We were stomping along in our high heels, this beautiful indie writer and I, because we were late for the speed-dating meet-the-reader session two miles away. I’d never met her before, but we were going to the same conference, we were both wearing inappropriately long daggers for heels, and we both had swollen, dry tongues hanging limply from our mouths as we marched on in the sweltering heat, squinting from the acid sweat drops rolling into our eyes. So we trudged on together.
I was about to faint from heat stroke and panic—hundreds of readers were waiting to meet their favorite Indie authors and we were miles away. It’s 105 F here in Florida, by the way. That might sound nice depending on where you are, but in truth: add some sulphur and some belching pits of agony or regret, and Florida really isn’t that far from H-E-(double toothpicks).
So there I was, marching, trying not to die, and my new friend would not stop talking. How did she have the breath for it? Here, in the scorched air of Hell? “Yippetyyappety yap yap yap yap yap yap YAAP! Anyway, so there I was, yappity, yip yip yip yip yippety…”
She wouldn’t shut up. The sun was peeling my skin off my face, my high heels were descending as the scorching tarmac melted the heel stubs inch by inch, and I had reached such a state of dehydration that my face had the look and stench of a shrunken head. We were still an everlasting trudge away from the conference center.
Until she said this:
“Yappety yippety yip, but, you know, after all is said and done, all we writers want to achieve is break even. I’ll be happy as long as I break even.”
My eyes snapped open. Secret strength I never knew I had breathed life back into my shriveling, trudging, heat stricken walking corpse. Break even????
Hoarsely, and with a sandpaper tongue licking my dry, peeling lips, I told her the truth:
“If that’s what you’re aiming for, then that’s what you’ll achieve. Nothing more.”
She seemed stunned, but I was too hot to apologize for my bluntness. The prickling sweat rash was spreading in the crease under my boobs. Blisters were forming on my heels because my feet were slipping about in my now flat shoes. I was not in the mood for her self-sympathetic starving writer attitude.
Because that’s all it is. Crippling beliefs. Limiting mind-sets. Self-sabotage.
We are artists, not martyrs. Yes, we create from passion, but let’s not think of ourselves as Jesuses, shall we? There are passionate accountants, passionate doctors, passionate bus drivers. People don’t read books with blank pages, so why do we feel ashamed asking for money for the worlds we build?
Ultimately, the difference lies in your mindset. Let’s compare:
Starving Writer Mindset: “Focusing on how to make money from my writing prevents me from writing from the heart…”
Thriving Writer Mindset: “Putting effort toward making a living from my work and understanding how my art fits in the bigger picture of life allows me to do what I love!”
Starving Writer Mindset: “Good books market and sell themselves; I shouldn’t have to descend to actively promoting my work…”
Thriving Writer Mindset: “I proudly and actively share my writing, my talent, with the world. Doing this helps my books sell so I can make a living, and it also provides a service to the people who love my words!”
Starving Writer Mindset: “The only way to be a successful writer is to get a huge advance on a fantastic book deal with one of the Big 5 publishing houses.”
Thriving Writer Mindset: “There is no single perfect way to be a successful writer. I will shed my own prejudices and allow myself to explore and discover new creative avenues I might also enjoy.”
Starving Writer Mindset: “Having little money and suffering for my art will make me a better writer…”
Thriving Writer Mindset: “Making good work comes from passion, talent, faith in yourself, and hard work–but never so hard it feels TOO hard! I do not have to stop having fun in order to be successful.”
Decide which mindset will deliver the results you want from your writing. Adopt that mindset. And then shut up about all the obstacles in your way, in fact, just sail straight past them. (Find out how here)
She didn’t say much on the rest of the trudge back to the conference center. Maybe she could tell from my shiny, crimson, pulsating face that my listening skills had deteriorated. But when we finally got to the “meet-the-reader” session, in a haze of moist body odor, she pulled herself up and started speaking with a bit more zing. I collapsed at the bar and ordered a Pina Colada and a bowl of ice cubes.
What other limiting beliefs keep us back? What’s stopping you from making money from your art? The first thing you need to do it set your goal. Find out how here.
E A A Wilson is an ordained minister and student of metaphysics. Her debut novel, Ascension Denied, is out 14 May. Visit her site here.
When Jimmy Saville scooped the glass eye out of the dead socket of a corpse, I’m sure he did it with no regard for the craftsmanship that goes into the creation of these delicate and unique prosthetics. They aren’t just churned out in Chinese factories, spun by the thin fingers of hungry children. They are individually blown through a tiny tube, painstakingly painted, with fine silk thread even laced into them to resemble ruby cobweb veins. The procedure is a marriage of art and science, and the industry value is grossly underestimated by most, including my partner-in-crime.
