Episode 63 – Unstoppable Rewriter with Natasha Deen

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I love interviewing other authors because every time I get to speak to one on Unstoppable Mindset I learn new concepts I hope I can use. I hope you feel the same way.
Our guest on this episode is Natasha Deen. She is an author of over 40 books written for youth, adults and everyone else in between. She made an interesting observation I love and which led to this episode’s title. She observed that there are no great writers. There are only great rewriters. Listen to this episode to hear why she thinks this is so. I won’t give it away.
About the Guest:
Guyanese-Canadian author, Natasha Deen has published over forty works for kids, teens, and adults, in a variety of genres, and for a variety of readerships. Her works include the JLG Standard Selection Thicker than Water, Guardian which was a Sunburst Award nominee, _and the Alberta Readers Choice nominated _Gatekeeper. Her YA novel, In the Key of Nira Ghani, won the 2020 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and her upcoming novel, The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad, is a CBC Top 14 Canadian YA books to watch for in spring 2022 and a JLG Gold Standard Selection. When she’s not writing, she teaches Introduction to Children’s Writing with the University of Toronto SCS and spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house.
Social media links:
Visit Natasha at www.natashadeen.com and on Twitter/Instagram, @natasha_deen.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is an Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
accessiBe Links
https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/
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Transcription Notes

Michael Hingson  00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i  capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson  01:20
Well, hi, and I am glad that you’re with us again on an unstoppable mindset podcast episode. Today, our guest is Natasha Deen, except that she said to introduce her as she who would follow you home for cupcakes I buy into that. So true. Hey, listen, there’s nothing wrong with a good cupcake. Or good muffins. Well, Natasha is an author, she’s written over 40 books of various genres, and so on, we’re going to talk about that. And she has all sorts of adventures and stories to tell. And so I think we will have a lot of fun on this podcast. So thanks for joining us. And Natasha, thank you for joining us today.
Natasha Deen  02:05
Thank you. And yes, thank you for joining my clan, I’m very excited to be here.
Michael Hingson  02:10
Well, tell me a little bit about you, you sort of the the early Natasha years and so on, and what you did how you got to the point of writing and anything else that you want to say,
Natasha Deen  02:20
Oh, well, I have an interesting, you know, that’s gonna say like, I have a kind of an interesting origin story because I was born in Canada. But when I was three weeks old, my family moved back home to Guyana, South America, lived there, and then came back to Canada. So I’m a born Canadian, but my experience with Canada is an immigrant experience. Because the first country I knew was, you know, a country of, of coconuts and vampire bats. And you know, peacocks. And it was it was amazing, we lived No, we were just talking about previous residences. And the house we lived at, there was a stream in front of the house. And then there was a bridge that would connect you like you know, into the town. And I have, I can remember that we would get these huge rainstorms. And it would wash out the bridge. And then you’d either be well basically, as a kid, you were you were stuck, because you have to wait for the men to go find the bridge and bring it back and reattach because it just like a wooden bridge, or they’d have to rebuild it. And it was the same thing at school, like when the rains would hit, the teachers would just show off all the lights, and then we’d make paper boats, and we’d sail them down these like little these little rivers. And when I moved to Canada, the first time it rained, you know, I’m in school, and it starts pouring. And I’m so excited because I think for sure the teachers are going to turn off the lights and we’re all gonna go sail paper boats. But it was like a loop was not to be as close the window and told me to pay attention. I’m like, but but but but no, I you know? And to answer your question about any desires to be a writer I did when I was a kid, I thought it would have been very cool to have a book on a shelf. But when I went to the teacher’s library and the elders, parents, nobody knew nobody knew how to how to do it. And so I figured it was sort of like, you know, winning a lottery, or perhaps I don’t know, some sort of happy, happy meeting, you have to sit down next to some editor on a train. And you mentioned that you really liked writing and they handed the contract right there. So I moved on to other other things. And it was after I graduated with my BA in psychology that I thought I’m just gonna give this writing thing at shot. And luckily for me, and you know, sort of all the writers who are up and coming like, we have the internet so we can, we can talk to the Google and the Google will tell us how how we navigate getting published and Contact, it’s an editor’s. So first sort of a snapshot.
Michael Hingson  05:04
So did you do anything with psychology? Or did you go straight into writing?
Natasha Deen  05:09
I so like dark secret, I was doing a couple of classes over the summer and preparation I had applied for my masters. And I was sitting there, and it was this really odd textbook that was telling you about, you know, counseling. And one of the techniques they had, they would repeat back to you what, you you know what the patient would say you repeat it back them, because the thinking of the time was, you know, hearing it, hearing it echo back would open up places. And I just, you know, what I remember, we had to do like a whole thing where we were practicing, you know, and it was the most, I realized I did not have the personality for it. Because if I was on the other side of the chair, and I’m saying to someone, I’ve had a really bad day, and they say back to me. So it sounds like you’ve had a really bad day. Yeah, yeah, my boss, my boss yelled at me. The boss yelled at you, I would have been like, No, I’m out. I’m gonna go find someone else to talk to you. Cool, actually, you know, talk back to me, instead of giving me a repeat of what I’ve like, I know what I just said, man. I just said it, you know? So. So that was about that. And I was also you know, so I thought, oh, I’ll just, I’ll just do a little bit of writing. And then, you know, I’ll come back maybe what it is, I’m just tired, because I did school for, you know, 100 billionaires. And there’s a danger, there’s a danger of taking a break from from school, because then for people like me, we realize now we don’t ever want to go back. Thank you very much. Well, we go do something else that someone else can have our desk. Okay, bye.
