Using Tarot to Understand Your Characters and Their Actions.

A while back I wrote a post about using the Myers-Briggs Personality test to define your characters and give them depth. It was a popular post, so I thought I’d come up with another way to understand characters, and see into their future.

Using Tarot cards is a unique way to find out what your characters are going through, and perhaps help you decide what they should do next. Since you’re reading Tarot for characters and not real people, you don’t have to be an expert on Tarot to do it. And unless you’re interested in learning to read Tarot, you don’t even have to buy a deck of cards. You can use online Tarot decks and draw cards from there.

A bit of background: I have been reading Tarot cards for nearly twelve years. My mom bought me my first deck for Christmas and said, “Your great-grandmother used to read tea leaves in Ireland. Maybe you’ll be good at this.”

I don’t know if I’m good at it, but I’m definitely passionate about Tarot. I’ve spent years studying tarot, reading tarot for myself and others, and acquiring new decks. My first deck was the Marseilles deck, which is one of the oldest decks in use today.artisanal-igorbarzilai

 

My next deck was the Rider Waite deck. Probably the most widely used deck, this is a good one to start with if you’re a beginner.

tarotradriderwaite2

 

The deck I use now is the Legacy deck, which is more modern and has stunning artwork. There are numerous decks to choose from, and if you choose to embrace Tarot, you’ll understand the feeling when you connect with a deck. Legacy is my deck.

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If you don’t want to purchase a deck to read for your characters, here’s a good link for an online Tarot card spread http://serennu.com/tarot/horseshoe.php

That link offers a seven card horseshoe spread.

(*Note: This example is a simplified reading for a fictional person. Reading Tarot for real people is much more in-depth, and personal. Spreads are often more complex, and the reader is very careful with how they deliver the message of the reading to the querant.)

I drew cards for my character Mara, the main character in The Dia Chronicles series. In book two, The Embers of Light, Mara was left with a broken heart, some hard decisions, and her enemy still on the loose. I thought of her as I shuffled the cards, and the ones that came up were very interesting. For the purpose of this example I chose a five card horseshoe spread, with a card in the center known as a significator, to represent Mara. I will only give brief descriptions of each card, but if you read for your character, take the time to understand what each card is telling you.

 

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Summary of the Reading.

The cards reflect Mara’s broken heart and her sense of loss. They suggest that perhaps she’s made a wrong choice, which has contributed her to sadness. Her obstacle is clearly a person, a young man, with a selfish, childish demeanor. Her strength is another young knight, a man with a balanced view of the world and a generous heart. She must find this person to help her through this tough time. He might even have the answers she needs. The final card reveals the outcome, which seems different than what Mara has planned. Her life will be shaken up, and she’ll have to accept fate in order to succeed. (See the individual cards below).

This reading is helpful to me because there is a potential ending in book three I’ve been thinking about for some time, but was unsure if it’s the best choice. I can see from the cards that I should go with my gut and use the planned alternate ending, because it will create balance for my characters.

The Reading Card by Card.

Significator – represents the subject of the reading, Mara: Queen of Swords. The queen of swords is an independent woman. She is perceptive, assertive, independent, and a natural leader. At her worst she can be vengeful, short tempered, and deceitful when she thinks it will benefit her cause.

Card #1 – Where the character is now. Five of Cups Reversed – Separation from a partner. Loss. Inner Turmoil. Regret.

Card #2 – The character’s next step. Seven of Cups Reversed – Wrong choices. Overestimating yourself. Seduction.

Card #3 – Obstacles. Knight of Swords Reversed – Often represents a person who is reckless, unrealistic, impulsive, and foolish. This person acts first and thinks second. (Sound like Malcolm, perhaps?)

Card #4 – Strengths and Resources. Knight of Cups Upright – An honorable, possibly attractive man. He is considerate and thoughtful in his actions, but not afraid to jump into the fray. He prefers peace to violence, but as a knight he will defend those he loves. (Definitely sounds like Corbin).

Card #5 – Outcome. Judgement. A Major Arcana card, also known as a destiny card. This card represents a major change of life, a new phase, a new cycle. Face the things you fear, make the hard decisions. This character will have to accept fate, even if it’s not what she planned, in order to have a positive outcome.