“We’re burgling a glass eye factory?” Aventurine scoffed, picking up a convex scleral shell, the sort that sits on top of a dried and shriveled prune of an eye to give it back its twinkle. “Ugh. If eyes are the windows to the soul, then what the hell is this?” She closed one eye and peered into the fake one as if expecting to spy the rotten crevices of the underworld.
“They aren’t glass eyes, Aventurine,” I said, peeling the jester’s mask off my face so I could send her a glare. “They’re custom ocular prosthetics. Made of acrylic. They’re worth two-thousand each.”
“Each? Oh. My. God.” she said, her face contorted into spasms of disgust. With a guttural retching noise, she dropped the prosthetic eye as if it had just blinked. Her latex-covered body spun round to face me and her own eyes flashed.
“Surprised?” I asked, puffing out my chest. I lifted one of the display pieces from its case and inspected its finely painted iris through a magnifier. “Value doesn’t just manifest in precious gems and metals, you know. I’ve been calculating the net worth of this studio since I was a boy.”
“You’re still a boy,” said Aventurine, brushing a loose strand of jet hair from skin like poured cream. She let her eyes drift to my crotch. I could have sworn she stifled a snort.
The studio I had targeted this week was lined with glass display cabinets, stunning exhibitions of eye socket gems twinkling in the beams of our flashlights like dazzling globes, each containing their own universe, their own soul. Sapphire, hazel, emerald, gold blazing like burnished halos, these ocular prosthetics were nationally renowned. That kind of beauty, that kind of craftsmanship, the relief and sense of normality they gave their wearers… It was heroic.
“But shall I tell you how it’s done?” I suggested. “It’s really a very interesting process. The true art isn’t in the perfecting of the acrylic layer, in fact, it’s in the painting. With the tiniest strokes, you have to capture the very personality of the wearer, the sparkle, the—”
She held up a hand to silence me, pressed her eyes closed under raised eyebrows. “It’s morbid, George. Just grab the fucking eyeballs and let’s go!”
My heart sank.
For a jewelry thief of the opposite sex, she was neither flirty nor seductive. To her, this was strictly business. I was a useful tool to her; my underweight and weak frame was solely employed for researching targets, project managing operations, securing underground buyers for our loot.
I saw Aventurine as Laverna, Goddess of Thieves. Wasp-like waist and full, rounded hips. Stern, flashing eyes almost as black as her hair, and a jaw set like steel. My eyes perceived her silver aura like a scintillating halo of aluminum.
Women like her don’t date boys like me. They date champions. They date Fletch, the bulky and grunting warrior currently clutching the wheel of our getaway car, periodically revving the engine to remind himself that his is an active role in our criminal trident.
Of course, she claimed herself a solitary lady, asexual and uninterested in anything but profit. But I’d seen her snogging Fletch. I couldn’t quite summon the courage to interrupt their moist and exaggeratedly carnal discourse, so I’d just watched them through the veil of my own inadequacy and the tinted windows in Fletch’s car.
I used the slim jim to ease open the glass cabinets, sweeping hundreds of staring eyes into the loot bag. The medical community would pay thousands for black-market prosthetics, and hand-crafted acrylic eyes were rare. This was by far the most lucrative project I’d assembled. If this heist pulled off—and it would—I’d have made us millions. No more rummaging for family jewels through the beige and lavender knicker drawers of little old ladies.
My stomach tightened. If Aventurine’s heart beat only for profit, then I would make it beat faster. She was currently contorted in some divine, impossible position: her legs splayed, one stilettoed foot on the surface of the shop counter, the other firmly on the floor as her tiny waist bent at a right angle and her nimble fingers worked a safe under the desk.
“So…” I began, as I dropped a set of turquoise fake eyes into the bag.
“No small talk,” came a curt reply, from a voice as velveteen as heaven.
“No, no. Just…you know.” I was on the brink of making Aventurine a very rich thief indeed. She’d entertain a subtle proposition, I was sure. “Just thinking, since we’ll be pretty loaded by this time tomorrow, perhaps we should splash out on a Mad Eye Martini later?”
The stilettoed foot and slender, strong, leg slipped behind the counter like a fish reentering water. Moments later I heard a click as she cracked the combination to the safe, and then a shuffling sound as she swept the paper contents into her loot bag. She was always more interested in the paperwork, I’d noticed, regardless of the intricate beauty of whatever artefacts I had scoped out for the heist of the week.
