Posts Tagged ‘author’

Truthful Takes on Being Richard | The Review Board.

10 star review for Being Richard!

Absolutely thrilled to receive such a positive review for my paranormal thriller Being Richard.

Being Richard by Toni Allen

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If anyone’s wondering whether I’ve fallen off the planet…the answer is yes, but only temporarily.

Last weekend 13th to 17th Sept I decided to do a bunk and take off to glorious Dorset in the West Country to spend the entire weekend writing my latest novel. It’s a self made writers’ retreat. I sit in my tent and write while my partner makes all of the meals. Bliss. We go for a few leisurely walks together and I take lots of time to plot my novel and get all creative.

The weekend tentHere it is, the little tent we bought for our weekend getaway.

So far so good, it’s a plan. Driving down to Dorset, some hundred miles from home, was frustrating. It was raining and for some inexplicable reason the traffic was dreaful. A two and half hour journey took four and a half hours. Not to worry, we had plenty of music and snacks in the car to keep us entertained.

Arriving at the camp site the heavens broke and it chucked it down. Not to worry, it’s only a little tent and easily erected. Now, did I mention that this was a new tent? Yep, we hadn’t checked it and one of the poles was broken! Never mind, we can ask the camp site owners for help. Fortunately they know us well and had some poles they’d salvaged from the bins and one of the fitted. By nightfall our litle tent was up and we were on the phone to the Chinese takeway ordering masses of food to be delivered while we dried out.

Excellent. I sat and wrote and wrote, my novel flowing easily. We didn’t care that it rained and the wind battered the tent, insde we were safe, dry and happy.

On Tuesday we broke camp, laughing as it continued to rain and saying what an excellent weekend we’d had. We’re easily pleased.

I know the route home like the back of my hand, that is until the police close a road and we head off down country lanes to goodness knows where. Okay, so we got to see a lot of roads and towns I’d never encountered before, but some hour after being diverted I see a road I recognise and we’re back on track.

Happy, happy we stop at a Little Chef for a rest and a snack. We’ve had a great weekend and I’ve written thousands of words for my novel.

It’s the home run, only forty or so miles to go. Outside Winchester I stop at a roundabout, knowing that my car under heavy load won’t outrun the vehicle approaching on the roundabout. We appear to be the only two cars on the road. Then. Wallop! Shock! A vehicle has hit the back of my car, shunted us forwards, flipped my head backwards and forwards. I can’t believe it! Where on earth did he come from?

Stepping out of my car I do the right thing and exchange insurance details, blah, blah even though my head is reeling and I feel like I’ve been punched into the middle of next week. My car’s a little 4X4 so there’s minimal damage, the spare wheel on the back taking most of the blow.

Traffic builds up and the police cruise by to make sure we’re all okay and once the formalities are over I drive to a quiet road and go, ‘I just need to shake off the shock for a while.’ Eventually I decide I’m up to driving the rest of the way home, but I need to take several breaks.

Once home I call a friend to take me to A&E to get checked out and after many hours of waiting I’m told that I have whiplash and can expect to feel worse the following day and should rest up for at least two weeks. That is not what I intended doing with my life, trust me.

In hopital they give you a useful information leaflet about whiplash symptoms, so that you know what to expect and what creates more cause for concern. ‘Mild headache (feels like someone’s hit me with a sledge hammer), feeling sick (without vomiting), dizziness (so which way is the floor?!), irritability or bad temper (who me?!!!), problems concentrating or problems with memory (Why did I walk into this room?), tiredness (Yawn), lack of appetite or problems sleeping (Nope, I’ve eaten more than usual and slept longer).

So if anyone’s wondering why I haven’t answered their blog post, please accept my apologies. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible once the brain redocks with the mothership!

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’50 Shades of Grey’ movie: How will it work on the big screen? – Movies News – Digital Spy.

I kept trying to ‘Press This’ and include the article but I was errored out with a message saying the file was too large. But hey, we all know by now what I’m talking about. Don’t we?

Yes, they are going to make 50 Shades of Grey into a movie. The big question is, would you have cast Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey? It’s the question that’s tripping from everyone’s lips and Google is hot with the search term, ‘who is Charlie Hunnam?’ Ahh! It’s him, the blonde boy Nathan from Queer as Folk…never much fancied him then and I, personally, can’t see that his sex appeal has grown much since he was a faye eighteen year old.

I have to be absolutely honest and admit that I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey. Yes folks, I am out of the loop here. I have, however, dutifuly used Amazon’s search inside to read the opening chapter and discover what it’s all about. In that first introductory piece I met Mr Christian Grey and developed a picture in my head of what he looked like. He wore an expensive suit and was very suave. My interest was piqued. I could envisage him as sexy…according to my own parameters of sexual attractiveness.

So, now they’ve cast Charlie Hunnam in the role, and apologies to all Charlie Hunnam fans out there, but he isn’t a guy who gives me the hots. Disappointing. I often watch a really good movie and say, ‘pity the lead wasn’t sexy,’ or on a  bad day, ‘oh my god that guy’s really ugly, who chose him to play super smooth romantic lead?!’

