The Concept of Guru-dom

The concept of Guru-dom is not about what we call ourselves but how we do what we do when we share wisdom, expertise, and stories that help others. 

I’ve resisted the word Guru for years.  I don’t personally think of myself in that way and the very few people I’ve met in the world who have referred to themselves as ‘guru’s are often best avoided charlatans of one kind or another.   However, I’ve also met many really interesting people who are totally at the top of their game, blessed with so much knowledge, wisdom, expertise, and experience that it’s easy to see why others might refer to them using the G Word.

My work is with people like that who truly have a lot to share, and are ‘the real deal’. But what to call them? How is it possible to group these people under a word that actually conveys this. Competitions, brainstorming think-tanks and late night wine-fueled table talk have all yielded nothing better.  And so – I’m writing today about the very concept of what I have begun to refer to as ‘Guru-dom’.

Guru-dom (def.) is that state which highly knowledgeable, articulate experts use to share their wisdom for the benefit of others who seek to learn from them.

There are rules for those entering the world of Guru-dom such as:

Never refer to oneself as a ‘guru’.

Never refer to your own self using the G-Word because it’s just unnecessary. Real people with high levels of knowledge, wisdom, and experience to share are best to share it without being ego-driven.  Self-proclaimed Gurus are usually highly driven by ego.

Always speak your truth.

Always speak Truth because egg on the face of any enlightened talented expert is going to be continually icky.   Icky in a smelly rotten egg kind of way.  The kind of smell that lingers, follows you around and eventually catches up with you again someday when least expected or desired.

Share for the benefit of others freely and with a smile on your face.

Share for the benefit of others with a smile on your face simply because you feel drawn to share. It’s part of your life’s journey.  Don’t do it just for the money – by all means you should be paid, and well rewarded for sharing, but don’t hesitate to share for the good of sharing when there’s a chance to do so too.  That’s also how we can change the world… one smile and story at a time.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel!

If you are someone who should be part of the Guru-dom concept and the world of sharing, then it serves no one at all to be less than you can be.  It serves no one at all for you to hide your stories, tell only part of the story, or hold back on being the very best version of Continue reading

New Year, New Scripts

New Year’s Eve was spent with friends around a laden table, with much conversation, laughter, and love.   It was a happy time, and marked the end of an extraordinary year of transformation for me.  New Year, New Scripts was the topmost thought for me on New Year’s Day, as I reviewed last year, and contemplated all that I want to achieve in 2016, on top of what developed in 2015.

I recall 4 years ago another New Year’s Day with a good friend, creating my first ever vision board.   It has sat on my bedroom wall for all but the past year, but still readily visible in another room.   To my amazement I can check off every single item on the board – all has come to pass.   Does that mean I have spent the last few days creating a new one? I’d love to say yes, but the answer is no.   Instead I’m contemplating what I want for the rest of my life.

An associate passed away two days before the end of the year – and as she was similarly aged and career oriented as me, I found her death very confronting.  And so the rest of the week was spent thinking about all that I have, had, do, am, and ‘what next’?

One thing I’m noticing more and more is that manifestation is a lot easier than I ever dreamed possible long ago.  I now know with absolute certainty that I can do, have, be anything/anywhere/anyway I really want to be, so long as I really do want it, and truly believe it’s possible.    What does get in the way sometimes is old scripts running through my head about deserving, luck (not that I even believe in luck any more – I do believe in  being ready for opportunities though), and karma.  Is it my fate, or my karma to follow that idea to it’s natural conclusion… my head will argue with my spirit.  

Learning to control the arguments inside that really are a form of sabotage is my mission for now – so that I can focus on manifesting what I want next for my life.   Having experienced ‘all my dreams coming true’ on more than one phase of my life, I know that I can do that again… the challenge is knowing exactly what to ‘put out there’.

More meditation required – I’ll seek to find the answers within my heart.