She stood up, slowly raising her latex-covered body until she stood before me like an oily she-warrior. The look on her face was one of titanium.
“George. Women like me don’t date boys like you,” she said, as I silently mouthed the words along with her. “We date champions. Heroes. You’re not heroic. You’re helpful.”
I puffed my chest out further. “Aventurine—the only difference between heroism and helpfulness is the element of spectacle. If it is spectacle you want…” I raised my arms dramatically and gestured at the thousands of watchful eyeballs in the cabinets the way a conductor introduces his orchestra, “then, in front of all these witnesses, may I ask—”
“You may not.”
“—you to marry me?” I held my breath.
Aventurine sighed, turned her back to me and bent over using only the last few vertebrae in her spine. She grabbed her loot bag stuffed full of paperwork, and straightened her back in one fluid sweep, flicking her jet hair back like a spurt of black gold. “That’s one element of courage, I suppose…” she mumbled, and my heart lifted again.
“Then maybe that Mad Eye—”
CRASH! The window smashed and shards of glass shrapnel showered us. Two bat-like blurs whizzed before my eyes as something, or someone, swung in through the broken pane on the end of a rope. With two nearly soundless thuds, the black-clad shapes landed in the middle of the studio, and froze.
The four of us were locked in position, only our eyeballs flicking between each other. Although the two intruders were dressed head to toe in black with tight ski masks covering their faces, the single strand of curly, golden hair poking out the bottom of one of them betrayed their identities.
Bloodstone and Sliv.
I let my eyeballs slide from the golden hair to Aventurine. The infernal fury blazing behind the lenses of her eyes glance suggested she had seen it too.
“You again,” she hissed from beside the counter.
“This is our heist,” snarled Bloodstone, frozen in a crouching position in a garden of broken glass in the middle of the shop floor. I watched Aventurine. She eyed Bloodstone. Bloodstone glared at me. Sliv watched the thousands of twinkling, immaculate eyes staring at us from every angle.
“We could split the loot?” I suggested.
Aventurine, Bloodstone and Sliv all snapped their eyes to me, and then immediately back to each other. Then, like an exquisite black flash, Aventurine leaped onto the desk and then shot into the air, grabbing the blades of the ceiling fan which snapped off in her hands. She landed back on the desk above the stunned Bloodstone, the blades crossed in front of her chest like swords.
“I never want to see you interrupting my heist again!” she cried, and raised the blades above her head.
“You never will!” screamed Bloodstone, grabbing a shard of glass in each hand. Aventurine dove off the desk to chop the golden haired head clean off, the intruder thrust the glass shards deep into my beloved’s sockets.
“Aventurine!” I screamed, as she pressed her hands against her face, blood spurting from between her fingers. I darted to her, but Sliv dove at me with a paperweight in his hand and the clunk burst into my vision like amber and citrine sparks.
I woke up as my head thud-thud-thudded down the steel steps outside the ocular prosthetics studio. Aventurine was dragging me out by my foot, a strip of my T-shirt bandaging her damaged eyes. She had one hand clutched around my ankle, her fingernails digging into my skin painfully, and the other was fumbling about before her, making sure the path was clear.
“Cor, that really hurts,” I mumbled, as she pulled me off the final step and my head clunked into a puddle on the tarmac.
“Awake?” she said with a sneer. I noticed the two bags of fake eyes and paperwork were tied to my wrists, dragging behind me. “Some heroism on your part, George. I had to take them both out while you slept. Blind. I’m fucking blind, and I still fucking saved you. If only Fletch had more between his ears he’d make a much better partner than you.”
The insult stung, but she nonetheless stopped and gave me a sharp kick in the side for good measure. I doubled over, retching, but before I had composed myself she grabbed the scruff of my neck and hoisted me to my feet. “Where’s the fucking car, hero?” she demanded, the T-shirt bandage she had tied around her head now crusty and stained with gruesome yellow and brown patches seeping though. She was truly blind. What had I done? What had I done? Now she’d never be able to appreciate the craftsmanship of the artisans I chose for us to rob.
I led her to the car, and she yanked the back door open and shoved me in. I curled up on the back seat to nurse my headache as she felt her way to the passenger side and slid in.
“Drive,” she barked.
We didn’t move.
“Fletch, go! Drive!”
I peered up. My heart stopped.
There was a bullet hole in the windscreen. Looking into the rear-view mirror between the heads of my beloved and our getaway driver, I saw a gaping hole in the forehead of Fletch, watching me like a third eye.
