Not all history that repeats itself is insanity. In fact, another saying goes that in repeating something a person or community has a shot at improving it. Like a clumsy ballerina practicing her spins, a soul transported from one life to the next could improve. For Lilith, well, we all know how that worked out now. But maybe not. Maybe Lilith’s legacy was exactly what it was meant to be—with her on her final life achieving her one true destiny.
If Lilith was merely created to be Adam’s wife, why should she cling to her soul less life? Was it ever really hers or simply his? There had to be something more in it for her. The Big Apple, after all, was certainly filled with more opportunity than a tiny garden where she was expected to lay on her back for a man who didn’t respect her back. But at what cost?
At the same time, if Eve came after Lilith, she certainly couldn’t have been the first to tempt Adam to sin. Adam was running around naked shameless in that very garden with his first wife that he gave birth to his second in. What’s to say he wasn’t the one tempting and doing the sinning? A male God?
According to other, maybe less traditional religions, Goddesses or other feminine supreme beings are in charge. Would they allow one of their own to be thrown from a magical place simply for not obeying the word of a man? Likely, they would not. So who was the true demon? And who ultimately became one? This new wife, whom some in contemporary society would call a homewrecker, has been pegged as a sinner too. But was she? If only pulled from a rib of a man so flawed? And does it even matter? Probably not.
But like with anything, especially myths and legends passed down from one century to the next, there are usually parts left untold. In this conception, some will always wonder if Lilith had a soul. Was it she or Adam, a city man multiple lives later still so infatuated with creatures from a garden where he ruled over all things, to blame? Easier asked: Who was the angel and who was the demon? And who is left now to finish the painting?
All things, they say, come from one creator. It is he, or she, who ultimately determines the beginning and end to all things and the type of city, time, and place they happen in? Perhaps. Truth be told: It is he or she who determines when the image is finished. Until then, it’s all merely a matter open to mortal interpretation. That is, we all march in parallel lines toward our unknown fates through time either planned or unplanned; colliding through the wills and whims of purpose and an artist’s brush. And one thing is certain: Nothing is ever as simple as it might first appear in a place like the City of Eden, metaphorical or half-stroked onto the texture of the finest canvas. Or is it?
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Everything I know about branding… How I figured out who I was in indie publishing.
New authors have come to me asking for tips on branding. I can tell you that it’s not an easy thing but it’s also an important one. It’s becoming clear it’s much more important than I ever knew. And, lucky for me (and them) I do have a lot of experience in this area both inside and outside of indie publishing.
Having worked as a marketing director in a mental health agency for eight years before going back to graduate school to earn my psychology degree, I learned a lot about branding. I came into the agency with no clue what the word even meant. During those eight years, I worked with talented designers and marketing experts to help establish a brand for a community mental health agency. The brand we were able to achieve was fantastic if I do say so myself.
When I first stepped into indie writing, I had no idea how to brand myself. As an author, I didn’t even think it was necessary. I figured that was my publisher’s job: WRONG. Publishers change and, frankly don’t have the time. A brand for an individual author is their job and theirs alone – who else knows you better than you?
Initially, I knew I wanted to write multi genre. I am of the belief that there are readers for every book. I also believe people read by mood. I know I do. As a reader (where I first began to love books) I read things based on how I am feeling, what the season is, etc. I soon discovered that I wrote that way too. Still, I felt I had to pick one genre and stick with it. That’s what other authors seemed to do…
I’ve heard it said many times that multi genre is a bad thing. I didn’t believe it. Still don’t. Never will. Sure, for me, it might make branding harder – but why couldn’t that be part of my brand too? Let’s face it – I’m a pretty complicated, eclectic person. So are my works, tastes and even moods. Could THAT become part of my brand? (Stay tuned).
For the first few years, I played with only writing real life stories because that was what I was ‘supposed’ to do. As a reader, I gravitated to autobiographies. Clearly, people, and the psychology of what makes them do the things they do is fascinating to me. I figured I should write what I knew. And so, naturally, I called myself a non fiction, or based on true stories author. I released Crazy Like Me, Wave to Papa and Nine Lives. But I got bored and quickly. While they were important stories to tell, I also wanted to try out a story that came from nowhere other than my imagination. After being challenged to participate in a horror anthology (Limitless Publishing’s 13) I soon learned that my creative side had been neglected.
