Friday, 28 September 2012

Less Than Perfect Preview - Cover

As promised, here is the cover of Natasja's new book, "Less Than Perfect." It's still in its final stages of tweaking, but this is what it will basically look like. A big thank you goes out to Michelle for all the hard work she did, even though she's currently working on her own projects. And also, thank you to Joel and Eli. Keep checking back for a new preview!


 A little side note from Natasja:

I would just like to let you all know that I'm re-evaluating my priorities. Trying to find the time to write lately has become a challenge. I work two jobs and it feels like when I'm not working, I'm always giving my time to someone else. That's not to make myself sound like a saint, because saints don't generally complain about things and well... I do. But that's besides the point. What I'm trying to say is that I will try my very hardest to keep writing, because that's what I love. But if things go slow, please know that it's not you - it's me. That's all :)

- Natasja

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Stay Tuned...

Look out, friends! The grand unveiling of the cover of Natasja's brand new novel, Less Than Perfect, is coming! Check back next Friday, September 28th for a first look!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Things I Like To Write About

I thought, for those of you that might be even vaguely interested, I would share some of the things I like to write about. So, here is a concise list of some themes, characteristics, settings, or other elements that I like to incorporate into my stories.

Love
For anyone that knows me, they'll tell you this is a pretty major theme of mine. In fact, I told my husband the other day that I couldn't think of a single story I've written or started that "doesn't have kissing in it." This was followed with him telling me that he could only think of two books he'd read that had kissing in it - one of which was mine. I should mention, however, that I don't always write about those kinds of relationships; I also like to delve into the love shared between siblings, friends, or children and their parents. See? It's not all about kissing!

Space Ships
It may surprise you to learn that I have a special affinity for sci fi, especially really technical stuff. I love space ships, and I have to admit that I have a few stories that involve space ships or even take place on space ships. But more on that later...

Orphans
There's a special soft spot in my heart reserved for children who have no home and no family. There's something just so sad about it - it's almost callous to say that I feel very inspired by such dire circumstances. Having said that, my aim is not to make anyone feel bad, but rather, I like to explore what it would be like for such a character to not know where he or she is from and how they would deal with it.

Music
Being a music-lover and musician myself, it's only natural for me to include that in my writing. In fact, if you're looking forward to the publication of my new novel, Less Than Perfect, then you should know that there will be plenty of music involved in it. Yes, it is very difficult to write music into words, but I'm hoping I've done a good job of it. Plus, it's never really about the music itself, but about how the characters use music, how they grow in it, and bond over it.

Flaws
No one loves a perfect character. Why? Because they're boring, annoying, and generally too unbelievable to tolerate. When a character has flaws, it makes them real and more rounded. It gives them obstacles, something to overcome. In the same way, no one wants to read a perfect storyline. Sure, we all get mad while reading Pride and Prejudice, thinking, "Aren't they just ever going to get together?" But without all that tension, and the obstacles placed in their way, there would never be a good storyline. No one would read a book that simply said, "They met each other, fell in love, and then got married." Or "They found a treasure map, looked for the treasure, found it easily, and lived happily ever after." Or "He was born, lived a good, full life, and then died of natural causes." Or... I think you catch my drift.

There are other things that influence my writing, such as the town I live in, the people I know, the places I've been to, and random things I come across every day. That's not to say that any of what I write is autobiographical - and if you've read My Best Friend's Brother, then you should already know that. But it's easy to take what you know and what you've experienced and put it into a character's personality or situation.

So there you have it. A little insight into my world of writing.

- Natasja

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

NaNoWriMo

Fun little fact about My Best Friend's Brother: The entire novel was written in just 30 days. Why? Because last year, I decided to do a little challenge called "National Novel Writing Month." During the month of November, writers challenge themselves to write a whole 50,000 words - the equivalent of one full novel. While this sounds like a stressful proposition to some, this can be a great way to get hesitant writers to over-write in an attempt to bring their skills to the foreground. Though many do not make the goal, I still believe that what they gain is a far greater understanding of what it's truly like to write an entire novel.

Some writers find themselves being caught up in small details, errors that they hastily go back to change over and over, writer's block, or simply getting bored with their stories. By joining NaNoWriMo, these hopeful novelists are forced to go beyond their inhibitions and just write - no matter what they write, or whether they are going to have to do major edits later on. For me, quantity trumps quality, especially in a first draft. I am a firm believer in making many revisions, and the more you have to work with, the better.

How did I complete the challenge? Well, that part is a little harder to explain. No doubt every writer has his or her own technique for such a huge amount of writing. I started with an idea for a story I had had months before actually writing any of it. (One of the rules is that you can't have started writing the story before November 1st. And yes, it goes by the honour system.) At first, I had tons to say, so I just wrote and wrote, disregarding the many mistakes I knew I was making. Like I said, it doesn't matter - write first, revise later.

