Tuesday, January 5

Hiatus and The Year of Me

Well, this has been coming for a long time. Before the holidays hit, I had a long talk with my husband, parents, and best friend about my writing. I'm not giving up or dropping it--not by any means--but I am taking a break. 2015 was a year of changes for me. I became a mommy and my entire life shifted. I walked away with a different perspective. Writing has always been a part of my life, but recently it's caused me a lot of stress. The need to write, the pressures I put on myself.

So, I'm changing things up. I'm not making goals to write this year. Instead I'm making this year mine. If that means writing, then great! If not, I will survive. This will be The Year of Me and I'm very excited to see where it leads me!


Monday, January 4

2015 Movies Watched

Here is my list from the year!

Asterisk denotes a "new to me" movie.
Movies are in order of when I watched them.

  1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2*
  2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  4. Big Hero 6*
  5. Neighbors*
  6. Independence Day*
  7. Penguins of Madagascar*
  8. Mockingjay: Part One*
  9. The Imitation Game*
  10. Divergent
  11. Kingsman: The Secret Service*
  12. The Avengers
  13. Iron Man 3
  14. Thor: The Dark World
  15. Avengers: Age of Ultron*
  16. The Lucky One*
  17. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  18. Jurassic Park
  19. Grand Budapest Hotel*
  20. Guardians of the Galaxy
  21. Cinderella*
  22. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  23. Corner Gas: The Movie
  24. Fifty Shades of Grey*
  25. Miss Congeniality
  26. Pitch Perfect 2*
  27. While You Were Sleeping
  28. Northanger Abbey
  29. Jurassic Park
  30. Jurassic Park
  31. The Duff*
  32. Safe Haven*
  33. Corner Gas: The Movie
  34. Jurassic World*
  35. The Decoy Bride*
  36. Authors Anonymous
  37. Inside Out*
  38. The Longest Ride*
  39. Jurassic Park III
  40. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  41. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  42. Insurgent*
  43. Magic Mike XXL*
  44. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  45. Mulan
  46. Beauty and the Beast
  47. Wreck-It Ralph
  48. Belle
  49. Minions*
  50. Tangled
  51. Fantastic Four*
  52. Mad Max: Fury Road*
  53. Northmen*
  54. Aloha*
  55. Burlesque*
  56. Aladdin
  57. Hocus Pocus
  58. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  59. Ant-Man*
  60. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  61. Inside Out
  62. Ant-Man
  63. The Little Mermaid
  64. The Santa Clause
  65. How to Train Your Dragon: Gift of the Night Fury
  66. The Santa Clause 2
  67. Frozen
  68. Anchorman 2*
  69. The Santa Clause
  70. The Good Dinosaur*
  71. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  72. The Santa Clause
  73. Ghostbusters 2
  74. Elf
  75. Christmas Vacation
  76. 22 Jump Street
  77. Star Wars: The Force Awakens*
GOAL:      50    

TV Seasons are in alphabetical order.

TV Seasons:
  1. Agent Carter
  2. Agents of Shield Season 2
  3. Arrow Season 1
  4. Arrow Season 2
  5. Arrow Season 3
  6. Ascension
  7. Big Bang Theory Season 8
  8. The Flash Season 1
  9. The Following Season 3
  10. Game of Thrones Season 3
  11. Gotham Season 1
  12. How to Train Your Dragon: Defenders of Berk
  13. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 16
  14. The Middle Season 6
  15. Modern Family Season 1
  16. Modern Family Season 2
  17. Modern Family Season 6
  18. NCIS Season 12
  19. NCIS: New Orleans Season 1
  20. New Girl Season 4
  21. Outlander Part 1
  22. Sense and Sensibility BBC Series
  23. Smallville Season 2
  24. Smallville Season 3
  25. Smallville Season 4
  26. Smallville Season 5
  27. Smallville Season 6
  28. Smallville Season 7
  29. Smallville Season 8
  30. Smallville Season 9
  31. Smallville Season 10
  32. Survivor: Worlds Apart (Season 30)
  33. Survivor: Second Chances (Season 31)
  34. Vikings Season 2
  35. Vikings Season 3

Wednesday, September 30

A Letter to My Family

I have a wonderful family.

My parents have supported my dreams and aspirations for the past twenty-five years. My husband has done the same for the past nine years. They have never doubted me. Not once. Not even when I’ve given them plenty of reasons to wonder.

I’m not an easy person to live with. My house is OCD clean. Mum likes to say I clean as if the Queen herself was expected at any minute. Some might think that’s a good thing, but it’s really just a giant pain in the ass for everyone—including myself.