Michael Hingson  06:47
I remember when I was at UC Irvine, and working in physics and doing a lot with the computers, and there was a mainframe computer on campus. They had a psychology program, and it called Elijah. And it sort of worked like that. It would, if you type something in it would sort of repeat it back. But it was smart enough to deviate. And it could actually get you off in all sorts of unusual twists and turns. It was all about also psychoanalyzing you or, or creating conversations with you to try to figure you out, it was kind of fun. You could you could get absorbed with it for hours.
Natasha Deen  07:29
Well, that’s amazing. They have I know that they have a digital version of rat training, mice mouse training. So you would you would train a mouse to like do a maze, but it was a digital mouse, which I appreciate it. I feel like mice have other things to do with their time than to run a maze forming.
Michael Hingson  07:48
Hey, I’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I know about mice. They’re they’re in. They’re in control of the universe. Go read the book.
Natasha Deen  07:56
I wouldn’t, you know, I wouldn’t doubt that. That sounds that sounds feasible to me.
Michael Hingson  08:00
So something to work on. Well, so how did you end up getting to the point where your first book was published?
Natasha Deen  08:08
Oh, yeah, that’s a great, like, I so I, you know, I was I was writing and I was sending out and I think for a lot of writers, you know, we know this feeling, right? You’re sending out to editors, you’re sending out to agents, and nobody wants you. Right? And sometimes, as soon as you get the really nice rejection letters, like, dear Natasha, thank you so much. I really enjoyed the work, but it just didn’t reach me in the way it should. And I’m just not as passionate. You know, I wish you luck. And those ones I didn’t mind the ones that that used to irritate me were the ones that would say, Dear author, yeah. Yeah, no, thank you. And it was, like, they didn’t capitalize their sentences. And it would just irritate me so much. But I think it was a day and I just spent like, two hours researching you, making sure I spelled your name, making sure I was professional in my letter, the least you could do is capitalized, you know, I, I don’t want this, you know, give it to them or whatever. But it was just so I happened upon a small e publisher. And I’d heard really, really good things about them. I’m not sure if they’re around anymore. But I’ve heard really great things about them. And a few friends who had published them said, they’re really great because they don’t send generic rejection letters. If they don’t want your work. They will tell you, and I thought okay, I this is this is perfect for me, because then I can send it out and really someone will tell me if I’m doing something wrong, like what what is it that I’m doing so wrong with with, you know, my books? So I sent it out. And about a month later, I got an email saying, Hey, we really liked this. We’d love to publish it. Can we send you a contract? Yes. Yeah. Yeah, well, you know, I think I think that’s kind of the thing with the industry sometimes, like, you know, we get enough kicks in the hand at art, we start wondering if we’re in the right industry, we start wondering, do we have any kind of talent? Do we have any kind of skill? Are we just kidding ourselves? And so, you know, when I sent it out, I really, I was still thinking, Okay, I just don’t think I’m a great writer, I don’t think I have what it takes. And so it was a really good lesson about how subjective the industry can be, you know, and that that frustrating, heartbreaking thing, which is persevering. And you just have to keep going, because what else are you gonna do? You know, if you’re built to be a writer, you’re built to be a writer.
Michael Hingson  10:42
So you got a contract? And you published your first book? Did they do any editing or work with you on making any improvements before it was actually published?
Natasha Deen  10:53
Oh, yeah, yeah, I had to do a quitter, I think three, three rounds of edits. And then they were really great. I mean, they were, they were teeny tiny, small, small budget. But I really love that they did the very best they could for like, publicity and marketing, for their authors. And they, they would bring, like different opportunities, if you wanted to do it yourself. You could also like, expand out. And I think it’s something for authors to think about, you know, that quite often we dream of, you know, the big, I don’t know how many publishers, I think it’s a big five now maybe even just sort of a big for publishers. But sometimes there’s something to be said for for the small and plucky publisher, you know, you may not have necessarily the bragging rights, where everyone knows that publisher, they know who you’re talking about. But in terms of that sort of one on one interaction with your editor, the responsiveness of your editor, and just the care they’ll take with your work. And I really enjoyed my time with them.
Michael Hingson  12:01
So when was the first book published? Or when did you start working with this first publisher?
Natasha Deen  12:06
Oh, so 2007 It was actually it. So the first thing I’d sent them was a short story. And that was 2007. And then my first novel would then came out in 2009. And then in 2012, and those were all adult romances. And then, in 2012, I went into writing for ya. And I was, that’s that was in The Guardian series. And the first book in that series is conveniently titled with enough guardian, which is, which is all about Maggie who sees the dead, and is currently being haunted by the ghost of the kid who bullied her. So that was that was in 2012. Ah,
Michael Hingson  12:49
so the bullies haunting her, and what does she do about that?
Natasha Deen  12:53
Well, that’s, that’s kind of the whole thing, right? Because it’s like, do you? Do you stay quiet? Because he’s, you know, he doesn’t know she could see him? So does she stay quiet? And just sort of leave him in this limbo? You know, sort of till the end of time as justice for what he’s done to her? Or does she actually just say to him, Look, I can see you and here we go. And so the story, the story explores, you know, that side of it, but also it’s sort of exploring the idea of, you know, the way that our painful memories can can haunt us. And what do we do? Do we do we face them? Do we acknowledge them? Or do we just sort of push them down and pretend like they don’t exist?
