May 31, 2011

Calling for Guest Bloggers! (And a Giveaway)

Would you like to do a guest post on my blog? Well, now is your chance! I'm looking for two awesome guest bloggers to do a series on queries and submissions. Each will be different of course and will give my readers a wider variety on how to submit their work and what to expect from agents and publishers. If you have a MS at a house right now or have an agent all lined up, please volunteer to share your knowledge. It would be a great benefit to all of us. Posts will appear next week, starting with the lovely Anne Gallagher of the Piedmont Writer on Tuesday!

In return, I am more than willing to do a guest post on your blog or website on any topic you feel needs to be covered and you will be entered into my giveaway contest for June!

A $25.00 Amazon Gift Card!!

How to submit:

1. Please send an email to: natascha[AT] with subject line: Guest Post.
2. Please include your post in the body of the email and tell me a little about yourself.
3. Please have submissions to me by Monday, June 6th.
I hope we can get lots of submissions!

May 29, 2011

The Treadmill Desk

The Romance Writers Report from RWA has great articles this year about becoming a "Well Writer". Not only are you encouraged and given advice on craft, but spirituality, eating, health, and exercise are all important to us writers who sit at a desk all day to work on our WIPs. We're snacking as we write, drinking soda as we plot, and not getting out of that chair for a few hours at a time.

Is there a solution?

I'm glad you asked! Meet "The Treadmill Desk"!

Writer's Butt solved. If you have a treadmill, you can make it into a desk. There are many more advanced desks than this, but for me, the simpler, the better. Why not lose pounds while you pound out those pages? Just by walking, you're increasing your activity level and burning those dreaded calories. Weight loss may ensue. Check out the table below to see how many calories you could be losing by just walking 2 miles an hour while working on that WIP.

 Even if you're not out to lose weight, sitting in a chair all day is not good for posture. Your hips, spine and shoulders will be effected, causing pain throughout the day and an increased chance of heart attack (Masters 1).

I'm a very active person in my opinion. I run three to four times a week, but because of work, school and taking that time to exercise, my writing is suffering. I don't have a treadmill, but now that it's getting hot down here in Hell and I'm spending 75% of the day doing homework, I'm looking for one. Can you guess what new addition I'll be adding to it?

What do you think of this idea? Are you or would you ever be willing to give it a chance? How many hours a day are you sitting in that chair?

Citation: Masters, Maria. "Why Your Desk Job is Slowly Killing You." Men's Health (2010). Web. 29 May 2011.

May 26, 2011


For some reason, Blogger is preventing me from posting comments on my own page and others. I'm not sure why, but I wanted to thank all those people who've come to join my little party here on the web recently! The blogfest was a really great idea and I'm glad it brought me some new friends! Thanks again for stopping by!

May 25, 2011

Dear Future Self Blogfest

Thanks to Kristin who thought up this awesome blogfest, I get to write a letter to my future self!

Dear Natascha,

Remember all those bleary-eyed nights reading novels and writing papers and discussions for your classes? Well it was all worth it! You got into grad school! You're probably back in Utah, interning for a publishing house as an editor and living your dream while getting your MFA. I can only hope that our friends and family believe that we're serious about this whole writing thing by now. Your husband should still be an awesome guy, no matter what profession he's chosen to pursue for who knows how many times. He's stood by your side through every hard decision you had to make. You might still be working on getting published, but you've stuck through the ups and downs. Congratulate yourself. You're moving on with your life and pursuing a career you enjoy.

Love, 2011 Natascha who is still suffering through those bleary-eyed nights reading for class.

May 23, 2011

Crash and Burn

I hope you all enjoyed the week dedicated to me, including the excerpts from LET ME OUT. Since summer semester has started, I've been disastrously busy with homework. I'm not even able to continue revisions on my current WIP. I'm saddened, but also a little relieved. This MS is a beautiful disaster. A wonderful mess and all other adjectives and adverbs I can think of. It's been hard to get through.

I'm moving ahead with my career goals by working on a bachelors degree. I've been focused on my career 100% this year, but to be honest...I'm feeling a little burned out. I'm sorry I don't have much to post on, but here is a bit of what I'm working on right now.

