Author Showcase with Naley Gonzalez
In this series, we interview published Novlr authors to learn about their work, routines, and how they use Novlr. Naley Gonzalez is a multi-genre New Adult fiction author. A Connecticut native armed with a passion for storytelling and unyielding optimism, she offers tips, advice, and laughs on her YouTube channel for other writers and creators. When she isn’t writing or starring in her YouTube videos, Naley enjoys watching anime, reading dark and creepy stories, and smothering her husband and kids with love. Her published works include Like My Mother Before Me, Daisies on Graves, and Let Me Down Slowly.
Can you tell us a little about yourself as a writer?
One of my clearest writing memories is skipping some of my high school classes to walk to the public library to write a few chapters of what would eventually become my debut novel, Like My Mother Before Me. I was young when I first started writing, so I’ve had the privilege of my writing growing with me.
As a teen, I thought I would only ever write books for young adult readers, possibly only paranormal romance, because Twilight was all the rage( I won’t lie, I was pretty obsessed with Edward and Jacob myself). Now I know that I’m a multi-genre author for New Adult and Adult fiction. As I continued to write, I learned I don’t fit neatly into one specific niche, and my stories shouldn’t either.
Since those early days skipping school to write, I’ve navigated college, got married, become a parent, and worked to establish my writing career. I’m lucky to have a loving and supportive husband and two outstanding children. Without them, I know I wouldn’t be the person and the writer I am today. I enjoy honoring these people, experiences, lessons, blessings, and tragedies in my stories.
While the stories I write are more mature now, I still get to write in my favorite sub-genres. Like My Mother Before Me is a New Adult paranormal suspense novel that features ghosts and demons, some personal and others very real. Let Me Down Slowly, its prequel, is a New Adult romantic suspense novel. In contrast, Daisies on Graves is a small collection of poetry.
I’ve got lots of projects planned for the future that include paranormal romance, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror genres. As a goth, I have fun sprinkling some very dark or spooky themes into all of my stories. I even write erotica novels under a pseudonym, though those aren’t so spooky. Who knows, maybe I’ll write a western or historical fiction one day!
Something I’m passionate about as a writer is starring people of color as the heroes and protagonists in my stories. Being Afro-Latina, and growing up as a heavy reader, there weren’t a lot of stories including a protagonist of color that weren’t about their personal life struggles. There were almost no paranormal novels where the Brown or Black girls and boys get to fall in love with the vampire. We weren’t the chosen ones destined to save the world in fantasy novels.
Writing in multiple genres allows me to create stories for people like me and others who need them. I find great satisfaction in the possibility that I’ve created something that will inspire another person of color to make something wonderful as well.
What publishing route did you choose, and why?
The road to self-publishing for me was…odd. I used to work at Barnes & Noble, and the popularity of eBooks was exploding. Every retailer was selling some brand of eReader. Around that time, Barnes & Noble launched NookPress, a self-publishing platform for eBooks. I tried it and published a rough version of Daisies on Graves. I then promptly forgot about it for the next two years.
When I finally remembered I had published a book, I stuck to self-publishing. It ended up being the best decision I made. I have complete creative control over my novels. From the covers to the character development, I get to choose what best fits my story. I don’t have to worry about my novels being misrepresented or changed to be more marketable for the mainstream media.
Another significant benefit is that I can publish on my timeline. I don’t have to go through endless rounds of querying or deal with rejections. I also don’t have the pressure of deadlines except for the ones I set for myself. I can publish one or five books in a year, or I can publish every other year if I feel that’s what I need to do.
While it can be overwhelming in the beginning, self-publishing is the easiest route. Between my personal author brand and my pseudonym, I’ve published over ten stories and this is just the beginning.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In hindsight, I realize I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was about seven years old, I would dig out this old 80s type-writer my mother stored in the back of a closet. I remember playing with it all the time, even though she’d told me not to. At eleven years old, I discovered fan fiction and started writing my own stories in a little pink Tweety notebook. I was obsessed with anime, so it was Inuyasha and Sailor Moon crossover fanfiction.
While I thoroughly enjoyed writing, I didn’t want to be a writer until I was about twelve years old. In middle school, I read Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ novel In The Forest of The Night and fell in love with both it, and her as a writer. It might also explain my love for stories with dark and gothic themes. That she wrote her first novel at only thirteen years old left me impressed and inspired. I wanted to do the same and become a published author as a pre-teen.
Unfortunately, life had other plans, and I put writing and the idea of being a published author on the back burner. Eventually, it became one of those “in another lifetime” things, but I continued writing on and off for fun.
When my oldest child was about two years old, my husband made a serious change and committed to turning his passion into a career. Him taking that step made me pause and question what was stopping me from doing the same. When I realized nothing was holding me back but myself, I got out of my own way, and here I am, four years later.
What is your writing routine?
My writing routine has transformed so much over the years that it might give some people whiplash. I’m sure other writer-parents understand, especially those with younger children. Before becoming a mother, I wrote only when inspiration hit. That seems like a luxury now.
After my oldest was born, I wrote whenever I could. By the time he was three years old, I woke up every morning at six and wrote until everyone else got up. When my youngest was born, I was back to writing whenever I could. I also homeschool my children, so they are with me 24/7. Sometimes there are days where I can’t get any writing done, and that is okay. Other times, I do my best to take advantage of breaks and playtime. But I do have days where I can work without a single interruption.
Now that my children are a little older, I wait until they’re both in bed at about 8-9 pm. I grab my favorite water bottle or coffee mug, grab something to munch on, put on cafe noise for ambience, and set up my notebook and laptop wherever I feel comfortable that night. That can be at my desk, the dining table, my bed, or the couch. I review what I did the day prior, then either pick up where I left off or start on my most important task.