Michael Hingson  13:39
So how many books have you written in that series? Which is I guess about Maggie?
Natasha Deen  13:43
Yes. So there’s, it’s a trilogy. So there’s three books in that series?
Michael Hingson  13:47
Okay. Are they all with the same ghosts are different ghosts,
Natasha Deen  13:51
the ghosts, there are one to two supernatural creatures who are there throughout the whole trilogy. But each each book it was it’s it’s it’s kind of an interesting, it’s it’s fantasy mixed with horror mixed with supernatural mixed with a mystery. So in each book, she’s dealing with a ghost who is dead. A ghost story? I guess it goes, who doesn’t know that they’re dead? And is trying to sort you know, why? What has happened to them? And usually someone has murdered them. And so it’s all about trying to figure out who who, who done them in like, well, who did it and then they can move on?
Michael Hingson  14:36
Sounds like a fun series. Have any of the books been converted to audio at all?
Natasha Deen  14:41
Oh, I don’t know. Like I know, in the key of near Ghani, I know she’s, she’s audio. And I think one or two books in the large series is but I’m not sure about the Guardian series. I don’t think so. I don’t think I don’t not yet. I don’t think
Michael Hingson  14:58
well If we can find electronic copies, and then we can, can do them in Braille, which is also fine.
Natasha Deen  15:07
Oh, that’s wild. That’s interesting.
Michael Hingson  15:10
It’s not magically overly hard to do. So, you started with this one publisher? I gather you didn’t continue with them. Because you said you’re not sure if they’re around anymore, did you go elsewhere? Or what happened?
Natasha Deen  15:25
I get? Well, they were they were strictly for adults. And I realized with Guardian that it was, it wasn’t aimed for adults, it was aimed for teens. And then once I started writing for kids and teens, it just, it’s a very different kind of experience writing for for people who are under 18. Because when you think about it, like an adult reader, it’s a very sort of, I feel like it’s a very direct connection, right? I’m going to write the story. And here you go. And you as an adult reader, you the only thing you’re going to think about is, is this the genre that I love to read. And with kids, there’s no such like, with with Kid readers, what you’re looking at is you’re going to write the book, but then there’s going to be an adult in that child’s life, who buys that book or boards a book for the child. And it’s more than just a question of, oh, this is these are the kinds of stories I like, it’s questions of how old is this kid because how old that child is determines the kind of story you’re going to tell? And how you tell that story? You know, are they? Are they someone who is an add grade reader? Or are they someone who is striving or what we call a reluctant reader? So they’re in grade five, reading at a grade three level? And so you don’t there’s there’s all of these things? So things like, how big is the sentence? Like how long is the sentence? What is the vocabulary? Are the words, am I using words that are easy to pronounce, and easy to sound out? And, and it’s just a very like, from a writer’s perspective, it’s a very, very fun exercise. Because how I’m gonna write a story for someone who is seven, is going to be wildly different than how I write a story for someone who is 17. And, you know, I love it. Because, you know, we talked about the idea that simple doesn’t always mean easy. And certainly when you’re writing for kids, you’re, you’re really getting down and asking those questions about where are they, in terms of their literacy rates? Where are they in terms of how passionate they are about reading, you know, and I think about that now, in a really different light. And I’m really grateful to all of the kid authors who around when I was growing up, because their care and attention and love of like, kids everywhere, really ignited a passion for for reading that I now because of them. I am not just an adult reader. I’m an out writer. And so yeah, I’m very thankful to them for for all that they did when I was a little kid and making sure that those stories were accessible to me and made me feel lifted up because I could read it myself.
Michael Hingson  18:16
What do you come up with some of the ideas like for The Guardian series, and that’s pretty, pretty creative, and a lot of twists and whatnot, twists and turns, but just a lot of parts to it? How do you come up with an idea like writing about a creature who is dead who may not know they’re dead, and certainly don’t know that someone can see them? Someone who can see them? And going through all the different gyrations of that,
Natasha Deen  18:41
you know, it was really, it actually started off as an adult story. And I was aiming for a mystery like it just a straight, cozy mystery with a librarian who finds who finds a body in the trunk of her car. And it turns out that it is, in fact, her ex husband her near her, you know, what do you call that it and near do well? Well, ex husband. And of course, obviously suspicion starts to her. And I was really struggling with it. And it was just a thought one day that I had about wouldn’t it be interesting if it was a girl like a teenager? And instead of an ex husband? What if she found the body of her bully in the back of the car? And then where would we go? And I and then I started thinking though, then wonder where we go and how can I make this more interesting? And then I thought, well, what if she could actually see the dad and at first it’s like, you know, are people gonna think I did it. And then of course now it gets super complicated because oh, he’s he’s there. I have not heard of this terrible person. So sometimes it’s just a story where you’re thinking about how can I make it more interesting for the reader? And then sometimes it’s so Well, I, you know, I was talking to, to a relative, and we were sort of joking around because they had a younger relative in their life, who loved them a lot and worried about them. But the the love and the worry meant that this younger relative could be quite overbearing with this person I was speaking to, you know, and they were like, I’m not that old, I could take care of myself. And I thought, you know, like, it was such an interesting idea for a story about what do you what do you do? What do you do when someone loves you, but they’re just, they, you know, they just they’re so caught up and knowing in their mind what is right for you, that your your own wants and needs are getting tossed to the side. And that was the start of the signs and wonders of Tish odd because I have tuna, and then there’s her brother, Robbie and Robbie is he’s loving, and he’s a great brother, and he’s a great son. But he’s just convinced he knows what’s good for everyone. And, you know, and adding to that complicate, like, complicating it is the idea is that his his husband has just died. And so He’s grieving. And now this is how, you know, one part of his grief is manifesting is that tuna can’t breathe. And she just really needs Robbie to like, get a life or at least get out of her life and give her give her some room. And when I was writing it, I knew I wanted her to be an aspiring screenwriter, I thought there would be lots of room for for funny if I could do it like that. And I was struggling with it. And then I went back and I was thinking about the beats of a screen a screenplay. Right? And so how does it like when do you when does the a story break into the B story and, you know, what are the fun and games and, and, and then I got the idea that every chapter heading would mirror a story beat. And that’s that’s how to knows. That’s how to news personality would would show itself. And so So yeah, sometimes it’s, it’s you’re trying to solve a some writer’s block, and then you realize that you’re the wrong genre, the wrong age group. And other time too. You’ve got your genre, and you’ve got your age group. But now you’re just trying to sort through, how do you make it? How do you make it funnier, and, and, and I love I really love the chapter headings because it meant that for any kid who relatable anyone who reads the story, who also has to write, not only do you have the story, but now you have a very with the chapter headings now you know exactly where your story needs to go, because they’re all your story beats right there for you.