This is the fundamental difference between a book and a movie. With a book, regardless of the author’s physical description of the sexy man, we are free to elaborate and embellish according to our own ideals…and desires. With our imagination we make him the hottest man in town. He is divine, he is ours, he is perfect. In a movie we are dealt up a so called ‘ideal’ and encouraged to believe that this is a sexy man, because that is what the producers would like us to believe, because that is what will sell their film.

It’s the same old connundrum. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I write novels and one day after my friend had finished proof reading a few chapters for me I said, “I have to be a little in love with all of my main male characters. I have to find them attractive enough to take to bed, or I really can’t connect with them.” She grinned and said, “I noticed. They are very sexy men.” She picked that up from my writing style, even though these are not romantic leads, they are just strong male protagonists. I’m teasing and alluring my audience with the promise that there might be more.

This is the power of the imagination, our ability to fullfill our desires by dreaming up the perfect man…or woman. Can a film satisfy that desire by telling us to find this man or woman sexy? Not for me. Will the 50 Shades of Grey film work? Will they create enough hype pre-release to have us storming to the cinemas? We wait, we see.

In the meantime enjoy your fantasies, nobody can create a movie as perfect as you can on your own internal screen.

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Being a writer is never easy – or – what is going on with KDP accounts department?


Ok, so we all know that being a writer is never easy. Around working full time I write; both for the personal pleasure of writing; and with my tarot books the pleasure of sharing my knowledge with other people. Like so many other writers these days I Indie Publish. That’s all well and dandy, but as many of you are aware Indie Publishing entails a lot of hard work. First off, creating the written work. Next, formatting the book and designing a cover. Lastly, working on publicity. It’s a tough old trek but it needs to be done.

I sense many of you nodding in agreement, sighing and applauding, because you too Indie Publish, so you completely understand the hard work involved.

Again, this is the path we take, and this is what we expect in order to achieve some modicum of success. We don’t necessarily expect to make millions, but, as with every work project in life…it is nice to get paid.

I live in the UK, so the payment problem all people Indie Publishing in the UK encounter is the IRS. Yep, the tax man. Only the IRS is the US tax man, not the UK tax man. In order not to fall fowl of the IRS one has to go and get an ITIN, an International Taxpayer Identification Number. In order to obtain one of these I had to fill out a W-7 form and go to a notary and pay to have him stamp the document and legally state who I am. I first obtained my ITIN back in 2007.

So, now I have my ITIN, my most important magic number.

The next step is to fill out the form W-8BEN for each company I publish with in the US, which is a legal declaration stating that I do not reside in the US; and for this document they need to know my ITIN. This is brilliant, and means that now that the company has my W-8BEN on file they do not have to withhold tax in the US and I can pay tax in my own country. Yippee!

Not so fast. This is all well and good until the company I Indie Publish with loses it!

First Lulu had a shuffle around with their website and I received an email stating that they would be withholding tax. Hang on guys. I sent you my completed W-8BEN back in 2007 and you haven’t been withholding tax since then, so why now? Okay, so you can’t find it on record. So why haven’t you been withholding tax? It’s no good, you cannot argue with the IRS, you just have to swallow it down and fill the form out again. Sorted.

Next Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP, took a turn in flagging up a lack of W-8BEN. They emailed me. I emailed back stating that up until this point they hadn’t been withholding tax because I’d sent in my W-8BEN a few years back. Tough, you can’t argue with the IRS; if Amazon KDP accounts department say they don’t have it, then you just have to fill out another one and send it off to the US. I did what they wanted. After a few weeks I received an email saying I hadn’t ticked a box. For goodness sake, it’s only a box repeating the same stuff that I’d already said! Just tick it. No, we are acting on behalf of the IRS and we cannot do that, please fill out a completed W-8BEN. I swallowed down ever harder. I sent a new one off.

A few weeks later I received a confirmation email that they had received my completed W-8BEN and that it was in order, and that they would stop withholding tax. Terrific!

Now, if you also happen to publish through KDP you’ll note how difficult it is track your sales against when you get paid as the payments are all in arrears. Checking it all through is like walking in treacle. Okay, so I continued to receive payments, but I didn’t receive any lump sum as a payment for the withheld tax. I tried to put my clever mathematician’s hat on, but, like I said, I work and sometimes I just don’t feel like doing complicated sums at the end of a busy day.

I have an email on file confirming their receipt of the dreaded W-8BEN so you can imagine my horror this morning when I went across to KDP to check on sales only to have a giant red mark against my account saying, “If you do not fill out your tax form immediately your account will be closed and you will be banned from publishing with KDP,” or words to that effect. Shock! I nearly choked on my morning cuppa!

I clicked the link and KDP walked me through a series of questions that began to sound very familiar. Do I reside in the US? Do I own any business in the US? Do I have an ITIN? Would I give permission to electronically sign my document? Okay, okay, I agree, sign whatever this is for me. Right at the end my heart sank. The completed form was the now hated W-8BEN. Unbelievable!!!

This isn’t an IRS issue, this is an Amazon issue. Their accounts department obviously don’t know who is doing what. I send it in and one department records it. The next team of people can’t locate it. I send in a new one, they file it…but they obviously didn’t process it against my account. It’s not that you can’t argue with the IRS, it’s that you can’t argue with Amazon.

