I expect to earn a living doing what I love – don’t you?

An author recently posted a blog entry where she essentially laughed at readers for eagerly buying what she considered her crappiest work. Enter a passionate counter-post by a reader, expressing dismay and disgust at the author’s actions. I agreed with everything she said right up until it was implied that creatives – writers, artists, actors, etc – should just accept that they get to do what they love in this life time, and not expect to do what they love AND earn a living from it.

*Insert me wanting to throw my phone against the wall with the explosive energy that can only be spawned from vengeful wrath…and then remembering that I’d need to find the cash to replace the damn thing.*

*Deep breath*

Now maybe, just maybe, the commenter didn’t mean to sound…well, hell, I can’t come up with a polite term. Mainly because the fact that there are folks who still think that everyone who puts in hours of work (usually on top of a full-time day job) to passionately craft a creative product for the public should just accept that any payments (never mind any sort of regular earnings stemming from sales) for said product are simply a perk, is so massively insulting to me that my throat wants to shut tight from anger and disbelief.

Stop me if any of what I’m about to say sounds unrealistic:

I expect my doctor – someone who loves his work, puts in long hours, and is dedicated to doing a good job regardless – to earn a good living, because if he’s not stressing about money, he can focus on helping me feel better when I’m ill.

I hold similar expectations for nurses, teachers, technicians, builders, dentists, lawyers, my boss, the crews who help create my favorite shows, the writers of my favorite books, etc. In short, if you have a product or service that makes my life a little easier or pleasant, I expect you to earn a great living out of it, so that you can keep focusing on bringing me those products and services that you specialize in.

I also hold that expectation for myself.

I love being a writer, despite the fact that I work long hours on top of the day job that currently allows me to have a roof over my head and food to eat. I know – because I have been told so by my amazing readers – that my work allows people to step out of the hectic pace of their lives, and focus on something fun for a short while, helping them to relax, and thus move forward in their lives a little easier. It is my goal, and expectation, to one day earn a good living from doing what I love.

The ‘noble starving artist’ mentality has got to stop. Now. Yes, there will be a percentage of people who create because that is all they want to do, and yes, they’ll feel that if they earn anything along the way, that it’s a great perk. For the rest of us, we deserve to do what every other respected professional in the world is allowed, and expected to do by the general public – earn a good living from doing what we love to do.

And if we’re happy with the fact that reaching that point might take longer than folks in ‘non-creative’ careers, so be it – that’s our prerogative. It is not a sign that we should meekly choke down the assumption that we’re the only specialized industry whose participants are destined to never enjoy a naturally balanced career we can both love, and profit from.

So please, let’s all – industry insiders and onlookers – drop the assumption that ‘noble starving artist’ is still the acceptable default for the majority of creatives in 2013. It’s not. What is acceptable is the long-term Creative Professional model – the mindset that so long as you’re willing to relentlessly put in the work, no matter how long it takes, you deserve to both enjoy the ride and profit from it. (Which sounds suspiciously like the mindset for every other type of professional, no?)

Does it mean I’m ‘selling out’ if I want to earn a decent living from my writing and creative work? Not at all. I went through (and am going through) the exact same level of passion and pain as every other writer while working on my books. I am profoundly proud of my work, and am dedicated to writing stories that I love. But I also live with the knowledge that the story I am working on in a delicious haze of enthusiasm will eventually become a product for a marketplace that has the choice to purchase it, or not. And if I’m not comfortable with that gritty, realistic fact, I had better not send out my manuscript to a publishing house that operates on a profitability model. In fact, if I don’t want to make money, i.e. earn some sort of living from my writing, then I should just put my novels up on WordPress for everyone to read for free.

To the creatives still trying to hide behind the ‘noble starving artist’ facade, that’s what it boils down to – if you’ve put your work out there and asked for someone to buy it, you are, even if you don’t want to admit it, seeking to earn a living of sorts out of your work. Maybe somewhere, deep inside of you, you recognize that it won’t happen over night (all the power to you if it does), but you still want to be able turn that passion into a pay cheque. If you didn’t, well, you wouldn’t be selling your work, now would you? So step away from the old regime, and into your power – there’s no shame in admitting you want to earn a living from what you love to do, and going after that goal relentlessly and creatively.

And yes, for the majority of creatives, it may take many years before they can wish their bosses and coworkers all the best, and afford to live off of the commissions earned from the hard work they love to do. That’s reality. In comparison, telling someone they shouldn’t expect to earn a living from their creative endeavors, and to simply be happy that they get to do what they love, is not.

