Saturday, January 13, 2018

Have you ever spent more than six months developing a world and characters for an epic fantasy story, only to have a new story idea come along and demand that you work on it?

PENuary’s daily writing has got my creative motor on overdrive and a shiny new story idea that is begging for me to pay attention to it. Like dreaming about it, daydreaming, researching, over-the-top obsessed, driving my family nuts talking about it constantly, I NEED TO WRITE THIS STORY!

So, the epic fantasy is on hold for the indefinite future. Hello, new Sci-Fi story.

And, the need to name lots of characters. Hence, a new poll.

Here’s a photo that is a good resemblance to the character I have in mind (without the flowers!). Her defining features are the freckles across her hose, bright blue eyes and amazingly thick, dark eyebrows.

This character is between 12-14 at the beginning of the story. She is smart, quirky and creative. She plays piano but is also a math genius. She lives in an apartment with her dad (a scientist and professor) and her dog. The setting for the story is a world inspired by our world at the beginning of the 20th century (from 1910-1920).

Photo by Cajo Gomes via Unsplash

What name do you think would be the best for this character? 

Create your own user feedback survey

Monday, January 1, 2018

PENuary is Officially HERE!

Happy New Year!

And Happy PENuary!

The official prompt list is now live. We start with the word snarling.

Participation in the PENuary writing challenge is simple. 

Write for a minimum of 20 minutes inspired by the one-word prompt.

You can write fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Write a sonnet or a short story. Heck, write a grocery list! What you write doesn't matter, so long as you write for 20 minutes.

Set the timer and go.

When finished, share on social media. You can share a portion of your day's work, the whole piece you wrote, or even how the experience of writing was for you today. 

Please retweet, share, and comment (kindly) on each other's work. Encourage other writers! And remember to use the official hashtags:




Write. Share. Repeat.

If you’d like more information about PENuary, please check out the official PENuary website or the PENuary Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

PENuary Warm Up: Writing Prompt of the Day

Photo by John Jennings via Unsplash
Ah, December.

The month of colder weather, shorter days, shopping, holiday lights and roads congested with traffic. The time of family get-togethers, office parties, and ugly sweaters.

And also a month when we writers look forward to a second opportunity for literary abandon!

In my house, we're gearing up for PENuary as much as for Santa.

Okay, I'm the only writer in my house, but my family is preparing to eat meals out or that come in a box for a month (and I haven't told them yet, but laundry probably isn't going to happen either ;-).

PENuary will see me not only focusing on the daily writing prompts and my commitment to a minimum of 20 minutes of writing per day, but I'll also be commenting on and sharing other writers' work and cheerleading the writing community as we commit to a new year of more consistent writing habits.

One of the great things about PENuary is that you don't need to prepare for it. No research required. No outlines or planning.

You simply show up and write.

So how about some practice?

Here's a one-word prompt inspired by the nail polish I'm currently sporting for the holiday season:


Of course, you can take the word in different directions. That's one of the beauties of a prompt. My interpretation of glitter will not be the same as yours.

I'm particularly interested to see how horror writers interpret the prompt of the day.

Don't forget to share at least a portion of your work for the day—a sentence, paragraph or another snippet—here on my blog, on the PENuary official Facebook page, and/or on your own social media outlets. Make sure you use the official hashtags so we can all follow your work:


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Happy Holidays December Cash + Books Giveaway

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Announcing my Happy Holidays December Giveaway!

I always feel gratitude for the readers who spend some of their valuable time with my stories. But this time of year always make me especially grateful that I get to do what I love: write and share stories.

Without further ado, I announce my December giveaway. This one is special because the first prize is some cool cash to help with holiday expenses. The second prize is pretty cool too: a copy of my latest audiobook, H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS, narrated by the talented actor Dylan White.

So enter early and enter often! :-) Good luck and winners will be chosen on 12/19 so stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Writer Wednesday: Acting Professional by Randy Ingermanson

Photo Courtesy
I can’t believe it’s December, y’all! And that means that in less than a month, it will be time for PENuary. In support of encouraging better writing habits—for myself as well as other writers who struggle to maintain consistency—I’m working to re-establish my Writer Wednesday habit here on the blog. If you’re a writer, check in on Wednesdays for writing and marketing tips as well as writer inspiration.

