadgets, I’m not subscribed to any tech newsletter and I don’t have a natural affinity for anything tech. Besides the basics of computers and phones, I’m pretty much dead weight. This is a fact and, even though it took me hours, I set up my landing page successfully. Actually, I set up two pages successfully. 🙂

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I typed away at my computer, hit up customer service twice, read some how-to articles and I didn’t stop until it was done. I didn’t have to call someone else in to set it up for me, I didn’t have to outsource (who has money for that) the work. I did it all on my own.

Basically, I’m proud of myself. And while this was one task on my to-do list, there’s so much I accomplish in a week. I handle the grocery budget for my household, as well as the actual cooking and most of the finances. I researched and requested reviews from several companies and already have a list of ARC readers set up (psssst…let me know if you want to join). I manage all of my own social media including the content, some of which I create myself. I also review books and am doing this while wrapping up my own novel and finishing up a work-in-progress.

Lastly, because I decided to hold back on grad school, I’ve had to alter my plans for the new year and my life seems to be taking an interesting twist. So, yes, I am very damn proud of myself.

Question: What are some things you’ve learned about yourself through writing? Any successes you’d like to share?

 

 

(Liked what you read?  Did I mention I guest blog on readsandreels, too?
You can check out my latest post “Nice Guys Finish Last…But Why?” by following the link.
Follow me on TwitterFacebook or subscribe here and get a free short story. )

The Hardest Things About Writing

The Hardest Things About Writing

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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.