I am a writer. I love being a writer. But I am also a Professional Creative, and as such, I expect to one day earn a good living from doing what I love. I hope my readers hold that same expectation, too.

Self published = ‘published’?

(NOTE: This is not a rant against self pubbed authors by a stuck up, good for nothing trad author. I’m merely commenting on a phenomena that I’ve noticed, and find particularly perplexing. I shouldn’t have to state that, but we live in a world of trolls and easily wounded egos, so it’s best I clarify my stance before we get going.)

Apparently my brain would rather kick a hornet’s nest than jump straight into trying desperately to catch up on NaNoWriMo this morning. So here goes…

Should a self published author call themselves a published author?

And is there still such a terrible stigma surrounding the title of ‘self published author’ that writers feel the need to avoid been associated with it?

This is something that has been chewing around the sides of my brain for a while now. Traditionally (oh yes, I used that word), if you said you were a published author, that meant you had secured a contract with a publishing house (no matter how big or small), and they were going to take your manuscript and use it to produce a saleable product (hopefully with a bit of marketing thrown in to help kickstart sales).

Self published novels are the opposite – you write it, produce everything related to it, upload it/have it printed, market it, etc. There’s a very distinct difference. (Notice that I didn’t make mention of the quality of the end products in each case? That’s because you can find trash and treasures in both segments of the market. I’m speaking strictly to the method your book is produced and presented to the public.)

So when I run across (usually new) writers who proclaim themselves ‘published’ authors when all of their work is very clearly self pubbed, I feel a distinct sense of annoyance. One, because in my mind there’s a very clear difference between the two terms. And two, because it feels like the author is hiding behind the term ‘published’ in order to feel ‘legit’, or at the very least, to help potential readers feel like she/he is ‘legit’.

I’m traditionally (as traditional as ebooks can be) published through Carina Press, but it’s clear to me that self publishing is a valid, viable, legitimate way to build and grow a writing career. So I’m left wondering, why the avoidance of the title ‘self published author’? And is it truly interchangeable with ‘published author’?

I have both traditionally published and self published authors who follow me on my various social media haunts, and as such, I would deeply appreciate any thoughtful insights into this issue. I would also love to hear from readers as to how they feel about authors stating they are ‘published’ vs ‘self published’, and whether it makes any difference when it comes to clicking ‘buy’.

The cornflakes dilemma

Earlier this morning I came across an excellent blog post by Michelle Garrett, over at Brit Mums, about why people read blogs. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting up a blog detailing my interest in becoming a voice actor – a bit of a progress report/’sharing the experience’ experiment blog – but I wasn’t sure. I mean, I know that blogging can be a cathartic experience, and that it quietly affects many more readers than those who take the time to comment immediately after reading your work. But, and this is a BIG BUT, blogs are also viewed as marketing tools. And marketing tools have to be handled very, very carefully because they build – or break – opportunities.

Take this blog for example – I’m supposed to use it to connect with readers, show editors that I am attempting to build a platform, etc etc. I’ve had many days where I’ve seriously considered posting very frank, borderline painful entries on the reality of trying to write through difficult personal situations, fears related to never being published again, and the guilt of not getting in a page a day (or a month, as was the case more than once this past while). But I didn’t, because I view this as a marketing tool – it’s supposed to be happy, thoughtful and progressive, not a hot bullet into the head of my writing career.

So I’m forced to ask – at what point does connecting become a career killer? At what point does what you need to say become too much information? When does the opportunity to share personal experiences surrounding the creation of a product/ service you are attempting to sell (yes, writers create books that need to be sold), trump the need to create a brand for that product, and by extension, build the brand of the company/publishing house presenting it to the world?

I would love to hear your insights, thoughts, and most especially, your personal experiences with these questions.

Finding your characters residing in unlikely places…and resin faces

Rachel and Janus are breaking my damn heart today. Which is a good thing, actually.

Life is starting to smooth out a little, and blessedly, I’m starting to really hear my characters again. Not that they ever stopped talking to me, but it is so, so hard to listen when stress and anxiety have you curled up in a figurative ball, and the last thing you want to do is work through a manuscript because all you can see are the problems, not the potential. One of these days, when I have the courage to do so, I’m going to write a blog post about the crippling effect of stress on the writing mind, and how not having a contract can sometimes be the biggest blessing, and motivator, when pushing through trying circumstances.

