Writing Music: 57821, Janelle Monae

A while back I used share the music I was writing to (this was before the days of having Spotify I think. Was there even a life before Spotify??), and I’ve so missed doing this! These days, I use specially created playlists to get me into the character’s mood and setting, so I’ve decided to start this up again because music is life. This is from Jess’s playlist, which you can follow along with the Pinterest board below!

All We Left Unsaid – Jess’s Playlist

Track: 57821 by Janelle Monae (feat. Deep Cotton)
Album: Archandroid

Natalie Martin is a bestselling Women’s Fiction author with a passion for empowering women through story, embodied yoga and self-development and mindset coaching.

Claiming your space as an author and living on purpose

This week, I was interviewed by the beautiful Emma Barfield on her podcast, Alchemise This, and we spoke about how to claim space. The author world is notoriously difficult to break into, and I’ve been very open about my own struggles on this journey. It’s hard for me to imagine that just a few months ago I pushed my author life into a metaphorical black hole, and claiming that back has been the on of the most gorgeous thing to happen this year.

You can listen here (or via any other podcast provider).

Have a beautiful weekend!


Want your dream life? This is how you get it.

Want your dream life? This is how you get it.

I’ve been sitting on this for a good few weeks now, and I’m so happy to finally be able to should it out: I’ve signed a new two-deal book contract with Lake Union Publishing!! Woohoo!!

When I say the last two months have been a whirlwind, that’s no understatement. I’d started writing Book 4 ages ago, and picked it up again in lockdown. I decided to write here and there, when I had time, with no pressure. The idea of getting a book contract was the last thing on my mind. Apart from when I’d map out my aspirations for the year, or think about what I’d like to eventually return to: a life of writing, yoga and fun! Alongside this, I saw a post from Vienda Maria on Instagram. A space had opened up in her diary for a 1:1 mentoring session. I decided to book it. One of the questions on her form was, what do I want for myself within the next 12 months. And as always, I answered that I’d love to get back into writing. That session was an amazing one where we barely touched on writing at all, until the very end of the session.

On of the big blocks for me to start writing again, was the decision over what to do with my agent. We hadn’t spoken for two years and I’d been feeling way out of alignment with the whole set up for some time. And I wasn’t allowed to feel that because he was one of THE top literary agents out there, in an agency that was as old as time with so many famous names on their books, I should count myself lucky to be among them. Vienda’s advice was to listen to my intuition and so I decided to reach out to him and just see what would come back.

Well, what came back was that he was no longer working at the agency. My agent had left over a year ago and I’d had no idea. And miraculously, at the same time I got a call from my old Editor at Lake Union. She wanted to know if I was working on anything new and, as luck would have it, I was. And she loved the idea. The space between my session with Vienda, contacting my now ex-agent and my old editor getting in touch was literally about three days. I’d taken some knocks along the road to with my writing career but what was worse, was I’d forgotten something truly fundamental for all areas of life:

The only person standing in the way of you getting what you want, is you!

When I really think of all those times I failed to tell people I was a writer during my hiatus, or when I’d tell myself I only wanted to write for me, for fun, I realise that what I was really doing was acting out of fear. If I told people I was a writer and they asked for my latest book, I’d have to tell them it was from three years ago, because I’d lost my confidence by not getting a contract and didn’t write again. And if when I told myself I’d write again but just for fun, it was because the fear of getting rejected again was so strong.

As soon as I got out of my own way and started facing up to my fears, the wheels started turning.

We all have dreams. Things we wish we could do, if only…if only we were given the chance, could get time off work, could move somewhere new. And it’s really worth stopping and asking yourself, whether it’s the world standing in your way, or if it’s actually you.

Grab yourself a mentor or coach, buy some online courses or whatever else you need to do to start working through your fears and start getting yourself on track.

The life you’re dreaming of is right there, waiting for you to claim it.

Natalie Martin is a bestselling Women’s Fiction author with a passion for empowering women through story, embodied yoga and self-development and mindset coaching.

Success! You’re on the list.