Michael Hingson  22:39
When you’re writing a book, and this is something I’ve always been curious about, especially if in dealing with fiction, some but when you’re writing a book, is each chapter somewhat like a story and then you you transition and do things to make them all combined together? Or how do you deal with deciding what’s a chapter and what’s not a chapter?
Natasha Deen  23:02
Oh, yeah, that’s a great question. Um, I think for me, you know, what we think about or what I think about is, what’s the story problem. So with tuna, the story problem is that Robbie is just overbearing, and and she needs to, you know, get some space from him. And so that’s, you know, that’s one plot of the story. And then, you know, from there I go, Okay, well, how do I, how do I make this problem? More complicated, right? Or how do I make this problem? Like, how do I start giving this problem texture? And I thought, well, it would be really funny if two has a crush on a guy trusted, and like, what, what sibling wouldn’t interfere? So and I thought, yep, that’s perfect. So once I had those, then it’s just like, here’s my big problem. How do I make them? Little tiny problems? Right? And so what is the what’s the saying about? How do you how do you eat an elephant like one one bite at a time? And that’s sort of it like, here’s my big problem. Now, how do I make it smaller? So, you know, the opening chapter tonight is gonna go and estrus now it’s summer, she’s got, you know, 60 days to finally tell this guy students, she really cares for him. So she’s going to tell him and she just, she gets shy, you know, and then she she trips up over herself over it. And so the problem in that chapter, which is I really want to tell this person I care for them does not get solved. And the her now having to resort, okay, that didn’t work. How do I ask him about it now? Like, what’s my next step? Now that jumps me to my next chapter that jumps and hopefully that jumps the reader because there’s there’s a chapter question, okay, what is she going to do now? And we we go on. And so one of the things to think about with bigger stories that are like the, you know, 5060 80,000 word count is, there’s probably going to be more than one problem that your character is trying to solve. And you’re gonna have like that big external prominent character needs a job, your character needs to rob a bank, and then you’re gonna have another story that will probably tie into that bigger one, right? So my character needs to draw a bank, but really, the robbing the bank, because they have a sick child, and if they robbed the bank, they can get the money, and they’re gonna be able to, you know, pay for some private operation and save the life of their child, then that’s how that’s how we twine it together.
Michael Hingson  25:50
So you, you do kind of have different things in in different chapters. But by the same token, things can get away from you, or things can go off in different directions, which is what makes writing fun. And part of the adventure for you.
Natasha Deen  26:08
Yeah, yeah. And you’re right, because you know, you’re asking about the containment of the chapters, and every chapter is going to have a beginning middle end to it, it’s just that in those chapters, there is no like Final the end, there’s just an end to that particular scene, or an end to that particular moment, that’s going to bump you into the next moment. And the next seat. Well,
Michael Hingson  26:31
so you going back to your story, you decided to write full time I gather, and that’s what you do now.
Natasha Deen  26:40
I do, I did I write full time, and I also teach with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, I teach their introduction to children’s writing, and I visit schools, and I tell kids funny stories about growing up and being the weird kid in class. And, and I also, you know, teach at libraries and, you know, attend festivals and that kind of thing. And, and I still, you know, and I think as writers, we know this, right, that sometimes this job can be such a grind, because you’re, you’re alone in a room with just your thoughts, and the voices in your head, and you’re trying to sort it. And sometimes it can feel like why, why did I choose this job, but he was just refreshing, there’s got to be some better way to make money, but the roof over my head, but you know, like, I just, it’s so much fun that more More times than not, I’m kind of waking up, as I’m thinking to myself like that, that eight year old nine year old 10 year old me would be so jazzed to know that we grew up to be an actual writer with books on the shelves, and, you know, award stickers on on the covers of our books. Like, how cool is that? You know? So?