I’m also moody, emotional, opinionated, and rather stubborn. And yet, by some miracle, my family still loves and supports me. They deal with my creative outbursts. They understand when I need to stay up late to finish writing a particular scene. They know what to do when I’m having a bad writing day—or week, or month. In short, these people should win an award.

I owe everything I am today to them.

I have a degree because of them. I have a home and a family because of them. They support me emotionally, mentally, (sometimes) physically, and financially. I know how lucky I am to have them. I have friends who would kill for the amount of support I receive. And yet, my story still isn’t done. Why?

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked myself that very question.

I should be done. Not only are my parents and husband extremely supportive, but I have dozens of other avid supporters on my side. My critique partner. My beta readers. My hairdresser. Heck, even a few agents and editors are asking for my story, wanting to read my work. So why is my story sitting in a folder, only three-quarters finished?

I have no answer to that, and I doubt I ever will.

When I wrote Warrior Branded, I had no idea what I was doing. I started during my spring semester, but it didn’t really take off until summer hit, when I had all the time in the world to sit and create. I wrote just over 83,000 words in two months. For you non-writer types, that’s pretty intense. I ended up editing quickly and querying by the time school started again in September.

It went well. I had a lot of success in the trenches, but I ultimately decided to pull the story and work on something new. That something new was A Highlander’s Ransom—my current story. Over the next several years, other things took precedence over my writing. I had two serious arm surgeries. I finished my degree in English Literature, with a minor in European History. I planned a wedding across the continent, worked towards my FiancĂ© Visa, and eventually moved to Virginia. I married my best friend. I adopted my fur-baby.

And then I went through a bit of a dark patch. Our marriage was going wonderfully, but I missed my family. I missed my homeland. I wasn’t depressed per se, but I wasn’t inspired to create, either. About a year later, things started to look up. I started writing creatively again. Things were going really well. It was slow (and I mean glacially slow), but it was progress. There were hiccups here and there, but I always went back to writing.

And then in July 2014, I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic. Unfortunately, I suffered from extreme bouts of nausea. I lost a lot of weight for a pregnant woman. I slept most of my days away, and my writing stopped. Completely.

By the time my daughter was born in April 2015, I hadn’t written in months. Even while enjoying my time as a new mother, a part of me was devastated. Humiliated. I felt incredibly guilty. My husband of three years worked every single day to keep a roof over our heads, and yet, I couldn’t hold up my end of the bargain. I hadn’t produced a book. I hadn’t been published.

I finished my last story in a matter of months, but A Highlander’s Ransom is still unfinished after four years sitting on my computer. Part of the problem is my own perfectionism. Another part has to do with knowledge. I’m wiser now, and although that can help my writing, it also hinders it.

Regardless, I should be done. Yes, I’ve had huge life events during that time—there’s no denying that—but I’ve used it as a crutch for far too long. I’m driven. I graduated with high honors in university. I finished my first book as a teen, I have been published several times as a poet, and I queried my first book by the age of twenty. There’s no reason this story shouldn’t be done.

In the end, this post is an apology to all of my family and friends who have supported me over the years, who have asked me how my story is coming along. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I took your support and your interest and your patience for granted. To be honest, my writing isn’t going well. I haven’t written much in months. That’s about to change, however.

I’m done abusing your support, even inadvertently. I’m done with the excuses, no matter how valid they might be. I will finish this story and have it ready to be queried by the new year. I thought about putting an “if not” clause on here, but I’m not going to, because I’m not going to fail. Not this time.

I have a wonderful family. They are my best friends, my confidantes, and I won’t let them down again. I promise.

Tuesday, January 6

2015 Goals

Hello everyone!

I know we're six days into the new year, but here are my goals for the next twelve months. I'm going to try and be super flexible due to baby, so these are very loose goals.