What do you think, would Tarot help you with your characters? If you choose to do a reading for them, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thediachronicles

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Get To Know Your Characters With The The Myers-Briggs Personality Test.

Creating dynamic, complex characters is important if you want your readers to care about them. It’s also important to ensure that your characters have their own distinct personalities. Just like people in real life, each character should have their own way of speaking, their own way of thinking, and their own way or reacting to a situation. No two characters should be exactly alike. One way to get to know your characters better, and to understand what motivates them, is to identify their Myers-Briggs personality type.

You may have taken this test in high school or college, or you may have been given this test for a job. There are 16 different personality types, and by answering the questions as your character would, you can learn who they are and why they do what they do.

I decided to take the test as Mara, Corbin, and Malcolm; my three main characters in The Dia Chronicles. Since I’ve written three books with these characters, I know them well and had no trouble answering the questions from their perspectives. I found the results fascinating, and completely in line with who they are.

Mara’s personality type didn’t surprise me much. When I take the test myself I’m always defined as an INFJ, and since I intentionally created Mara to mirror my own thoughts and feelings, she tested as an INFJ as well.

MARAINFJ 

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Introvert(89%)  iNtuitive(75%)  Feeling(38%)  Judging(33%)

  • You have strongpreference of Introversion over Extraversion (89%)
  • You have distinctpreference of Intuition over Sensing (75%)
  • You have moderatepreference of Feeling over Thinking (38%)
  • You have moderatepreference of Judging over Perceiving (33%)

The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population, but they nonetheless leave their mark on the world. As Diplomats (NF), they have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets them apart is the accompanying Judging (J) trait – INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.

INFJ Strengths

  • Creative
  • Insightful
  • Inspiring and Convincing
  • Decisive
  • Determined and Passionate
  • Altruistic

INFJ Weaknesses

  • Sensitive
  • Extremely Private
  • Perfectionistic
  • Always Need to Have a Cause
  • Can Burn Out Easily

Corbin’s test results surprised me a little because he wasn’t a character that was as plotted out as Mara. He created himself as I wrote, and now that I see his definition, it really does fit his profile, especially because it says this personality type would be found in a military position. Perfect for a soldier like him. 🙂

CORBIN- ISTJTF_no_writing

Introvert(22%)  Sensing(1%)  Thinking(1%)  Judging(78%)

  • You have slightpreference of Introversion over Extraversion (22%)
  • You have marginal or nopreference of Sensing over Intuition (1%)
  • You have marginal or nopreference of Thinking over Feeling (1%)
  • You have strongpreference of Judging over Perceiving (78%)

The ISTJ personality type is thought to be the most abundant, making up around 13% of the population. Their defining characteristics of integrity, practical logic and tireless dedication to duty make ISTJs a vital core to many families, as well as organizations that uphold traditions, rules and standards, such as law offices, regulatory bodies and military. People with the ISTJ personality type enjoy taking responsibility for their actions, and take pride in the work they do – when working towards a goal, ISTJs hold back none of their time and energy completing each relevant task with accuracy and patience.

 

ISTJ Strengths

  • Honest and Direct
  • Strong-willed and Dutiful
  • Very Responsible
  • Calm and Practical.
  • Create and Enforce Order
  • Jacks-of-all-trades

ISTJ Weaknesses

  • Stubborn Insensitive
  • Always by the Book
  • Judgmental Often Unreasonably Blame Themselves

Malcolm’s profile was spot on! Answering the test questions from his perspective was easy, and the resulting definition sums up Malcolm perfectly.

MALCOLM – ENTPart

 

Extravert(78%)  iNtuitive(12%)  Thinking(38%)  Perceiving(22%)

  • You have strongpreference of Extraversion over Introversion (78%)
  • You have slightpreference of Intuition over Sensing (12%)
  • You have moderatepreference of Thinking over Feeling (38%)
  • You have slightpreference of Perceiving over Judging (22%)

The ENTP personality type is the ultimate devil’s advocate, thriving on the process of shredding arguments and beliefs and letting the ribbons drift in the wind for all to see. Unlike their more determined Judging (J) counterparts, ENTPs don’t do this because they are trying to achieve some deeper purpose or strategic goal, but for the simple reason that it’s fun. No one loves the process of mental sparring more than ENTPs, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points.

