Writing Research: My Shockingly Accurate Tarot Reading!

My Shockingly Accurate Tarot Reading

It may be my academic background, or it may be my OCD, I’m not sure, but I do tend to research my stories as much as possible – today that meant going for my first proper tarot reading. One of the main characters in Death Becomes Me is named Sookie, and she’s a psychic. Sookie has several abilities but the main one in precognition. She occasionally experiences visions of the future but she also mainly reads tarot and palms. Throughout the book she can be found with a trusty deck of cards muttering to herself.

While I’ve read widely on the subjects of tarot reading and palmistry and own my very own deck of cards, I’m not psychic. Nor am I a tarot reader. Or palm reader. Or clairvoyant.

So, I decided to go speak to someone who WAS and get my tarot read by a professional rather than a friend with a book. I had a tarot reading, as well as some palm reading, and afterward my wonderful tarot reader was kind enough to indulge me in asking a long series of questions (thank you!!!). The whole experience was very enlightening. I got a really good sense of how a professional actually does it, which to me is important while writing Sookie. I want her to feel authentic. In addition, the actual reading itself was most enlightening and, SHOCKINGLY ACCURATE.

At my tarot reading, I was told I have a FIRE HAND.

Fire Hand - My Shockingly Accurate Tarot Reading and Palm Reading

Why is everything always about fire with me?

I was familiar with the elemental hands, but couldn’t recall exactly what characteristics a person with a fire hand is purported to possess. So, when I got home, I decided to look it up, and OH.MY.GOD.

I found this description of people with a fire hand and….this is just so dang cool – it perfectly describes my creativity and how it runs, but also vividly (and might I say quite disturbingly) describes a person with bipolar disorder:

The beauty of fire-handed people is they are the ones who conceive brilliant new ideas and convey tremendous fire and passion behind their beliefs… at least, for a little while.

The downside to fire-handed people is that their passions are sometimes short lived, and they can have difficulty following through with the things they begin, such as new projects or inventions. While the idea is burning inside, their passion will possess them and drive them into almost frenzied creative states of manic production… followed by a rapid, and often inexplicable, cooling-off period in which the idea may die if it is not nurtured, or met with a cultivated sense of discipline.

Now, the skeptics out there might be thinking, ‘Oh, come on, he just Googled you before you arrived and saw The Bipolar Bear‘. I will admit, this is entirely possible, however it doesn’t really explain it because…well the fire hand isn’t something you intuit, it’s based on the shape of your hand – the proportions of your palm to your fingers, and the length of your fingers etc.

I’ve checked this out since getting back and by every guide I’ve found and used, I quite definitely have a fire hand. So…no this isn’t someone trying to pull a fast one (the guy I went to was lovely and incredibly genuine, so it never occurred to me this might be the case, but I know some of you guys are skeptics!).

 All in all a great way to spend a day. I’ve got loads of new ideas for Death Becomes Me, I have a much better sense of how tarot reading is done, and I’ve the level of belief I have in paranormal phenomena has ratcheted up yet another notch.

International Women’s Day: My Top Five Female Authors (And Why They Rock!)

International Women's Day

Today is International Women’s Day. To celebrate I thought I’d give you a rundown of my Top Five Female Authors, and explain what it is about these particular women that makes them (and their writing) ROCK!

#1 Rita Mae Brown

MUST READ TITLE: Rubyfruit Jungle

Words cannot fully express the impact this woman’s writing has had on me. I first came across her when I read Rubyfruit Jungle, a novel that is (in my opinion) still her most triumphant despite being the her debut. Brown drew on her extraordinary insight into the human condition as well as her personal experiences when she wrote Rubyfruit Jungle and the genuine belief behind her convictions shines through in every word. It came as no surprise to me when I learnt her personal history, and her background in political activism.

Anti-war, pro-feminism, and a powerful force in the Gay Liberation movement, fiction is only the beginning of why I love and admire this woman.

As a teenager I struggled with my sexuality. I was extremely confused. I liked girls, I knew that, I’d known that since I was extremely young, but this didn’t seem to be acceptable among my peers and I knew from other experience that the thing to do, when you found yourself of a sexual persuasion that differed to the norm, was to keep your damn mouth shut.