Like a Virgin

            So you want to write a novel. It’s always been a goal of yours and you have an amazing idea that readers will eat up. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as thousands of writers have learned, but you have to begin somewhere. Before you write that first line though, ask yourself:
Do you have the time to invest hundreds of hours on one project? Oh yes, my friend. HUNDREDS of hours will be spent, not only to write that first draft, but to revise it as many times as you need to before submitting the manuscript. It will be hard. It will be time consuming and take more patience than you have at the moment. If you are serious about writing and have children, school, work or other obligations, you’ll want to make a writing schedule. Even fifteen minutes a day is progress and sometimes you will even need to force yourself to do it. It won’t be easy. You will get frustrated and you’ll need to power through.
Do you know where to start? You might think this is the easiest part of writing your novel. You already know what your characters look like and maybe a basic (or detailed) plotline, but there are a couple more items to consider.
First, you need to ask yourself if you are going to have a prologue. Now days, prologues aren’t that popular. They usually consist of backstory, which is a giant NO-NO to start your book. If you find yourself writing nothing but memories, set up or flashbacks in a prologue or first chapter, cut them out and put them someplace else if they are that important to the plot.
Second, what is your first suspenseful scene? Make that your beginning. Sometimes it won’t happen until 50 pages in, but you want to drop your main character (MC) in the middle of the action to reach out and grab your reader (or agent) so they will never want to stop reading. You will want to do this for every novel you write. It does not have to be a shoot-em-up scene, but your MC will be involved and the stakes will be crystal clear to keep your reader intersted.
Do you have tough skin? I’m sorry, but nobody thinks you’re serious about writing. You can tell family and friends how much it means to you, that you must write because you can’t not write and they still won’t care. They will view it as a hobby that you’ll give up soon or a phase. My husband still thinks “it’s a phase” that has been going on for almost five years. These realizations are going to hurt, but that’s when you need to suck it up and make new friends. Writer friends. Writer friends think you’re serious and they’ll give you support. Find a local writers group or friends on the blogosphere. They are more than willing to give you the support you need for the next hurdle.
The next hurdle being the agent. Agents are a wonderful guide through the publishing world. That is their job. They help you negotiate contracts, they pitch your book to editors and publishers and they give advice. Sure you can do it alone with some publishers, but you probably don’t know much about contracts or haven’t made the effort to study the industry.
You need an agent. What you need tough skin for: rejection.
It will happen many, many times and with every book you pitch. It’s just a fact. However, you must realize, and this took me a while to learn, that it’s just good business. It may seem as a personal attack, but it really isn’t! This person/agent has never met you before, they haven’t read your book and they have another thousand query letters to slosh through. You are just a letter that didn’t keep them interested. It hurts, I know. I’ve cried many times throughout the process, but if you are not willing to go through rejection, you are not ready to be a writer. What you must do, especially after rejection twenty, is to dedicate yourself more. Revise the query letter, send it out to other writers for critiquing and submit. Rinse and repeat again, and again, and again until there is an agent out there who can support you. The worst that can happen is an agent or publisher saying, “No”.
Are you willing to learn? I learn something new about my style of writing and my craft every day. I am not right all of the time and my willingness to try new things has made me a better writer and taken me one step closer to being published.
You must admit to yourself that you are going to make mistakes. How else will you learn to be a better writer without making a few?