Today I’m sharing a post for writers written by Randy Ingermanson (credit and links to his website below the article). If you don’t already subscribe to Randy’s E-Zine, I highly recommend it. His newsletters always contain useful tips for writers.

There are many aspects of marketing, but in this article, Randy succinctly pinpointed an issue that all writers need to take to heart: Professionalism. And he has three easy, highly actionable tips to improve your writer professionalism.

Marketing: Acting Professional

I went to my first writing conference in the summer of 1989. That was life-changing for me. Up till then, I didn’t know any authors. Or editors. Or agents. I met a few of each at that first conference, and some of them have been part of my life ever since.
The talk that had the most impact on me at that conference had a very simple message: “Be professional.” 
The author who gave the talk said a lot of things I don’t remember, but I do remember her repeating that simple phrase. “Be professional.” And I remember that she translated it into actions. “Being professional” really boils down to “acting professional.”
She wasn’t talking about being phony. There are writers out there who talk a big talk but aren’t actually doing much writing and certainly aren’t professional.
She was talking about behaving in a way that marks you out as a serious writer who will someday be a professional writer, even if you aren’t there yet and aren’t making any money. Writers who start out right tend to end up right. That’s just the way it is.
Back in those days, “acting professional” included getting some expensive letterhead paper for correspondence with editors. I dutifully went out and bought a ream of high-quality paper and spent some time creating an electronic template that would make a nice letterhead when printed. I even used it a few times. But I’d bet I’ve still got 480 sheets out of the original 500. Times have moved on, and nobody needs letterhead anymore. 
So what can a writer do that will fit the description of “acting professional” these days? I don’t want to overwhelm you with a long list, so I’ll keep this short.
Here are three things for starters.

Set up a Writing Budget

Very early on in my writing career, I realized that it takes money to make money. In those days, going to writing conferences was essential, and conferences cost money. I didn’t have a lot of cash, but I began setting aside $15 every month. That was money that I could spend on my writing, no questions asked.
The amount you budget is less important than the fact that you’re doing it. 
Having a writing budget means that you are serious about this writing thing. It means that you’re telling the rest of your family that this is important to you, it has value, and it has a cost. It also means that when it comes time to buy something you need for your writing, you don’t have to fight about it with anyone. You just take the money out of the pot you’ve already set aside.

Own Your Domain

Your “domain” here means the domain for your web site. You may not need a web site yet. You may not need one for several years.
But eventually, if and when you start getting your work published, you’ll need a domain for your web site. And it won’t be fun to discover that the domain you had in mind just got bought by a porn star who happens to have your same name. It can happen. It did happen to a writer I know.
You don’t buy a domain name; you rent it. You pay an annual fee to a domain registration site (for example or one of the many other sites that let you register a domain). 
It’s not terribly expensive to rent a domain. Figure around $10 per year. You just need to keep paying it every year without lapsing. It’s easy to set up an auto-renewal for your domain so it keeps renewing every year.
Ideally, your domain name should be your author name or something as close as you can get to your author name. 
But you need to be careful here. If your name is hard to spell (say your last name is Umstattd), then you’ll catch a lot of grief from people who can’t spell your name, which is almost everyone. In that case, you might want to think about not using your last name in your domain. You might need to get creative here.

Let's say your name is a more common one that's reasonably easy to spell. We'll take Jane Smith, as an example. What domain name should you use? There are a couple of issues to think about.
First, if you create a web site using one of the inexpensive builder tools (for example,, you should make sure you get a custom domain—not the default Wordpress domain. You don’t want to spend five years building a site at, and then move it to If you do that, all the links to your old web site will fail.