Michael Hingson  27:58
Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty cool. By any standard? Well, tell me, do you, you must have support and help? Do you have someone who represents you? Do you have people that you work with in that regard? Or how does all that work that you now get to publishers? Or you get help doing the other things that you do? Yeah, that’s
Natasha Deen  28:19
a great question. And I’m, I’m really lucky because in Canada, our publishers don’t, you don’t need to have an agent to be published in Canada. And America, it’s a little bit different, right? Like you have some publishers where I can contact a publisher directly and saying, Hey, I’ve got this, this story. And I think, I really think it will fit your catalog. But a lot of the pressures are going to be, hey, my agent has my story. And they think it’s, it’s, you know, just jazzy. So go ahead and take a look. And then, you know, see your agent is going to work on on your behalf. So early on in my career, I it was just me, right, it was just me all by myself submitting to publishers, and I’m saying I really hope you like my story. And then in 2016, I signed with Amy Tompkins from the transatlantic literary agency. And so now she represents me. So instead of me sending out my work directly to the publishers, I send them to Amy and then Amy sends out on on my behalf. So for those upcoming writers who are listening to our podcast, there’s there’s many ways there’s many ways to get your, your book on the shelf. You can you can absolutely talk to the publishers yourself. You can go through an agent or you know, you can you can self publish, right, you can be an independent author, as well. And there’s pros and cons to both sides of that, oh, it’s what fits you.
Michael Hingson  29:51
How important is then having someone to represent you’re having representation in what you do.
Natasha Deen  29:59
Well and Mike Ace, I would like I love my agent. I think she’s, she’s the bee’s knees. I just think she’s amazing. So I really enjoy writing, like, like I enjoy, because like, I love being able to send her work and talk to her about the industry and all these kinds of things. And I do think and I, and again, I think it’s going to come down to what is your goal as a writer, what is your you know, do you want to make a career out of it, like a full time career, in which case, an agent is going to be really helpful to that, because they can get you into it and get you into the bigger markets, so they can get you into the bigger publishers, right. If you want to be part time writer, then you know, it all depends. But I will say for for anyone who is looking for an agent, you know, do be aware that your agent is is going to be doing lots of work on your behalf, but they’re not, they’re not magic genie is you’re not going to rub a lamp and all of a sudden, here’s all the things that are going to happen. What your agent gives you the opportunity to do is knock on more doors, but there’s still no guarantee about being contracted or any of those things. So it’s really good to have a realistic idea of, of what you’re what the job of an agent is. So it’s good to go and make sure you do your research about what they do. They’re very, you know, they’re they’re like, they’re vital when it comes to things like reading over your contracts, making sure that your artistic well being is being protected. But having said that, you know, you can also hire an entertainment lawyer who will do the same thing for you. So, again, you know, the frustrating, and yet the very amazing thing about this industry is that it always comes down to you as the individual, what is it that you want? How do you see this journey. And once you know those things, then you can build your plan for creating, sort of creating the career of your dreams.
Michael Hingson  32:09
What are some of the mistakes up and coming or new writers tend to make in your experience,
Natasha Deen  32:17
in my experience, they set or their work far too soon. It’s great if you’ve written your story, but it’s not ready yet, as and that can be a hard thing to hear if you’ve been working on this story for like three or four years, but it’s not ready yet, you finish your story. And you start working on something else. Like you’ve got to give yourself a month, six weeks, two months, where you’re not looking at that story that you finished at all, Project eight, don’t look at Project day. And then after that, four to eight weeks, go back and take a look at it. Because now what you’ve done is you’ve decoupled you’re not as close to that story anymore. And you’re going to be a lot more objective. So you know, it’s important to like, edit, and revise your work. You know, I don’t know, I was saying to a class at one of my school visits, there are no great writers, there are just really, really great rewriters and the professional writers, this is what we know that you’re going to do it. And then you’re going to do it again. And again. And again. And again, until it’s finally in a place where it’s readable for more than just yourself. So it’s really important to edit, it’s to have beta readers. And there are people who are going to read your work and offer you feedback on your work, what’s working, what’s not working. And they’re, they’re also really important because, you know, when we’re working on our projects in in the quiet, we’re telling the stories to ourselves. And that’s great. But to be an author is to be able to tell a story to a wide variety of people who you will probably never meet in your whole entire life. So you need to get other brains and other you know, viewpoints on on your work. And so, you know, it’s all those things. And then once you’re ready, you know, do your research, look and buy do your research. I mean, go look up these publishers, and find out if they’re reputable, and look at their submission guidelines. Agents are the same thing. Look at the submission guidelines. How do they want you to submit the work? What kind of work are they taking? If you can do that, you’re probably about 95% ahead of a lot of the writers out there who will just gonna do you know, they’re just gonna throw in that and they’re just gonna submit to everybody. And, you know, it can be a really frustrating thing for editors and agents because they’re only representing nonfiction. And here’s this manuscript they’ve got to deal with or this email they’ve got to deal with with someone who’s who wants to, you know them to represent their picture book or their, you know, suspense thriller for adults, and it’s like, no, you need to, you need to have enough respect for your work and for your emerging career, to take the time and do the research. And it is going to take time, and it is going to be frustrating, because you’re looking at their, you know, Twitter feeds, and their social media and the blogs and all these kinds of things. But in the long term, and in the long run, it will, it will only do good.