Always one to think outside the box and a natural trendsetter, I’d lost that along the way and almost quit writing. That anthology saved me. I loved creating new worlds and characters I hadn’t met or didn’t know or wasn’t working with. Instead of drawing on real life experiences, I was writing from a different place that I soon realized was another big part of who I was too. But that screwed up brand plans. (Should, wrong, inexperienced – those words beat at me like an inner critic but they didn’t come from inside – they came from people who felt they knew me better than me). What they didn’t know? I’m a confident person. I’ve NEVER followed crowds…
So I was: eclectic, by this time a therapist working on licensing and entirely frustrated with people thinking the world ‘crazy’ was a bad thing (anti stigma campaign from that mental health agency work comes in there), dying to be more creative and experimental but feeling like I ‘should’ box myself into one genre or maybe even two. Then what?
(Adios, unsolicited advice).
I asked myself “who am I?” I have never in my life followed rules. For me, unless they are needed to make something run efficiently or for safety, they get in the way and stifle creativity. Why was I allowing what other authors and even the bulk of the industry said about branding to box me in and stuff more creative words under the bed?
It was time for new ideas about brand.
(Hello, me. I’ve missed you)!
I answered simple questions (see attached graphic) and quickly realized that I was these things: 1. A mother with a crazy hectic schedule and responsibilities to keep, 2. A partner, daughter, and all those other family responsibilities, 3. An author dying to be more creative and not boxed in by what other people thought, 4. An artist, 5. A shrink trying to reinvent the word crazy. (Because stigma is bullshit).
It was long before I started Crazy Ink Publishing, LLC that I put all these things together. My brand was screaming at me. I just hadn’t listened because I was too busy listening to what other people thought and how they were doing it better. Never again.
It was almost like my entire career and life plans were meant for a simple and easy brand that tied it all together. My tagline would be “Crazy Enough to Try it All.” My logo/brand would be Crazy Ink. Crazy was my lifestyle. To me, it wasn’t a bad word. Yet, I was surrounded by it and always trying to help redefine it. Ink? Well, that’s the obvious author and artist in me. And, because I’ve never been one to turn down a dare (I have more than 400 sky diving jumps under my belt to prove it) it only made sense to use that tagline. The tag referred to not only me and my personality but also to my writing. Tell me I can’t write about vampires: I’ll do an anthology. Tell me I can’t do horror: Enter Vegan and a host of other titles. Hell, I’ll give you a five-book series on a serial killer. It’s just ME.
This brings me to my next point. I am who I am. I AM “multi genre madness.” Take me or leave me. I am happy with me and there is nothing fake about my brand or Crazy Ink. THAT is why it works.
Even now and nearly daily, I get people telling me I am doing things wrong or that I don’t know what I am doing. I get unsolicited advice about what I should be doing or how others are doing something or other better. Guess what? I don’t care. Yes. Feedback is good. So is research. But I do that and make my decisions based on my brand and experiences not anyone else’s. Why? Because it works for me. It has and continues to. For this reason, I never offer unsolicited advice. I only give advice when asked for it. Why? It’s the right thing to do. I don’t want others to feel the doubt and waste the time I did in listening to nonsense noise from others about my own brand. I wish others would do that too.
(One can hope).
I have seen one author upon another make the same mistake. I see them copy each other and shake my head. I truly believe you are better off with no brand (it’s coming, you just aren’t listening closely enough or ready yet) than a fake one. Authors or publishers who copy each other are hurting themselves. Readers can spot fake from miles away. They can also sense desperate. Don’t do it. If you aren’t sure where your voice is yet or where you plan to go with your writing, hold off. It will come – I promise you! It may even take years and that’s perfectly normal and okay.
During a conversation last week from someone who knows the industry better than I could ever hope to, I felt great to learn my instincts on branding and in other areas are right on the mark. While I’ve always been confident in my choices, I’m human too and thought maybe my own brand needed a tweak. Apparently, it does not. Why? Because it’s authentic. THAT is the key.
You can be authentic too! With that said, I would challenge new authors looking to find their brand to answer the questions in the graphic and start thinking about how their lives and personal interests connect. Who are you? How do you want your readers to know you? What are you passionate about? Be honest, real and reflective. You’ll find your voice. Once you do? Your readers will find you. Happy branding all! Your brand is calling to you. Are you listening?