Second, if your name is extremely common, it might turn out that the domain you want is already taken. If is taken, you might have to add a middle initial and make it Or Or Generally, with a bit of thinking, you can find a domain that works for you.
With domain names, shorter is better. And it’s nice if you can pass the “radio test,” meaning that if you’re doing an interview on the radio and give out your web site address, people can easily figure out how to spell it. But you can’t always get exactly what you want. Do your best.

Have a Professional E-mail Address

This is easy to do, but it’s where a lot of writers fall down. 
There are two mistakes to make here:
  1. Using an e-mail address with a domain that isn’t yours.
  2. Using an e-mail address that doesn’t have your name in it.
Let’s talk about these in a little more detail. It’s important to get these right, but you need to also do them in the correct order.
First, your domain name. It’s very tempting to use the free e-mail address that comes with your internet service provider. So if you’re using Comcast, then maybe your account is
The problem comes five years from now, when you move to a new place and you’re no longer with Comcast. Now maybe you’re using or or whatever. And suddenly your old e-mail address no longer works.
Now you’ve got five years worth of friends who all have the wrong e-mail address for you. If these include all your editor, agent, and writer friends, you’ve got a problem.
The solution is blindingly simple. If you’ve already nailed down your domain for your future web site, set up an e-mail account that goes with that domain. So if your domain is, set up an email address for yourself as Later, if you get a virtual assistant, she might be If you add a PR guy, he might be Or if you change PR people every six months, maybe the email address they use will just be the generic
Some writers insist that they can’t set up an e-mail address on their own domain yet because it’s too much trouble. So they set up a free account at hotmail or yahoo or gmail or whatever. 
This is not ideal. A hotmail or yahoo email account definitely marks you as an amateur. A gmail account is a step up; it’s perceived as more professional. If you insist on using a gmail account, you still need to make sure that your name is part of your address. is an acceptable e-mail address. If somebody gets an e-mail from that address, they know who sent it.
But imagine getting e-mail from any of these people:
  •  (Now we all know what year Jack was born, but he may not want us to know that. Unfortunately, we don’t know his last name, and he probably does want us to know that. Who is this Jack?)
  • (This looks like a shared account, which means an e-mail sent to Jane might get read by Bill. Or deleted by Bill. But what happens if Jane and Bill split up next year? Who keeps the e-mail address? And again, who is Jane?)
  • (Great, but who ARE you? And does Jesus know you’re writing for him?)
  • (No doubt this is hilariously funny to your five buddies you hung out with in college. However, the rest of us aren’t in on the joke. Also, we have no idea who you are.)
And yes, I’ve seen e-mail addresses similar to each of these, some of them many times. 

Act like a professional. Get an e-mail address that looks like it came from you. (And yes, I know that you can set up your e-mail program to put your name in the “from” line along with your e-mail address. Not everybody does this. Oddly enough, it’s usually the people with unrecognizable e-mail addresses who don’t do this.)

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 17,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS Audiobook is Here!

Photo by Adam Whitlock via Unsplash

The H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS audiobook is finally available!! Woot, woot!

H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS by Natalie Wright
Wow, this one took a while, but I hope you all are pleased with the great narration by the fabulous Dylan White. His performance is stellar (I particularly love the chapters with the alien U’Vol).

Without further ado, here are the links:

Click this link to purchase the book on Audible

Click this link to purchase the book on Amazon.

Click this link to purchase on iTunes.

Thank you to all of you who have been asking about the audiobook version, and I apologize that it took a while. I hope you enjoy the exciting conclusion to the H.A.L.F. series! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

November Book Giveaway

Just a quick note to let everyone know about an opportunity to win an autographed hardcover copy of my most recent release, H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS! The giveaway is happening over on Goodreads. Just click this link to go to Goodreads to enter*. The winners will also receive an exclusive bag-o-swag with stuff you can’t buy in stores.

Thanks so much for your support of my work and best wishes in the Giveaway!

Watch for a new giveaway in December that will perhaps include something to help fund your holidays ;-)

*NOTE: The Goodreads giveaway is open to residents of U.S. and Canada only.

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Have you ever spent more than six months developing a world and characters for an epic fantasy story, only to have a new story idea come alo...