How to become a successful writer

How to become a successful writer

One of the things people most often say when I tell them I’m a writer, is “Oh I’ve always dreamt of writing a book, but I don’t know where to start.” Or, “How did you do it, can I pick your brain?”. Or, “Can you actually make a living writing books nowadays?” Or, “My husband/wife/daughter/niece wants to become a writer, can you give them some tips?”. So instead of addressing all these things individually I thought, why not write a blog post! Here are my answers to these FAQs:

1. How can I get started as a writer?

Usually followed by, “I don’t have a writing degree/similar”. Well, neither do I. Yes, you can learn how to write a book in terms of structure and plot devision, but you can’t learn how to be a writer (in my opinion). All you can do is hone the skills you already have. So no, you absolutely don’t need a degree to become a writer, but what you DO need to do, is write. The only difference between an aspiring writer and an actual writer, is that the latter puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). It doesn’t have to be perfect – that’s what editing is for, but just write words on the page and keep on doing it. If you want to write, start writing!

2. What’s the best writing process?

This is going to be different from person to person and, for me, book to book. I’ve written a book with no structure at all and others with half a structure. My new book as the full structure and outline from start to finish. I started my new one by fleshing out characters and mood using Pinterest for visualisation boards and Spotify playlists to get into their minds and hearts. The writing came afterwards. If you’re someone who wants to feel secure in knowing where to go, having a chapter-by-chapter breakdown will maybe work better than free-flowing but bear in mind that inspiration can strike at any moment. Having flexibility to add unplanned plot twists or even new characters can be a good thing, too.

3. How can I keep myself on track? I’ve never finished a book.

Personally, I like to use word count goals. For each writing day, I total my word count so I can see the progress day by day and it gives me the motivation to continue (believe me, it really works). Also, the Pinterest and Spotify things I just mentioned aren’t just there as part of the writing process. They also make the whole thing more fun. Look, you probably won’t sit down and write every single day, and that’s ok! Inspiration comes and goes and real life gets in the way (plus, if you’re a person with a menstrual cycle you might find you have ALL of the writing vibes one week and then zero the next). Having music to listen to or a Pinterest board to refer to on those off-days will keep your book-world in your mind, so you won’t fall into the trap of leaving it to one side and never getting back into it. Another alternative might be to find a writing buddy. This can be a real, 3D connection or someone via social media who you can share progress with. They don’t have to be writing a book, maybe it’s a dissertation or something else, but having support can go a long way.

4. Should I self-publish or try and get a contract?

This question always throws me because it’s such an individual choice. First off, let me say, it’s not so easy to get a contract with a publisher (JK Rowling will attest to that) so I’d reframe the question as should you self-publish or submit to an agent. I’m going to write the process for each separately but for the purposes of answering this specific question: it depends. If you self-publish, you have all the freedom in the world. Your content, cover, book title, pricing – all of it is decided by you and you alone. The marketing will also fall to you alone, which can be a tough one to crack. When you go the ‘traditional’ route, you have the power of a (hopefully good) agent who can get your manuscript under the noses of publishers. And if you get a contract, you’ll get an advance which is always helpful, and deadlines to meet. Ideally your books will be in all the bookshops and so on. You’ll get the editor, the book designer and the marketing, but you’ll likely not have final say on things like cover, title etc. So, as I said, its personal preference. So, with that in mind, I’ll break down the publishing process next…

5. How can I self-publish my book?

Self-publishing is surprisingly easy but if you want to do it properly with any hope of making money, you’ll need to do it well. So firstly, you’ve written THE END. Well done. Now the work begins. I would highly recommend finding a good editor to (at the very least) proof for grammatical/spelling errors. In the best case, someone who can do a structural edit too. You’ll also need someone to design your cover (I always used the amazing Naj Qamber) because even though you can do them yourself pretty easily these days, a crap cover won’t get you any sales. When Kindle first launched, self-publishing had a bad rep because of the huge number of poorly edited books with clip art covers. Nowadays, that won’t work. Invest a little money in getting your manuscript in top shape. For the tech aspect of formatting your e-book or paperback, as well as info on how to set up newsletters, social media etc, I can massively recommend Catherine Ryan Howard’s Self-Printed. It’s an amazing, easy to use guide that covers everything. You could pay someone to do all of it for you but, personally, it was empowering to do it myself. Marketing-wise, you could contact bloggers for blog tours, local newspapers or anything else that springs to mind to get your book out there. There really aren’t any limits to what you can do, so if you’re someone who’s great with marketing or social media – go at it! People usually feel short-changed when I tell them all this, like they expected it to be super-duper hard to self-publish. It’s not. Challenging, maybe. Frustrating, certainly (especially with formatting) but impossible? No.