ENTP Strengths

  • Knowledgeable
  • Quick Thinkers
  • Original
  • Excellent Brainstormers
  • Charismatic
  • Energetic

ENTP Weaknesses

  • Very Argumentative
  • Insensitive
  • Intolerant
  • Can Find It Difficult to Focus
  • Dislike Practical Matters

 

 

If you want to get to know your characters better, try taking the test from their perspective. There’s a free version here. 

And you can find in-depth definitions here. 

Let me know how your characters tested. 🙂

** Added – You can also use these profiles to determine how your characters will interact with each other, and what their challenges with each other might be. For example, if you have an ISFP character and an ESFJ character, research the relationship between the two.

7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy My Books

Seven Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy My Books

Now that I’ve been a published author for one full year, and I’ve spent these last twelve months marketing, blogging, and tweeting about why you should buy my books, I think it’s time to get real with you. I want to save you all the trouble. It’s time to tell you why you shouldn’t buy my books.

7 – I’m an indie author

Yes, it’s true—I’m an independent author. I don’t have an agent, I don’t have a publisher, and I pay for the production of my books up front. By now we’ve all seen, and maybe even read, at least one train wreck of a self-published book. It might have soured your opinion of indie books altogether, and I don’t blame you. But I can promise you that professional editors, cover designers, and formatters have worked on my books. While no books, not even traditionally published books, are entirely free of errors, I have taken every step possible to provide the best quality product for my readers.

But . . . if you think indie authors are just traditional publishing rejects, and have no talent to make it in the business, DON’T BUY MY BOOKS.

6 – I’m not famous

Only my dad and my friend’s six-year-old son think I’m famous. To everyone else I’m just another author trying to sell my wares. I’ve never made the NYT Bestsellers list, I’ve never been asked to speak at a writer’s convention, and I’m guessing the cease and desist letter I got from HBO means they’re not interested in adapting my novels. Okay, that last point wasn’t true, but you get my what I’m saying.

I might not have a long list of dedicated readers waiting in line at Barnes and Noble for my latest release, but one year into being a published author I do have a growing fan base. I’ve even received quite a few emails from readers all over the world, writing just to tell me how much they liked one of my books. So while I may not be famous in the conventional sense of the word, sometimes my readers make me feel famous.

If my “nobody” status bothers you, and you’d rather read a book from a well-known author with rave reviews, DON’T BUY MY BOOKS.

5 – I’m a shameless rule breaker. I break 6 of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. Somebody should stop me right now!

I must confess, I’ve always been one to bend the rules, but when it comes to my writing, I happily take those rules and break them whenever I damn well please. It’s not that I don’t know what the rules are. I know them very well. But if I want to use an adverb, a variety of dialog tags, or describe a setting, then I’m going to do it! I’m mindful of how and when I use them, but I can assure you, you’ll find broken rules scattered throughout my books. It’s like a rule graveyard in there.

So if you’re a stern believer in the rules of writing, please, DON’T BUY MY BOOKS.

4 – They’re not free

With the digital publishing age, millions of books are at our fingertips, and many of these digital books are free. Why would anyone want to pay money for my books when they can get a similar book for free?

You see, the trouble is that I don’t want to give my books away. Yes, I love writing. Yes, I would continue to write books even if no one wanted to read them. And yes, occasionally I will offer a title free for a day or two. But if I’m going to have fancy covers, editors, and formatters, I have to justify the cost of production with at least a marginal return on my investment. The good news is that, so far, I’ve earned more money than I put out to produce my books, which tells me I must be doing something right.

But if you’re offended that I’m asking you to pay to read my work, or if you’re irritated that any of my books cost more than 99 cents, DO. NOT. BUY. MY BOOKS. Like, ever.

3 – I like cliffhangers.

I love them! And while I don’t always employ the hard-hitting, mid-scene-cutting cliffhanger, I like to leave the door open for the next book. In some of my books I wrap up the main story and leave a teaser for the next, in others I leave some unfinished business. It’s just the way I write and if you’re going to read my books, be prepared for a cliff here and there.

The good news is that if you’re not too enraged by my cliffhanger, you can always go on to read the next book in the series. I promise the answers you seek will be right there.

