Vlog – Wake up, and hear the Ponies

Good morning/ afternoon/ evening, and welcome to my vlog! Today I talk about an often overlooked, but fairly critical influence on our day – the humble alarm clock. What do you use to start your day off right?

If you find today’s video helpful, that’s great! If you know another Creative who might find this video useful, please do share. Have a story where you figured out a great way to wake up on the right side of your world? I’d love to know about it! And as always, thanks a bunch for taking the time to watch this vlog – I appreciate it!


The Cool Stuff link for today is Crispin Freeman’s Voice Acting Mastery site – http://www.voiceactingmastery.com/

Vlog – Hunting Doubt

Huzzah! Finally – a new vlog! Today I talk about an insidious form of self doubt that infects every Professional Creative at some point – comparison-self doubt. It’s that horrid habit of comparing ourselves to successful people, and refusing to cut ourselves any slack.

If you find today’s video helpful, that’s great! If you know another Creative who could do with a pep talk, please do share. Have a story where you punched self doubt in the face? I’d love to know about it! And as always, thanks a bunch for taking the time to watch this vlog – I appreciate it!


The Cool Stuff link for today is Joanna’s Penn’s Creative Penn website – http://www.thecreativepenn.com (That’s Penn with two n’s!)

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’.

The Ravenous Dead is (A)LIVE! (A)LIVE!

Well, it’s finally here – The Ravenous Dead is now (a)live and ready for download! (Nope, that’ll never get old. ;D)

Thanks so much to my editor, Melissa Johnson, and the entire Carina team for believing in this story, as well as all their hard work in getting it to publication. I don’t think I’ll ever not be in awe of the behind the scenes work that goes in to getting a book into the hands of readers. You all rock my world.

Thank you also to all the amazing readers who bought The Stubborn Dead, with an added thank you to everyone who pre-ordered Ravenous. And a very special thank you to every single reader who has posted a review of Stubborn and/or Ravenous – I deeply, deeply appreciate that you took time out of your busy day to share your thoughts.

I’ll be the guest blogger on the Carina Press blog this Wednesday, where I’ll be chatting about wanting the bad guys in stories to win. Be sure to drop by, and have your say!

Until then, have a fabulous week, and thanks for stopping by! :D


The Ravenous Dead - Lost Souls book 2

Available from Carina Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Coming soon to Audible.com.

Excerpt from the book:

Rachel Miller brought the sharpened tip of the Italian rapier’s blade to rest in front of Kit’s Adam’s apple just as Jon Bon Jovi began hollering the first line of “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Her heart beginning to beat a little faster, she held her position and stared at him, waiting for him to make a move.

Kit dove backward, snickering like a schoolboy.

Rachel sighed, lowering the sword slightly. “How old are you?”

“I’m sorry.” He tried to stifle his glee, his “aw shucks, ma’am” good looks in full effect. “I just can’t take you seriously with that thing.”

“How is it you can’t take me seriously when I’m wielding a live weapon?”

“I don’t know.” He rubbed the back of his head and shrugged. “I mean, I guess it’s a bit of a girlie sword. If you had something with a significant blade on it, like a long sword, I might feel threatened. But then you’d look even sillier–”

Rachel spun around and speared the punching bag hanging from the ceiling in one elegant lunge. She recovered immediately and turned on Kit before he had time to fully comprehend that the blade had pushed clean through the bag as though it had been made of tissue paper.

“What the–?” He stepped back.

She lunged at him, aiming for his head.

Kit ducked with millimeters to spare. Rachel didn’t hesitate, going after him again and again, using the music to maintain an aggressive tempo. Years of competitive swordplay and dodging violent entities for a living allowed her to anticipate and counteract his movements with little effort.

It wasn’t enough.

Opening her heightened sense of empathy, she could pick up that Kit was perturbed but not afraid. They both knew he “wraithed-out” when he was mad. Mention his back-stabbing sister who’d tried to have him killed while he was stuck in his wraith form, and Kit just about transformed on the spot. Rachel had a solid hunch that he would shape shift in reaction to other strong primal emotions, such as fear. If they could nail down the range of emotions that caused uncontrolled shifts, they’d know what frames of mind to tap for controlled changes.

First things first.

“Rachel–what the hell?”

She feigned a strike one way and then sliced from the other. This time she made no effort to miss him. The blade tip nipped across the flesh of his cheek. Blood immediately beaded along the wound.

“Holy shit! Stop it!”

He tried to dive for a nearby dumbbell. She blocked him, her blade seeking out and opening up the softer flesh on top of his reaching hand.

Confusion finally gave way to fear.

The room temperature dipped dramatically.

One more push.

Kit’s back slammed against the wall, his hands raised in a surrender position on either side of his head. A small, red smear bloomed on the wall as the back of his wounded hand swiped across the dusty wallpaper. At the last moment he made an attempt to escape.

Rachel brought the sword to within millimeters of his face in what to her was a very controlled lunge. Kit, though, must have seen his life pass before his eyes.

Human-Kit literally poofed into wraith-Kit.

Or at least he came close. Rachel could have sworn she saw him transform, his body elongating, darkening, edges blurring as he replaced his human body with the otherworldly, cowl-like visage of the wraith. But just as quickly as it started, the transformation reversed, leaving a panting, sweating, wide-eyed human-Kit glaring at her.



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.)