Wrapping Up the Story

I’ve been trying for weeks to find the time to finish the book – The Mistress.   At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself.   The Reality is, it was starting to get difficult to find a way to wrap up the storyline and I kept putting it off.  What should have been quite easy, kept being put into the ‘Too Hard’ basket and before I knew it, another month had gone by and no further development of the story had happened at all.

That all changed this week.  I was driving along the highway thinking about the story, and the characters and realised that I needed to have the central character, Delta, take a very firm stand on what was happening to her, and that meant making a few changes to the recent chapters I’d written.  “Groan!”  that was my feeling on any re-writing options.   However, On reaching my destination on Thursday, I talked it over with a psychic friend of mine who helped me through the entire scenario – as though we were talking about real people in a real life and death situation.  It was so good having a fresh perspective by someone who also gets the concept of what I’m trying to do as a writer with this particular story.

Bang – everything just fell into place.

Sometimes talking over the situation and the outcomes we want can have unexpected benefits.  For me, the added bonus of discussing my book with Suzanne was an even deeper understanding of what actually happens when dark spirits are wreaking havoc with us – which does happen on a daily basis.

I’ve seen and experienced various levels of psychic attack over the years, and through that, wanted to help explain this phenomenon to my readers.   And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing this book as I’ve explored the subject.  Sometimes things really do go ‘bump in the night’ in unexplained ways, and it’s good to know that those funny (bad variety) of coincidences do often have some spiritual elements to them that once dealt with can help with our own ability to move forward on goal setting, relationship building, and much more.

Not all ‘dark energies’ are spirits, and not all spirits are poltergeists either.   Some of them are simply that – a dark energy.  Gaining an understanding of how these affect us and our environments is very helpful – don’t you think?

The Mistress is now due for completion in a few days, and then its off to be edited. That hopefully means it will be out and available in time for Christmas and southern hemisphere summer reading.   I’ll keep you posted.  However, if you are keen to know more about pre-ordering, I’ll have these details on my website in late October.

Meantime, enjoy reading the excerpts and feel free to leave any comments.


Inspiration in New York City

My challenge was how to create the very best experience over three days in the city of big dreams, New York City.   As a writer, I wanted to do the best job I could of finding a place to develop characters in a new book, from a complete outsider’s point of view.  So I was looking for inspiration in New York City as a first priority. Having never been to NYC before, I was excited about the many possibilities, but aware that three days was never going to be enough to do justice to such a trip.

First things first, I had to make a quick list of what I most wanted to do that were also romantic, and lucky for me, I was traveling with my fiance, and there were practically no restrictions to our budget.  The second part of the planning was to talk to people who had recently been there, and some who lived there.  Many friends had visited, but I called on the delightful and helpful Karen Jacobson, AKA The GPS Girl for her best recommendation.  Singer/songwriter Karen has lived in New York for about a dozen years now, does an online TV series called Navigating New York, and I just knew she’d have some great ideas.

Armed with a hotel reservation, and a couple of advance bookings we arrived late on a Saturday evening in early September.   Flying into Newark Airport was an unimpressive start, made worse by the eventual realisation we’d mixed up our town car booking.   But we then enjoyed our first Yellow Cab ride, and hastened slowly into Manhattan through the Lincoln tunnel, and into the heart of the city.   It was already 10pm when we arrived at the Waldorf Astoria, and checked in with the delightful help of Matthais – a young 20-something graduate with a big smile and a happy attitude that certainly suited his role.

Let me tell you about the Waldorf Astoria – a grand olde dame of an establishment so rich in history it features it’s own mini-museum.   Kings, queens, princes and princesses, along with movie stars and high ranking politicians all stayed there, and he photos on the wall even included a few multi-award winning musicians.   It was inspiring to think we may have been sleeping in a bed once enjoyed by ‘The Boss’ or Elizabeth Taylor, that is until we reached our room and realised that was highly unlikely.

Small, a little cramped and damp, and no view at all.   Off we went first thing in the morning to suggest a few things were not up to expectations, and we were promptly upgraded to a room that really might have been enjoyed by at least a talented millionaire or three through the years.  And of course Elizabeth Taylor would have had a ‘proper suite’. Too rich for us, but by now we had a fabulous view of Park Lane, a king size bed and bathroom, and generous living area to relax in for the next few days. It was expensive but sumptuous and we loved it!