But if you can’t stand a cliffhanger, and you would prefer a series to be a two-thousand-page book, then I warn you, DO NOT BUY MY BOOKS.

2 – Some people don’t like them.

If you’re still reading this post, then you’re either a glutton for punishment, or I haven’t done a good enough job of convincing you not to buy my books. This should do it: there are people who HATE my books. It’s true. My books have gotten one and two star reviews; endings have been called trite, characters unconvincing, and it has been stated that certain plots make no sense at all. Some people hated my books so much they couldn’t even get through them. To some people, my books are just that awful.

I guess I should quit torturing the world with my vapid prose and one-dimensional characters, but like any visionary mind, I’m driven by my passion and positive feedback. For every negative review my books receive, there are double, and even triple the positive reviews. For example, The Darkness of Light has a 4.7 average star rating on Amazon, and a 56% 5 star rating on Goodreads. And despite the horror show that some claim this book to be, people still keep buying it. Weird. I wonder when the world will catch on to my failures and stop encouraging me. 😉

So be forewarned, if you don’t want a book that some people don’t like, DON’T BUY ANY OF MY BOOKS.

Are you still with me? If so, this should be the nail in the coffin for you . . .

1 – I didn’t write these books for you. I wrote them for me.

I’ve tried to write them for you. I really have. But it’s never worked out. Initially, my debut novel, The Darkness of Light, was merely the result of a crazed mission to claw my way out of writer’s block. As I wrote chapter after chapter, publication was never on my mind. I was just happy to be writing again and completely in love with the story. It wasn’t until after I’d finished writing it that I started to consider publication.

The same is true with all my other books, even if the genre is a popular one. I started writing The Embers of Light with reader expectations in mind, but when I kept hitting brick walls I decided to stop focusing on what my readers expected, and focused on the story I wanted to tell. That’s the only way I can write. I’m sorry. And I swear that if no one ever bought another one of my books again, I would still want to write them.

So if you want something tailored specifically to reader expectations, DON’T BUY MY BOOKS. I guarantee they won’t always follow the guidelines of the genre, they won’t all have happy endings, and they won’t be predictable. If you can’t put it down, that’s not my fault. I warned you.

Here are the covers of the books you shouldn’t buy, just in case you get lured in by the pretty covers and intriguing blurbs. It’s happened to quite a few people, and I wouldn’t want you to fall victim as well. You might end up loving them and hating me for it. 😉

AllBooksAnd if that’s not enough, you can add this Amazon page to your block list.

The Embers of Light Blog Tour Guest Posts

The Embers of Light Blog tour is happening now and I wanted to share the three guest posts I wrote for the tour.

Check out:

Villains Have Feelings Too

Writing Fact Into Your Fantasy

The Perfectly Imperfect Romance

ALSO ~ I have a newsletter now. So make sure to sign up HERE

THE EMBERS OF LIGHT IS COMING SOON!

Get ready! January 28th will be here sooner than you think. 🙂

You can pre-order the paperback of THE EMBERS OF LIGHT, the second book in The Dia Chronicles Here.

And here are some teasers for you. We’ve got new conflicts, new characters, and lots of drama for you in book two.

EMBERS1 Embers2 Embers3 ???????????????????

Publishing Books Is Like Investing, NOT like winning the lottery.

Publishing books is like investing, NOT like winning the lottery.

Of course, we all wish it was. It would be nice to write your debut novel, see it published, and suddenly it becomes an overnight success, but chances are that’s not going to happen.

Hopefully, what really happens is that you write a book, gain some fans, make some sales, and write another book.

Each book you write is an investment in your future, and your career. When you save for retirement, do you put $100 on a stock and hope it grows to a million? Noooo. You save over time, build on what you have, and diversify your portfolio.

Publishing books is very similar. You have to keep writing books, keeping depositing into your writing portfolio, and keep growing your audience.

I realized this when I released the first two novellas in my Highborn Chronicles a few months ago. My first novel, The Darkness of Light, was starting to slip in sales and I was still months away from releasing the sequel. Then I released The Highborn Chronicles and suddenly sales jumped across the board. I was bringing in new readers that also bought my first book, and my current readers were excited for something to tide them over until The Embers of Light comes out. So the more I write, the more readers find me, and the more my other books sell. The formula is so simple.