It was shaming. It was limiting. And it made me incredibly angry.

Reading Rubyfruit Jungle changed my perspective on the subject, and my own life, and made me see there was nothing wrong with me. The mild obsession I developed with Brown after reading it led me to her other works and greater understanding of the varying sexual desires of people from all walks of life. I was no longer baffled by the fact I liked girls and boys, there was, I found, not only nothing wrong with this, but nothing particularly unusual about it.

When I was fourteen I read the following quote and it freed me. To this day I maintain she is spot on in this assessment. I re-read Rubyfruit Jungle (and later Venus Envy) on an annual basis to remind me of everything this remarkable woman had taught me.

International Women's Day Rita Mae Brown "I don't believe in straight or gay. I really don't. I think we're all degrees of bisexual"

It is no coincidence that my own characters are sexually free – they like who and what they like, and that is the end of it. People often ask me ‘Why do you write about so many gay people?’ and the answer is, I don’t, not really. There are far fewer gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters in my work combined than there are straight people.

The fact people still feel the need to ask me this question tells me we’ve still not done enough educate the world on this particular subject. If you ware one of the people who wonder, go read Rubyfruit Jungle and Venus Envy. If you still have questions when you’re done come back, we’ll talk.

#2 Maya Angelou

MUST READ TITLE: I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing

An author, poet, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou is unusual for the list in that she didn’t write fiction. She was, however, a prolific writer, penning seven autobiographies, numerous books of poetry and a few of essays, as well as scripts for film, television, and the stage. I read I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing when I was fourteen. It gave me a great deal of insight into issues of race and poverty – something I had little personal experience of being from a middle-class white family, and growing up in communities with few, non-white people. There were a few at school, but I never noticed the difference and race really wasn’t a thing (at least for me). I don’t recall any bullying occurring for that reason and while I knew that the poorer kids were picked on I really didn’t understand why. I think, in large part, this stemmed from my naive lack of understanding concerning what it was like to be genuinely poor.

My family wasn’t wealthy but we certainly never struggled. We had a nice house, two cars, we we quintessentially middle-class and English.

I devoured Angelou’s memoirs as soon as I came across them which was, I should add, entirely accidental – someone had shelved it in the wrong place in the library and I picked it up thinking it was fiction. I soon realised it wasn’t, but decided to read it anyway as I’ve always had something of a romantic fascination with the American South (why yes, Rita Mae Brown is also Southern).

When I was older I came to appreciate Angelou’s poetry, which is high praise indeed – there are few modern poets I truly enjoy.

International Women's Day Maya Angelou “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”

#3 Margaret Atwood

MUST READ TITLE: The Blind Assassin

I was late finding Margaret Atwood, it didn’t happen until I was doing my A Levels and studying The Handmaid’s Tale.  I have never questioned why this book was on the syllabus, as far as my studies of English Literature went, introducing me to Atwood was one of the best things any teacher has ever done for me. I have since come to love her bravery, her honesty, her keen sense of character, and her (often insane) imagination. There are a select few authors who I always pre-order titles for, even before I have been able to read a blurb. Margaret Atwood is one.

International Women's Day 'Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps I write for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow." Margaret Atwood

#4 Angela Carter

MUST READ TITLE: ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ (Short Story in The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories)

Another author I was introduced to during my A Level English Lit course, Angela Carter will always be a favourite. The Magic Toyshop was the first book I read, and I devoured the whole thing in a single day.

Then I re-read it.

This was not me being diligent in my studies (I was flighty at best at college) I simply loved the book. The library was soon emptied of everything they had by her, and ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ is still one of my all time favourite stories.