6. How can I get a contract with an agent and publisher?

Ok, so you still want to see your books in Waterstones and WH Smith’s. You’re going to need an agent. A lot of agents actually scour the online charts to find self-published books that are already doing well and offer contracts that way. There are a whole lot of agencies out there, some great and some not-so-great. It can feel like needle in a haystack syndrome, so my advice? Who are your favourite authors (within the same genre you’re writing in)? Their agents (if they’re agented) are a good place to start. Most agencies have a number of agents who then specialise in different things. There’s no point submitting your steamy romance novel to someone who deals exclusively with detective thrillers. Check websites and the agents to see if they’re a match, and if they’re open to submissions (many have full lists already). If you find your perfect agent and they’re open to submissions – GREAT. Now you can begin. They’ll likely have submission guidelines online but the general rule is to send a letter/email introducing yourself, the first three chapters of your novel/book and a synopsis (this is an outline of your book detailing plot and characters). These three things will help them to find out who you are, what you write and most importantly, how you write. It goes without saying, what you submit must be flawless – proof thoroughly for mistakes because that just isn’t a good look. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t submit to all of the world’s agents at once. It’s not only impolite but you might find yourself in a jam if you get multiple call-backs. Bear in mind though, it can take weeks to get a response – they’ll usually say how long it’ll take on their website. Oh, and super important, you will never ever ever have to pay anything to an agent. If you get an offer for representation and you’re being asked to pay something in return, give them a very wide berth. Your agent will make their money by landing you a contract and taking commission on the contract total and royalties (around 15%).

7. My book keeps getting rejected. What should I do?

Well, the practical thing to do is to look at your feedback (if you’re lucky enough to get it). Is there a fundamental flaw in your structure? Or is it a super typical storyline that’s been done to death? Maybe it’s too ahead of its time or fits into a very small niche. These are things that can be worked on or, if you don’t want to work on them, you can simply self-publish instead and continue to submit as you go. But the absolute best thing you can do with each rejection, is to throw the letter away (or keep it if you’re into that kind of thing) and not take it personally. Publishing is super competitive and unless you’ve got something that’s brand new and never been seen before or an exceptionally strong story, it’s going to take a lot of dedication, perseverance and thick skin. And those aren’t bad qualities to develop, really.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about writing? Drop me a comment and let me know!

Natalie Martin is a bestselling Women’s Fiction author with a passion for empowering women through story, embodied yoga and self-development and mindset coaching.

Success! You’re on the list.

It starts with a kiss….

That pull of attraction…the crackle of tension in the air…that infinite, agonising momentary wait for lips to touch…

I’ve been deep in the world of Ivy and Jess lately – sisters who are torn apart by love for a man. Like all of my books, it’s delving into grey areas of what we and society deem to be acceptable (or not), which lines are able to be crossed and which are absolute no-gos. And my mind keeps turning to that moment, right before the kiss that leads to two sisters never seeing each other again. I find that as my writing process matures, I become much more visual, so Pinterest has become my new procrastination.

Clean lines, rose gold and chic, Parisian style (hello, Jess), dreadlocks, nose rings and a kaleidoscope of colour (that’d be Ivy) against a backdrop of windswept beaches, craggy rock faces and the tang of salty air (welcome to Cornwall).

I realise that, the process of starting a book is a bit like starting a relationship. Tantalising glimpses of what could be when things get going. I can’t WAIT to share this book with you guys!

Natalie Martin is a bestselling Women’s Fiction author with a passion for empowering women through story, embodied yoga and self-development and mindset coaching.

Success! You’re on the list.