Updated: Jan 16
Hey there! Thanks for dropping by. I'm Natalie, a 26-year-old marketing professional and videographer. I'm really lucky that my husband and I run our own business, leaving me some time to explore my passions--like writing books and knowing too much about the Bachelor even though I don't usually watch it. My talents include convincing myself that articles about early death related to french fry consumption are a hoax, kissing dogs, and buying too many notebooks.
I typically write YA fantasy but hope to expand into Adult and MG at some point. I'd also really, really love to get into screenwriting someday.
My #1 goal in life is to be a safe place for everyone (Except jerks. Jerks can stay outside.)
My #2 goal in life is to have a perfect GIF for any situation because, while I'm a writer, I don't always know how to use words to express myself.
I firmly believe that GIFs are God's gift to autistic people (like me, anyway) because it's easier to read intention in those (most of the time) than plain text. I also love emojis.
Due to my profession and the general state of my face, most people assume I'm like this:
But the reality is a bit...different :
As far as my writing journey goes, I wrote two picture books in elementary school (as many did in class), but my first unassigned “novel” was in 7th grade. The ledger notebook I used to write it is somewhere in my basement surrounded by booby traps. It was a historical romance written by a 12-year-old girl whose only research was watching Pride & Prejudice (2005) 87 times. I received a Christmas present from Mr. Darcy that year, but not a proposal. How dare.
I did some writing throughout high school, even a wildly different version of THE BOOK (we'll get to that later), but never really finished anything. I was driven to telling stories by my love of reading, and my somewhat lonely existence as a mega nerd. Some of my favorites were Ella Enchanted, The Hunger Games, and Twilight (don't @ me for being honest, my dudes). I've also always been a huge fan of poetry and essay style works--think Walden, The Things They Carried, and Teaching a Stone to Talk. My taste in poetry, at present, includes Andrea Gibson, Rudy Francisco, and Sarah Kay (who I could listen to all day, every day).
My admiration for poetry, I believe, bleeds through in my writing. Not always in a good way. When I began, I had quite a bit of purple prose. BUT WE'RE LEARNING AND GROWING.
I stopped reading and writing in college. Which is sort of a bad thing to do when you're trying to get a degree. I had a crisis of identity and ultimately left school to start working, as I no longer knew what I wanted to do and had no interest in bleeding money. We'll skip the boring parts here and move on to 2017--the year I got back into writing.
In 2018 I wrote what one might generously call three books. For the realists in the room, it was one bookish shaped thing and two incoherent stacks of pages. The bookish shaped thing, THE BOOK, at that time, was titled THE SEVENTH CROWN. It was a lot of things: indulgent, romantic, heartfelt. You'll notice "good" isn't on that list.
About THE BOOK
After lots of feedback--when in reality, no one should have been subjected to it that early--that book became what is now THE DEAD KING. Here, I'd like to send a huge virtual hug and thank you to the people who made that possible: Emily Layne, Wendy Stone, Patricia Powell, Ron Delaney Jr., and Rae Harding. Also, all of the other awesome people along the way who have looked at sub materials and cheered me on.
When it became THE DEAD KING a lot of things changed, but the heart stayed the same. Ultimately, it's an exploration of grief and identity--and not a very pretty one. But now there are also zombie-like things with very poor oral hygiene standards.
As I said in a tweet earlier this week, I've been jokingly describing it as "If Darth Vader were a teenage herbalist", but I'll get a little more specific. Right now I'm comping it as having elements of Naomi Novik's Uprooted and Emily Llyod Jones's The Bone Houses--YA fantasy with a splash of horror.
"Even a healer’s hands are capable of abominable things.
When her father is taken as a prisoner of war, seventeen-year-old herbalist, Maira, will cross the Continent to get him back. In her desperate search, she mistakes a Continental soldier for the enemy, sparking deadly, dormant magic within her. She steals his breath with the touch of her hand, nearly killing him.
Considered a threat to the governing monarchs, magic was eradicated and remains punishable by death. But when Maira stands trial for the crime, she bargains for her life, convincing the ruler of her territory to use her as a weapon against their common enemy: the Dead King. The usurper and necromancer ravages the land with his undead army, hell-bent on revenge for the bloody crusades against magic. And he’s winning the war.
In exchange for her life and the chance to find her father, Maira must venture through unfamiliar and hostile lands, forming costly alliances — like her hand in marriage to an arrogant prince. Ultimately, the monarchs prove more interested in owning her power than the wellbeing of their people. And when Maira sympathizes with the Dead King’s cause despite his methods, she faces deciding for whom she’ll fight — and becoming a monster herself."
So, what kind of mentee am I?
EDIT: My sweet CP and friend Patricia (P.J. Powell) suggested that she write an endorsement for me to include in this post and I don't even have a gif to express how much it meant to me!
"Working with Natalie has helped me grow sooo much as a writer. Our CP relationship goes far beyond her knack for giving constructive, actionable suggestions no matter where I am in the writing process. She is also such a warm ambassador for the writing community! Her encouragement and support have led me to participate at a level I never knew was possible. Natalie really embodies the writer's life - I admire her craft, her work ethic and her ability to push through uncertainties while writing. Her stories are immersive and she might be the funniest person I know."
I swear I didn't write that about myself. 😂
1) I'm open-minded and communicative. You have an idea? Even a BIG, SCARY change? I want to hear it. Please. Tell me now.
2) I'M SPONGEY--invested in learning the craft and finding my voice. Owner of the world's largest library of craft books. Send me your blog posts, your TED talks, your favorite online classes.
Learning and applying new things is half the fun of writing for me!
3) I'm not easily offended and I am actively seeking to learn and grow.
Something I'm very wary of in this particular book is getting diversity (of all kinds) right. Yes, it's an imaginary world, but I did borrow inspiration from planet Earth. It's the only place I've ever lived.
Remember that whole thing at the beginning about me wanting to be a safe person for everyone? I want that to be evident in my writing. Always.
4) Well studied in the use of GIFs and will laugh at all of your jokes sincerely.
1) Sometimes I set overzealous personal deadlines. I'm learning that, at times, my excitement doesn't match with the time-space continuum.
I'm working on this by setting longer personal deadlines. Hopefully, someday, I'll be able to meet in the middle.
2) I consistently misspell the word "lantern".
3) I use too many GIFs.
What am I looking for in a mentor?
Communicative, GIF certified, and in love with my story. Oh, and willing to receive the occasional ranty email about writing.
As far as feedback goes, rip it apart, make jokes, etc. I want this book to be the very best it can be.
Also, I'd love to forge a lifelong friendship of mutual support and excited screaming over each other's success. But if you'd prefer, we can trade off my manuscript under the cover of nightfall on a full moon, meeting only twice, and never speaking again. It's less ideal, but I'm willing to compromise.
I hope I've covered everything. If you've made it this far, I really appreciate you taking the time. As a "thank you", here's a photo of my golden retriever, Truman.
I know, he's hideous.