It’s day two of RWA’s virtual writer’s conference. I have dreamed of attending a Romance Writer’s of America conference for years but never expected my first one to be online. Thank you, Covid-19. Our world changed this year but as librarian keynote speaker, Virginia Kantra said, the need for stories hasn’t changed. We shouldn’t wait until we’re dead for someone else to tell our story. If you are a writer or a storyteller, tell your story now.
“Use your words. Find your voice. Don’t be afraid to share yourself, to tell your story. Your experience matters.” I felt Virginia was speaking straight to me. For years I’ve ducked my head afraid to speak. I felt no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I wasn’t even sure what it was I wanted to say. Who am I and why does my story matter?
Each time I brave a new crowd whether it is online or in person, I discover many people feel the same way I do. They want to be heard but they are unsure of the message they want to deliver. They want to think about it and speak with care often losing their opportunity to voice their views. As writers we can tell our side through our characters’ perspective. We can show readers our stories without preaching. We don’t have to raise our voices to be heard over the crowd because in the silence of the pages a whisper has much greater impact.
If you are a writer and you don’t have a writers’ group, you need one. Whether it is online or in person, a writer’s group offers support and a sense of community to what is a very lonely profession. I joined the Romance Writer’s of America in 2009 after attending a Romantic Times Convention. I was lucky enough to have been chosen for the first Ann Peach Scholarship for New Writers where I met the late author, Judi McCoy. She encouraged us to believe in ourselves, our craft and to find others who shared our passion. With a love of romance, I joined RWA and later the Heart of Carolina, our local chapter. I also went in search of a writer’s group closer to home and found the Pamlico Writer’s Group.
Well, I should get ready for my next program, I’m hosting a Writer’s Block Meet Up. Do you suffer from writer’s block?
Understanding the science of what a story does to a brain. Writing well and telling a good story aren’t always the same thing. You can have all of the mechanics correct but if you don’t reach the reader and excite their emotions and desires, the story can fall flat. This book shows how to excite the mind and entertain readers. Humans have always enjoyed stories. Our earliest stories were told as a way of warning. Story gives readers a chance to experience events without fear. Telling a story that makes the reader feel all the emotions and sensations of truly being there is what makes a great author that is what Wired for Story tries to teach us.
YouTube host and author, Abbie Emmons and online workshop instructor and author, Angela Knight both suggested reading Wired for Story to better understand how to tell a story that will entice readers. Abbie Emmons uses science to teach writers on her YouTube channel taking the latest science information to explain how the brain reacts to story. Angela Knight teaches a class online Blast-Off Beginnings, about the making the first pages of the story so good the reader has no choice but finish the book. (Okay, that’s a little more than she promised but I can be hopeful.)
Welcome Natalie, it is so good to have you at my virtual café.
Natalie: Thank you Sherri, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Sherri: Natalie and I met through our Twitter group Shameless Self-Promo. I am so glad I got involved with this group. I have met some wonderful people.
Natalie: It has been a very supportive community, and I’m glad I found it.
Sherri: You are an author, poet, and priestess. Do these three connect?
Natalie: In my mind they do. I am a sea priestess by training and with that came a dedication to verse and poetry. But because of my novels, I’ve had to put the poetry on the back burner. I have been able to work some poems into my stories, generally by weaving into the tale by way of a spell, all my stories have magic in them some how.
Sherri: When did you first discover your love of writing?
Natalie: I first started writing poetry in high school, the stories were a bit later. Even though I enjoyed writing stories, I could never finish them A poem was quick (for me anyway), and it was done. I found I liked that, the immediate release from getting that which was in my head, out. When I got into college, the first time around, I started having recurring dreams, very specific, very repetitive dreams. I was forced to start writing them down. Most of the ones from that period (2005-2008) are lost, but a couple from my time in university (2008-2015) survived and I am working on finishing them. That in and of itself is exhilarating. Coming back to a project, realizing what I was trying to convey, and then having the voices return to get me to finish the project.
Sherri: When did you first become a published author?
Natalie: My first book, Love and Pain in Zion, was published on December 13, 2019 on Amazon.
Sherri: Are you indie published or traditionally published? What obstacles did you face when you first began your career as a published author?
Natalie: I’m independently published, through Amazon KDP. My main obstacle is marketing, honestly, I’m not very good at putting myself out there. Just publishing has been a nerve-wracking experience for me. But I’m trying, and I’m getting a few sales here and there. Having a couple more books up certainly helps.
Sherri: What are some of the things you’ve learned along the journey that you wish to tell others who are hoping to become published?
Natalie: Don’t stop. Don’t think you can’t do it. Because you can. Keep pushing forward, because the only person who is truly stopping you from doing what you want, is you.
Sherri: How do you juggle real life with your writing, publishing, and promoting?
Natalie: I haven’t, really. I wrote while I was in class, or working. Not so much that it distracted me from finishing my work or school work, but I wrote whenever I could. And now, with three books up on Amazon, I’m really working on the promotion and marketing aspects. I’ve been a little lucky. My job contract ended while we are in quarantine/lockdown, so I’ve been able to devote more time to my writing and promotion. But it has still affected my family life, I haven’t been as engaged in helping my stepson with his schoolwork, and it’s straining our relationship.
Sherri: Do you have any writing/business tips or tricks that have helped you that you’d be willing to share?
Natalie: Keep a book or a journal with you to scribble down ideas, because I’ve been out someplace and had an amazing idea for how to connect two plot points, and nothing to scribble on. And yes, I know that all phones have a notepad, I never seem to remember that. Then I lose the connection and must struggle later to recall it. Also, no idea is too silly. It may not fit with one story, but it may start off a separate one.
Sherri: Share with us one of your favorite moments as a writer/author.
Natalie: When my first book was officially published, I cried a little. Also, when I received the first author copy of “Love and Pain in Zion!”
My second favourite memory, was when my friend told me that he bought the eBook of Apotheosis, but then stopped reading it when he found out there was a paperback, and ordered the paperback. He put reading it on hold until the physical book came in.
Sherri: If you could turn back time, what would you do differently?
Natalie: I’d focus on finishing my stories earlier, get them published sooner, and focus more heavily on promotion and marketing. I think that if I had devoted more active time to my writing, I’d have more finished, and may be a little more along than I am.
Sherri: What do you have in the works now?
Natalie: The next one to finish, hopefully, is The Domed City (working title), is currently up on Wattpad, along with my other works in progress. I don’t see the end to it though, but I am enjoying the ride that Jillian is taking me on. Also, I would very much like to work on my poetry some more.
If you enjoyed our chat, follow Natalie on social media and check out her books. Her links are below: