Natalina Bell

Me300 (1)Natalina wrote her first romance in collaboration with her best friend at the age of 13. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes.

After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she has taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something?Not a simple question. I have always written; poems, short stories…After I had my oldest son, my creative juices were at their highest (probably hormones). I was new to the US and had no clue how to procure publication. Somehow I figured it out (this was before internet. Yes, I am that old) and I wrote several novels which I submitted for publication. No luck. Eventually the industry started only accepting submissions from agented authors and I gave up. Until 2014, when I accidentally got involved with a local group of women writers. I started writing again and I realized how much I had missed it. Through my writers’ group I found out about NaNoWriMo and decided to challenge myself. I wrote the first draft that November and started submitting it. I got the bug now and just can’t stop.

2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I am a full time teacher so writing time is scarce. After school I normally drive to a local coffee shop where I will sit for the next hour or so and write. In the evening I also write (I normally have the laptop in front of me just in case I get a minute here or there). On the weekends my writers’ group and I now have two hours on Sundays dedicated to writing. We reserve a study room in the local library and let no-one distract us.

3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I do and I hate it. I make myself write anyway. If it’s crap I can always delete it or change it later, but I find that writing begets creativity. I sometimes also use music as inspiration. Yoga, believe it or not, has inspired me more than once. I sometimes get my best ideas when I am supposed to be emptying my mind, lol. 

4.Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story?
Definitely a pantser. I get myself in some real jams because of it. I often mix up character traits because of this and then I have a hard time fixing it during edits. I am getting better at it though. I now make myself take notes as I go along, but I still have no wish to sit down and actually plan a project. 

5.Are you traditionally or self-published?I was fortunate enough to be picked up by Limitless Publishing. I don’t know if I could go the self-publishing route just because of the lack of time.

6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?
Like most things the publishing process was a learning experience. A good one in my case. I’ve heard horror stories from other authors, but my publisher has been very supportive (amazing support staff) and inspiring. I feel very lucky that my first experience in publishing was to be such a pleasant one. My advice is to never give up and expect to work yourself to the bone. And do your research. Even though I was a rookie I didn’t just sign up with the first publisher that came my way. In fact, little known fact, I had received another contract proposal from another traditional publisher just a few weeks before Limitless. I did my research, asked questions before deciding which one to go with. And remember this: if the publisher asks you for money to publish your book, run the other way. 

7.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
Well, nothing beats the moment you see and hold your book in your own hands. A copy of mine is still on my bed stand. It was both exciting and frightening to have people I know come to me and ask me to autograph my book. But most of all it’s rewarding to think that something that came out of your creative mind can bring enjoyment to so many people.

8.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? My second book, which is now in the last editing stage, is different from the We Will Always Have the Closet (a romantic suspense) in many ways. It is a romance and there is also some suspense in it, but it is set in an alternate Earth where things are just a little topsy-turvy. The characters are culturally diverse and my heroine is an eighteen year old princess endowed with some pretty cool gifts by the mystic powers of the African Orisa. I guess it will be labelled as a Paranormal Romance even though it really is just speculative fiction. Even though the characters are pretty young, the content material is not suitable for young adults.  

9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) Start early, way before your book is even published. It sounds strange but it makes sense. In all honesty I didn’t expect to be published as quickly as I was so I was not totally prepared. I had a starting blog, but everything else came after the contract. It takes a long time to get a following and if you already have one when you first publish your book then you have a better chance people will actually buy the book . One thing NOT to do is be nasty to your fans or even to your non-fans. Also, make sure you build your platform outside writers’ circles. Writers are all readers but often we are so busy writing, the reading falls by the wayside. You must reach out to readers while still networking with your writing peers.  

10.How long on average does it take you to write a book?It all depends. I work full time in another job so my free time is very scarce. During NaNoWriMo I was able to write the first draft of my first novel in one month, but then revisions and edits took me about 4 more months to complete. My second one took probably six months to complete but I’m still working on final edits. It all depends on what’s going on in my non-writing life.

11.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. Tamara from TOJ Publishing Services did my cover. I was very nervous about this part of the process. I love art (just like Petra in my book) and graphics are of extreme importance for me as a reader. I confess I do judge the book by its cover, at least at first. I had seen some of the other covers for romances and even though they were beautiful they were far too sexual for what I was really going for with my romance. Tamara sent me a questionnaire and I was very pleased how she was able to incorporate the mood of my story. Love my cover ! 

12.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?I read when I can (which is not often). I love dancing, yoga, and listening to music (anything from classical to alternative). I also enjoy watching movies and certain TV shows.


Twitter : @TichaB