Now, like investing, there’s a chance not all of your books will make gains all the time. That’s just the nature of the business. I’ve noticed months where I make a lot of sales, and months (like December) when book sales tend to decline. That doesn’t mean you are a failure, and that doesn’t mean you should quit writing books.

WRITE MORE!

The more you write, the higher the chances that you’ll eventually create that gem that makes the rest of your work soar. If your first book didn’t do so well, write another, change your approach, expand your knowledge of the craft. Giving up means NOT investing. And I think we all know by now that investing in your future is something we all HAVE to do. 😉

Happy writing.

 

 

The Indie/Traditional Debate. Can’t We All Just Get Along?

You’re not the cool kid.

If you’re an indie author, I think you’ve figured out by now that we’re the underdogs, the gnats in traditional publishing’s ear, and the ones the traditionally published kids don’t want to sit with in the cafeteria.

I came in to the publishing game with rose colored glasses, a positive attitude, and a love for the supportive writing community I’d found. More than one year later the rose colored glasses are off, and I’m well aware that members of the “community” I loved so very much are often sneering at us behind our backs.

I don’t mean to say all traditional authors minimize the accomplishments of indie authors. There are many who genuinely cheer us on, showcase our books, congratulate us when we have success, and happily share the road with us.

But the judgment of indie authors is everywhere, and it’s getting harder to ignore.

I remember once seeing a tweet from an agent that said something like: Just sent a request and found out the author recently self-published. If only they’d been more patient.

People favorited this tweet and responded with euphemisms about patience, and persistence, when what they really meant was, “You idiot, you self-published when you should have waited for the right agent!”

My first thought when I saw that tweet was, “What if the author is happy with their decision?”

After I self-published The Darkness of Light I got requests from two agents. I had some discussions with these agents, exploring my options, but at no point during those interactions was I kicking myself for not waiting. When I made the decision to be an indie author, I did it wholeheartedly and without looking back. By then I’d already discovered the power I had over my career, the advantage I had over traditional publishing (mainly time and control), and the freedom to do exactly what I wanted.

There are bullies and if you speak up, they’ll target you.

If any of you follow me on twitter, you might recall the event I refer to as “Twittergate”, the day twitter FREAKED out on me. This was the day I realized our writing community was full of piranhas, and trust me—I got chewed up! During a twitter contest I’d observed some things that, I felt, came across as arrogant. I was reacting to the way some authors were criticizing entries with such detail the entrants were sure to know it was their entry being discussed. My reaction came from a place of empathy, not weakness. I wasn’t suggesting they sugarcoat things for authors in their (private) feedback. I wasn’t under the impression that this business is easy. What bothered me was the attitude with which these authors judged their peers.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” –Abraham Lincoln.

I tweeted my opinion and within one minute my timeline blew up! I couldn’t keep up with the tweets coming at me. Some agreed with me (I got a lot of supportive DMs because people were afraid of the backlash), some respectfully disagreed with me, and many others were downright nasty. I even got a DM from a very well known tweeter who had some particularly offensive things to say to me. She’s lucky I have enough restraint not to out her. Maybe I should have, but I’d rather let her dig her own grave.

Anyway, during the flurry of tweets aimed at me that day, it became clear that the general assumption was that I was a bitter author who’d been rejected by the traditional world and was now taking shots at traditional authors whenever I could.

I have a pretty thick skin. I can take rejection, bad reviews, and harsh critiques. What really got to me that day, and what really made me sad, was the realization that I was an outsider. It didn’t matter that I had a book published and was part of the same community. With The Darkness of Light I worked hard to make sure my book went through the same filters and received the same care as a traditionally published book. But that day, when twitter lost its mind on me, none of that mattered. Because I was an indie author, I wasn’t an author, and my opinion—my voice—was insignificant.

If books are fishes, and Amazon is the ocean, we’re all swimming in it together.

It sometimes seems the traditionally published world is unhappy they have to share space with lowly self-publishers. It must be frustrating to see your book—your edited, beautifully covered, extensively marketed baby— sitting next to something your neighbor’s cousin wrote on a Thursday and uploaded to Amazon on a Friday.

