My Interview with Voyage Dallas

Recently, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Voyage Dallas Magazine, a local magazine dedicated to the entrepreneurs and visionaries in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, metroplex. In the article, you’ll learn a little bit about my journey from musician to author to publisher, and what’s in store for the future!

Check out the article below!

Happy Birthday, The Promised One. You’re still my favorite.

I can’t believe it’s been a WHOLE YEAR since The Promised One made its debut in the world! What a year it has been!

In celebration, for one day only, you can get 36.5% off the signed edition of TPO on my website only! (36.5. Get it? 365 days. I mean, you get it, right?) #CleverMarketing

Just use the code TPOBIRTHDAY at checkout! Get your copy here! And if you already have one, pick one up for your friends!

I want to inspire you today.

I hear this a lot: “Gosh, Morgan, is there anything you can’t do?”

And I cringe when I hear it, to be honest, because DEAR SWEET JESUS, YES THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I CANNOT DO. Just the other night, I went to play Top Golf with my friends and, well, let’s just say I proved my ineptitude for anything remotely athletic. I’m a spaz, to be quite honest. While God may have gifted me in the artistic arena, he definitely did not see fit to bestow even an iota of coordination into my blood. Bless.

This is not a pity party. In fact, what I used to lament, I’ve come to be grateful for. Yes, in elementary school, it stung when the kids fought over who wouldn’t have to have me on their team that week.

“We had her last week! Y’all have to take her!”

Ouch.

(Yes, they actually said that.)

As an adult, I’ve come to be thankful for what I can do, and what I cannot. It’s okay to not be perfect at everything (my recovering inner perfectionist is currently shouting, “Yas, queen!”). It’s okay to only have a few talents. Find them. Then exploit them. As the great Dolly Parton once said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

~Dolly Parton

A Light Came On

So I found out who I am. After a long time, and taking inventory of all I’ve done and all that makes me tick, I finally figured out that at my core, I’m a storyteller. A writer. Yes, I’m also a musician and artist. But all my songs tell a story. So does all of my art. And words. Words are my favorite. When I figured that out, it was as if a veil had been lifted. I had spent the better part of my twenties pursuing a career in music, being terrified of the outcome the entire time.

Yes, I wanted to be a rock star. No, I did NOT want to be famous. And I couldn’t figure out why until I figured out who I was. When I realized that writing was my thang (misspelling intentional, people), a veil was lifted. A burden was removed. A light came on. I realized that all that music in me was really a result of the words I so loved. All that songwriting was a symptom of a bigger calling—writing.

I Figured Out Who I Am

Writing is what I love. A writer is who I am at my very core.

I used to joke that the only reason I passed college was because of my impeccable ability to b.s. my way through a term paper. And it was, for all intents and purposes, precisely true. But I still didn’t realize I was a writer. And for the better part of my life, the thought of writing a novel made me want to barf.

So in 2014 when out of nowhere, I wrote 3 novels in 3 months, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought I had lost my mind, or gone mad, or something like that. I’ll never forget the night when, in the midst of a powerful spring thunderstorm, my husband sat me down under the tin roof of our deck and asked me if I was okay. I was writing practically twenty-four seven. I couldn’t stop. It consumed me in a way that I didn’t understand at the time. In the pounding rain and wicked lightning, my husband and I had to wrestle with what was going on. Looking back, I think that was really a result of ignoring that part of me for so long. I think all that prolific writing was the overflow of a lifetime of stories dancing in my mind, just waiting to erupt.

We All Have To Start Somewhere

But that didn’t mean they were any good.

In fact, they were horrible. (Yes, the title of this post had a purpose. Here it is. You’re welcome.)

The first three novels I wrote were horrible.

I don’t mean that lightly. I mean that with all sincerity, hand on the Bible, cross my heart and hope to die. THEY. WERE. DREADFUL.

My poor husband and best friend martyred themselves and read them anyway, all the while stroking my ego and telling me what a pretty girl I am (okay, that’s sarcasm, but you get the idea). It gave me the gumption to keep writing. Keep refining. Keep working at my craft.