Being a writer is never easy, especially when publishing with KDP. Not only do you have the writing, formatting, cover and publicity to deal with, you also have Amazon’s inept accounts department taking up your time by making you fill out and send in the same form over, and over, again…before you can get paid in full.

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The paperback edition of Being Richard is now available and has 25% discount direct from Lulu.

Being Richard is available from Amazon US  |  Amazon UK for Kindle and in paperback. iTunes and from Lulu

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot from iTunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price)

Kindle UK  Kindle US Paperback Amazon UK  Paperback Amazon US

Also on Nook and other platforms


The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot

System of Symbols cover

Available from Kindle UK  Kindle US ITunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price) Also on Nook and other platforms.

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I’ve never been a great fan of the Waite deck. Perhaps that’s because my first introduction to tarot cards was through the symbols on the Marseille deck; and because they’re ancient symbols I’ve always classed them as the real deal. Sure, I’ve studied the Waite deck, but I’ve never felt comfortable with it. I’ve never been happy about his ‘correction’ and thus transposition of Strength and Justice. Let’s remember, he was in The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret occult society, where only those in the inner sanctum were permitted certain knowledge. So why did he suddenly publish such a big ‘secret’ for the masses to discover? Or was he trying to confuse us and make the tarot unusable as the sequence is out of synchronisation?

The big Strength/Justice debate is for another post, because today I want to explore the symbolism of The Fool and how reading the card using the Waite deck you can get a vastly different interpretation than by using the Marseille deck.

Let’s start by looking at the two symbols side by side.

Marseille and Waite Fool

Marseille and Waite Fool

To fully understand the Marseille tarot image we need to know a little bit about medieval lifestyle and symbolism. Nearly everyone thinks the dog has bitten the Fool and ripped his trousers. Bad doggie! Not so. In medieval times villages had a dog that would bark and shoo away strangers, which is what the dog in this picture is doing. It’s a warning, not an attack. The dog is saying ‘you’re not welcome here, you’re an outsider.’

Does the Fool care that he’s an outsider and doesn’t fit in their society? Not at all. The fact is that his trousers aren’t ripped at all. In medieval times each leg of men’s hose/trousers were held up separately and if you wanted to do the modern day equivalent of sticking two fingers up at someone you’d drop one side of your hose and show them your bottom. It’s a poo poo. It’s saying ‘Up yours,’ and ‘I don’t need to be a part of your society.’

If you look closely at the image of the Fool you’ll note that he’s walking on firm ground and using his stick to lean on and guide him. In tarot a stick is a baton/wand and this symbolises that he’s relying on his own nature to see him through. His head is tilted up slightly and there’s a suggestion of pride in being himself. He knows who he is.

He has a bag slung over his shoulder (and please don’t get too bogged down in the fact that he’s holding in his left hand and it’s over his right shoulder, because this image is redrawn from a wood-block and stencil deck, and those wood-carvers made many, many minor mistakes, which they later fudged over) and we don’t know what he has in that bag, apart from the fact that it’s what he needs to sustain him. Most likely food for his journey. It’s a secret, but he’s travelling light and has everything he needs to get by.

This version of the Fool shows him to be independent, a free spirit, a free thinker, and unburdened by the need for physical possessions.

Now let’s look at the Rider Waite Fool.

Waite Colman-Smith Fool

When looking at the Waite deck it’s useful to know, not only that Waite was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, but that the artist Pamela Colman-Smith was an illustrator, mainly of posters and children’s books, and also designed theatre costumes. This gave Colman-Smith a rich background of stories to fire her imagination; and it’s said that she was natural story-teller, which would have made her popular in the days before T.V. and radio.

Waite-Smith have their Fool holding his head high too, but so much so that he isn’t paying any attention at all and is about to walk off a cliff. Suddenly personal pride is turned into vain arrogance, and stupidity. Well, they do say that pride goes before a fall.

There’s no naked bottom poo-pooing going on here, in fact the Fool is well dressed, and quite a dapper fellow. Waite described them as “gorgeous vestments.” The little dog is now white and cute looking, not a threat at all, with a much greater suggestion of it being a faithful friend who’s barking and warning him of the danger ahead. The dog has become the voice of his conscience, warning him to wake up and pay attention. Yet the Fool is oblivious, happy in his own tra-la-la world. Waite describes this as, “His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream.” Personally I’m not so sure of the intelligence, but I will agree with the dream. If we’re focused on our internal visions then we are not paying attention to the world around us.

He no longer leans on a stick, so there’s no suggestion that he relies on his own true nature, instead he holds a white rose high in his left hand, most likely a symbol of his beliefs; possibly The Societas Rosicruciana of which Waite was a member.

The other symbol of importance in the image is the radiating sun up in the top right hand corner. If you give a group of people a piece of paper and ask them to draw mountains and the sun, most of them will position the sun up in the top right hand side of the image. Now, why is this? As human’s we unconsciously acknowledge the right as going forwards, and the left as going backwards. Future and past. Therefore placing the sun to the right is a sign of hope and a desire to go forwards, while if it’s positioned on the left there’s a desire to re-live the past. The Waite-Smith Fool’s sun is positioned to the right, but the Fool is facing away from it and heading to the left, the past. He is turning his back on the future. By comparison the Marseille Fool is walking to the right, towards the future.