May 18, 2011

Excerpt #2 of Let Me Out

Adelaide looked into his cold calculating blue eyes as she had for almost two decades and still couldn’t bring herself to feel anything for the man positioned above her.
            A five o’clock shadow was beginning to show around his jaw line, the angles of his high cheekbones and lean bone structure shadowing the edges of his face.
The sedative was taking effect slowly, her body growing more immune to it the longer he injected her, but it was for her own good and those who knew her best. Her breathing slowed, her eyes blurring slightly.
You can never get rid of me, her monster reminded her, watching from over Christian’s shoulder. The delusion was growing foggy, but would never permanently leave. No matter how many dosages she was injected with or how many lines she cut into her skin, the monster lurked behind every thought. You know that they bred me into you, my love. We will always be together.
Adelaide closed her eyes, feeling Christian’s weight on her as a distraction.
Their nightly ritual was getting taxing and forcing her to burn through her sedatives faster, but he would not relent. Once a day injections were turning into two or three and it was taking a toll. Her mind felt fuzzy all the time and her body didn’t feel like her own.
They’re trying to control us, her own voice said, but it wasn’t her thought. You don’t want to be controlled, do you? Her monster didn’t wait for an answer. You know what you have to do. You know the day will come when you’ll have to kill him if you want to be free.
Adelaide squeezed her eyes shut, trying to clear her mind. She didn’t want to take more lives and she didn’t want to take more orders. Her monster was right. She knew that. Christian would see her dead before he let her go and that left her with only one choice: he would have to die.
It couldn’t be by her hand though. The monster was growing too strong, craving more blood and would soon take over if she kept up this pace. She’d killed two men tonight and the delusion in her head was becoming reality, pulling her own cravings out that she’d buried long ago.
Christian gripped her throat, cutting off her air. She loved the feeling, the physical pain of it, the burn, and her vision started to blur as the pressure loosened. He started to kiss her again, unwilling to stop to see if she was all right.
Adelaide never kissed back, not even when he’d kissed her in the compound all those years ago as a teen. She didn’t know how to respond, didn’t know what to do. He’d saved her life, but she didn’t know how much longer she would be able to repay him.
She watched as his shoulder length brown hair moved over her stomach and chest, but she couldn’t feel it. The drug had taken its full effect and Adelaide felt slow and loopy.
“There you go,” he whispered. “There you go.”
The words were supposed to be comforting.
Christian stroked the side of her face as he stared down at her. He was handsome. He’d been handsome when they met for the first time in that damned cell, but had grown into a contemporary god. His chiseled jaw line, bright blue eyes and rock hard body made most women melt in pleasure, but Adelaide knew she’d been the only one to taste.
She’d never felt selfish keeping his interests to herself. Christian had brought on his own disappointment for falling in love with a woman who could never have a normal relationship, a woman with violent and bloodthirsty cravings behind every thought.
He’ll be the reason for his own demise in the end, her delusion said, mirroring her own thoughts. Adelaide let Christian’s hands roam over her body and vowed that he would never have her completely as long as she was planning his death.

May 16, 2011

Excerpt #1 of Let Me Out

As promised, here is an excerpt from my commercial suspense novel, LET ME OUT. Tell me what you think.

          Taking lives had been her vice for as long as she could remember.
            It was easy, just like slipping into a warm bath and just as pleasurable. With one squeeze of the trigger, Adelaide Banvard’s task would be finished and the schizophrenic monster in her head satisfied. Only a matter of seconds stood between her and pure ecstasy. Her 9mm was level with Scott’s chest, rising and falling with his every shaking breath.
            His body was tense, ready to flee, but he knew he couldn’t escape. She could see that knowledge in his eyes.
            She couldn’t let him get away, not with the information he’d stolen from Christian’s office tonight.
            Scott had been good, even careful, to hide his true identity, to hide the fact that he was an undercover Alcohol, Firearm and Tobacco agent and now, Adelaide was required to handle the situation, to do her job. Only she didn’t want to.

May 14, 2011

I'll Show You Mine

Get your head out of the gutter!

This week's posts are going to center on me! I know, what a surprise. No, really. I'm not sure how much you guys know about me, but you follow my blog and you make comments and I just want to make sure you know who you're stalking :)

Today's post will be more a biographical one, but as the week moves on I'll be adding a little spice with two excerpts from LET ME OUT, my commercial suspense that is out to query right now. I still have to find them, but I'm going to make them good! It will give you a chance to get to know me better and what my style of writing is.

What do you think? Do you want to read further?

I was born and raised in Las Vegas. My Nana (my mom's mom) spent most of the time washing my mouth out with soup from swearing or dragging my butt to the dentist, yet again, to replace my front tooth that was kicked out by my brother or cousins. She raised us for the most part while my single mom worked full time and went to school. Then we moved to Utah. Went to a Mormom private school for two years, then carted around to various public schools until I graduated from high school in 2004 when I was 17. I was already taking college classes at that time and finished an associates degree in Psychology, but not until 2008 because I got married at 19. Still married by the way :)

I finished my first novel when I was 21 because Stephanie Meyer made it look SO easy and now I have four novels complete three years later. That first novel didn't work out, but it is the basis of the following two, both single-titled manuscripts. I'm currently working on a bachelors degree in English Literature to become a house editor and am very jealous of my best friend for completing her PhD before she turned 27. So that's my next goal: apply to grad school next year.