Michael Hingson  35:33
One of the things that seems to me when you’re talking about great writers is either they have a real sense of what it is, that would make someone want to read their book or their story, or they know how to get that information and then will will put it to use, which may not mean that that makes them a great writer, but it certainly makes them a much better marketer. Yeah.
Natasha Deen  36:03
No, it’s well, and you know, this is? Yeah, you know, like, the, the great thing is that there’s lots of different readers out there. And there’s lots of different writers out there. And I think it’s really important for us as readers to understand that just because we don’t like a book, doesn’t mean the book is bad. It can just mean that we’re not the reader for that book. And I like, you know, I’m the person, like, if you’re gonna give me a book, and there’s, there’s animal characters in that book, those animal characters better survived through the book, because if not surviving through the book, I am not reading it, you know, and it is like, and I will give you full credit that it’s an amazing book, it’s probably beautifully written. But no, if there’s dog on page one, that dog still needs to be there on page, the end and happy. I want I want my dogs if they’ve gone through what they’ve gone through, but it’s all okay. So so things like that, you know, and I’m very careful about women in peril kind of books, right? I’m I, some of them, I can read some of them. I can’t. And again, it doesn’t mean that they’re not great writers. And those aren’t great stories. It just means that I’m not the reader for them.
Michael Hingson  37:19
Yeah, Old Yeller is is a fine book. Except,
Natasha Deen  37:23
right. Hey, I tell you what, Michael, I mean, I get teased a lot because I’m the person who reads the ending before I read the rest of the book. But I blame that on Where the Red Fern Grows, because that book took out my heart. And I’m still not over it. I was when I read it. I’m still not over that book. And yeah, you know, and, and for me, it’s like, Listen, if you’re gonna ask me to spend however many hours, I need to know, it’s gonna be worth my time, I need to know that these characters are gonna like, there’s gonna be some kind of like, hopeful sort of note. The only time they don’t do that as if it’s a murder mystery. Because I want to I want to play along and see if I can find who the bad guy is before the detective does.
Michael Hingson  38:08
So dealing with animal books, of course, I mean, maybe it’s the exception to a degree but then you have a book like Cujo, you know, from Stephen King, and, you know, do you really want I’m gonna I would love to have the dog not to have gotten rabies in the first place. But you know, that’s the whole story.
Natasha Deen  38:25
I never I never rented the idea of a bad dog was just like no, no, I can’t
Michael Hingson  38:31
start out a bad dog. That was the thing of course.
Natasha Deen  38:34
Oh, I know. I know what it is. No cuz you know there’s only one ending for this poor dog. Yeah, right. Yeah. So so there is a dog in in tuna story and I want to sure all three out there that don’t worry Everything Everything will be fine with magic.
Michael Hingson  38:57
Well, I appreciate that. I like books where were the animals survive? Of course I wrote thunder dog and Roselle survived in Thunder dog but they all they all do pass and but that’s another that’s another story.
Natasha Deen  39:12
Yes. That’s it. And that’s that’s different. That’s different. That’s a
Michael Hingson  39:17
whole different you know? Yeah. And Roselle is somewhere waiting and watching and and monitoring and and occasionally probably yelling at us but you know, that’s her.
Natasha Deen  39:29
That is yelling just just can’t the ducks the doughnuts, man. Nothing.
Michael Hingson  39:36
What do you mean? Yeah, no, no, no, no, no. Roselle was also out there saying don’t give them the donut. I want the donut. What do you do to those dumb ducks?
Natasha Deen  39:49
I feel like she would know that her bread will come later. Right?
Michael Hingson  39:54
Oh, well, maybe now but not then. Oh, yeah. Oh, no, no, thank you. is a lab What can I say?
Natasha Deen  40:02
No, I listened. We’ve got a husky mix. And I was joking around about how you definitely don’t have to share DNA to the family because the look on her face when there’s food. And just just the way she’ll just look at you like, you’re gonna share that right. And the long conversations I have with her room, like, I cannot share this. This is not appropriate. This is gonna make you really sick. You know, but I was thinking my husband one day I was like, as like, you know, I am pretty sure I get that same look on my face whenever I see through to just like, Oh, dang, is that? Oh, is that? Is that bread? Oh, man. Is that cheesecake? Hey, how you doing? Are you? Do you need some help on that? I can I
Michael Hingson  40:41
can totally help me. Make sure that that’s really safe for you to eat.
Natasha Deen  40:45
Let me let me just make sure I Is that is that good. Let me let me tell you that bullet. Right. Let me take this for you.
Michael Hingson  40:52
You have you have children?
Natasha Deen  40:54
Yes. Yes, they’re full grown boat. So they have kids of their own now.
Michael Hingson  40:58
So okay, so you have grandchildren? And and do we? Do we have any of them in your beta reader groups?
