Natalie Monk writes romantic fiction that celebrates family, creative arts, and old-fashioned values. Her work has won local and national awards and has appeared on the ECPA bestseller list. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. Natalie is a “preacher’s kid,” a homeschool graduate, recording artist, a nonpracticing certified wedding planner, and a former fence-post hole digger. She loves sweet tea, book talk, Bible talk, porch swings, and watching old movies with her family. Her goal in writing, and in living, is to bring glory to her Savior, Jesus Christ.
Welcome to The Engrafted Word Natalie! I am so glad to be able to talk with you today. I hope you are doing well, and I know our readers are excited to hear about your latest adventures!
As writers, we tend to write from our own life experiences–who or what would you say is your greatest inspiration?
My dad is a born storyteller. As children, my siblings and I would sit on the floor around his chair while he made up stories of “loooong ago, and faaaaar away.” He shared with me his love of 1950s westerns, and I grew up around cattle and chickens and country vegetable patches, so the rural way of life finds its way into my characters or settings. When I was five, my family began traveling and singing Southern Gospel music, my grandmother ran a successful home bakery, and my brother became a trained studio artist, so the arts, family, children, food, faith, and rural lifestyle have all influenced my writing. My love for musical films and classic literature also play a part.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
When I was fourteen I wrote a couple chapters of an idea and my mom encouraged me to learn all I could about writing novels for publication.
Writing is most definitely a process! I know my writing platform has changed numerous times through the years. What current projects are you working on? Please share if you can! 🙂
Last year I bought a book about historical holiday traditions from my library’s basement sale. One unusual celebration in the book led me to research The Walter Place in Holly Springs, Mississippi, along with its connection to the Yellow Fever Epidemic that swept through the area in 1878. I can’t share the main “hook” for my series yet, but I can say some unusual community-wide celebrations connected to The Walter Place served as a springboard for the imaginings in my story. The Walter home is gorgeous and has recently been renovated, so I’m excited to use the house as inspiration for the home of my heroine! My characters and setting will be fictional, but many of the happenings will be directly connected to my research.
Baking is one of my favorite things to do–I love giving baked good as gifts at Christmas time. Outside of writing, what other activities do you enjoy?
I love baking as well! Jigsaw puzzles, taking walks, reading Christian fiction, watching old movies with my family, getting a coffee and just taking a drive. My grandma instilled in me her love for crochet, which she learned from her aunt. I’m a “fixer,” so I like DIY projects. I’ve both changed a motor in my car window and repaired the motherboard in a digital curling iron by using Youtube tutorials. 🙂 I also cherish “chicken salad and lemonade” picnics and blowing bubbles in the sunshine.
Most people know that I love coffee! But hot tea and scones are some of my favorite treats–in fact, I just made some cranberry orange scones–I wish you could have tea with me! What are some of your favorite foods?
We must have tea together someday! I’ve found a recipe for devonshire cream I’m dying to try! Hmm. My favorite foods are probably apple pecan chicken salad, garden vegetables, or a mushroom, onion, italian sausage pizza and strawberry cake with fluffy frosting. I love the “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie” from Butter Flavor Crisco’s recipe, too, so I’m a junk food junkie who loves her salads and garden veggies. 🙂
Who are some of your favorite authors, and what genres do you enjoy reading the most?
Historical romantic comedy is my favorite. I like Mary Connealy, Melissa Jagears, Jen Turano, Kristi Hunter, and Karen Witemeyer. But I also like wistful historical romance from Joanne Bischof and Amanda Dykes, as well as suspense from Natalie Walters, Dani Pettrey, and Jaime Jo Wright. I’ve read a couple Becky Wade books, and could not stop reading them, so I think she may be a new favorite for me in the contemporary genre. There are so many great authors and so many I haven’t read yet! I’m always making new lists of the books and authors I want to read next.
As a published author, what advice would you give to beginning writers?
Exercise your imagination like a runner getting ready for a marathon. Become an intentional, hardcore daydreamer. Then read Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Wish I’d read this a million years ago. And The Moral Premise by Stanley Williams. K.M. Weiland’s Character Arc and Structure books. Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.
I love reading your blog, The Sweet South Blog. What tips could you share with others who want to start writing their own blog?
That is so kind of you to say! My first tip for serious bloggers would be to pay no attention to the current state of my blog! Haha! I’ve let things slide, posting essential things and a few book reviews. But I have made a plan for going forward that I hope to implement soon! First of all, I recommend writing about a subject you enjoy and are good at/know in detail. Basically something you can think up a bunch of related posts for. Write posts around 300 words or less. Give every post an attractive image and a catchy, Keyword-focused title. Look into getting a WordPress site, since they are structured better for SEO. Keep your site simple, attractive, and easy to use. Create a color scheme for branding. Make your design all about your personality. You might even create a monogram emblem or symbol to “stamp” onto all your images for continuity and getting your brand recognized. Look into SEO, and make a “Keyword fortress” with your blog, connecting categories of your similar keyword blog posts together with links. Link to outside blogs you enjoy. (These are part of my to-do list.) Then share your posts on Pinterest and your other favorite social media, using strategic keywords in your hashtags and descriptions.
Thanks for joining us, Natalie! Wishing you (and all you readers) a blessed day!
Natalie has graciously offered to give away a paperback copy and an ebook copy of her book, Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection, to two lucky winners–the paperback is for the US and the ebook is for International participants. Enter below and it could be YOU!
Thanks for entering! Contest ends July 23 2020 . The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!