It must drive you insane that all the self-published dino porn books, or books that got rejected so many times the author had no other choice but to self-publish, are sitting in the same waters as your perfect novel. After all, self-published authors are destroying literature, right?

NOT.

There were crappy books long before indie authors stepped onto the scene, and if we all disappeared tomorrow, there would still be crappy books published every single day.

But here’s the thing— indie doesn’t mean crappy. Many of us take a lot of pride in our work. We nurture our books the same way a publishing house would. Sure, we often price our books lower, but that doesn’t mean our work is less valuable. It simply means there are no publishers or agents taking a cut of our work, giving us the ability to price our books competitively.

Let’s face it, while we all want to see our books in bookstores, Amazon is the largest online bookseller in the world. If bookstores are the streams, Amazon is the ocean, and guess what—we’re all swimming in it.

I recently saw an agented (but yet to be published) author call a fellow author’s decision to self-publish “puzzling.” I’ll bet that when the agented author’s book comes out in 2018, there will be even more successful indie authors, and even more hybrid authors swimming in the same ocean with him.

Don’t let them make you feel inferior.

“It matters not what you are thought to be, but what you are.” – Publilius Syrus

As I said earlier, there are many traditional authors who support indie authors and believe in their achievements. As indie authors we are marketing experts, have a network of editors, cover artists, formatters, and bloggers willing to help us create a product we can be proud of. It’s a lot of work to be an indie author, and our traditionally published friends know and respect our efforts.

There will always be the naysayers; the ones who tell you you’re not good enough because you didn’t take the same path that they did. It’s frustrating, and oftentimes, it hurts. But when you come across one of these cynics, don’t take their judgments to heart. Just because they say you’ve settled by becoming indie, doesn’t make it true. If you have readers, your book sells, and you feel good about the career path you’ve chosen, take the high road, because there are plenty of people willing to take the low road.

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Being an author IS a job. And it’s the BEST job.

I’m tired of being told (usually in thinly veiled statements) that being an author isn’t a job. Any writer that writes on a full-time or regular part-time basis will shout from the rooftops–IT IS!

One time, not too long ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with the projects I had on the go. I had more than one manuscript in the works, I had lots of editing to do (both for myself and someone else), and I was still trying to navigate the world of author marketing for my published novel. I must have been complaining. I usually don’t mean to. I know I’m incredibly lucky to have the ability to commit my time to fulfilling my dreams. But sometimes, I just need to vent.

So there I was, bitching about all the things I had to do and the little time I had to do them in, and someone reminds me that I don’t have a 9-5, so. . .

Queue ominous music…

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I’m well aware that I don’t have a 9-5. Trust me. I know it.

help me i'm poor

So, since I don’t have a 9-5, what do I do? Let’s take today for example. I’ve been up since six am. I threw my hair in a bun, grabbed a coffee, and sat down at my computer. I didn’t have to put on make-up. I didn’t have to drive to work. And I didn’t have to punch a clock. I don’t have a boss standing over my shoulder (since I’m the boss), and I can take a break whenever I want. It’s a pretty sweet deal, really. I’m in the comfort of my own home, working away. But I’m still working! I’m what you’d call–self-employed. 😉

My first order of business for the day was to tackle some editing. I opened one of my manuscripts (one of four that need my immediate attention), and started going through my editor’s notes. It went smoothly for a while. I got through a few chapters until the other “things” started knocking on my brain–have you checked your email? Have you made a post on your FB page so your readers don’t forget about you? Have you tweeted recently?…they say all authors should tweet, you know? Have you tracked your sales over the weekend? Have you blogged? You haven’t blogged enough, that’s part of your job as an author…

So I made another cup of coffee, set aside the editing for a bit and started on the other “things”.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds a heck of a lot of work. But I like it. I don’t for one second think, I wish I was anywhere but here. And I rarely ever get a case of the Mondays.

2014officespace3

But here’s the thing–If I don’t do all the things I’m supposed to do, my career suffers. If I don’t write, I’m not producing a product. If I don’t spend time marketing, no one is going to buy my product. If I don’t network, I won’t have a readership or any connection with my peers.

The definition of a job is:

1- A paid position of regular employment.