I joke nowadays that those three novels are so bad, not even God himself is allowed to read them. But do you know what they did? They taught me. I learned. I began really honing the craft of storytelling—particularly novel writing. They were a gateway to what became The Chalam Færytales. And they were bad. But they taught me to be better.

So be inspired today. You have a gift. You just might need to find it. Don’t worry—I was over thirty when I figured mine out. And even when you find it, it might need some refining. That’s awesome! Refine it! Work at it! Keep going, keep pressing in to that thing that makes you tick. Don’t stop. Don’t let time or age or fear or lack of knowledge or anything else stop you. Go. Do it.

You’ve got it in you.

Because maybe, just maybe, the world is waiting for that thing you have to offer.

The Secret of the Wings

I know… you’ve been asking. WHAT THE HECK ARE THOSE MOTHS?

Well, you see here’s the deal. You can find out what those moths are that plague Ferryl day in and day out. You can find out what is the deal with those butterflies that swarm the mountainside in The Purloined Prophecy. Or that mysterious wolf/butterfly sculpture in Chesedelle Castle.

You can find out by reading the lost novel of The Chalam Færytales.

And you can only read the lost novel on Patreon.

But as a treat, I’ve made the first chapter public. That’s right—you can read the first chapter of the lost novel for FREE right now! 

And if it whets your appetite to find out more… well, I can’t be responsible for that.

Or maybe I can.

*mwahahahaha*

Read Chapter One of the lost novel today!

 

What I’ve learned, what I’m changing, and what to expect for 2019 »

When I look back on this year, I have to admit that it has been full of surprises—some good, some not so good. As most of you know, my first novel was released into the world in January of this year, with the second following in October. It has been a whirlwind of learning curves and exciting moments (like when book two became a number one new release on Amazon), but all in all, I have enjoyed every minute of my first year in publishing, and I’m looking forward to 2019.

What I’ve learned »

If you’ve followed my journey at all, then you know that when I started writing The Promised One back in 2015, it was never with the intention of publishing. It was nothing more than a labor of love (or quite possibly a psychotic breakdown… I haven’t decided). But somewhere along the way, I knew I needed to share the journey with the world. So in 2017, I decided to pursue publishing.

I was bent on getting traditionally published. I queried until I was cross-eyed. And eventually I got a couple of bites on the novel. When I was offered a publishing deal, it felt like I had “made it.” “Arrived.” But funny enough, the more I looked into the deal, the publisher, and the industry at the time, the more I realized that I might be better off publishing myself.

So I did.

I turned down a major-market publishing deal to go indie. And I haven’t regretted it for one minute. There have been ups and downs, for sure, but all in all, I am glad that I retain all the rights to my work, that I control the branding and marketing, and that I get to decide what story I want to tell the world. I would have given all of that up with a publishing deal, and apparently I’m too much of a control freak to do that. Not to mention the publisher was only interested in my book. They had no mechanism to also market my music and art, which is an integral part of who I am and what I do. I did not want strangers owning a third of my brand, so indie was the best choice for me.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes a lot of learning, a lot of discipline, a lot of patience, and a lot of pulling up your boot straps. But it has been worth it. And I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to publish.

I’ve learned that not everyone you meet can be trusted.

A foray into partnerships with fellow authors that turned sour taught me to keep up my guard and not take people at face value so easily. Yes, it’s a bit cynical, but the bottom line is, when you have nothing, it’s easy to know who your real friends are. But when you have something, or at least the perception that you’re on to something, people come out of the woodwork. And not all of those people can be trusted. Since then, I’ve been much more selective about who I let into my inner circle, and who I trust with this business that I’m working my tail off to build from the ground up. A difficult lesson? Yes. But one much needed.

I’ve learned that everyone has an opinion, and not all of them are right for you or me.