International Women's Day “And each stroke of his tongue ripped off skin after successive skin, all the skins of a life in the world, and left behind a nascent patina of shining hairs. My earrings turned back to water and trickled down my shoulders; I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur.” ― Angela Carter

#5 Marian Keyes

MUST READ TITLE: The Mystery of Mercy Close

A phenomenal fiction writer and at once poised, serious, and hilariously funny, Marian Keyes will always have a special place in my heart (and on my book shelves!). I discovered Keyes’ books when I was in my teens and have been a devout reader ever since – I’ve read everything she’s ever written several times over, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon. Often foolishly branded a ‘chick lit’ author, Keyes’s writing is insightful, poignant, and often draws out the aspects of humanity that we shy away from. Like Rita Mae Brown, I have always admired her for her ability to really capture those things that truly make us human. Her characters are often larger than life, yet they are some of the most believable you will ever read. Her plots are often serious, with inherent frivolity that makes even the most disturbing subjects a joy to read.

This ability to take the horrors of human nature, bare them in all their ugly glory, and somehow do so in a way that is not only engaging but actually entertaining and addictive to read is what makes Keyes spectacular.

I will not say I love everything she has ever written (This Charming Man isn’t one of my favourites, and I never really got into The Brightest Star in the Sky), but the majority are excellent and those I love best more than make up for those I’m less fond of.

Like me, Keyes has suffered with depression and, like me, she weaves these experiences through her writing and an attempt to inform people as they read. If I grow to be half as good at this as Marian Keyes, I shall be a very happy writer indeed.

International Women's Day “It was ironic, really - you want to die because you can't be bothered to go on living - but then you're expected to get all energetic and move furniture and stand on chairs and hoist ropes and do complicated knots and attach things to other things and kick stools from under you and mess around with hot baths and razor blades and extension cords and electrical appliances and weedkiller. Suicide was a complicated, demanding business, often involving visits to hardware shops." - Marian Keyes, Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married

Paranormal Books Gives Chasing Azrael 5+ Stars, Calling It ‘Eternally Twisted and Full of Plots’

Roxy's Reviews Chasing Azrael Urban Fantasy Novel Gothic Novel

Chasing Azrael‘s review tour has wrapped up and it couldn’t have ended on a better note, with Paranormal Books giving a glowing review and 5+ Stars! You can read the full review here, but I have posted the highlights below.

Wow. Besides the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell, I have never read another book narrated by a character in her twenties or above. I definitely wasn’t used to Andee’s POV, but I grew to like it.

Huge thanks to Paranormal Books for taking part in the tour, and giving Chasing Azrael such a great write up!

An intriguing tale of death. I was hooked by the first chapter, especially the opening sentence.

There’s still time to enter the giveaway and be in with a chance of winning one of FIVE SIGNED COPIES of Chasing Azrael, or an art print of the LUSH cover image! Remember, the more you enter, the more likely you are to win!!

Chasing Azrael was eternally twisted and full of plots.

Enter the Giveaway Now!

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The Book Drealms On Chasing Azrael: ‘There Wasn’t Even One Second To Be Bored’

Roxy's Reviews Chasing Azrael Urban Fantasy Novel Gothic Novel

Another day, another stop on the Chasing Azrael Review tour, and today my lil’ novel made a pit stop at The Book Drealms (yes, you read that right, it’s not a typo, book dreams and realms all rolled into one, I LOVE A GOOD PORTMANTEAU!). You can read the full review here, but I’ve included the highlights below!

Andee’s maudlin aura…grew of me as I came to know her. Both Andee and Josh have their own set of flaws but they suit the story very well.

Huge thanks to The Book Drealms for their time and taking part in the review!

The tale has a deathly taint to it and it is full of gothic atmosphere with the right amount of thrilling aspects. The plot is full of twists with the mysterious incidents and characters.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below to be in with a chance of winning one of five signed copies of Chasing Azrael or a gorgeous fine art giclee print of the cover image!

It was a very fast read and I was eagerly turning the pages to know the ending. If you love to read a book of cross genres, then this will suit you with the right mix of paranormal, ghostly, mystery-thriller and mythological aspects.

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Enter the Angel of Death: Chasing Azrael Get Four Stars From The Bouncing Tiger Reads

Roxy's Reviews Chasing Azrael Urban Fantasy Novel Gothic Novel

It’s the penultimate day of Chasing Azrael’s review tour, and the reviews are still rolling in. Yesterday The Bouncing Tiger Reads was kind enough to give my lovely little novel a four star review and some very positive comments. The Angel of Death references went down particularly well! You can read the full review here, but the highlights are below!