2- A task or piece of work, especially one that is paid.

And guess what? Every month I get a paycheck. That’s right. On the same day, every single month, I get a direct deposit into my bank from the royalties of my book sales.
I think that sounds like a job.
But there’s one more, very important, part of this job I haven’t mentioned, and that is TIME. I don’t have a 9-5. When I’m done working for the day, my work is still staring me in the face and pinging on my phone. Again, I’m not complaining. I love what I do. But there is no 9-5 here. Last week, while trying to catch up on “things”, I worked on my laptop from 7 in the morning until 10 at night. Sure, I took breaks here and there, but by the time I was done, I was nearly blind and my back was killing me. 15 hours I worked that day. If I’d been working at an office, or anywhere else, people would say, “You work so hard.” But because I’m a writer, and I get to do exactly what I’ve always wanted to do, I’m not working.
Buffy
Now, I’m relieved to say that most people I know don’t consider my job a mere hobby or a self-indulgent diversion from the conventional standards of earning money. Most people I know say, “I don’t know how you do it. It’s amazing,” which, to me, is a compliment, and validation that I’ve done the right thing by choosing to be a writer.
I feel empathy for those who have to go to a job they hate day in and day out. Not everyone has the means to do exactly what they want. But right now, at this point in my life, I do, and I don’t think what I do for a living should be underestimated in any way. I HAVE a job. What I do is WORK. And for that work, I get PAID.
So when someone suggests that you don’t work because you’re a writer, ignore them, you’ve got too much work to do–even if it doesn’t always look like work. 😉

 

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Release Day Happy Dance & Review for Running Away by Julie Hutchings

 

Happy Book Birthday to Julie Hutchings and RUNNING AWAY!

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Running Away Final Cover

Running Away Blurb:

Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.

Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.

 

MY REVIEW

5 STARS!

When I read Running Home, I couldn’t wait to find out what would come of such an explosive ending. When I got my hands on Running Away, I was thrust back into the story immediately, immersed in the darkness that had descended upon Eliza. Hutchings is a gifted storyteller, with the ability to capture raw emotions and bring them to life on the page.

Running Away was so intense I couldn’t stop reading it, and spent the entire day flipping to the next page. I absolutely love love love the complexity of Eliza and Nicholas’s relationship. There is certainly nothing predictable about them, and that’s a great thing. I also love the new characters, especially one which I have a mega crush on. Seriously. 😉

What really impressed me about this book was the ending. I thought I knew what was going to happen. But then Hutchings took a right turn and I was shocked. While the ending is a cliffhanger of sorts, it didn’t leave me feeling cheated. There were decisions made, fates accepted, and the door was left open for a lot more story to tell.

About the Author Julie Hutchings

Me

Julie’s debut novel, Running Home, giving you vampires with a Japanese mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.

Julie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HutchingsJulie

Julie’s Blog: http://deadlyeverafter.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeadlyEverAfterBlog

Julie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7104966.Julie_Hutchings

Other books by Julie & Buy Links:

Running Home on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17977192-running-home

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Forging Your Own Path As An Indie-Author.

It’s been quiet over here on my blog lately. If you’ve missed me, I’m sorry. If you haven’t, then I really need to step up my game. 🙂

The reason I’ve been quiet and haven’t had any nuggets of wisdom to impart is because I’ve been a little lost myself lately.

Sometime between writing my sequel and now, I had an epiphany that has me rethinking my strategy as an author, and questioning my goals. When I first wanted to see The Darkness of Light published, I did what many of us do and I queried agents. I read everything I could about publishing, agents, sales, writing…basically anything that would help me mold my book into a marketable, successful piece of fiction.

But when I couldn’t find the right agent and decided to become an indie author, there was a problem forming that I wasn’t able to see until now.

THE GOAL

The goal of most authors is to write books. Have people read those books. And make money from those books.

That was my mission when publishing THE DARKNESS OF LIGHT. I’ve said before that one mistake I made with that book was taking advice about the content, and changing it to fit a certain industry standard. I thought I was doing the right thing, since the advice was coming from someone in the traditional publishing industry. I wanted my book to stand next to any other book you might find on store shelves.