Arthur Edward Waite was a very clever man, and I often wonder if he was trying to hoodwink us with these designs and hide the truth, or whether he let Pamela Colman-Smith get on with creating pretty pictures and then made up interpretations for them. In The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, which was originally published as a pamphlet to go with the boxed set of cards, Waite says, “His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height.” Personally I don’t buy into his explanation for the Fool looking like he might step over the edge at any moment. It’s a poor excuse.

Unlike Crowley, who was very vociferous about teachings, Waite liked to keep his cards close to his chest and wrote very little about each tarot card design. He never wrote anything about why the cards had the images Pamela Colman-Smith designed and his explanations in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot are at times flaky to say the least. Let’s face it, Waite didn’t like to share his secrets, or at least he wasn’t in the habit of sharing them on paper.

With any tool we use we have a choice of manufacturer, quality and design. It’s the same with Tarot. We’re all individuals so we choose the pack of Tarot cards that appeals to us at a personal level, and using Tarot is a highly personal experience. If you read the image alone and are not familiar with the meanings of numbers and how the system of tarot works as a whole, then you will end up seeing the Fool as foolish and dreamy if you use the Waite deck, and bold and free if you use a Marseille deck. Ultimately, the choice is yours…but I know which I prefer.


For beginners and more experienced tarot readers I have two books available in many popular formats.

Ever wondered what the Fool tarot card means in a tarot reading about sex and relationships? Find out in…

Sex & Tarot

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot from iTunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price)

Kindle UK  Kindle US Paperback Amazon UK  Paperback Amazon US

Also on Nook and other platforms

The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot

System of Symbols cover

Available from Kindle UK  Kindle US ITunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price) Also on Nook and other platforms.


If you’ve enjoyed this article please follow my blog so that you’ll be kept up to date when I post new articles and tarot interpretations. If you’re not on WordPress come along and follow me on Facebook ToniAllenAuthor or @listansus. Come along and follow me anyway, it would be great to meet you.Toni Allen Logo

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I’m currently working on a new tarot book aimed primarily at people beginning to learn tarot. One of my aims in writing my book is to simplify various elements of tarot and help beginners see how the cards work together in a reading. Currently it’s a work in progress, but while writing a lot of ideas are filtering through as to what elements of tarot reading people find most difficult to grasp.

System of Symbols coverI’ve been teaching tarot for many years and one thing I’ve noticed is that finding the right tarot spread is often a confusing journey when starting out as there are so many spreads to choose from. What students are looking for is a spread that is easy to use, and can be quickly built upon to create an in-depth tarot reading. Many of the people I have taught have found the tarot spread I devised and outline in my book The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot becomes the spread they continue to use because with practise it is very easy to understand and make your own.

My new book is going to teach a really simple tarot spread, with lots of comprehensive guidelines on how to fully understand how the cards work together…but that book isn’t completed yet. In the meantime I’d like to share an excerpt from The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot on how to lay out a tarot spread.

Tarot Spread

First the shuffle

There is much ritual written and expressed about the keeping of Tarot Cards and the shuffling and cutting of the cards in preparation for a reading.  Although I have many packs, which I use for teaching purposes, I keep one pack especially for readings.  Some people say that Tarot Cards should be wrapped in silk to protect them from negative vibrations, or perhaps kept safe and sacred in a wooden box.   Each to their own, nothing is right and nothing is wrong.  Mine are kept in the same cardboard box they came in, their protection….respect.  They are only taken from their box to be used for a reading.  They are kept shuffled in a mixture of upright and reversed, and never stacked in order for teaching purposes.  I do not let students handle them for study; or take them to lectures or workshops, where they might become “sorted”.  I call them my “working pack.”

I do not start a reading until my client and I are sitting comfortably, opposite each other across a low table.   I take the cards and shuffle them while asking the client if there is any specific reason why they have felt the need for a reading.  They do not have to give a specific answer, a simple “yes” they have a problem, or “no” they’ve never had a reading before and have come out of interest, will suffice.   I then hand the client the cards and request they shuffle them.  When they have finished I ask the client to place the cards on the table and cut them with their left hand.  I then ask the client to place the bottom part of the pack on the top and hand them to me.   The reason for asking the client to pass me the cards is that if they put them on the table and I pick them up then I am making a decision about which way round the pack is used.  This crucial determination must remain with the client.  It’s useful to practice both disciplines initially to see what occurs.  For example, let clients place the pack on the table and see just how many lay it sideways on, unable to make a decision about which should be its top or tail.  Then investigate asking clients to pass you the pack, and watch just how many people unconsciously turn the pack around 180 degrees, so that the end initially facing you is now facing away.

Tarot spread

The Initial Spread

Once the shuffle and cut are complete it is time to lay out the first six cards of the spread.  I start by placing them face down, then explain the meaning of their positions before turning over only the first five cards to start with.  See diagram.

Positions 1 & 2

These cards sit in the centre of a downward axis representing the present time in the questioner’s life.  I call them “the central pivot point” of the current situation.  Card number 2 crosses card number 1 and by its symbolism will indicate whether it is helping or hindering something at the core, or heart, of the situation.