Natasha Deen  41:06
No, no. Because they Well, because they’re they’re still little adults, adult’s? Oh, you know, I actually they’ll read it afterwards. Because their schedules are pretty, their schedules are pretty intense. So
Michael Hingson  41:24
part of the evaluation process? Well, I
Natasha Deen  41:27
just feel bad, you know, looking them being Hey, hey, I know you’re juggling, like 10 Different things now. But can I throw one more ball at you. And then also, like, I appreciate, like I use I use writer BETA readers, as opposed to just the quote unquote, regular folk, just because I usually by the time I’m done, I’ve got very specific questions about story structure, how the acts are transitioning? Can you can you see the a story B story? Where can you see the external? And so there needs to be a certain level of, I guess, like literary mechanical engineering? Do you know what I mean? Where I think to that? I think I think I think my family would be like, I love you. But stop asking me about the grammar. There’s only so many times you can be like, okay, within what about, you know, when I when we’re doing this metaphor, and it’s, you know, like, just let me read it. Okay, so read it. So
Michael Hingson  42:29
how about today? Reading, I don’t know, I’m trying to figure out what’s happening to reading we’ve, we’ve changed a lot. Reading is now not just getting something on paper, we have electronic books, and so on. And I hear a lot of people say, Yeah, I read the books, it’s not quite the same as reading a book. That’s a full paper book, but I enjoy reading them as well. And of course, then there are a lot of people who just don’t get into reading at all. But reading is so valuable, because it seems to me that one of the great advantages of reading is it gets you to sit and relax and take time away from everything else that probably we really don’t need to be doing anyway. But we do it. But the reading gives you the opportunity to just sit down and let your mind wander. And it develops a lot of imagination. How do we get more people to do that?
Natasha Deen  43:30
That’s a great question. And I’m not sure that I have a feasible? I’m not sure I have the answer. You know, but I think one of the things you said in the beginning was I think very well said that there is more than one way to access stories now. And I think that’s really important. Right? If you are if you are someone who loves paper books, that’s wonderful. But you know, for some of us, we’re going to come to story differently. We want the story told to us, you know, or we want the story in some kind of a different, you know, when you’re thinking about sometimes, like, finger dexterity and coordinate, you know, a screen is much easier to navigate. Than, then sometimes a book can be, and depending on the device you’re using, it’s going to be lighter. So if you have issues holding books, paper books, I mean, you know, this, these are like, these are the kindnesses that I think technology affords us, and that, you know, and if you’re if you’re busy, you can pop in that audiobook when you’re sitting in the middle of rush hour and you can get to story that way. But I think a lot of it is is getting to folks when they’re young and understanding that, again, not everybody comes to story the same way. And the thing that I think is magical about being a writer is that I can write I can write this Signs of wonders of tuna or Shawn, and I can give 30 people a copy of that book. And everyone will have the same book, not everyone is going to read the same story. Because at the moment time we start reading, we’re going to bring our hopes, our dreams, our past experiences, our, you know, future or future hopes for us. Like we bring all of these things in how you know, do we have great relationships with our parents? Do we not, you know, how do we view the world? All of these things, like infuse the stories that we read, and they changed right there, they become another creature. So someone reads the book, and they say, Oh, yes, I read this. And this book is a cat. And someone say, no, no, no, it’s not a cat. It was a chameleon. And someone else will say, No, it’s a phoenix. And each of those people are correct, because that is how they interpret the story. And that’s how they interpreted the book. And so you know, when we’re talking about getting people, folks to love reading, it’s getting them I think, a lot of times getting them young, understanding what are their what are the things that they love to read? What are the things that they love about the world? Let’s, let’s start there, and give them those kinds of stories. Like, you know, the idea that oh, I love this book, therefore, you must love this book is a really unkind to do to people. Because it says because I think of this like this, you must also think of this, like this, and and people are individuals, right? My mom’s favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. I think I think it’s a well written book. I can’t stand the book. It sets my hair on fire every single time. You know, I have friends who really love the Great Gatsby, I’m not that person. Right? It doesn’t mean that those people are wrong. I love the fact that my mom loves To Kill a Mockingbird, you know, and I love that my mom understands that’s never going to be my favorite book. And she respects that. And so when, you know, when we were growing up, it was like, go to the library, even if she was like, Oh, that’s okay. You know, she would give us space, if that’s what you love. That’s what you love. And I think we need to stop. Also, what’s the word I’m thinking of? You know, I hear people a lot of times, especially with young readers, where they say things like, oh, but it’s a graphic novel. There’s not a lot of text in there. And, you know, how are they are they going to become readers? And it’s like, be okay, granted, but when you look at a graphic novel, there’s, there’s images and who’s looking at this book and reading through it has to be able to make intuitive leaps about you know, what’s happening in this box versus what’s happening in this box. And, you know, so it’s still teaching, it’s teaching life skills is teaching like human skills. And I think if we can leave, we can go from the point of taking the spotlight and putting like taking the spotlight and putting it on to the person who we want to get reading and having an open conversation where we respect where they’re coming from. I think that can be really helpful.
Michael Hingson  48:11
Yeah, book like To Kill a Mockingbird is is an interesting book, I’m, I’d be curious to know what it is that the you’ve read, really find a problem with the book, but I can see that different people would certainly read that and deal with it in different ways. Oh, for me,
Natasha Deen  48:29
it was it was just this as you know, I’m a person of color in my everyday life, I’ve got to deal with micro aggressions and, and so in my, in my relaxed life, in in my fictional world, I don’t want to have to I want space from that. I just want to be able to read something fun and something, you know, enjoyable. I don’t want to have to read about the things that I’m trying to deal with in the real world, but at the same time, people really love it.
Michael Hingson  49:00
One of my favorite books is one that I’m sure today is not a favorite book for a lot of people. It’s a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court by Mark Twain. And I love the plot. I love all the things that happened in it. It’s just one of those books that has really stuck with me, and that I absolutely thoroughly enjoy. I guess also, I do have to say that I originally read it as a recording. It was a talking book produced by the Library of Congress. And the guy who read it was perfect. But it has always been one of my favorite books. I think it’s just an incredibly creative book. And I admire that.