  • Finish A Highlander's Romance: finish editing the story. Write the tagline and 3-line pitch, query letter, synopsis, and then query. This will be done before baby arrives.
  • Try to write every day (or as much as possible with baby on the way).
  • Plot and write the first draft of my next Scottish Scoundrels book, A Highlander's Oath. I'd also like to edit, write the tagline, 3-line pitch, query letter, and synopsis, but who knows how far that will go with a baby.
  • Work on the next book in my Scottish Scoundrels series. I'm leaving this up in the air because there's no way to know how busy I'm going to be.
  • Continue critiquing for Jen.
  • Renew Celtic Hearts, RWA, and RT.
  • Read at least 50 books & keep up on my Need To Read shelf.
  • Decide between Murphy and Nicholas. If I go with Nicholas, change everything over to reflect that.
  • Make a website.
  • Watch at least 50 movies. I think this will be ridiculously easy with late-night feedings on my horizon.
  • Keep up on birthdays by sending cards.
  • Exercise after baby arrives. I'm doing as much as I can now, but I'd like to get back to it after baby arrives.
  • Change my name, renew my green card, and change all memberships to new name.
  • Prepare everything for baby (paperwork, hospital bags, nursery, etc...).
  • Plan some sort of beach trip this summer? This one is definitely up in the air due to several factors (money, baby, etc...).
I have a million other things I need to do, but I'm not going to list them as "goals". For example, we need to work on our Jeep and do taxes before baby arrives, but those seem more like a "to do" list rather than goals.

So what about you? Do you make goals or resolutions?

Thursday, January 1

2014 Movies

Asterisk denotes a "new to me" movie.
Movies are in order of when I watched them.

  1. Despicable Me 2
  2. Fast & Furious 6*
  3. Red 2
  4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World*
  5. Pitch Perfect
  6. Monsters University
  7. We're the Millers
  8. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  9. The Watch*
  10. About Time*
  11. Frozen*
  12. Authors Anonymous*
  13. Divergent*
  14. Ender's Game*
  15. Noah*
  16. The Wolverine*
  17. Tangled
  18. Brave
  19. Captain America: The Winter Soldier*
  20. The Lego Movie*
  21. X-Men: Days of Future Past*
  22. Now You See Me
  23. Frozen
  24. Brave
  25. 22 Jump Street*
  26. About Time
  27. Spamalot by PH Players
  28. Silver Linings Playbook
  29. How to Train Your Dragon 2*
  30. Frozen
  31. Ender's Game
  32. Belle*
  33. Batman Begins
  34. Perks of Being a Wallflower*
  35. Guardians of the Galaxy*
  36. Austenland*
  37. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
  38. Maverick
  39. Divergent
  40. Brave
  41. WALL-E
  42. Oceans 11
  43. Bender's Big Score (Futurama)
  44. The Jungle Book (1994 version)
  45. Beast With a Billion Backs (Futurama)
  46. Into the Wild Green Yonder (Futurama)
  47. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
  48. How to Train Your Dragon
  49. Beetlejuice*
  50. Hocus Pocus*
  51. A Princess for Christmas*
  52. Christmas Vacation
  53. Scrooged
  54. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time*
  55. Dinner for Schmucks*
  56. Immortals
  57. The Santa Clause
  58. Elf
  59. Avatar*
  60. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies*
  61. Corner Gas: The Movie*
  62. Guardians of the Galaxy
  63. 22 Jump Street
  64. The Lego Movie
GOAL:      50    

TV Seasons are in alphabetical order.

TV Seasons:
  1. Agents of Shield Season 1
  2. Big Bang Theory Season 7
  3. Firefly Season 1
  4. The Following Season 2
  5. Futurama Season 1
  6. Futurama Season 2
  7. Futurama Season 3
  8. Futurama Season 4
  9. Futurama Season 5
  10. Futurama Season 6
  11. Futurama Season 7
  12. Futurama Season 8
  13. Game of Thrones Season 1
  14. Game of Thrones Season 2
  15. How to Train Your Dragon: Riders of Berk
  16. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Season 15
  17. The Middle Season 1
  18. The Middle Season 2
  19. The Middle Season 3
  20. The Middle Season 4
  21. The Middle Season 5
  22. Modern Family Season 4
  23. Modern Family Season 5
  24. NCIS Season 1
  25. NCIS Season 2
  26. NCIS Season 3
  27. NCIS Season 4
  28. NCIS Season 5
  29. NCIS Season 6
  30. NCIS Season 7
  31. NCIS Season 8
  32. NCIS Season 9
  33. NCIS Season 10
  34. NCIS Season 11
  35. New Girl Season 2
  36. New Girl Season 3
  37. Smallville Season 1
  38. Survivor: Brawn, Beauty, Brain (Cagayan)
  39. Survivor: Blood vs. Water 2
  40. Vikings Season 1

2014 Books Read

RR = Repeat Read

BR = Beta Read
CPR = Critique Partner Read

Books by Genre 
(listed alphabetically by last name)


Contemporary Romance: 1
  1. Back to Buckhorn by Lori Foster

Erotic Romance: 5
  1. Burnout by Sarah Castille
  2. The Professional by Kresley Cole
  3. Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren
  4. Nice Girls Don't Ride by Roni Loren
  5. Fall Into You by Roni Loren