Position 3

This card also sits on the axis of the present time and represents “the mind;” which includes thoughts, aspirations and desires.  It quite simply suggests what is on the questioner’s mind and might additionally indicate what they would like to happen, or intend to happen.

Position 5

Again on the line of the present time, but this time representing the “physical world,” that which is manifest, or happening in the questioner’s life.

Position 4

This card represents “the past,” but it is that part of the past which has helped create today.  We are working in the realms of cause and effect, where every action has a reaction somewhere in the future.  This card of “the past,” can therefore indicate the cause behind current circumstances, early conditioning or obstacles which have been overcome.  On occasions it indicates residue from previous incarnations which has created present life karma.

Once the questioner has recognised that these initial five cards are relating to their life and personal circumstances I turn over card number 6.

Position 6

This card represents “the next step in the future.”
I then take cards from the top of the pack and place them in positions 7 to 12.

Tarot Spread

Positions 7 to 9

These cards sit on the top line and continue to represent “the mind,” and the client’s thoughts and wishes on the problem as the future unfolds.

Positions 10 to 12

Likewise these cards sit on the bottom line and continue to represent “the physical world,” and what happens as the reading unfolds in the future.
I then take cards 13 and 14 from the top of the pack.

Positions 13 and 14

Cards 13 and 14 continue to represent the future unfolding, the base card once again either being helped or hindered by the actions of the top card.

Once these cards are laid I spread the entire pack out, face down, and ask the questioner to take further cards, to either add information to what is already there or proceed into the future.  At this point cards can be taken in response to questions, either concerning what has already been outlined or other issues.
This spread is fundamentally simple and very easy to use.  Practice will bring confidence and show you endless possibilities.  Each card will slightly change according to its position in the spread; for example a card depicting sorrow will symbolise hidden sorrow when appearing in the line of “the mind,” and open grief when seen on the line of “the physical world.”   Continue to build upon this theme and you will find that a card showing sorrow in “the mind” might well be directly above a card on the physical level showing happiness.  Thus you will be able to deduce that your client is inwardly very unhappy but puts on a smiling face to their family or friends, who probably don’t know how unhappy the client really is.


For beginners and more experienced tarot readers I have two books available in many popular formats.

Ever wondered what the Moon tarot card means in a tarot reading about sex and relationships? Find out in…

Sex & Tarot

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot from iTunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price)

Kindle UK  Kindle US Paperback Amazon UK  Paperback Amazon US

Also on Nook and other platforms

The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot

System of Symbols cover

Available from Kindle UK  Kindle US ITunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price) Also on Nook and other platforms.


If you’ve enjoyed this article please follow my blog so that you’ll be kept up to date when I post new articles and tarot interpretations. If you’re not on WordPress come along and follow me on Facebook ToniAllenAuthor or @listansus. Come along and follow me anyway, it would be great to meet you.authorsdb_badgeToni Allen Logo

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As part of the All Authors Blog Blitz I worked alongside the delightful Kevin Hardman who interviewed me on his blog. One of the genres that Kevin writes is “superhero” and this piqued my interest in his work because as a child I always had my nose stuck in comic books. My favourite superheroes were Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Batman. When reading Batman I was always so excited by the cool words like Kapow and Wham springing from fists in jagged outlines when our hero was having a fight.This, no doubt, helped expand my vocabulary!

With my love of Superheroes I invited Kevin Hardman for an interview to find out more about the man behind a new superhero.

Kevin Hardman book covers

Tell us a little about your background Kevin.

Well, on a personal level I come from a large family.  I’m one of seven kids, which was great because I enjoyed having a lot of brothers and sisters. It made growing up a lot of fun.

From a professional standpoint, I work in an office environment. I have several degrees, which once resulted in a friend jokingly commenting that I had more letters after my name than actually in it. At the moment I enjoy what I do, but I wouldn’t be adverse to writing full-time.

What led you to become an author?

Like a lot of authors, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of reading.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to read.  Regardless, it was my love affair with books that eventually turned my thoughts to writing one of my own. In fact, I wrote my first story – a contemporary short – around the age of nine.

After that, I didn’t really do much writing again until college. I wrote a few short stories during that time, but didn’t seriously turn my hand to it until after I graduated.  At that juncture, I tried to get some of my work published but received the usual round of rejections that most authors are familiar with.

Some time around then, I began writing movie screenplays. I’ve always been a big fan of movies and – like most other moviegoers – I’d seen one-too-many terrible films that left me thinking, “I can do better than that!”  Eventually, I was able to get an agent, and some of my scripts supposedly found their way into the hands of some recognizable people.  Unfortunately, I never sold anything, and eventually my agent and I parted ways.

I really didn’t attempt to write anything for a long time after that (mostly because I went back to school for another degree and then started working), but eventually the urge became too strong to ignore so here we are.

What subjects do you write about?

Historically, my favorite genre has always been fantasy/sci-fi, but by today’s standards I would expand that to include related subjects like the paranormal and supernatural.  That said, I write about anything and everything.  Basically, nothing’s off the table; I write fantasies, romances, mysteries…any genre you name, I’ve probably got a story in mind that suits it.