Google how to publish your book, join a Facebook group of authors, or do any basic research and you’ll see that there is a wealth of information out there. And information, at the end of the day, is really just opinions. Some opinions are worth checking into, learning, even implementing. But most? MOST are rubbish. And people with little to no experience, or a flash-in-the-pan’s worth of success are quick to tell you what you should be doing. The bottom line I’ve learned… follow your gut.

I had many “experts” tell me not to use my book cover for The Promised One, for example. One even said it looked too much like a traditionally published book. 🤣I’m so glad I ignored that advice because more often than not, people tell me they bought my book because of its cover. And even Joel Tippie, an AMAZING cover designer for Harper Collins said my cover was awesome. Check out his thoughts here: (FF to about 25:30)

Yeah, that was a good day. So I’m glad in the end I went with my gut and ignored all those well-meaning opinions. I highly recommend you do the same, in whatever you pursue.

I’ve learned that the best way to help my brand is to help others.

I used to be like a cat—I’d sit in the corner and wait. If you wanted to come pet me, I’d let you, but I would certainly not come to you. Animal analogies aside, the truth is I’ve learned to be more like a dog—to seek out people to help, to be kind to, to build up, to promote. Why? Because it’s reciprocal. Because the more I give, the more return I see. And the best part? What started off as a bit of a selfish motive has ended up being a huge reward. I love meeting new people in all my social arenas. I love hearing their stories, following their blogs, learning about their journeys. It inspires me, teaches me, challenges me. The more I support other authors and artists, the more I find support. It’s a sweet cycle that I’ve enjoyed discovering.

What I’m Looking Forward To »

As 2019 approaches, I am gearing up for some pretty interesting experiments, as I’m calling them. With ever-changing, enigmatic algorithms on the likes of Amazon and Facebook, coupled with a growing pool of millions and millions of books and art flooding the market, the reality is, it’s getting harder to be indie.

So I decided to try something potentially crazy.

For all of 2019, I am not going to buy ads. Not a single one. No Facebook ads, no Amazon ads, no Instagram ads, no YouTube ads, no Goodreads ads. None. Instead, I’m going to focus all of my efforts on grassroots marketing, expanding on the principle above of helping others. I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve on how I’m going to do that, which I’ll expound on in future posts. But I figure I’ve got nothing to lose. And maybe, just maybe, if I can find a way to expound on my success without ads, then when I’m ready to start buying them again, I’ll have an even more solid, larger foundation on which to build.

We’ll see.

Be sure to follow me here on the blog to see how the journey is going! (You can sign up for my newsletter and never miss another post!)

And if you haven’t yet, join my Fantasy-loving group over on Facebook. You’ll see what I’m talking about in this group—authors and readers working hand-in-hand. Plus you’ll get lots of recommendations for great new reads!

Book 3 of The Chalam Færytales »

So many of you ask me on a daily basis… “When is book 3 coming out?” Well, I am excited to say that as of now, book three is slated for a July 2019 release! I can’t give you many details on it yet, but sufficient to say… I AM LOSING MY MIND OVER THIS BOOK. (This is a good thing… I think.) Seriously, I am so proud of this story and where it’s going. And just a heads up, if you love Michael and Delaney now… just you wait, Henry Higgins. JUST. YOU. WAIT. *grins wickedly*

Well, that’s all for now. Be sure to sound off in the comments and tell me what you’re working on for 2019. I want to hear all about it!

As always, all my love,

Morgan

 

I see this a lot in my reader groups: people (particularly girls) asking for recommendations of novels with strong female leads. And then inevitably, fifty people comment with various novels they love and recommend. And almost exclusively, the novels feature ass-kicking women with hyper-masculine tendencies and abilities that somehow mark them as “strong.”

And inevitably, I roll my eyes.

Now let me just say that I will be the first to admit that I’m a Sarah J. Maas fan, and she is the queen of writing ass-kicking female leads. And I am fully aware of the hypocrisy of my own stance here for even liking her books. But I will just say that any trope, when written well, can be overlooked. Even enjoyed.