Georgian Romance: 1
  1. Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Medieval Romance: 1
  1. The Hunter by Monica McCarty

New Adult: 18
  1. All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
  2. Third Degree by Julie Cross
  3. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
  4. Tease by Sophie Jordan
  5. Wild by Sophie Jordan
  6. Before You Break by Christina Lee
  7. Whisper to Me by Christina Lee
  8. Promise Me This by Christina Lee
  9. Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  10. Be With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout w/a J. Lynn
  11. Be With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout w/a J. Lynn (repeat read)
  12. Stay With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout w/a J. Lynn
  13. Just a Little Crush by Renita Pizzitola
  14. True by Erin McCarthy
  15. Upside Down by Lia Riley
  16. Breakable by Tammara Webber
  17. Deeper by Robin York
  18. 3:AM Kisses by Addison Moore

Paranormal Romance: 1
  1. Dark Skye by Kresley Cole

Reader/Intern for Inklings Literary Agency: 6*
  1. Historical Fiction
  2. Sci-Fi Romance
  3. YA Fantasy
  4. Dystopian
  5. Fantasy
  6. Light Fantasy

Reference Books: 1
  1. The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

Regency Romance: 4
  1. Dusk with a Dangerous Duke by Alexandra Hawkins
  2. When the Duke Was Wicked by Lorraine Heath
  3. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
  4. Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath

Young Adult (all sub-genres included): 12
  1. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  2. Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  3. Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  4. Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  5. Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  6. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  7. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols
  8. Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins
  9. Red at Night by Katie McGarry
  10. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  11. Boys Like You by Juliana Stone
  12. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

TOTAL BOOKS READ:        50         
GOAL:       50    

For full ratings and reviews, you can find me on Goodreads

*For obvious reasons, I am not listing the titles or authors of the books I have read for Inklings Literary Agency. I have, however, listed the genres to keep track. I also did not want to include it in the general reading list, but it still counts for my tally!

2014 Goals Reviewed

Hello everyone!

Happy New Year! I meant to post this yesterday, but time got away from me and a million other things came up (story of my life). Oh well!

Below are my goals for 2014 and how I fared.


GOAL-- Finish AHR (write a synopsis and query this sucker): I will do this, even if it means I have to tie myself to a chair and force myself.

HOW I FARED-- Alas, I did not finish editing my book. I made a huge effort and nearly finished, but it did not happen. I'm disappointed in myself, but I also realize how busy this year was for my family and I.

GOAL--Write up detailed plots and query letters for the next two books in my Highlander series: You know, just in case I get the interest of an agent and he/she wants to know what I have planned.

HOW I FARED-- I did this...somewhat. Although I didn't technically write query letters or detailed plots, I did make a bunch of notes and I also wrote  loglines. Doing so helped me figure out where I want those stories to end up.

GOAL--Write every day: I don't care how much I write a day (well okay, I do, but that's besides the point). Either way, I must write every single day.

HOW I FARED-- I did not accomplish this goal. Although I love the idea of writing every single day, I find it impossible to achieve. I do want to try and write more, though. Of course, when baby comes, we'll see how that goes ;)

GOAL --Start a NA book for fun (write synopsis & query letter even if I decide not to query): I want to do this during the Celtic Hearts sprint challenge in January.

HOW I FARED-- I actually did this one. The synopsis, query letter, and story itself will never see the light of day, but I did work on it during the Celtic Hearts sprint in January. I also won with a whopping 56, 718 words! But like I said, they are hideous, ugly words.

GOAL --Start the second book in the Highlander series (?) This depends on how the first half of the year goes: Obviously I'm leaving my options open. If I've learned anything from the past two years it's that things crop up that you're least expecting. I figure I should prepare for everything.

HOW I FARED-- Nope! WAY too much cropped up. At least I was prepared for that possibility.

GOAL --Renew Celtic Hearts (?), RWA, and RT: There's a question mark besides Celtic Hearts because I'm not sure whether I will renew in March. I adore the friends I've made, but I'm not sure I'm getting my money's worth.

HOW I FARED-- Yep, I renewed all of my memberships.

GOAL --Attend RWA Nationals in July (?): This is the same as last year. Unless something changes, this won't happen but I figure I'll put it down anyway.

HOW I FARED-- Nope! My summer was so busy, there's no way I could have fit this in. Plus, money. Maybe in the next few years.

GOAL --Enter the Golden Heart contest in December: This depends on where I am in my writing career, but I'd love it if I could enter.

