Natasha’s Vlog – Take a Day

The thirty second installment of urban fantasy/paranormal romance author Natasha Hoar’s vlog!

Today I discuss the power of taking a day to be as grumpy as you want to be, instead of letting that feeling linger (especially when you’re grumpy over not making it to Comic Con…again).

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.

The scariest four letter word for writers


And it doesn’t get any less scary once you have a book or two under your belt. So just hit that sucker. Hit it good. ;)

Before we go too much further into 2013, I need to get a few things off my chest.

Thank you to everyone who has thus far supported my dream of being a writer through purchasing my books. It is my most sincere wish that this is the year your dreams are generously bolstered and encouraged.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share their thoughts about my work on their review sites. I don’t comment on them (it’s become a huge no-no for authors), but I do read many of them. As does my mom.

Thank you to everyone who has said that they can’t wait to read more of my work. On days when I felt like I was the worst possible writer in the world, incapable of stringing together a sentence, let alone a plot, your amazingly kind words kicked my self-pity-soaked brain in the tush.

Thank you to my friends and family for all of your encouragement, especially Dad. I believe that heaven has a special place reserved for the fathers of writers. After listening to us whinge and whine (all the while making seemingly endless cups of tea), they deserve it.

Thank you to my editor, and everyone at Carina Press who has championed my books. Yes, I’ve said thank you before. And I’ll keep saying it, because I appreciate the work you all do.

Here’s to a great 2013. Huzzah! :D


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’.

Of NaNo and villains

It’s no secret that trying to write the third Lost Souls book has been like trying to pull teeth…from a T-rex …using nothing but  a piece of frayed dental floss. Every time I’ve come close to thinking I have it ready to fire off to my Editor Extraordinaire, something unravels and falls to messy, goopy pieces (this is actually a huge compliment to said Editor Extraordinaire – it’s her ‘EVERYTHING for a reason’ technique that is revealing these sinkholes). I’ve pulled it apart, sewn it back up, added, deleted, cried, threatened, offered to write more naughty scenes (no takers. You’d be surprised what a gentleman Janus is)…

Messy. Goopy. Pieces.

So I decided to follow the lead of wildly awesome, and very committed writer pal, Jen, and sign up for NaNoWriMo.


Bear with me. Sometimes when you can’t see the wood for the trees, you need to paddle a canoe down the rapids to clear your head. The way I see it, the frenetic pace – and stipulated deadline – of NaNo is just what I need to get my inner editor out of the way, and clear the creative pipes, so to speak. My hope going into this exercise is that I’ll be able to reach the end of the month with a few useful revelations, to use in tackling LS3. Sans goop.

Thing is.. it turns out the revelations have started arriving a little sooner than anticipated.

See, on the drive home from work I was listening to Crispen Freiman’s podcast on voicing villains (in cartoons, games, etc). While he was discussing how villains are essentially all wounded or scared, my mind sort of drifted to the lead villain in LS3. And it hit me-


I’d imported the lead villain from another story, and tried to get her origional back story – her wound – to fit the Lost Souls universe. And it. Wasn’t. Working. This story’s villain was simmering beneath the import. She needed to be allowed out, to have her own way, cause her own havoc – feel justified in taking on Rachel because of her own unique wound.


So, am I abandoning NaNo to dive back into LS3? Short answer – no. I’m making notes, and sticking with this month’s plan. After all, I want to stay sans goop.

And I really want to earn my first ‘NaNoWriMo’ t-shirt;)

***Part of the NaNoWriMo madness this year? If you’re looking for a another writing buddy, feel free to look me up under user name ‘NatGreyAngel’.***

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.

If I love you I’ll do what?!

Earlier this week I tuned in to one of our local radio stations just in time to hear a debate between two female DJs about whether a woman should or shouldn’t take her husband’s last name. All was well until one of the DJs attempted to end the argument in one sweet sweep by stating that if you love your husband, you’ll change your last name to his.

‘Colorful’ doesn’t come close to describing the language I used in response to that comment. (No worries – I was alone in my car, so no small children were permanently scarred by my verbal indignation.)

Paraphrasing our lady Tina, what the hell has love got to do with changing one’s name? And if it really is a matter of love, why doesn’t your new hubby change his last name to yours? He loves you, too, right?

My view on the subject is to each their own, so long as it’s their choice and not forced upon them. I don’t mind if you take your hubby’s name, he takes yours, one or both of you hyphenate your names, or you both decide it would be best to become Mr and Mrs Glitter-Star-Bug. So long as you’re happy, go on and do it. (I personally fall into the ‘both of us and our kids end up with a hyphenated last name, and the kids decide how they want their names to be when they go off and get married one day’ camp. And yes, I am very firm on that.) If you’re happy changing your name because you feel it represents an act of love, that’s great. But implying you have to change your name  to show your love for your partner, and then not addressing reciprocation…still makes my blood boil at the thought.

On the other hand, this got me to thinking about fiction, and our expectations for the heroines we both read and write about. Certainly in historical romances the woman always takes the man’s name. But how about contemporary settings – how do you feel about your modern heroine not taking her beloved’s last name? How would you react if after surviving a zombie apocalypse (which happened to have enough quiet times for our hero and heroine to have scorching nookie scenes) they introduce the couple as Mr and Mrs His-HerName? Or Hers-HisName? Would you throw the book against the wall if at the end of the story the alpha hero took his heroine’s last name?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

PS: For some really interesting thoughts on the choices men and women make regarding their last names, I’d highly suggest giving From Two To One – The Last Name Project a read.