But…

It’s still a trope. And it’s one I think we should address.

In today’s society, gender is almost a bad word. There’s a chasm between those who think gender is binary, and the other side who is shouting with ever-louder bellows that gender is much more than we’ve defined before. And for the sake of my own sanity, I won’t get into the nuances of that argument, except to say this: I believe gender is both binary and varied. And I believe that’s what makes humanity beautiful.

Because there are plenty of men who love ballet and art and cooking and reading and playing the piano and performing and [insert any defined “feminine” hobby or preference here]. There are plenty of men who cry at a great movie, who are tender and compassionate, who are not afraid of their emotions. And they are no less masculine for it. Because masculinity has nothing to do with what you enjoy, nothing to do with your personality, and everything to do with innate responses to the world around you.

And the same goes for females. As far as the pink-loving, glitter wearing, ruffle-clad gender norms are concerned, I am not the typical female. My favorite color is black. I like to hunt and fish. I’d rather be in the mountains. I don’t wear high heels. My cuticles look like crap most of the time.  I can’t stand most romantic comedies. And my favorite movie is Braveheart. Yet I am fully female and fully feminine and I am glad to be. I don’t consider femininity weak, lesser, or of any less value than masculinity.

So it really bothers me when modern culture purports that in order for a woman to be strong, she must take on masculine characteristics. Like it or not, women are, by nature, physically weaker than men. We are not capable of the feats most men are. Of course there are exceptions. Of course. But as a rule, my husband can do more physically than I can. And that does not make me weak. It makes me different. Because believe me, there are plenty of things I can do that he cannot.

So when authors write female leads who can fight like a man and take down most of them, it bothers me. (If you’re a Maas fan, I know you’re probably saying, “But Morgan, Aelin [Throne of Glass] is also feminine! She loves dresses and chocolates and pretty things and…” Yeah. I know. But I would argue that it is not a love of dresses that makes one feminine. Why can’t a man have an appreciation for fashion? Why does that make him less masculine? Why can’t a woman not have an appreciation for fashion? Does that make her any less feminine?) Why should the ability to fight like a man mark a woman as strong enough? Why shouldn’t innate nurturing and empathy be marks of strength? (I won’t even go into childbearing, childbirth, and child rearing. Because God help us if a man ever had to experience a contraction. But I digress.)

Let’s flip this coin and look at it from another perspective. My husband cannot and does not see the world the way I do. He does not consider the reasons behind what people do first—he considers whether or not what someone has done is a reason for recourse. Protection first. Consideration second. But not me. As a woman, I default to considering the why behind actions first. I stop to think about what makes people the way they are, and often that leads me to give grace and mercy before acting. And likewise, it often leads me to advise my husband to do the same. Where his instinct is to protect first, mine is to nurture first.

And both of things are good. Of equal importance. And equally strong.

I don’t need to kick ass in order to prove my strength. My husband does not need to watch a rom-com in order to prove his sensitivity. We can be different—complimentary—and be at our best. Strong. Beautifully nuanced.

It became my heart’s anthem to find a way to convey this genuinely. I wanted to show what I’ve learned from my own marriage—that complimentary qualities are better when they’re together. And that inherent masculinity is strength just as much as is inherent femininity.

It’s the very reason I wrote Elizabeth (the main character in The Promised One) to be the way she is. She speaks her mind. She does not think of Ferryl as superior or stronger or better. Nor does she think of herself as superior or stronger or better.

They are equal.

*Gasp.* What a concept.

My two main characters are equal. Partners. Masculinity and femininity working together. Side by side. Not in front or behind. And as their story progresses, you see this more and more. Without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t read it yet, I will simply say that their story is one of showing how feminity is its own kind of strength, just as needed and powerful as a man. And it has nothing to do with high heels and dresses and ribbons and bows. It’s a story that shows how we were designed to compliment each other, not vie for the title of “strongest.”

Perhaps that’s the whole point. Because perhaps femininity and masculinity are stronger when they’re together.