For instance, I currently have two books out:  Sensation: A Superhero Novel (which I suppose you could describe as fantasy/sci-fi) and Warden (Book 1: Wendigo Fever), a paranormal/horror story.  I had planned to follow these up with a romance I’ve had in mind for a few years and then a mystery.  However, I decided to go ahead and do sequels to the existing books before moving on to other genres. Sensation seemed to be resonating with readers, and It didn’t seem fair to keep any fans waiting an excessively long time. (As I write this, Sensation is actually ranked #1 in three categories on Amazon.)

What were your greatest influences? 

That’s tough.  I’d say that my parents buying me lots and lots of books as a kid probably influenced me to a large extent.  If you read enough books you’ll often get the itch to write one yourself.

In terms of writers, I would say that Jack Vance was a strong influence on me.  I simply love his prose, as well as his ability to create fantastical worlds and singularly unique societies.  In addition, he wrote in multiple genres. Not only did he win every major award in fantasy and science fiction (Hugo, Nebula, etc.), but he also won an Edgar Award for mystery.  Finally, he was simply a prolific writer, as his huge body of work will attest to.  (Vance was admittedly into writing solely for the money, which might explain why he cranked out so much.) I was deeply saddened by his recent passing, as there just aren’t many people I’d place in the same class with him.

What can you tell us about your latest book?

As I mentioned, I actually have two out at the moment that were published around the same time. Rather than talk about them, it’s probably easier if I simply share the descriptions, starting with my superhero novel Sensation:

Sensation Tiny ebook Cover Like millions of other kids, Jim grew up wanting to be a superhero. Unlike most of his contemporaries, however, Jim actually had the goods: a plethora of super powers that would have been the envy of any meta on the planet. But when his tryout with the Alpha League – the world’s premiere group of supers – goes disastrously wrong, Jim basically becomes an outcast. 

Two years later, Jim is still bitter about what happened to him. However, he soon finds himself the centerpiece in an odd turn of events that gives him a second chance at his dream. But nothing is as easy as it sounds, as Jim soon discovers. Among other things, he’s made an enemy of a prospective super teammate, he’s being stalked by an unknown pursuer, and a shadowy cabal bent on world domination has identified him as the only obstacle to their plans.

It’s a lot for one super to handle, even with a smorgasbord of abilities. But if saving the world were easy, everyone would do it…

 And here is the description for Warden:

Warden_Tiny_Cover_for_KindlePart lawman, part tracker and part magician, the Wardens are monster-hunters – tasked with protecting the people from the various, nightmarish creatures that have invaded the world of men. However, despite being descended from a long line of Wardens, 16-year-old Errol Magnus believes it to be the absolute worst job on the planet: How could a single occupation simultaneously be the most boring, abominably stupid and extraordinarily dangerous profession imaginable? 

But when his older brother Tom – the current Warden for their region – goes missing, Errol has no choice but to enter the Badlands, where monsters abide in mind-boggling numbers, to find him. During his search, Errol crosses paths with – and finds himself stalked by – the legendary Wendigo, a monster with preternatural strength and speed, as well as enhanced senses of sight, smell and hearing…and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.

 Now Errol must do the impossible and not only escape from the monster (something no one has ever done before), but also avoid the unearthly legacy it leaves on all its victims – a terrifying curse known as Wendigo Fever.

I think that both books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, although they will probably have greatest appeal for the teen/young adult demographic.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us?

Sure, here’s the excerpt from the inside cover of Sensation:

I shot an angry look at Paramount as I braced myself and started to rise from the floor. He put a hand up to his mouth, as if to hide his snickering after having knocked me down. I can’t explain what happened next, but fury such as I had never felt – all-encompassing and all-controlling – exploded inside me.

I switched into super speed, moving so fast that later, even on film slowed down as much as possible, my movements were a blur. I grabbed the chair I had been sitting in, and in one smooth motion folded it up, spun around and hit Paramount with it squarely on the chin in uppercut fashion.

I mentioned before that I don’t actually have super strength, but when moving at top speed I can mimic it pretty well. Paramount’s head snapped back and he went sailing bodily up into the air. He hit the back wall with an audible smack that shattered plaster, then slid down to the floor.

I stood frozen, still gripping the chair. I seriously doubted that I had hurt him; at only 16, Paramount was already practically invulnerable, like his father. The lick I’d just laid on him was probably akin to an adult getting poked in the eye by a baby. It catches you a little off-guard, but it’s more irritating than painful, with no lasting effect.

Sadly, I was right.  Paramount started to get up…

What inspired you to write a superhero novel?

I’ve always been a fan of comics and superheroes.  It probably stems from the fact that one of my older brothers read a lot of comics and loaned me quite a number of his when we were growing up. 

As to what made me write a superhero novel first – out of all the stories I wanted to tell – all I can say is that it was the story making the most noise in my head and clamoring the most to get out.  Oddly enough, though, the story that ended up being published is nothing like the one I had planned to write.  Basically, as so often happens, the story tells itself, and in this case I ended up with something far different that what I initially intended. 

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve encountered in your journey as an author?