With the actual writing, I try to keep my chapters between 1500 – 2000 words max. I set three-goal increments for my target word count that I consider okay, good, and great. This way, whether I hit 500, 1000, or 1500 words, I’ll still be happy with the work I do.
I try to keep my total word count the same for every novel I write – 80,000 words. This way, I break it down into manageable time blocks of one to two hours a day. I’m a planster, so I fall into that space where I create a plot for my stories, then follow it when, and if, it suits me.
How I write varies, too. My preferred method is handwriting my drafts then typing them up in Novlr later. Other times, I draft directly into Novlr on either my laptop, phone, or tablet. Whichever best accommodates my situation.
Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I become extremely energized when writing. I’ll have spontaneous breaks where I get up and buzz around my home to release that energy. It’s comparable to the jitters after drinking a ton of coffee. I just move around my house like a bee, checking in on everyone and what they’re doing.
I also adopted a mantra or affirmation to keep from editing when drafting. Any time I get hit with the urge to do so, I say out loud, “I’ll fix it later.” I’ll have to say it a few times while writing, but so far, it’s worked.
I’ve been told the fact that I enjoy writing my stories longhand is odd, but I don’t consider it a quirk. It’s just part of my writing method. It also keeps me from editing while writing, so it’s a win-win.
How do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere and in everything. It can be a television show, movie, or book. I could hear a conversation at the grocery store that inspires me, or find some juicy family gossip. Those are always fun. I even find inspiration in my own work. It can also be a moment between two characters, a sentence said by a lesser side character, a look one character gives another, song lyrics, or a great musical beat. The list could go on forever.
I am heavily influenced by anime. It’s been part of my life since childhood, and I believe there’s something powerful in East Asian writing. Anime has brought me to tears, given me adrenaline rushes, second-hand embarrassment, goosebumps, and even flustered me with a romantic scene. I plan to master this writing style in the same way to give my stories that same power.
How long have you used Novlr, and how does it fit into your writing routine?
I’ve had Novlr in my life since September 2015. Novlr was still in beta, and I signed up for the two-week trial. As my trial crept to a close, I really couldn’t see my life without it. There was no way I could go back to Microsoft Word.
That it is created for writers by writers is such a huge appeal. It keeps all my stories and chapters organized and is aesthetically wonderful. It feels good coming back to write every time.
Another great thing is how Novlr is always improving and adding new features. When I get a newsletter update from Novlr, it literally makes my day. With each added feature, I’m thrilled because I know it will make my writing experience even greater.
Shortly after the beta ended, I was lucky enough to snag an extremely limited lifetime subscription, but I stopped writing again for a couple of years. When I had my epiphany that I still wanted to be a writer, I was confident because I had an amazing writing program to help me reach my goals. After that, I used it daily and completed the first draft of Like My Mother Before Me a year later.
Keeping that same momentum since then, I’ve written all my novels, stories, book reviews, flash fiction, and even school essays in Novlr.
What is your favourite Novlr feature?
Do I have to pick just one?
There are so many features that I love about Novlr, but I’d have to say the goals and streak features are both my favorites. Being able to customize my writing goals and change them to best fit my current situation makes me feel in control of my writing. I can set daily or monthly goals for whatever word count I choose for my current novel. I can even set word goals for a specific project. The streak feature really pushes me to reach my word count goals because I love seeing the number of days I’ve written go up.
Just writing the above, I realize that I want to throw another favorite into the mix – the self-publishing feature for eBooks. It’s made publishing the books I’ve written under my pseudonym so much easier. I can do almost everything I need without leaving Novlr. From drafting to creating the final eBook, it’s a breeze. I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s hard to choose.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in the process of writing?
Writing is adaptable. I say this as a parent, a former employee, and a student. If you want to be a writer, it’s possible no matter how busy you think you are.
Writing takes a lot of discipline and consistency. We’re always trying to find time to write. I used to make excuses that I didn’t have enough time. It would be easier if I didn’t have to work a shift, finish a class assignment, or make dinner. But writing can happen whenever and wherever you want.
This is a big reason why I also love Novlr’s mobile feature. We have so much going on in our lives, and we can’t always bring our laptops with us – but we always have our phones. Novlr makes writing adaptable to your lifestyle and keeps you accountable, whether that means writing ten words between classes or a thousand words while doing laundry.
What do you think makes a good story?
A good story is something that needs to feel significant. For me, this significance is relatable and well-developed characters.
Writers can include a fire-breathing dragon, vampires, and teleportation, do all the research to make sure the facts hold up, and describe their settings vividly, but it will all be for nothing if the reader can’t relate to the characters. They can love them, hate them, be annoyed by them, have sympathy, or whatever, but they need to feel something.
Emotional connections are a part of our everyday lives, so they need to be in our stories as well. Our characters need to have traumas, personal healing, ticks, and quirks. Without those human feelings and behaviors, readers will find the story pointless. No one wants to read a story about a protagonist who is perfect from beginning to end, or where they are the only character with a personality.
Where can people find your books?
My books are available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook at your preferred bookseller. The best place to get a physical copy is my website, where readers can build their own custom book box with bookish goodies of their choosing. Readers can also subscribe to my newsletter and become exclusive members of my site. This will grant them access to behind-the-scenes content for my current and future projects.
Readers can also find me on YouTube, where I share writing tips, advice, and occasionally, my opinions. I post my day to day on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, so don’t be afraid to subscribe and follow.
If you’re a Novlr writer who has published a book, we’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to tell us about your work and share your writing journey with us, please email [email protected].