THE PROBLEM

What that advice actually did was water down my novel and cut out things that were important to readers. It became clear once the reviews started coming in that readers wanted the things I was told to cut out. Interesting, isn’t it?

So once I began to write the sequel, THE EMBERS OF LIGHT, I was much more open-minded about content and less likely to cut certain things that may have been cut by a publisher. I still used beta-readers and a content editor, but we were all aware of the issues with the last book and were able to work with less restrictions. We’ll see how that pans out once Embers is released, but I already feel more confident that the story is complete.

In the last year, as I’ve learned to balance book promotion, writing, and growth as an author, I’ve begun to form opinions about publishing as a whole. A lot of the advice I see on Twitter and other social media platforms is geared towards the traditionally published novel. There are so many rules thrown around that it’s hard to keep up: No prologues, keep word count low, avoid characters with dead parents, overly strong heroines, overly weak heroines, no love triangles, no vampires, no werewolves, no cliffhangers, etc… The list really does go on, and on, and on. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with it all, and I feel bad for writers just starting out. They’ll have to learn what works for them and what doesn’t, just like I’ve had to.

THE LIGHT BULB WENT ON

I’ve had many conversations with my indie-author friends about the state of publishing and the comparison between the indie and traditional world. What I’ve realized is that if we want to be indie-authors, we need to STOP comparing ourselves with traditional publishing! I am an indie author by choice. I wanted to control my books and my own career. I’ve said it many times: I have NO regrets about choosing this path. What I do regret is confining myself within the parameters of a branch of industry I don’t belong to.

If my goal is: Write books, have people read my books, and make money from those books, then I’ve been going about things the wrong way. I’ve been killing myself trying to follow a guideline set by the traditional world. Why? Why should indie authors not write about things the traditional world deems overdone, when there are hoards of niche market readers spending buckets of money each day to buy these books? An indie-author writing within traditional guidelines is like a person writing Facebook updates in 140 characters because that’s the rules of Twitter. They’re both social media, but they’re different. The rules are different. And the market for each is different.

Take a minute and look up the vampire category on Amazon. Or look up shifters, historical romance, or anything 50 Shades of Grey-ish. Those books are selling! People are buying them like crazy. And while many publishers have decided to abandon those platforms (leaving money on the table) indie-authors are fulfilling that need and (gasp) selling books!

We all want to be respected within our industry. We would love to receive praise and accolades based on our work. I think that’s why indie-authors constantly walk a fine line between traditional rules and reckless abandon when it comes to our books. We don’t want to be the fools of the publishing world. But, for me, walking that line had become such an obsession it started to hamper by creativity. My days became more about following guidelines than letting my imagination rule.

THE RESULT

I wrote a secret book. After talking to a friend who’s having a lot of success in one of these niche-markets, I decided to create something that those readers might like. At first I’d intended to release it under a pen name. I didn’t want anyone turning up their nose if my book failed or if it fell into the “undesirables” category. Knowing that this book would be anonymous was incredibly freeing. And I had so much fun writing it.

But as I wrote, something strange happened– I began to love the characters. I didn’t expect that. And when I read my chapters, I saw myself in that book, heard my voice, and felt connected to the story.

Yes, this is a serialized niche-market novella. Yes, it’s probably never going to win me any awards or million dollar publishing contracts. But I love it, and had more fun writing this book than any other.

THE LESSON

I’ve abandoned my intention to release this book under my pen name and decided that I will own it as Tammy Farrell! I will own the fact that I wrote it and whether it sinks or swims will have no bearing on my future endeavors. I will always write more books. Some people will love them, and some won’t. But as an indie-author, I can release books quickly, I have control over the content, and I can decide for myself what works and what doesn’t. When this secret book is ready to be released, I promise I’ll let you all know. 😉

I have to be true to myself and STOP creating things limited by rules that don’t even apply to me. Writing is art. And art should never have any limits.

So the point of the story, friends, is that if you want to be an indie author, OWN IT! Embrace it. Bend the rules however you want and don’t let anyone’s opinion create doubt in your mind.

You will find success by forging your own path, and learning from experience. If you write a book about ghost accountants, and you find readers aren’t interested in them, then write something else. You have the power in your hands. That’s the beauty of being an indie-author. The possibilities are truly endless.

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