Hey Crazies! Thanks so much for stopping by during this busy holiday season!
For this stop, I figured it might be fun to give you an excerpt from my Wings of the Wicked Box Set book called Unsuitable Companions. I'm super excited for you all to meet Eve! Adam too...
The young woman before him didn’t fail to steal his breath. Following her into the elaborate loft, taking in the way she moved with wide swings of her supple hips, Adam couldn’t help but study her. Somehow, he knew this angelic woman on a level so deep it couldn’t possibly be of this world. Yet she was different than before—when he’d first met her at Eden Market on the corner of Fifth and Broad. That day, with a tiny pink carnation in her hair, she’d looked more like a country girl lost in the big city chasing some stupid dream like the others who made him yawn. If it hadn’t been for the way she’d shined the fruit against her perfect breasts, he’d probably have ignored her. But to see her was to want her—to possess her in all ways a man could. That day, he knew her to be the woman God had created for him—his one and only helpful companion. He couldn’t quite understand it but had to find out more.
And he had. But today was different. She was too. The only word that came to mind now was tempting. He watched her pull her long silky hair over her shoulder as she moved toward the romantic day and later evening he had planned for her. Fiddling with the ring in his pocket, it was impossible not to think back to their first meeting at the market. He shook his head, wishing his mind would stop with the racing. Everything had changed. But nothing had. He reminded himself that he knew her to her core except in the one way he was thirsty for. We’ll get there. And soon. Be patient. This one’s worth waiting for. Still, he could feel that she knew too—that something was different. Today, the obvious alterations were there down to the way she moved and how her back was arched just slightly, as if to entice him. He watched, amused. She was ready. Finally. He was too.
It wasn’t like they hadn’t taken the time to get to know each other. It had taken longer than he’d have chosen to truly know her. Still, something very subtle had changed, just as knowing her fully would on this night. She knows too. She has too. Anything else wouldn’t make sense, he decided, still mystified by what was hanging in the air between them and why. There had to be some logical sense to it all. For one, he’d never seen Eva dressed in this manner: The bold slit in her tight red dress exposed a tan thigh like an invitation but not. The way her gown cut to the tops of her nipples affirmed everything he hoped would transpire that night. There was no way the angel from the market would ever be caught in the streets in a gown like this. She’d worn it just for him.
But it wasn’t just that. Tonight, even her very aura seemed different in its glow. There were no trace of her usual innocence at all as she entered his dining area. Instead, she smelt of the lust he’d so often paid for—where kissing wasn’t allowed and money was exchanged first. He expected those days were behind him now. Hopeful, he pulled out a chair for the mystery woman he knew he should know but didn’t. Breathing in a pungent flowery scent that rose from the crease of her neck, he watched her as she sat and slid her chair to the table in a slow, yet graceful motion. In silence, he rested his hand on her shoulder before finally walking to the other end of the table. It was when he sat himself across from her and Eva laughed for what seemed like no reason at all, that Adam grew school-boy nervous. In a way, it was a relief. But lack of confidence was not something he was used to. Adam was a man who always maintained control. Still, in the same moment the chuckle escaped from her fat ruby-painted lips, he recognized her again as the girl from the busy city market. He reminded himself she was still the Eve he knew and loved. Gussied up or not, she was the one he’d watched sniff a Macintosh apple, poking it to check for brown spots. He couldn’t be sure which day she was more tempting—then or now. He smiled, taking her in and considering his good fortune as he waited for words he knew would soon come. She didn’t disappoint. Eva never did.
“This all looks so lovely, Adam,” she said simply.
Her words finally reached him, intended, he was sure, to be understood as something deeper.
“Why thank you, My Lady,” he bowed his head, “And all done for you, I might add.”
In a long gesture, he swept his hand above the table setting that servants had been instructed to pull off without flaw. “You see, the roses there in the vase are beautiful, like you. They match your dress too.”
Adam smiled and continued, “To one side of your setting, you will find a box of very tasty chocolates for your enjoyment and opposite, well of course, your Valentine’s card. You may read it at your leisure, Princess.”
He watched his intended immediately reach for the elegant card and tried not to chuckle. It was tempting for sure.