Natasha Deen  49:43
Yes, yeah. Well, I you know, it’s easy because I really liked calm Sawyer and Hawk you know, I thought I mean different books. But yeah, they were fun characters, and I thought Twain had a very excellent storytelling style. I guess that’s it. You’re right. Yeah.
Michael Hingson  50:01
Well and, and different kinds of stories. I’m an okay Yankee Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is hard. I like Tom Sawyer.
Natasha Deen  50:08
Well, did you did you know that he when he died, and like fact check me on this because I remember reading this years ago, but that his diary, he made sure as well that the diary could never be published for something like 100 years, because of the he was talking smack about so many people. He was like, they cannot be alive. But like,
Michael Hingson  50:33
yeah, I remember that. And it wasn’t. So, of course, he knew we knew what he was going to die. He was born in 1835. And he said, I came in with Halley’s comet, and I’ll go out with it. And he did.
Natasha Deen  50:45
That’s amazing. Hey,
Michael Hingson  50:48
it’s just one of those things. Well, you know, before we wrap all this up, what’s next for you? Where are you headed? What? What kind of projects do you have coming up?
Natasha Deen  50:58
Well, so yes, the tuna releases on June 7. I’m very, very excited about that. And then I’m just finalizing the book in the spooky SLIS series. And that’s for early. That’s for ages like 79 That’s with Penguin Random House. And I’m very excited about that. That’s, that’s awesome. And Rockstar who live on in Lions Gate, and spooky creepy things happen. And awesome is convinced that there are supernatural creatures roaming the town. And rock star is convinced that because there is a science lab, it’s probably just science running wild. And so the books, the book one opens up with a tree. That seems to be housing, a very evil spirit. But what will happen next?
Michael Hingson  51:48
Oh, you have to read the book to find out.
Natasha Deen  51:51
That’s right.
Michael Hingson  51:54
Have you ever read books by David Baldacci?
Natasha Deen  51:56
Yes. Yeah, I just started reading him. Memory Man, I just I just started.
Michael Hingson  52:01
So and that’s a that’s a good one. But he also wrote, I think it’s more for youth if I recall, but he wrote a series of four books. It’s the Vega chain series. And if you ever get a chance to read those, it’s a totally different Baldacci, then all of his mysteries, their fantasies, and it’s a fantasy world, sort of, I don’t want to give it away. But they’re, they’re well worth reading. I accidentally discovered them. I was looking to see if there was anything new by Baldacci out on Audible. And I found one of these and I read it on a on a plane flight and got hooked and so then could hardly wait for the next one to come out. So it’s Vega, Jain V, GA and then chain.
Natasha Deen  52:48
Okay, yeah, thank you.
Michael Hingson  52:51
I think they fit into a lot of the things that you have been writing about. So they’re, they’re they’re definitely worth reading. But there’s nothing like reading conversations are great with people. But you get to meet so many more people in a book. And as I said, it seems to me that the most important thing about reading is sitting down and reading to let your imagination go. And you’re right. The way you imagine is different than the way that I imagined. And we’re all different. And that’s the way it should be.
Natasha Deen  53:23
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you, Michael. This was a lot of fun.
Michael Hingson  53:28
This was fun. I very much enjoyed it. And we need to do it again in the future. Yes, sir. So no tuna books are out yet. No, not yet. Next. So tunas tuna is new. It’s coming out next Tuesday.
Natasha Deen  53:45
The signs and wonders of tuna are shot.
Wow. So that’ll be fun. Well, we’ll have to kind of watch for
it. Okay, sounds good.
If people want to learn more about you, and maybe reach out to you and talk to you about writing or any of those things, how can they do that?
Oh, on my website, www dot Natashadeen.com. And Natasha Deen is spelt D E E N. And Natasha is N A T A S H A.
So N A T A S H A D E E N.com. And they can contact they can contact you there and so on. And I assume you have links so that they can go buy books.
Natasha Deen  54:32
Yes, yes. Yes. It wouldn’t be a website without it.
Michael Hingson  54:35
No, not an author’s website. It would not be Well, this has been great. I really appreciate you coming on we will have to stay in touch. And we’ll have to catch up to see how all the book sales go and how the the awards go once the new series are out. Thank you.
Natasha Deen  54:54
Yeah, sounds well make it a date, sir. They’ll be perfect.
Absolutely. Well, Natasha, thanks for being here. And I want to thank all of you for listening and being with us today. This has been absolutely enjoyable. I hope you found it. So reach out to Natasha at her website, Natasha deen.com. And of course, I want to hear from you. So if you would like to reach out, please email me at Michaelhi at accessibe.com M I C H A E L H I at A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to our podcast page, Michael hingson.com. hingson is h i n g s o n.com/podcast. And of course, we sure would appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating after listening and, and come back and subscribe and listen to more unstoppable mindsets. We have all sorts of adventures coming up. And we would love you to be part of it. So if you’d like to be a guest, let us know if you know of someone who you think would make a good guest. Let us know that too. So again, thanks for being here. And Natasha, thank you once more for coming on unstoppable mindset.
Natasha Deen  56:03
Thank you, Michael. And thank you to all the listeners. I loved it. Thank you for spending time with us.
Michael Hingson  56:12
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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