A tensely written narrative and paranormal fantasy.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of the novel or a fine art giclee print of the cover image. Don’t forget, the more you enter, the more likely it is you will win!

A very interesting read that captivates the reader and pulls you into the strange world that the characters inhabit.

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A Peek At My Writing Inspiration Board For Bleizgeist!

Writing Inspiration Board - Sneaky Peak At My Desk! Hazel Butler Bleizgeist Dark Fantasy Novel

With so much focus on Chasing Azrael this week as the book continues its tour, I thought you might like a bit of a break and enjoy a sneaky peek behind the scenes at Bleizgeist and the writing inspiration board I used.

Keeping yourself motivated while writing can be challenging, and keeping yourself inspired is considerably more difficult. We often have bursts and flashes of inspiration that spark a story, or help us out with a particular scene in a story, but it’s rare for that to last throughout the entire writing process. The longer the book, the more difficult it is to maintain that momentum. Finding dependable sources of writing inspiration isn’t easy, but I have found that one of the best ways is to create a WRITING INSPIRATION BOARD. I look at it whenever I lose my way, or simply have it visible next to the screen I’m typing on, to keep me inspired and focused on what’s really important to the story.

Writing Inspiration Boards

I use Pinterest for my boards, as I am almost always online while writing, and I have three screens on my computer so it’s as easy as anything to type on one while looking at my writing inspiration board on another.

Writing Inspiration Board - Sneaky Peak At My Desk! Hazel Butler Bleizgeist Dark Fantasy Novel

If you don’t fancy Pinterest you can use anything for your board – a print out, a pin board, or just go crazy with the bluetack and stick a load of stuff to the wall above your monitor! It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, just collect together images, quotes, and other VISUAL AIDS that will really give you a boost of writing inspiration while you’re working. I tend to stick to IMAGES rather than words. This may sound counter-productive as the goal is the production of words, but stop and think for a second.

You are trying to ignite your writing inspiration, your inner muse. You’re trying to spark YOUR WORDS, you don’t need your head cluttered up with someone else’s. Images on the other hand can be very powerful. You can use photographs or art work, you can collect pictures that remind you of your characters, specific scenes or themes in the novel, or just STUFF that your characters would be surrounded by. Another way to approach it is to use images that EVOKE THE EMOTIONS/RESPONSES YOU WANT TO INFUSE YOUR WRITING WITH.

Going for a creepy vibe? Fill that board up with creepy images. Lost that loving feeling? Go all mushy. Want something magical? Fill it with fantasy paintings.

The Bleizgeist Board

Take a gander at my board for Bleizgeist and you will begin to see what I mean. My inspiration for this story was really the character of Marishka, my narrator, and her relationship with wolves and magic. Consequently the majority of the images on my writing inspiration board evoke the sense I wanted to convey in her character – that close relationship and magical tie with wolves, and the larger than life wolf (Lynae) who becomes her companion.

I drew on a few things for inspiration for the story but one of the main ones was the Studio Ghiblio film Princess Mononoke by  Hayao Miyazaki, which is one of my favourite anime films. You’ll find a fair few Princess Monoke inspired paintings on there as a result.

I wanted a haunted, fairytale feel, with a dash of passion and eroticism.

Check out the board, and do let me know what you think!

Follow Hazel’s board Bleizgeist Writing Inspiration Board on Pinterest.

Not read Bleizgeist yet? You can grab your copy in paperback or on Kindle from Amazon, or buy the paperback direct from me!

Fic Gal Reviews Chasing Azrael: ‘Fans of Patricia Cornwell will enjoy this book’!

Roxy's Reviews Chasing Azrael Urban Fantasy Novel Gothic Novel

Another day another wonderful review for my lil’ novel. This one comes from Fic Girl. You can read the full review here, but I’ve posted a couple of highlights for you below.

I really like the friendships that Andrea has. So many books are really lacking in that department…This is a crazy ride that is perfect for those who enjoy friendships in books and paranormal elements along with a twisty ride.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win one of five signed copies of the novel, or a fabulous giclee art print of the cover image! Huge thanks to Fic Girl for her review!