With the humor and playfulness of a Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, and with the biting satire of a Vonnegut, Swift, or Twain, E.A.A. Wilson’s Ascension Deniedtakes the reader on a rollicking adventure that upends our expectations about the afterlife and skewers religion, business, and the banal trappings of modern life. Ascension Denied is that rare book that stands alone as an exciting, entertaining fantasy but that also has the guts to take an unflinching look at the world we actually live in. I can’t recommend this book highly enough and know that readers will enjoy it.
Speaking of giving and receiving (read my article specifically for greedy people if you don’t like giving)…
First, I ask:
Can you help breathe some life into my author page on Facebook? I have 221 likes which is far from enough if I’m going to be an Earth-shatteringly wealthy bestseller. Ascension Denied is such a cracking story, and I really believe in it – but I’m more of a pen-monkey than I am a book promoter. I didn’t even know what a blog tour was until last week. Just before I got told they don’t work.
The Facebook page is here, it’s brimming with concept art from my book Ascension Denied (soon out!) and if you like it, please like it.
Then, I offer:
Please paste your Facebook page in the comments below and I’ll return the favor.
Then, I thank:
Thank you! Thank you, genuinely and simply, for helping me. As we plod along, finding our way, stumbling and learning through this overgrown hedge maze, we are not competitors. We are co-travelers.
Giving is profoundly good for the soul. It’s also a prerequisite for getting.
Everyone knows you don’t get without giving. That goes for everything: Friendship, wealth, even herpes.
But it can be really hard to give. If you’re poor, stingy, Scrooge-like or strapped for cash because your assets are tied up in your sparkling possessions, there is hope. If you’re too busy watching Biggest Loser or Game of Thrones to volunteer for the homeless, no problem. Here are four secret ways to give without ever having to dip into your wallet or set foot in a dirty soup kitchen.
You are important, skilled, and brimming with incredible things that you can share with those who need it. Here are four extremely easy but valuable ways of giving that are just as good for your soul and for your fellow people on this tiny planet:
1. Give of your attention.
When someone talks to you, really listen. Pay attention to what they’re saying, understand it and record it in your memory. Analyze it. Is there a meaning behind the words? If so, does it change how you should respond? With more compassion or patience perhaps? See the effect on people when you actively listen. See how you strengthen their confidence, make them feel comfortable around you. Soon what you hear will begin to have a deeper meaning for you too, and in turn it will enrich your life as well. They might give away the lottery numbers for next week, and you’ll only know it because you were really listening.
2. Give of your knowledge or skill.
Regardless of who you are and what you do, you own a deep reservoir of knowledge that can be useful to others. Sometimes we feel stupid or less capable when we compare ourselves to the brightest lights, but, as Einstein said: “If you judge a fish on his ability to climb a tree he’ll spend his life thinking he’s stupid.”
There is something you know that many others don’t. Explore that, embrace it, and study further. Then teach it. Give it away. As you become a mentor to someone you will see how your knowledge and skill develops both them and you. Perhaps you yourself will find a mentor and continue your own path of development, and then who knows what opportunities will come your way? What would you really really like to achieve? You will end up gaining every grain of knowledge and ounce of skill that you need to manifest your dream.
3. Give of your happiness.
Joy is extremely contagious. It’s also a powerful healing emotion that can inspire the stagnant, cure the stressed or depressed, bring courage to the fearful, you name it. It spreads in the form of good vibes, or karma, or whatever you want to call it. You know the sort of person who carries this highly infectious condition. They brighten the room. They leave you feeling sort of bubbly and excited. You can easily pop on a cheery disposition, adopt that state of joyfulness and let it ripple through your surroundings, brightening your own life and the lives of everyone you meet.
You can’t help everyone, give everything, be everywhere and save the world, but you can give, give, give of this sacred state of consciousness. Find out what makes you truly happy, focus only on the things that give you joy, and help brighten the world.
4. Give of your thanks.
Be grateful. But meaningfully so. Notice the things in your life, tangible or not, that are yours because of someone else. Give thanks for someone’s time, or an inspiring thought, or a good smell. Express your gratitude simply and genuinely. Wave a thanks to the driver that let you in off the merge lane. Nod and smile to the supermarket attendant who let you squeeze your stuffed cart in front of them. Whenever you get, give thanks.
And not a penny has to leave your bank account. (But I’ll wager you’ll end up giving joyfully of your money very soon, because if you follow my Guide For The Greedy, you’ll end up getting a lot more too.)