That’s hard to say, because at various junctures different things would arise as the most difficult barrier to overcome.  For instance, when I started writing right after college, the major roadblock was simply getting published.  After the advent of self-publishing, one of the biggest challenges for me was simply trying to be a one-man band and do everything myself: the writing, editing, marketing, etc.

These days, I share the load by having a cover artist and an editor.  The major obstacle I currently encounter is walking that tightrope between maintaining my day job, finding time to write, and taking care of marketing/promotion (which I still do myself).  It’s quite a balancing act, and you often feel like you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul when you have to push something to the side for a little while you sort some other issues out.

What words of encouragement would you give to any potential authors out there?

First of all, if you’re serious about it, you have to treat writing like a job.  That means writing every day, no matter what. Beyond that, simply have faith in yourself.  For most of us success is not going to happen overnight – whether in writing or any other aspect of life.  You wouldn’t expect to be made CEO after two weeks on the job (and you wouldn’t quit after two weeks because they didn’t make you Chief Executive). Likewise, don’t quit writing just because you don’t hit a home run your first time at bat.  Just keep honing your craft, getting better, and eventually the world will find you.

And on a side note, don’t discount the power of prayer.  I pray about my books on a daily basis and am blessed in that they have been performing well.

Where can readers find your books?

Sensation is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.  Likewise, Warden is also available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Interested readers can also find out more at my blog The Hardman Writing Stylus

Whatever else you do today don’t forget to look up Kevin on Amazon or his blog and find out more about the man behind the new superhero.Toni Allen Logo

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The Moon is a major tarot card and sits at number 18

Marseille Tarot MoonIn the foreground of the Moon card you will see a crayfish in a pool of water. It is said that this is stagnant water; and when water is putrid nothing can live in it. Water symbolises the emotions, so here we are referring to stuck or painful emotions.

The crayfish symbolises the individual. Each of us has a hard ego shell which we erect to protect the self/spirit, in the misguided belief that it can damaged or hurt.  In truth it is only the ego which experiences pain. Due to the impurity of the water the crayfish must leave or it will die.

Beyond the water we see the path that the crayfish (oneself) must follow in order to go past the Moon to the Sun which shines behind it. On the path one initially encounters two dogs which symbolise those who would like us to stay as we are and will therefore try and force us to remain in the stagnant emotions.  Beyond the dogs are two towers, one already damaged. These represent false ego identities which we might be tempted to try and hide in along the way. Beyond the Moon is the Sun, and a promise of hope and “light at the end of the tunnel.”

In a tarot reading the Moon card represents fear. However painful the emotional situation might be it is always terrifying to break away from a habitual way of being. Stagnant emotions/water creates bondage.

A prime example of the Moon card in practice is when someone wants to leave a negative relationship.  The first thing they do is go and discuss it with their closest friends and family, symbolised by the howling dogs, who come up with a list of obstacles and reasons why they should not leave. “How will you cope on your own?” “How will you afford to do that?” “Where will you go?” “You must stay and give the children a father.” All of these arguments push the questioner back into their stuck emotional situation, now compounded by added fears and uncertainties. According to everyone around them the journey is too hard and too risky, and therefore they are bound to fail.

Terror roots us to the spot. As the emotions experience further damage we become Waite Tarot Moonmore fearful and less able to take the initial step towards change.

Once past the dogs we might hide in a false ego, a temporary sense of being okay, until we have the courage to take the final step and experience happiness again.

When the tarot Moon card appears in a spread there is always fear. Sometimes it is quite literally a fear of the dark, or a fear of the unknown, but always a fear based on a previous negative emotional experience.

One client whom I worked with for many months always had the Moon card prominent in her readings. She was convinced that she was being watched in her house at night, and that someone might be prowling in her garden and a threat to her. Always the cards came up with the Page of Swords, a devious character; and always the cards pointed towards it being someone she knew.  Every time she feared the “watcher” she phoned her boyfriend to come over and stay, and the fear held them together, bonded them into a co-dependant relationship. “I don’t want him staying all of the time,” she said, “But I’m too frightened to be on my own.” Everything pointed towards the culprit of her night time fears being her boyfriend, but for many months she remained in denial, unable to believe that her rescuer might in fact be her stalker.  As friends became more worried about the situation they encouraged her to phone him, have him stay more often or go and live with him.  Eventually she caught her boyfriend out and proved that for many months he had been deliberately creaking and crunching outside in the middle of the night so that she would become dependent on him.

Not everyone’s Moon card experience is so macabre, yet we all feel the same intensity of fear; whether it be changing jobs, taking a driving test, or moving home.

Toni Allen Tarot MoonFor one of my clients the Moon card symbolised her and her husband’s desire to immigrate to Australia, and the dogs were clearly her family, most especially her children. The children did not want their parents to go and live across the other side of the world so continuously made their parents feel uneasy and guilty about the situation. However, the Moon card also represented the children’s fear of being alone and abandoned, and they were unconsciously projecting their own fears onto their parents.

When the tarot Moon card is reversed one feels unable to face the challenge of fear. There is usually what I call a “yes, but” situation. I saw this for one woman who was nursing her elderly mother and had become totally trapped, even to the point of hardly ever being able to leave the house. “Yes, but if I put my mother in a home all of my inheritance will be eaten up,” she said.“I live in my mother’s house and I will have to sell it to pay for her care and have nowhere to live.” The fear of poverty and destitution kept her trapped in an emotionally fraught situation.