We spent the better part of that first Sunday on a lunch cruise along the Hudson River, where the food was almost as good as the table service, and the views of the city were expansive.  The Statue of Liberty was majestic in the sunshine as she reflected the millions of camera’s pointed at her from the tourists at her feet.   We expected Ellis Island to be eerie and grim, but in fact it resembled an old hospital building and we’d not have known what it was unless it had been pointed out by our ship’s captain.

At the recommendation of some other passengers we headed towards the Chelsea Vintage Markets – not to be confused with the Chelsea Flea Markets, which we ventured into a the following day and found it to be missing a lot of the hype we’d anticipated.   The Vintage Markets were set in a small vacant lot, across the road from a four story upmarket antique store, and the bargains were exceptional to say the least.  So much so we had to be particularly careful we reserved enough money for our cab fair home afterwards.

To say the shopping in NYC is fantastic is a bit like saying Carrie Bradshaw likes shoes.   Not only is the famous Fifth Avenue everything a girl could hope it to be, but the major stores like Macys, Saks, Old Navy, and Bloomingdales are simply outstanding.   A trip to NYC would not have been complete without a few hours spent aimlessly wandering these iconic stores and walking away with a few well chosen wardrobe and gift items.

From the Gondolier outside the Boathouse Cafe, Central Park - HIGHLY Recommended for a special Date!

From the Gondolier outside the Boathouse Cafe, Central Park – HIGHLY Recommended for a special Date!

By the second day there we were hailing cabs like the locals – well almost.  A running tally of who was the most successful at this was and still is a constant source of amusement between us.   But cab rides were nothing compared to two other modes of transport we enjoyed in New York.  Karen Jacobson’s wonderful suggestion of a gondolier ride with an authentic Venetian/Brazilian gondolier named Jose at the Boathouse Cafe in Central Park was simply magic.   We followed this up by a romantic sunset dinner at the Boathouse restaurant overlooking the lake, then a horse and carriage ride around the park after dark, ending our perfect evening at the Plaza Hotel for late drinks.    What could be better than ticking off several bucket list items in one romantic evening with my Honey, who by the way had no idea of my advanced planning for that particular date night.

Our last day in New York dawned as bright and warm as the previous two days, and we decided to amble about the stores again before heading to the home of Liberty Helicopters for a planned 15 minute tour of the city by air.   Unfortunately this was the least exciting part of the trip, as the ride took more than an hour to queue for, and lasted only 12 minutes, with a very rapid view of the same area we’d seen from the Hudson River cruise two days before.  An expensive way to see the city and perhaps a better option would have been to hire a town car for a two or three hours personal tour.

The town cars all looked like they were from the set of Criminal Minds, and the drivers were bold looking blokes with firm attitudes and charming style.  Their willingness to please was the sort of customer service gurus write books about, and the two short trips we did take with Howie’s Limos was in air-conditioned comfort and very reasonably priced.   A certain snobbery exists between the cabbies and the town-car drivers, but then again, what industry doesn’t have an elite version that is protective of it’s status?

Our final evening was spent seeing a Broadway show – The Book of Mormon – which can only be described as the funniest show we’d ever seen and we can’t wait to go back and see it again.  This was followed by dinner two doors down in a charming Italian restaurant featuring a blind piano player serenading patrons with old jazz, and pasta that was out of this world.   The most interesting thing about the place however – aside from the wall of fame with photos of legendary celebrity dinners – was the bathrooms which were decorated to resemble an old Italian sidewalk in a quaint Tuscany village.   I actually went back for a second look and took my camera this time.   Talk about ambience!

The days sped by, and we packed a lot in, and  we chose not to do several things on our list that we’re saving for next time.  Like a Harlem tour with lunch, and museums and the Empire state building… the closest we got to the Rockerfeller Centre was the sidewalk due to Ellen filming there later in the day.   And we’d have surely gone to more Broadway shows had time allowed.