One of the things I struggle with when trying to write a novel is always the middle part. You know, the part of the book that's supposed to take you from that brilliantly written beginning to that oh-so-wonderful ending. And while I'm usually pretty proud of my beginnings and endings, my middle parts always need more work that I care to admit. I get bored with the action, or the characters aren't doing what they're supposed to be doing. And sometimes, I just find it hard to write all that... stuff. There's no other way to describe it. It's the stuff of the story.

Having said that, I felt a little defeated when it came to November 15th and I didn't have 25,000 words written. By November 20th, it was getting pretty clear that I wouldn't make it, and I almost gave up. However, one of my other techniques of writing is that I always have a couple of people who read my stories as I write them. (Test subjects, if you will.) So when I told my friends that I didn't think I would make it, they complained enough that I decided to keep going.

I think maybe if it weren't for them, I might not have done it. Hey, maybe peer pressure works sometimes! So I just kept going. Would you believe that I wrote 18,000 words in just the last three days of the challenge? Yup, on November 27th, I had just under 32,000 words. So, I apologetically ignored my family and pushed through. And I'm really glad I did it. Because if I hadn't, I don't know how long it might have taken me to finish otherwise.

For anyone that's thinking of doing it, I say just go for it! There really is no harm in trying. NaNoWriMo doesn't cost anything (though they take donations) and I honestly think it would be beneficial for anyone who loves to write but struggles with actually finishing something. So if you're one of those people, scroll back up to the link and sign up. You still have plenty of time to plan out your book and there's plenty of support in the writing community. Plus it's super fun to try to write something very quickly without looking back.

- Natasja

Friday, 7 September 2012

LOTR and Self Publishing

Publishing a book myself makes me feel very much like Frodo taking the Ring into Mordor. You know, he's just a little guy with a huge quest and there's no way he could ever get it done. Imagine that scene in Rivendell where everyone's deciding what should be done with the Ring.

Then suddenly it's you standing up, saying, "I will do it. I will tell the story, and I will publish the book."

A hush falls over everyone as they all turn to look at you with a mixture of fear and admiration on their faces. Then someone says, "Then you have my cover art."

"And my type-setting."

"And you can't go anywhere without my editing."

"Or my marketing skills."

Then, of course, your best friends barge in telling you that there's no way you're going to leave them behind. And while the publishing world isn't quite the fiery depths of Mordor, it's still a very scary place to go to all by yourself. Therefore, don't leave home without your Samwise Gamgee. I am not kidding about this. "Self-publishing" is a team effort, and all of my close friends and family know it. It's a scary world out there. Don't leave without help... and maybe take Orlando Bloom with you, too.


In other words... Thanks for all your help. You know who you are.

- Natasja

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

News - Less Than Perfect

Less Than Perfect is a young adult novel you can look forward to reading in early 2013. While completely different from My Best Friend's Brother/The Summer I turned Into A Girl, you'll recognize Natasja's handiwork in the narrative and themes involved in the book.

The book follows fourteen very different high-schoolers who start a band together and form an unlikely bond. Readers will fall in love, cry, laugh, and hope for the best as Trey, D-rock, Claire, Marty, Chloe, Meg, Rach, Max, Hacks, Bryan, Harmony, Amber, Corbie, and TK find themselves in a world where fitting in is the only way to survive high school. As their stories progress, however, they discover that fitting in doesn't mean as much to them as the meaningful relationships they create.

Readers will find themselves drawn to the lives of these realistic and relatable characters, and they may even find themselves wanting to make decisions right along with the gang -whether good or bad. And when the band members finally pull themselves together for their finale, everyone will be rooting for their success.

Be sure to check back regularly for more information and previews of this incredibly fresh book later on!

My Best Friend's Brother/The Summer I Turned Into A Girl

My Best Friend's Brother/The Summer I Turned Into A Girl is a young adult novel about a teenaged boy (Colin) and a teenaged girl (Jessica) who accidentally switch bodies and have to find their way back into their own. Not only that, but Jessica now has to learn to play soccer for Colin and Colin has to memorize Jessica's dance moves. They have one week to either figure out how to change back or be each other. Can they do it? Find out here or if you're Canadian, here.

While the book is short and easy to read, the complexity of the situation and Colin's and Jessica's reactions to it make for an interesting read. The reader will feel for each of the characters involved, including Cassidy, Colin's sister and Jessica's best friend. While Natasja doesn't go deep into the science of body swapping, she does a good job conveying the emotional side of it, with a realistic view into what it would be like to suddenly find oneself in another's body.

If you're the type of person who likes previews before actually buying a book, you can read the prologue and entire first chapter here. If by the end of it, you find yourself wanting more, please do redirect yourself to Amazon. If you're still not convinced, check out this awesome review by Josh Terry.

What other people have said about the book is that the dialogue is very realistic; the narrative is engaging and shows an understanding of teenagers; there is just the right amount of humour, sincerity, and complexity without being hard to read; and that the book is a quick, enchanting, and fun read.

If you read the book and liked it, you can become a fan on Facebook.
If you would like to rate and/or review it, you can do so on Goodreads.