I'm an avid runner, and an avid eater. I love food, which is why I have to workout so much. My iPod consists of Screa-mo bands, especially Senses Fail, my all-time favorite band. I'm a very picky reader. I can really never find anything I like to read, but when I find an author I enjoy, I'll buy all their books.

I'm allergic to chocolate.

Oh, yes. You may gasp. It's true. Chocolate gives me hives, but that doesn't stop me from eating it. A lot.

I'm a Mac. Not a PC. I'm a very digital person, but will only remember things I physically write down. I have very selective hearing either from wearing headphones on full blast all day or I really don't want to listen to my husband nagging me about the dirty dishes I refuse to touch.

My second novel, LET ME OUT, is currently out for submission for 9 agents and 2 publishers, Carina Press and Sapphire Blue Publishing, and is a book that I'm absolutely in love with. I've learned a lot by being a member of RWA and will never give up on my goal of being published because I know this book can make it given the chance. This year I've focused 100% on my career as a writer and editor, so I was awarded a position with SoCal Mystery Writers of America to be the editor of their newsletter :) I'm really excited for that. I have my first meeting on Tuesday for it.

I want to hear from my stalkers :) Tell me about yourself, your writing, or even do a post and send me the link!

May 13, 2011

My Understanding of a Query.

Blogger ate my comments when it went down. I did respond to your comments on this post, I promise!

This week has been full of good news for me. Monday, I found out my score for my final exam, which was very good, considerably more than I thought I would get. Tuesday I randomly sent my resume for a editor position with the SoCal MWA chapter for their newsletter, and got the position. And Wednesday, I received my grade for my ten page paper, which was also considerably higher than I thought I would get. Seems I will pass my class afterall and not really hurt my GPA (I'm building it up for MFA application). I've worked on The Current Suspense for 4 days straight, too.'s a good week.

Haven't heard back on anymore queries for LET ME OUT though and that's what this post will be about.


We love them, we hate them. I find myself hating them more now days. So I want to explain my understanding on the query and hope you all will comment to correct me or offer advice.

1. Personalize the query to each agent. How do you do this? By looking at their sales record, comparing your work to a sale they've made, addressing the query to the agent specifically. Nathan Bransford has done an amazing job of this in his query for JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW.

2. Keep it short. 250 words max for the description of your book. This doesn't include your salutation paragraph.

3. Get the agent to want more by leaving a bit of mystery.

4. Credentials. You got them or you don't.

5. Have a hook line.

6. Include TITLE, word count and genre.

1. CC every agent on your list into the same query. No Dear Agent greetings either.

2. Send material the agent hasn't asked for. Read their Submission Guidelines.

3. Query an agent who doesn't rep what you're selling.

4. Throw everything but the kitchen sink at them with detail.

5. Make up credentials or include credentials that have nothing to do with the industry.

6. Pitch two books in the same query.

7. Use the words "fiction novel".

8. Tell the agent this is a million dollar idea.

I have many more. I've followed all the DOs and stayed away from the DON'Ts, but it seems I'm missing something.

What would you add to this list?

May 10, 2011

The Write Way

If you haven't had a chance, go check out this post from Jenna Wallace (Writing in a Dream State) to check out ways she visually maps out tension in her MS. It's very inpirational for me to see how other writers edit and revise. I'm always willing to learn a better technique and I'll definately be paying this post a few visits once I get through this major round of revisions on The Next Suspense.

Speaking of The Next Suspense...todays post consists of how I track my progress through revisions. You've already seen my detailed outlines for each chapter. Now, you can see how I bookmark myself when I need to pick up where I left off. Because unfortuneatly, a Word document does not save your place like Excel does.

Uhh...viola? Obviously I have more bad days than good, but those days highlighted in grey are Super Days. I reward myself thost days, by taking the next few off...maybe not such a good idea. But if you have a personality like mine and are interested in keeping track of your project, seeing your failures motivates you!

Are you motivated by failure? Does seeing other writers techniques urge you to try something new?