But enough about that for the moment. Let’s get down to toys and book characters. (FYI – if you are in any way shy about doll nudity, please be very careful clicking the links in this post. Not all of the companies I’ll be discussing show fully clothed dolls.)

Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the eighties, but for me, cartoons and toys made in the likeness of the characters in those stories go hand in hand. My Little Pony, Thundercats, Jem, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man, Smurfs – name a cartoon I sat and enjoyed, chances are I had a corresponding toy. And I still collect toys and figurines from shows I enjoy today (if anyone ever brings out a series of action figures for Supernatural that have a decent likeness to the characters, I will be ALL OVER THEM). Call it good corporate training or a long-standing habit I love to participate in, but cartoons and toys go together as naturally as peanut butter and jelly in my world. (Or peanut butter and golden syrup. Yum!)

So it’s no surprise that I occasionally wonder what dolls would best suite various novels I’m reading, or in this case, working on. This can be challenging, though, especially if you’re trying to style up an ‘off the shelf’ doll. (Unless you’re Sherillyn Kenyon, in which case you already have a drool worthy special edition of Acheron available). But if you’re willing to step away from the pink toy isles and wonder into the domain of the ball joint doll collectors, the possibilities open up dramatically…

What is a ball joint doll? The short answer is a highly articulated hand-made doll, usually cast in resin, with near limitless customisation potential. They can be hyper realistic, have more of an anime feel, be fantasy or sci-fi themed – quite literally anything you can imagine. They’re mostly made by Asian companies (although there are some spectacular North American artists making small batches of them), and if you don’t happen to like the way these companies paint their dolls (ie their faceups or body blushing) no problem – there are talented enthusiasts around the globe who can dramatically change the ‘personality’ of your doll by applying their exquisite artistic talents.


Now, these dolls do not come cheep – even tiny dolls (without faceup, wigs or clothes) can start out at US$200 with postage. But that doesn’t mean a girl can’t window shop…and begin counting pennies like a crazy woman…for dolls that resemble her characters.

Let’s start with Rachel. I’ve said time and again that the model on the covers of the Lost Souls series is essentially exactly how I envisioned Rachel. Finding a doll to match that image was a little bit of a challenge. But I think I found one that’s pretty damn close – Iplehouse’s Carina (in particular with her Type A faceup).

Iplehouse Carina. Image copyright Iplehouse.com.

Now, naturally she’d need different colored eyes, a slightly darker wig and um, slightly smaller *cough* assets, but with this style faceup, she’s a dead ringer for Rachel. Even though I don’t expressly say it in the books, this is the style of makeup Rachel favors (smokey, lined eyes and a touch of lipstick/gloss). And yes, I LOVE the fact that the doll who resembles her most is named Carina.

Now the boys on the other hand…I came close, but I may still change them. I think part of the challenge stems from trying to keep within the same range as Rachel/Carina, so they’d make a striking, well-balanced trio if I decided to get all three.

Starting with Janus, the closest I could come was Iplehouse Chase (with D-Type faceup):

Iplehouse Chase. Image copyright to Iplehouse.com

Now, I’d have to order Chase in ‘light brown’ to get closer to Janus’s skin tone, but I think that eye shape and slight, cocky smile is Janus to a ‘T’. He’d also have to be on a ‘Model’ body, as he’s taller and has a slightly slimmer build than Kit.

For Kit I went with Iplehouse Tedros (with A-type faceup):

Iplehouse Tedros. Image copyright Iplehouse.com

Obviously the boy would need to go blond, and change his eye color, but I quite like the intensity in this doll’s face. Kit can be a very lighthearted character who’s quick with a joke/quip, but he also feels things very deeply, which can be troublesome when he’s trying to control his wraith side.

So why bother taking the time to match fictional characters with dolls I don’t own? Quite simply it’s a delightful way to get to know your characters. Starting with a base, adding details like faceups, wigs, eyes and clothing styles – it’s just another way to explore/finalize character creation! Or in my case, it was a great way to get back into the groove of writing my trio once again.

Go on, give it a try. It’s free to look. (Until you fall under the spell of BJDs. Then you’re free to pull up a chair and start counting pennies alongside me. ;) )

Have a great week, all!

Six Sentence Sunday part seven – The Ravenous Dead

Tomorrow is release day for The Ravenous Dead!  Let’s have one last Six Sentence Sunday to wrap things up. (Thanks again to everyone who stopped by last week. You all rock!)