I really enjoyed it and think fans of Patricia Cornwell will enjoy this book. I also like that Andee as her friends call her isn’t afraid to be herself which is a bit weird but I find that to be what I like best about her. I think this series is off to a great start and I look forward to reading more.

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4 1/2 Stars and a GLOWING REVIEW from Cover2Cover: ‘ A highly entertaining & gripping read’

Roxy's Reviews Chasing Azrael Urban Fantasy Novel Gothic Novel

Chasing Azrael gets another glowing review from Cover2Cover, calling the novel ‘an atmospheric page-turner’ and ‘an incredible mix of the paranormal and Russian folklore with a mystery surrounding a series of murders’. You can read the full review here, but I’ve posted the highlights for you below.

Don’t forget to check out the GIVEAWAY running for the duration of the tour. Enter below for a chance to win SIGNED COPIES of the novel and EXCLUSIVE GICLEE ART PRINTS OF THE COVER IMAGE. Remember, the more you enter and share the giveaway, the greater your chances of winning!

The more we get to see the strange but intense relationship these two [Andee & James] had, and it’s very touching yet at times left me mad that she went through so much grief in the name of love, just because really important information about the truth of James problems that could have helped her, was kept from her by the people who she is closest to. Sad, very sad.

Can’t wait to read it? Chasing Azrael is available in paperback or on Kindle from Amazon, or directly through me here on the website.

Chasing Azrael by Hazel Butler A Mix of Edgar Alan Poe and Fantasy

An engrossing , suspenseful, atmospheric, somewhat dark and spooky tale, with quite a few unpredicitable often shocking twists and reveals, which translates into a highly entertaining and gripping read. I most definitely recommend this to those who like their tales suspenseful mixed with a a bit of spookiness, and their protaganists broken and flawed.

Huge thank you to Cover2Cover for their wonderful review and taking the time to read the book. I’m really glad you enjoyed it!

Enter the giveaway here:

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Amy’s Review Obsession: ‘A Sick Mix of Edgar Alan Poe & Some Crazy Fantasy’

Roxy's Reviews Chasing Azrael Urban Fantasy Novel Gothic Novel

Chasing Azrael‘s review tour continues apace, with a wonderful review from Amy’s Review Obsession. You can read the full review here, but I’ve included the highlights below, along with the the rafflecopter giveaway running for the length of the tour – get your hands on SIGNED COPIES of Chasing Azrael along with one of two GOREOUS GICLEE ART PRINTS of the cover art!

Chasing Azrael by Hazel Butler A Mix of Edgar Alan Poe and Fantasy

Andee is definitely one of the most unique characters that I have ever met. She’s dark and she makes my heart ultimately break. I kind of fell in love with Andee…She’s weird and she isn’t afraid to show it. She’s damaged. She’s smart. She’s brave.

Huge thanks to Amy for her kind words! I’m particularly chuffed by the Edgar Alan Poe reference!

There are times that I wish that I could just insert myself in the story… [a] mix of Edgar Allen Poe and some crazy fantasy. I just can’t get enough of this book.

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Chasing Azrael: ‘Dark, Twisted, and Intense’, Rave Review From Roxy’s Reviews

Roxy's Reviews Chasing Azrael Urban Fantasy Novel Gothic Novel

Today kicks off a week long review tour for Chasing Azrael running through Xpresso Book Tours, and it couldn’t have got off to a better start, with a five star rave review from Roxy’s Reviews. You can read the full review here, but I thought I’d give you the highlights!

This has to be one of the most amazing reads I’ve had the pleasure of losing myself in. Dark, twisted, and intense, this book dug its claws into me and pulled me deeper and deeper into this brilliantly insane story that gave me chills on more than one occasion.

A huge thank you to Roxy’s Reviews, I’m glad you enjoyed it so much!

Well-paced, eloquently written, and rich with intriguing characters, this was a great mix of murder mystery, paranormal thriller, and horror.

There is also a GIVEAWAY running for the duration of the tour, with the chance to win one of FIVE SIGNED COPIES OF CHASING AZRAEL, and TWO GICLEE ART PRINTS of the gorgeous cover art up for grabs! Enter below, and remember, the more you enter and share, the more likely you are to win!

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