HOW I FARED-- Unfortunately, I decided not to pursue this goal this year. I really thought about it, since technically my story is done (not fully edited, however), but I don't want to enter a story that isn't 100% completed (even though the judges only look at the first 50 pages).

GOAL --Continue to critique for my CP, Jena Lang.

HOW I FARED-- Yeppers!

GOAL --Read at least 50 books & keep up on my NTR shelf.

HOW I FARED-- Accomplished. My complete list can be found here.

GOAL --Buy domain name for Murphy and create a website (?): Still not sure what I want to do with this issue. Along the same lines, I need to decide between Murphy and Nicholas. Once these decisions are made, I can order new business cards.

HOW I FARED-- Again, this one is still up in the air. I like the idea of double N's with Natalie Nicholas, but I have family and close friends who can't even spell Nicholas correctly, which makes me nervous about making that my author name. I know, I know, it's a really easy name, but people ALWAYS get it wrong.


GOAL --Plan a trip in February with my parents (?): They're coming down for a visit, but I don't know if we'll go anywhere.

HOW I FARED-- I actually did make plans for a few side trips in and around Roanoke, but we were snowed in!

GOAL --Watch at least 50 movies: Roni Loren does this challenge every year and I thought it sounded entertaining. These movies don't need to be new to me.

HOW I FARED-- This was such a breeze for me to complete. My full list can be found here. I also kept track of the seasons I watched--and I nearly reached 50 for those as well!

GOAL --Keep up on birthdays: Again, people seem to love this tradition, so I'll keep it up =)


GOAL --Find a job. Boo, hiss.

HOW I FARED-- I actually did fairly well here even though I didn't actually get a job. I know that sounds strange, but I garnered the interest of three separate publishing houses for line editor positions. Alas, lack of experience was my downfall. Oh well! I took steps in the spring to change that, but with baby on the way it doesn't seem to make much of a difference now.

GOAL --Attend my cousin's wedding on June 21st. Help her out however I can.

HOW I FARED-- My cousin cancelled her wedding. I did travel to Canada though, and I was able to see everyone for over two weeks. And before the big shindig was cancelled, I helped out with whatever I could.

GOAL --Continue to exercise regularly. I would like to reach my goal by July 8th (the one year anniversary).

HOW I FARED-- Well, I did continue to exercise until I found out I was pregnant and couldn't keep any food down. I'm slowly trying to use my elliptical again though--safely, of course.

GOAL --Plan a beach trip for me, my hubby, and my parents in August: Squee!

HOW I FARED-- Accomplished! It was a lovely trip.

Overall, I think I did pretty well with my goals, especially considering the rough year we had. I've decided to post a list of things that happened that we weren't expecting, but changed our plans nonetheless.

Writing Extra:

  • I entered the Golden Claddagh contest and ended up getting 2nd place in the historical category. I also received two full requests (for a book that isn't finished yet...shh).
  • I accepted an internship with Margaret Bail at Inklings Literary Agency from May 2 until September 3. This was my step to achieving more experience in the publishing world, but now I'm not sure it matters with our little girl due in the new year.
  • I beta read for several people.
  • I worked on a business plan with my critique partner, Jena Lang.
Personal Extra:
  • Sadly, the year started out with hardships for us. I lost not one, but two friends from high school. Seeing  as how I'm only 25 (24 when this occurred), it hit me pretty hard. To make matters worse, we lost Granddad at the beginning of the year. Several other extended family members also passed, making January to March a difficult time for all of us.
  • I planned and organized several family events, including Easter (both in Virginia and in Canada), a Labor Day BBQ, Canadian and American Thanksgivings, and Christmas. These events can be a lot of work, especially when trying to organize everyone. Sometimes it's like herding flies—impossible!
  • We went on a beach trip in July with my in-laws! They decided to treat us and rented a house in North Carolina. It had a pool. My life was complete.
  • I suffered extreme illness from the beginning of July until mid November and lost 20 pounds because…I'm pregnant! The first five weeks were the toughest, mainly because we weren't sure whether I was pregnant or dying! Thankfully it was the former ;) We are having a baby girl due April 6, 2105. Needless to say, this has taken up a lot of time and energy and is the main reason I didn't finish some of my other goals this year. My nausea was extremely difficult to deal with (for both of us). For several months, it was all I could do to make the bed during the day (and most of the time I ended up throwing up halfway through). Sad, but true. Now that I'm not throwing up as much anymore, exhaustion has hit full force. I can't seem to win!
Many other things happened this year, but this sums up the highlights, I think. I hope 2015 is an even better year!
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