For anyone wondering if you can ‘do New York’ in only three days we say absolutely you can.   By not cramming too much in, and taking the time to really enjoy the spare time we had, book-ended each day with ‘a something’ or two, we managed to get a giant taste of what we want to go back and do again, or differently next time.   Most of all, by spending less time, and increasing our budget for the time we did have, we indulged in all the best ways we could think of, and that included some of the most iconic options such as the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue, and the Fabulous Boathouse Restaurant.

Would we do it again differently – probably not.   First impressions you only get once. New York made sure our first impressions were the kind of dazzling splendid I’d only ever dreamed about.  And I’m so inspired to ensure some of my experiences make it into my next novel, so stay tuned.   Although I might have to go back to check on place names? That’s a great excuse huh!


Builders and their Houses

Ok my hand is up – I’m guilty as charged.  Just like plumbers with leaky taps and builders with doors that stick, I’m guilty of not doing my own work first.  And that’s a big deal for me, because I constantly hear myself guide other writers to commit to writing at least a few words every day, or at least every week… and blogging is a great way of being able to do that with limited pressure to write ‘perfectly’ so it should be so easy.

Well it’s not!

Life takes over, and we get busy.  Stuff happens.  I’m not going to make excuses, but as we are now staring down the barrel of there only being 20 more weeks till the end of the year, I have to reprioritise this writing thing.

You see I have a plan.  It’s a good one. All writers should have a plan right!  My plan involves writing a minimum of five novels over three years and reaching that magical point where I have a real back catalogue of work.  Five being the number where for every book you write, that someone reads and loves, they might be so inclined to see what else I’ve written and buy those too.  (Last year I devoured about 20 Harlan Coben titles – my new favourite author and now I wait impatiently for every title he releases).

My plan is working out – but these last few months have been insanely busy as I’ve gone from being a part time writer to a ‘full time writer’ who is suddenly busier than ever with no excuses not to be writing every day and yet time just flies.

So – I’ve created a challenge for myself to write a minimum number of words every day for 30 days.   And sometimes my words will flow and sometimes they wont.  But overall I’ll get back on that horse and keep riding (writing) until I reach a few necessary destinations (finish at least one of the three books I’m writing!)

Yes THREE. And first off the block will be The Mistress – a chilling thriller romance, with a kick and a twist.  Early reviews are fantastic and I’m dying to finish it but it’s got a life of it’s own and keeps growing. Intended to be a short story, it’s now up to 50,000 words and still a chunk of writing to go yet.  You can read excerpts here if you wish.

Second is a business book I’m co-authoring with a friend who is also a business coach and we’re working on educating small business owners about getting the basics right before expanding and getting distracted.  This will be released very early 2016.

And book number three is a project I’m working on with a wonderful professional speaker friend from the USA who came up with a great idea and together we’re working on a life changing tale that needs to be told about children.  This one has me gripped by the throat and I can’t wait to finish it – as it keeps me awake at night writing in my head.

All three are destined to make readers go ‘wow’ and I’m confident in that.  But – first I have to finish them, edit them, review them, and plan their launches.

I better get busy huh!


PS – How do you cope with life getting in the way of your real plans – I’d love to know.

Inspiration to Write a Good Story

Ok I admit it – I’m insatiably curious about all kinds of things that are ooky and spooky, and a little bit wierd.   But – I’m still a regular normal everyday kinda person who most people think when they meet me, that I’m far too ‘regular’ to be ‘into all that stuff’.  But the reality is, I love ghost stories, experiencing spirituality close up, and learning all about life after (this) life too.

This is a world that offers so many stories and opportunities to explore what makes us get goosebumps or cold shivers. And that does not necessarily mean the kind that Stephen King writes about, but everyday things.