The reaper has attacked Rachel, Kit and Luke at the graveyard, but they’re not going down without a fight. Rachel has managed to remove some of the souls fuelling him, but two remain inside the monster’s belly. Before she can find a way to remove them, the reaper makes his true target known. And there’s nothing Rachel can do to save Kit:


‘ Too little, too late.

The reaper slammed into Kit, hard. The pair went to the ground, creating a crunch that could have been bodies meeting wet earth and grave markers, or the breaking of Kit’s bones. The sound of Luke’s magazine snapping into his gun followed immediately after, but the reaper wasn’t waiting around. He leapt up and backhanded Luke so fast he barely saw it coming. Then the reaper threw Kit’s limp body over his shoulder and took off running.’


Be sure to stop by the Six Sentence Sunday website and take a peak at the veritable treasure chest of snippets available from a host of marvelous authors! And thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has stopped by and read these snippets over the past few weeks. I greatly appreciate all of your support! :D


The Ravenous Dead - Lost Souls book 2

This time the dead are hungry…

Rachel Miller doesn’t just see dead people, she rescues them. As a member of The Order of Rescue Mediums, she spends most of her time helping stubborn spirits move on from the world. But after she learns the details of three brutal murders, she knows the culprit can only be a reaper, an undead monster that relentlessly stalks its victims to feed on their souls.

A reaper once consumed the soul of Rachel’s mentor as she watched frozen in fear. Now, Rachel is in the role of teacher to Kit Elkeles, a rodach just learning to control his wraithlike powers. After Kit and Rachel rescue a half-vampire, they work to protect him while searching for a way to stop the reaper. But when Rachel realizes who the monster is really after—and just what kind of dark magic she’ll need to stop it—will she be able to do what is necessary before it devours one of her friends…or even herself?

Available from Carina Press on July 16, 2012. Available for preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Official cover for 'The Stubborn Dead' by Natasha Hoar, published by Carina Press in Jan 2012

Haven’t read the first story in the Lost Souls series? Pick up The Stubborn Dead – available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore and other fine ebook retailers. Coming soon to Audible.com.

(F.Y.I. – The Lost Souls series are not written as stand alone books. For maximum enjoyment, I’d highly suggest reading them in order, starting with The Stubborn Dead.)

Giveaway week 5 … and summer trends

Summer is creeping in fast and furious in my little corner of British Columbia. Which means all the stores are starting to advertise really cute summer gear. Which in turn makes my bank card start to tremble and whisper things like, “You know, you work indoors in an air-conditioned environment so you could probably get away with wearing those fall three quarter-sleeve shirts a little longer…”


Those adverts also get me thinking about my characters and what they might wear. Stubborn and Ravenous both take place in Vancouver during late spring, so all of the characters are still wearing a few layers. (Well, Rachel has a thing about keeping her sigil tattoo covered, but we won’t get into that here.) I wonder some times, though, whether Rachel would buy into the ‘jumpsuit’ craze? (Short answer – no.) Would Kit wear Chino shorts? (Yes, but not in ‘coral’) And would Janus mind walking around without his shirt on for just a little bit..? (Yeah, you can imagine the dirty look mister Fae gave in response to that question.)

Which brings us to the last giveaway question of May – what is your favorite item of summer clothing? Shoes and accessories will do, too. Just let us know what you can’t live without during the warmer months of the year. There are two ePub versions of The Stubborn Dead up for grabs again this week-end, so have at ‘er!

As always, a few things to keep in mind. Entries close on Friday night of this week, and winners will be posted on Saturday. Only posts made on THIS blog – http://www.natashahoar.wordpress.com – are valid (yes, I still have someone altering and posting my entries to their voice acting blog. Welcome to the internet, folks). Also, please make a comment related to the question posed on each post (I’d hate to think you were a spam poster). Keep in mind that I’m posting from the West Coast of Canada (ie Pacific Time), so if you’re in England/Australia/etc, please make adjustments regarding closing times and posting winners. If you want to enter on ‘behalf of your friend’, please rather have your friend enter themselves (I don’t bite, and I don’t sell anyone’s emails if they win. Promise.)

Have a great week! :)

Grooving while I endanger (fictional) people – Giveaway wk 4

Hello, holiday Monday! It’s Victoria Day up here in Canada, the official public celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday (which actually falls on May 24). Most people are either sleeping off earlier festivities, watching parades (and getting very wet while doing it, if you happen to be sitting along Douglas Street down in Victoria, BC), or sitting in ferry or border line ups waiting to come home. As for me, well, I’m cranking the tunes and spending some time with the Lost Souls crew, trying to work through the third book in the series.