Fear creates illusion. When frightened we are more likely to imagine the worst.  Moonlight literally takes away all of the colour from life and leaves us only with black and white, hence everything we see becomes distorted and not as we know it; which is why the night can be so frightening.

When we experience the fear of the Moon card we need to take courage, ignore our well-wishers and tread our own path, for only we know, in our own hearts, what is right for our highest good.


For beginners and more experienced tarot readers I have two books available in many popular formats.

Ever wondered what the Moon tarot card means in a tarot reading about sex and relationships? Find out in…

Sex & Tarot

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot from iTunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price)

Kindle UK  Kindle US Paperback Amazon UK  Paperback Amazon US

Also on Nook and other platforms

The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot

System of Symbols cover

Available from Kindle UK  Kindle US ITunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price) Also on Nook and other platforms.


If you’ve enjoyed this article please follow my blog so that you’ll be kept up to date when I post new articles and tarot interpretations. If you’re not on WordPress come along and follow me on Facebook ToniAllenAuthor or @listansus. Come along and follow me anyway, it would be great to meet you.Toni Allen Logo

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As part of the All Authors Blog Blitz taking place today, I am proud to introduce Jane Li the author of Barakel and Nissa

Barakel and Nissa [web use]

Maybe you believe in soul mates, maybe you don’t.  Maybe you believe in reincarnation, maybe you don’t.  Doesn’t matter.  When it comes to attracting the love you want, it appears that all you need to do is follow a formula.  Well-known author Arielle Ford followed a formula, and she got the love of her life.  Is the husband a soul mate from past lives?  Apparently, only our souls know for sure.  We living as humans are said to live in spiritual amnesia about such things as soul mates, although some people just “know.”  Sure, you can do a past life regression or a between-lives regression to find out, and you can believe what you want. 
Barakel and Nissa are two soul mates from way back who knows when (I don’t, I’m just the narrator here).  Through whatever soul reason (you can figure that out if you wish), they come together in the time of biblical Genesis, in the third colony of mythical Lemuria, in the time of Tudor England (no darlings, it’s not about Henry or any of his six wives [HBO already did that]; this time the little ones get to star), and in present day America.  A good thing about writing fiction is that even though you put your main characters through hell and high water (really, there is literally high water in the story), and add extra irritation with a pesky and arrogant god, you can still give them a ridiculously happy ending in the end.  That’s fiction…
…or is it? J

Jane Li is the author of Barakel and Nissa.  When she’s not working on her next book, Jane likes to give librarians a good workout with her numerous book requests, try on interesting hats and dresses, and laugh at her own Corgis (never the Queen’s).  You’re welcome to visit her blog at http://barakelandnissa.wordpress.com/

Jane Li’s novel is already 5 star rated on Amazon with excellent reviews, so if you fancy a good romantic read for the weekend pick up a copy of Barakel and Nissa

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AABB2As part of the All Authors Blog Blitz taking place today, I am proud to introduce

bad girls clubThe Bad Girls’ Club: it’s about sex, it’s about dares but most of all, it’s about friendship.

When Imogen, Juliette and Beth are seated together at a wedding, they have nothing in common but their resentment of the bride, Poppy. A risque prank draws them together and they decide to form the Bad Girls Club – a last ditch effort to free them from the shackles of keeping themselves nice.

The club rules are simple.  Each girl must complete a dare pushing them way out of their comfort zones.

Imogen puts the club in danger with her first dare. It seems nothing she does works out quite right until she is approached by the one man she thinks she can never have, the one man she should never have – Poppy’s husband, Daniel.

When Juliette is transformed by a bad girl makeover, suddenly she’s the girl everyone wants. Why would she be satisfied with one man when two are even better? But Juliette’s evolution doesn’t end there!

Beth is happy to be a bad girl – so long as no one else finds out, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the rest of her life and so long as she is in control. It’s just a pity Juliette is developing a mind of her while Imogen’s breasts are testing her ideas of appropriate desire.

Are the girls ready to finally take the final leap that will have them branded as bad girls for real? To save the club, and each other, they each have to publicly acknowledge their darkest secrets.

Join the bad girls in this steamy yet snort-laughingly funny chick lit adventure.

This is what Kathryn O’Halloran has to say about her career to date.

The Bad Girls’ Club is my debut novel although I have written a number of short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies.  I wanted to write a book that showed women taking control of their sexuality and the issues that surround that.  I liked the idea of a group of women with very different personalities who are thrown together and the way that friendship evolves.

I’ve been asked if some of the situations in The Bad Girls’ Club are drawn from my own experiences.  I will say that some are but I’m not telling which ones.

Outside of writing, I work in information technology but have explored a number of jobs including working as a phone pyschic, teaching English in Japan, making and selling crazy fake fur handbags and producing a TV show for community television

You can find out more about Kathryn on her blog at http://kathrynohalloran.blogspot.com

The Bad Girls’ Club already has some terrific reviews, so why not check it out for your summer reading.



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