I’m talking about widows who keep feeling like their spouse is still lying in bed beside them, or having funny things happen every time you turn on the radio, or being haunted by disgruntled former lovers or friends who just want to finish things properly before they complete their own ‘crossing over’ phase of dying.  this was my inspiration for Beyond the Shadows, but also a chance meeting played a big part in starting that story.

I love helping people to understand how mediums work, what we see, how we experience and interpret interractions, and most of all I love helping to take the ‘woo-woo’ out of the every day ooky spooky stuff that many of us simply put down to weird coincidences or imagination.

For me, inspiration to write stories based on having some element of these things helps me to share what I’ve learned through dealing with death, spiritual residual energies, psychic attack, and friendly mischevous ‘ghosts’ in pretty much every day life.  There are so many curious people, and those who have passed away often do want to let us know they are still around in various ways and thatnearly always makes for a great story.

Inspiration to write is easy.  Writing is easy.  But finding time to write all the many stories I want to be able to share with my reaers… well that’s the real challenge!

Here’s what I have found helps me to write the many stories I start:

  1. Keep a file that is started stories – many are just the first few paragraphs or an outline of something inspired by an event, conversation, person or thing.
  2. Review that file and see what bubbles up when I’m ready to start a new story.
  3. Start writing and see if it flows.

Rinse and Repeat steps one to three.   Something like that anyway.   😉


How to Pick a Genre for Marketing Books

When asked what I write about, I often stumble over the genre, because it’s a bit complicated in my own head.   Partly this is because I have two distinct areas I work in; one being business/marketing non-fiction and expertise coaching.  This is where I’ve focused my work as a writer and speaker for a number of years now under the brand of Maria Carlton, so although I still work in this space, it’s my past and present.   The other genre is fiction, but it’s where I’m heading towards as my present and future focus.  Although it is arguable I could keep doing both.

My fiction is mostly stories with a hint of romance and real-life issues that are common to adult romance, but I also like to use my stories to help explain how various spiritual things work in the real world.   For example, I’ve written about how someone might cope with dying unexpectedly and finding their lives cut short.  I’ve also written about how mediums work and help both spirits and those still on this side.   And I’m currently writing a story that involves astral travel and lingering spirits who are already traveling and connecting with us in this world even before they pass away.

This story was inspired by my step father’s visit to me one afternoon while he was in the final stages of cancer, in hospital.   I was sure his visit to me meant that any minute my mother would call to tell the news that he’d gone, but in fact, he was only in a very deep sleep.   Having experienced the dying traveling this way again in more recent times I decided to share this through one of my stories.

I’m sure that if I simply put it out there that I write paranormal romance, that will immediately put me into a box that I don’t quite feel I fit into yet.  There’s so much more to my writing than that one narrow genre, and I know that many other authors feel the same way about their own direction and marketing of their work.

One of my favourity authors in the world, Diana Gabaldon is famous not only for her wonderful books, but for causing a lot of discussion by her publishers as to what kind of story (ie where in the stores would the book fit) her books are.   If you’ve followed the Outlander Series, you’ll know what I mean.  Diana’s books are about history, time travel, romance, war, and probably two or three other genres that various publishers could fit them into if they really tried.

As a writer, I’m not ready to just ‘pick a genre’ and that’s that.   I want to explore my own abiltiy to write outside the lines, but at the same time to always share some of what I’ve learned as a medium and spiritual translater with my readers.

Do you the reader find it easier to engage with an author based only on one genre, or do you like the range of stories he or she may write within a wider scope?

in terms of the question o f how to pick a genre for marketing books I’m keen to get feedback on this if you wish to share.

Author Toolbox

One thing that I’ve learned through nearly a decade of working in the book business, is that you can never have too much help to market your work.   So I’m going to share with you some of my favorite author tools – and some of these are recently discovered.