Music is essential to me when I’m writing. It sets the mood or the tone for a scene. If I’m stuck, chances are if I flip through a few songs eventually one will grab my attention enough that I can use it’s tempo to pull me through a writing block. Certain genres of songs only work for certain stories, sometimes only certain characters. For example, with the Lost Souls series I tend to lean towards rock with a dash of alternative thrown in. I basically need ‘intensity’ and ‘grit’ on tap. Unless I’m working on a quieter scene between Rachel and Kit, when I’ve been known to play ‘If I die young’ by The Band Perry or ‘Space between’ by Meghan Tonjes on loop…


(Don’t fret, Team Janus fans – I have this recurring image of Rachel and Janus having a very deep, sweet moment to ‘If I die young’ as well. I just for the life of me cannot figure out when or where this happens. My brain, she is such a tease!)

Which brings us to this week’s giveaway question/s – does music move you to be creative? If so, how, and which songs work best for you? There are two ePub versions of The Stubborn Dead up for grabs again this week-end, so have at ‘er!

As always, a few things to keep in mind. Entries close on Friday night of this week, and winners will be posted on Saturday. Only posts made on THIS blog – http://www.natashahoar.wordpress.com – are valid (yes, I still have someone altering and posting my entries to their voice acting blog. Welcome to the internet, folks). Also, please make a comment related to the question posed on each post (I’d hate to think you were a spam poster). Please keep in mind that I’m posting from the West Coast of Canada (ie Pacific Time), so if you’re in England/Australia/etc, please make adjustments regarding closing times and posting winners. And lastly, only one win per person for the duration of this giveaway month (with the exception of added giveaways for The Ravenous Dead). If you want to enter on ‘behalf of your friend’, please rather have your friend enter themselves (I don’t bite, and I don’t sell anyone’s emails if they win. Promise.)

11 weeks to go – let’s have a giveaway (or 5)

Whoo-whee! There are only eleven weeks left to the release of the second book in the Lost Souls series, The Ravenous Dead.

Is it just me, or is this year screaming by?

Regardless, I’ve decided the best way to kick off the run to July 16 is with a weekly giveaway of the first Lost Souls book, The Stubborn Dead. Every Monday in May (starting today and ending on May 28) you’ll have the opportunity to enter through commenting on a giveaway post. Each week’s entries close on Friday, and ONE winner for the week will be announced on Saturday. Winners contact me via my Contact page, and I’ll email them the ePub version of The Stubborn Dead. Super simple. :D

Now, a few things to keep in mind. Only posts made on THIS blog – http://www.natashahoar.wordpress.com – are valid (yes, I still have someone altering and posting my entries to their voice acting blog. Welcome to the internet, folks). Also, please make a comment related to the question posed on each post (I’d hate to think you were a spam poster). Please keep in mind that I’m posting from the West Coast of Canada (ie Pacific Time), so if you’re in England/Australia/etc, please make adjustments regarding closing times and posting winners. And lastly, only one win per person for the duration of this giveaway month. If you want to enter on ‘behalf of your friend’, please rather have your friend enter themselves (I don’t bite, and I don’t sell anyone’s emails if they win. Promise.)

Right, so what’s there to comment on this week? How about we start out with something easy – what is your favorite scary movie/book/play/television series? And if you’re not a fan of the scarier genres, what do you prefer to watch/read instead, and why?

My favorite ‘scary’ TV show is Supernatural (no big surprise there), and the horror novel that has stuck with me for years (not so much the details of the story, but definately in regards to the feeling it inspired in me) is Graham Masterton’s ‘Spirit’.

Thanks for stopping by, good luck, and have a great week! :D

Johnny good Sunday

Sundays – that last gasp of freedom before heading back to a week of work. The day where you want nothing more than to become a puddle of relaxed nothingness, but you know you have to do the ironing so you’re not forced to head into the office the next day nude, or worse, in sweat pants. It’s the last chance to do the vacumming before the hair the cats have been shedding the past week begins accumulating and creating sinister critters capable of making you jump a mile high when they breeze across your path. If you’re anything like me, your Sundays tend to vanish like the last mini cupcake at a birthday party, leaving you feeling slightly dazed (it was just there a minute ago!) and wanting more.

So, in an effort to help make the transition out of the weekend a little easier, I’d like to offer up a little Johnny Reid (live at the PNE in Vancouver):

Here’s to a fabulous week ahead! :D