The one with ALL the emotions ... #utopiacon2017

Have you ever had a pinch me moment? Since publishing Never Let You Fall I've had an abundance of them, but this weekend sort of takes the cake. 

I'm a storyteller. My Barbies and paper dolls had elaborate, angst-filled lives that would make Days of Our Lives proud. I failed second-semester seventh-grade math because I spent the time writing stories instead of learning fractions. I took my job as Student Life writer on my high school yearbook to new levels with creatively written pieces about, among other things, the cowboy boot fashion trend of the early 90s and used the names of every toothpaste possible to write a punny piece on smiling. (Side note: I need to pull that one for y'all one of these days!)

I'm a writer. I kept a journal of my relationship with my high school sweetie—now husband—and I wrote poems and songs constantly. I also practiced my signature in hopes that one day I'd autograph things for fans. 

I'm extremely grateful and blessed to do what I love. Yes, I'm a words girl but words cannot explain how much UtopiaCon (formerly UtopYACon) means to me. My tribe came from this event. I've met strong, capable, creative women and men at this event. I learned to allow myself to want something more at Utopia. It's with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to UtopiaCon, but my heart bursts with joy at knowing I only need to open social media to find this tribe and share in the joy, pain, and thrills of writing. 

This year was epic. The highlight? The Paper Planes series was nominated for FIVE UtopiaCon awards. We didn't win, but guys! FIVE awards. Against some of our favorite authors. For real, check out a few of the lists ...

We lost to Sarah J. Maas, Colleen Hoover, Tijan, Rachel Higginson, and Jennifer L. Armentrout. We were nominated for Book of the Year! Contemporary series of the year! Guys, for real —pinch me!! It REALLY is an honor just to be nominated, especially with these very deserving creatives.

Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for loving our unique brand of crazy. I am so, so grateful. I write with my best friend. I love what I do. I can't wait to do it some more!

Keep reading!

 

The life of a pantster . . .

Q: when you write a book, do you make it up as you go along or do you have it all worked out before you start writing? - Natalie

Pantster

A person who writes by 'the seat of her pants' as opposed to a plotter, one who plans or outlines her writing. Term used, and popularized, by writers, and is familiar with the writing community of the American-based writing contest NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that started in 1999, and other such contests. A general term for a writer of this approach. Antonyms: plotter, outliner, planner.

 

That's just about all you need to know Natalie :)

Yep, I write by the seat of my pants. I let my characters do the walking and talking. When Mindy and I began writing Paper Planes I can tell you we had NO idea where it would go. The only plot we had down was these two teens write letters. Period. Everything came organically, and that is how most of my stuff is written. 

I write out of order, too. I wrote this line from From The Wreckage first:

Why did you wait for me?”
Jules freezes.
“At the house, when you were inside and safe,” he clarifies, in case she doesn’t know what he is asking about. “Why did you wait for me?
— West and Jules, From The Wreckage


If you've read the story then you know this scene is from Chapter 11. See, sometimes I can base an entire story around a line. Tyalbrook began with 'are you safe?'

Last Call grew from the wedding invitation. 
Into the Fire grew from a line Dani said to West in Out of Ruins. Dani herself wasn't a planned character. She forced her way into my mind and into the book.

I punish myself because I lived.
— Dani, Into The Fire

That one line I never planned became a novel. 
I'm a pantster. I allow the story to write itself. 
And I love it. And hate it . . .

I hate it because sometimes the story doesn't want to follow the path I choose. I realize that probably sounds crazy to a non-writer. Case in point. I'm currently writing After The Fall.  I thought I knew what I wanted the story to be. 

Yea, no.

Austin, like the other Rutledge boy we've all come to know and love, has a mind of his own. He HATES where I want to take him. He refuses to allow me to write his story the way I planned it. So I've had to start fresh. My characters are still the same. The storyline is still basically the same, but the tone is different. Tone is HUGE in storytelling.  With this change comes a new blurb. 

After The Fall is already up on Goodreads and iBooks, so I will change the blurbs asap. Hopefully, those who have already pre-ordered it with the original blurb will love this one better. I know I do. 

Oh the joys of pantster life. It makes writing a bit more difficult when you don't know where you're going, but then again therein lies the fun. Adventure with every tap of the key!

 

Whatcha reading?

This year I pledged I would read books from my personal shelves more often. I buy a lot of books based on covers because I LOVE pretty things! It's been fun finally reading those pretty books. This week I devoured these three . . .

We were liars - This YA was nothing like what I expected. Amazing prose. Standalone
Zero Day - A YA political suspense/thriller that was fast paced and fun. Possibly a series, has an ending but could certainly go on.
The Shadow Society - Loved this YA alter-dimensional paranormal thriller. I guess that's what we call it. I read all 400 pages in one day. I wanted more in the end, but it seems to be a standalone. That cover tho! (drool!)

Have you read these yet? What did you think?

Want to keep up with my reading in 2016? I updated THIS Pinterest page as I go.
 

Be Inspired.

....the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.


I'm constantly in awe of our ability to create. Composers, writers, designers, artists, producers, actors, photographers. People who have a vision. People who have a dream. People who open our eyes to something unseen. That is amazing.

I'm inspired by these people. Daily.
By the story of love told with eyes, lips and hands through a photographer's lens.
By the haunting melody of a violin and the throbbing rhythm of a drum.
By words of hate, of love, of loss and of hope, all written as though they're blood pouring through a vein.. 

I'm inspired by life. Real, beautiful, horribly painful, never dull life.
My children's will to try again and again.
My husband's undying devotion.
My friends' passion for their craft.

I'm inspired by the life I've led. The life I live. And the life yet unseen.
My past. My present. My future.

I'm inspired by my demons, my fire within, my soul, my longing for more, my contentment with less.

What inspires you?
 

I'm working on an amazing and time-consuming project right now. I'm digging deeper than I ever have to make this, my #nola project, the most amazing story. It's my fire and my demons that fuel these characters and so I've found the perfect inspiration in these lyrics from one of the most beautiful songs I know. 
I hope these two lines tell you all you need to know about John, a man hell-bent on vengeance and me, a writer who's fueled by the flames within. I allow them to lick at my heels and show me the way, but I never let them run me.