Firs: is far and away the VERY best landing page platform imaginable for authors. These make launching a new book so easy, and they look great too.   Check out how I’ve got my two books listed on this platform… HERE

Second: if you are into technology, or not even hugely so but know it’s a necessary way to bring customers to your door, then you have to spend some time on these platforms:

  • Amazon – create an Amazon Author page – it’s easy, powerful, and you’ll love what you can do with it to help drive book sales and awareness campaigns.
  • Twitter – yes it does work, yes it is worth working hard to get followers, and yes you do need to post regular updates on it.  This is not a passive platform, but when you work it well, it starts to really create buzz around your books.  My Twitter
  • Mobile Apps – I’ve had one of these for my business alter-ego Maria Carlton Marketing Coach for years, and it’s been a great way to ensure I could share information with clients and promote my brand to prospects, but since that was created the technology avaialble to create these apps has become outstanding.  I’ve just discovered COMO and within hours have created an app that features my books, my services, and my links to all other platforms I use for marketing.     You can check out my new Mobile App HERE  – all feedback welcome of course. 

One thing to remember is that people want to engage with you , and you want to reach out and engage with them.   These tools help you do this easily.   But you have to work on these constantly – just like that great novel you’re working on marketing is a constant work in progress.

And like my old mate Winston Marsh always says – you have to be a better marketer of what you do than a doer of what you do!




The Time It Takes to Write and Publish a Book

I’ve decided to become a full time writer.  Bliss! I am so excited about being able to keep on top of the many tasks associated with writing and publishing books.  But – The more time I have, it seems the more time is needed to fully keep on top of the writing, the marketing, the social media, the reviews, and the… oh the list is endless.

There are many romantic ideas people have about the life of a writer.  Imagining Ernest Hemmingway lifestyles of fishing, walking beaches, drinking away the hours with friends exploring philosophies. Oh yes, that’s the life for me you might think.  The reality is it’s about chaining yourself to your pad, laptop, or desk as you commit to a number of words per day, then make time to expand your Twitter followers, write and post blogs, read about new trends, further understand Amazon, read up the latest information from Kindle, and somewhere in a regular day remember to eat and take a shower.  Yes sometimes the work really can be all-consuming and many of us might surface from our work several hours after rising to the realisation we are both hungry and in need of dressing and greeting the world should it come knocking.

As with most things, a work/life balance is all about setting intentions, limitations, exploring potential, and knowing what you really want.   Sometimes compromise is your friend, and sometimes it’s not.  But, putting your craft as a writer to the front of your list of priorities each day does ensure one thing – output.  The more you commit to writing every day, the more you will  produce good quality writing, readable stories, and hopefully income.

For me, the decision to become a full time writer fills me with dread over the certainty of paying the bills, but also with rabid excitement at the idea of having the time I know I need.   To be able to become that writer who produces, earns, and becomes completely comfortable with all aspects of this wonderful career move.

There are no shortages of stories or inspiration.  I only hope the fingers on my keyboard can keep up with my mind.


Share the news…

I have a lovely and talented friend who is releasing her first novel tomorrow called Fraud and Fabrication (you can access details here) and it’s reminded me all over again just how incredibly time consuming launching a book can be.   Most people assume the writing is the hard part, but by comparison that’s actually pretty easy.  The ‘real work’ begins in many ways when time comes to launch and market your book.

Here’s a bit of a checklist leading up to launch day:

  • Order print on demand hard copies for some who really want ‘real books’ not ebooks.  And for review purposes.
  • Get onto Twitter and Facebook and keep telling everyone you know and hopefully they will share it organically with everyone they know so that you can start getting pre-sales build up.
  • Send it to a selected number of people who will review it for you.
  • Get those reviews happning on Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Twitter and Facebook again… and again… and again… and again…
  • Tell everyone you meet in the street about your book launching.
  • Ensure you have a copy with you at all times.
  • PRAY!!!  That people will have noticed your online and offline enthusiasm for your book launch and that some will actually BUY it and LOVE it enough to share it and encourage others to do the same.

That all might sound pretty easy – but getting through that list is hard work, frustrating at times, and nail biting stuff.

If you would like to know more about specifics of getting through this list then join me for a workshop on the 22nd February from 10 -4pm run by the Brisbane Writers Group where I’ll share lots of great marketing and online tips for getting your book launched.