May 8, 2011

I've Lost It

My mind is stuck on vacation right now. Too bad it isn't here:

That exciting love I get for my work when I figure something out is seeping out at my seems. Maybe taking a break wasn't a good idea for this MS, but I really needed to recharge. I'm still in the process of nearly rewriting the entire manuscript. I'm up to Chapter 7 in revisions, but I think I've already rewritten the worst of them. The road may get easier from here. I just need to keep going. The middle should suffice, needs a little more tension and suspense, but the end and climax will be completely chopped.

I don't know why I thought my heroine needed to be rescued. I don't like women in my books who can't save themselves. I LOVE Zoe Archer's profile on her blog...and will live by it when writing my heroines.

I write romance novels that are chock full of adventure, sexy men, and women who make no apologies about kicking ass. 

I really enjoy writing heroines that make no apologies about kicking ass. Therefore, the climax will need to be cut...and rewritten. This is a Banvard Novel, so the climax and query will be from my hero's POV since he is the Banvard in this MS. LET ME OUT featured his twin sister, Adelaide Banvard, who you will see bits and pieces of in the current MS. Not literally. That would be sad because I really like her. Now, there's a woman who will kick your ass and then smile about it!

What have you done for vacation lately? Does your MS suffer while you're away?

May 4, 2011

I Need Your Help

So you remember when I said I was getting back to writing after the end of my break on Saturday? Ha! It hasn't happened. I have finals, and Mother's Day and vacation and...blah blah blah.

I'm still taking notes on the revisions. So I need your help.

So farin The Next Suspense, I have 3 POVs: both MCs and the bad guy.

If I have two MCs running from the FBI and the bad guy, should I make a POV from the lead FBI agent?

I know this is more of a personal question considering this is MY story, but how many POVs is too much? I'm currently reading The Passage by Justin Cronin (suspense) and he has nearly ten POVs so far. Suspense isn't Romance, as far as I know there isn't a set amount of face-time each character needs to have, but will it be harder to follow the MCs journey if I add another character to the mix?

Need serious help. Please comment!

May 3, 2011

Do You Got What It Takes?

Credentials. Do you have them?

Where can you get them?

New writers can be intimidated by this. I know I was, but even the smallest writing-related credit to your name will help you in the long run. For me, my membership in RWA helped a lot. Every chapter has a newsletter and I was lucky enough to have an idea for an article, "5 Steps to a Perfect Submission", that made the editor's cut. Since then I've written two more articles that were published in the chapter newsletter and then re-pubbed in other chapter newsletters across the country.

It is a small credit, but I'm happy to say that I can put it in my query. Even the smallest things will make an editor or agent think you're serious about writing. Whether it be a small article in a chapter newletter or a full-on degree from a university in Creative Writing (I'm in the middle of that one right now), any credit is good credit.

Of course, if you don't have credits, don't make any up. Agents and editors check that type of thing. It's better to end your query with, "Thank you for your time and consideration" instead of trying to impress. What they really want is a good story and your writing will speak for itself.

Along the same lines, only include credits that are relevant to your book or to writing in general. If you're writing romance, your molecular biology degree probably won't help you unless your hero/heroine are molecular biologists.

So tell me, what credits are you using to make an editor or agent think you're serious about this biz?

May 1, 2011

Focus On What's Important: Me!

Nap time's over people. Back to work!

My break from writing is over. The world came crashing down on my shoulders last weekend when I realized I would need to rewrite the ENTIRE MS I'm currently revising and received 2 rejections the same day. These are things that wouldn't normally bother me separately. Rejection happens and I've grown as a writer so much, that I deem my book crap :) Together? Not such a good combination.

I wasn't physically working on the book, but I still made a lot of notes to figure things out.

Welcome to my way of getting things done. It may look like a mess, but this is my outline. I keep very detailed step-by-step outlines so I can review them quickly if I need to go back. Of course, Tracking Changes is on because what I think will work better may not actually and I'll need to revert to the old. I hear the newer OS X.7 Lion will have a feature called Versions (I use a Mac), but not for Microsoft (I use Word for Mac). The program will automatically save "versions" of your work like a backup. Until then, Tracking Changes it is.

The book is kicking my ass. I have come up with a lot of solutions, I hope, but I have a lot of work to do! Sent out a few more submissions for LET ME OUT after revising the letter AGAIN! I'm on...4th round of submissions? Still have 9 queries open.

Are your outlines horrendous like mine? Or simple? Where are you at in Revision Hell?