By now we’ve all heard Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research on the formation of water crystals (Note: his methods have been widely criticized, and he says himself it should not be considered science, so please read his work with a pinch of salt, which you can later add to your holy water as a preservative. But despite early criticism his research has also been widely replicated in double and triple-blind studies, for example, here, and here, here and here. But it’s still not conclusive. Like dark energy or the Big Bang.) For those of you who haven’t read the research and can’t be bothered, a fellow blogger outlines it beautifully here. Or read my summary:
By exposing water molecules to different energetic vibrations via spoken word or directed thought, we can affect the shape made by the molecules when they freeze to a crystal formation. Nice words like love, gratitude and so on make more “beautiful” crystals than horrible words like arrogant, failure, and Kardashian. Music has a similar affect—nice music makes nice crystals, bad music makes ugly crystals.
(A note on that last sentence: Some people will rightfully point to the problem of subjectivity. What’s nice music? I imagine it’s got to do with resonance and sympathetic vibrations. You might like black metal, but it’s not doing you any good. I’m neither a musician nor a quantum physicist so please feel free to do your own research.)
My theory is that the holy water used by ancients and to this day across creeds and religions for an incredibly long time, is simply embedded with positivity. Brimming with delicious joy. Don’t forget my epic article, You Are H2O: You can probably perform the same steps on yourself to make yourself holy, given how wet you are.
So, if you’re running low on priests to make Holy Water or you, you can just DIY it in your own kitchen (or by the hose pipe, toilet, or anywhere you have water readily available.)
Traditional Catholic recipes call for salt (for preservation) and a priest (for mirth), but I’m going to use neither.
Before you start, preset your state of being to “joyful”. If your dial doesn’t quite reach that setting, try “hopeful” or at least “thankful”. They are almost as high up on the consciousness level.
1. Get some water. I’d recommend the cleanest water you can get, some that’s not full of fluoride or chlorine or toilet cleaner. (NOTE: Take a quick moment to be thankful that you have water in abundance. Some people have to drink mud. You might as well get a head start on the recipe by directing your gratitude to the water itself.)
2. Put it in a vessel. I recommend a mug or something else easy to hold, but if you’re Mexican you might prefer a senorita’s shoe.
3. In whatever way that works best for you, center yourself and feel the benevolent flow that we recognize as good (or God, or Spirit, or Tao, or Universe, or Allah, or One, or Unified Field, or Jeffrey, whatever you like.) Feel good. You might have forgotten how to do this, or fallen out of practice, but try feeling good. It kicks ass.
4. Transform this energy into vibrations you can direct. Like words, for example. And then direct it to the water. Whisper sweet nothings to it. Tell it you’ll call it in the morning, and mean it. Imagine you can see the goodness in your breath as you speak, like golden champagne bubbles dancing in your words, falling into the water and dissolving, becoming a perfect champagne-word-water solution. Imagine the water feeling the same way you do: Good.
5. If you have a superfreezer, some microscopes, some petri dishes and a really expensive camera, pop the water in the freezer and take some photos of the water crystals. If not, just drink up!
It’s with deep sadness that I announce the sudden and unexpected passing of my very dear friend and writing partner Scott Ciencin, on Tuesday 5 August.
It has taken me a few days to build up the courage to share this. Scott was, apart from being a phenomenal author and a huge icon in YA literature with an impressive bibliography, a man with a heart as deep as the ocean.
Three years ago, when I decided to start writing, I reached out through the business network for anyone who might be willing to help me. I didn’t expect someone of Scott’s talent, track record and gravitas to respond. But that was Scott. Never too big to reach down and give a little person a helping hand.
Without abandon he offered me everything he knew. He mentored me through the gruelling early days, he spent hours and hours with me explaining the industry. He asked me to partner with him on a mystery series, and we started creating together, writing a whole new world and producing an amazing book which we eventually sold to S&S Gallery under the penname LJ Oliver.
We sat together for hours only a few days ago, plotting the next book, planning our social strategy, and laughing. I still don’t feel awake to this sad, sad truth that he is gone.
Scott was a man who shared and shared and gave and gave. His legacy is not in the many wonderful books he wrote, but in the lives he awakened, and the people who are who they are because of his kindness.
Even though he is gone too soon, and even though he had so many stories left to write, he left our world fulfilled. He met his soulmate Denise 20 years ago and was as in love with her now as he ever was. Scott, thank you for everything: your insights, your help, your endless patience and humor, your friendship and your love.