“Yes, the roses are wonderful and their scent. It is just heavenly,” she said, eagerly tearing open the envelope and bending in the dimly lit room to read its contents. Looking up, she thanked him, “All of this, Adam. Just lovely. Thank you. And you have surprises coming too.”
“You’re welcome, my love. And all of this,” his hand made another sweeping gesture across the long cherry table, “Cannot, even begin to compare to the wonder that is you. Nor can it ever represent how much I truly love and care for you. So Happy Valentine’s Day, Evie. I think you will enjoy your other surprise very much. At least, I hope so.”
“Now?” Her blue eyes sprung wide open and turned navy.
She knew. He knew she knew. But he refused to make it easy. Adam was a man of control. Eve was too. Never before had their conversation been so stiff and, well, formal. He shuffled in his seat just slightly to adjust himself. Her returned desire for him was blatantly obvious but he couldn’t let her know of the temptation stirring in the mouth of his stomach, or trousers for that matter. It was his turn to laugh now. He could no longer hold it back. It wasn’t as if they were newly acquainted.
“No,” he chuckled. “That you'll have to wait for, love. We have this wonderful luncheon to enjoy. Shall we?”
Somewhere in their foggy haze of soaking each other in, the spread had already been masterfully served out. A frosted herb icing on cold poached salmon atop mint lemon oil dressing and sided with a spinach salad garnished with slices of rich red pickled beets. It was only the best for Eve—Adam had insisted and the servants knew better than to argue with a man in charge of all the goings-on in the city.
Rising, Adam poured Eve a flute of chilled wine and pressed his lips into her forehead. Pulling back, he was surprised when Eve stood too—initiating a deep kiss. Her tongue pushed between his lips and he inhaled deeply through his nose as he accepted it and their mouths became one. When they finally broke apart, Adam wished they could skip the meal all together. It had been too long since he’d felt this way about a woman. Evie was special. She’s perfect and sweet, like chocolate, he thought.
“Thank you,” she breathed in a lusty, low voice. Her cheeks flushed with pleasure. “You’re wonderful, love.” She ran a hot hand over his chest and starred up at him before continuing, “Those things that you said about me. Sometimes I can't see it like I'm blind to them, but you bring out so much of me. Make me feel like I’m important. Not just Eve.”
Her words confused him. To him, she was everything. He pulled her closer, not knowing how to respond. He didn’t have to as she continued.
“It's you Adam who has shown me what a wonder love can be. I, too, love you more than words can say.” She rose to her tiptoes to kiss him again, slower but more deeply than even the last kiss before finally breaking free. She laughed. “You are so temping. No more. Let’s eat our meal; that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?”
An electric thrill shot through Adam’s back. His little Eve could apparently be quite the vixen too. He knew she was teasing him even with little things like the slit in her dress alone and he couldn’t wait to bed her. It was fine. He could play the game. Adam wasn’t a man to rush and lose. He only smiled, walking slowly back to his end of the table. He knew how to be seductive too. When he was finally able to truly get his hands on her, the games would end. He wasn’t sure he wanted them to. But they had to, soon. It had been too long and there wasn’t enough commerce in the world or a city Gentlemen’s Club big enough to buy what Eve could give him freely.
They shared the meal in mostly silence.
Finally, when both were through, Adam wiped his mouth with a linen napkin, staring at his future bride.
“Well, that was very tasty,” he said, laying his napkin over a nearly empty plate. “Are you through? I think now, might be a good time to show you your surprise, Evie.”
Eve smiled, pushing back from the table and pulling her own napkin from her lap, nodding.
Adam grabbed the half-empty wine bottle and said, “Bring your glass along and we'll go see.”
He turned to leave the dining room when Eve stopped him. “Wait, love. I want to bring my card.”
Crimson rose to his cheeks as he realized he had been about to leave her card on the table and had been too eager to bring her to the studio to stop to really wait for her.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, returning to the table and picking up the card. “Your beauty makes it nearly impossible for me to think.” It was true. It did. But it was nothing compared to the excitement that came from the surprise he had waiting her. That was screwing up his head…
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Erin Lee, who also writes as EL George, is a USA Today Bestselling multi genre author unafraid to chase the madness. Author of more than 100 titles and creator of Crazy Ink Publishing, LLC, she'll try anything once and never turns down a dare.