Tag Archives: The Hierophant

Day 10 of The Hierophant Read-Along! Chapters 39-42, plus a video!

Day 10read along

Welcome to day 10 of The Hierophant read-along! Check out this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #ArcanaRA :D

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We’re over half way done! Are you caught up?

RECAP: Chapters 39-42!

Chapter 39: Ana is visited by the Devil! (Nikolai) He implies that he knew Ana’s mother; informs her that the Malakiim are responsible for the slaughtering of her clan, the Ouros; and then he shows Ana her future, and it scares the crap out of her. Nikolai offers to help her avoid part of it, if she comes with him, now, to Sheol. Ana refuses. She doesn’t want to Fall. And then she wakes up! Was it a dream?

Chapter 40: Ana is quietly freaking out because the Devil came to her and Trebor is missing and she still hasn’t told Kyla anything and, oh yeah, the spring formal is tonight. Ana’s father gives her the dress her mother wore to a masquerade once, the night she met her father, and Abe might have been a little misty eyed when he handed it over. Ana doesn’t understand how he can still cry over Karanina’s memory when he’s dating someone new?

Chapter 41: Ana recalls in vivid detail the night of her last school dance: homecoming, her freshman year…the night her mother died. She gets on the dance floor with Kyla and realizes how much she’s missed her friend during this whole Sura and magic ordeal, but also during her years of grieving.

Chapter 42: Ana feels eyes on her and decides to step out for some air. She encounters Andy, and he’s acting weird. She goes out to the front of the school and reminisces. Trebor shows up, doesn’t say where he’s been–both of them are too distracted by each other to worry about it. They dance, and it gets intense. Ana admits she’s afraid of what’s happening between them, but she wants to be brave. They’re about to kiss when John Cassidy knocks into them, mocks them, and leaves. Suddenly Trebor gets tense, says he needs to tell her something important ASAP, but he needs to leave right away. They agree to meet in the cemetery at midnight.

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Some fun facts!

-The beginning of Chapter 39 is based on all the creepy things that happen to me when I’m sleeping. No devil visits, but I did read that Ray Bradbury book (Something Wicked This Way Comes) and do have that thought at 3:00 AM; and I totally have had that thought that something is watching me from the doorway, and have to must up all my courage to look (and the door is always closed). I didn’t used to sleep very well, okay?!

-So, remember how my best friend and I used to pretend to worship Satan/S’tan? Well, in 7th grade I read in a book one day that one of the MANY nicknames for the devil was “Old Nick,” and from then on out every boy in our class named Nick we would call Old Nick, and never once explain ourselves. This is literally why I gave the sort-of-Devil in this series the name of Nikolai (Nick just isn’t majestic enough, you know?)

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And now, a video!

(Dear gods, ignore my crazy hair. Focus on the adorable dog on the right side of the screen, instead.)

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That’s all for today! Questions or comments? Predictions about The Tower? Use hashtag #ArcanaRA to join the conversation and automatically be entered to win some free books, and maybe a pocket tarot deck!

Be on the lookout for a new video posted tomorrow!




Tomorrow: Chapters 43-47!

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The Hierophant Read-Along: Recap! Chapters 7-10 + the TRUTH about Trebor’s name!

Day 2read along

Welcome to day 2 of The Hierophant read-along! Check out this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #ArcanaRA :D

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Did you do your assigned reading? :D

Recap! Chapters 7-10

Chapter 7: Kyla gives Ana a tarot reading that indicates Ana needs to stop internalizing everything, and also…some kind of a teacher might be coming to her, as indicated by the Hierophant card.

Chapter 8: Kyla and Ana perform a protection spell around Kyla’s property, to keep the Sura away. It’s a spell Ana’s mother taught her, with words given by her people, the Ouros.

Chapter 9: Ana walks home late and sees a man who might or might not be the same man from the cemetery…but his eyes flash like a cat’s, and he seems like he’s intentionally trying to knock into her. What a jerk! At least he says “sorry.”

Chapter 10: Andy introduces Kyla and Ana to Trebor, the new kid on the block. There is immediate attraction on Ana’s part, even though she tries to talk herself out of it. But Kyla is hoping some kind of romance will spark between Ana and the new kid because they’re both tall (and she wants Ana to get a date for the dance so she doesn’t back out), so she cons Ana into giving Trebor a tarot reading. When Trebor draws a card to represent the querent (himself), he draws the Hierophant.

Some fun facts!

It’s time I told the truth about Trebor’s name. There was an adjunct professor at my university whose first name was Trebor, and I thought it was the most unusual, interesting name, without being too over-the-top cool. He was Swedish, too, so I totally thought it was a Swedish name. But no. Trebor was an artist, prone to whims. His real name was Robert. He just had people call him treboR as an artistic statement. :P

-Williamsville, at least when I was growing up there, really was something like the second safest community in the state, or the country, I can’t remember. But I do remember walking home from a friend’s house well past midnight, many, many times in my youth. If only my parents had known about Sura, I doubt they would have felt so comfortable letting their youngest child walk alone at night! (Not me, though. I’dda been like “come ‘n get me suckas!” But mostly because life was so boring in the second safest community in the state or country or whatever.)

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Sorry, no video today, but you can still chat with me on Twitter! Use hashtag #ArcanaRA to join the conversation and automatically be entered to win some free books, and maybe a pocket tarot deck!

Until tomorrow! (And there’ll be a new video tomorrow, definitely!!)




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The Hierophant Read-Along: Recap! Chapters 1-6…plus a reading!


Day 1read along

Welcome to the first official day of The Hierophant read-along! Check out this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #ArcanaRA :D

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Did you do your assigned reading? Yes or no, it’s okay, because I’m gonna give you a recap!

RECAP: Chapters 1-6

Chapter 1: Ana goes to visit her mother’s grave before school, to tell her mother that she’s been seeing Sura: the demons from the stories her mother used to tell her as a child. While she’s there, she sees a shadowy figure across the cemetery and something happens that literally makes her heart stop–and it seems like all of this happens to the shadowy figure at the same time.

Chapter 2: MEET KYLA! She’s a badass and we love her, and she is Ana’s best friend in the entire universe. Kyla is trying to convince Ana to go to the spring formal dance because Kyla (who skipped 8th grade and is now a year ahead of Ana) is going away to college next year and wants to make the most of her time with Ana between now and then. It takes some effort, since Ana was at homecoming freshman year when she found out her mother had passed away in hospice. But Ana loves Kyla like a sister, and she agrees to go–even though school dances are the last thing on her mind these days.

Chapter 3: This may seem like a throwaway chapter, with nothing in it but a class debate about whether or not fate is real, but Ana’s statements in this chapter bear significant weight when it comes to how Ana gets from the end of The Hierophant to the beginning of The Tower. Just sayin’! Also, we meet Andy, who is a bit of a snake.

Chapter 4: Ana spaces out in class and thinks about her mother’s clan, the Ouros, who were a group of travelers that disowned her mother when she married an outsider. They’ve rejected Ana, too, it would seem, and now there is no one in the world who can answer all her questions about the things she keeps seeing. While she’s spacing out, she looks outside and sees a group of super-creepy Sura standing in the shadows. One of them smiles at her!

Stressed out with no one to turn to, Ana skips lunch and goes to play her violin. That’s the only way she’s been able to diffuse this weird, rushing feeling in her bones that’s been bothering her for a while now…

Chapter 5: Ana…doesn’t really fit in. She’s over six feet tall with bold red hair and everyone knows her as “the girl whose mother died,” among other less savory nicknames. But Kyla is the most popular girl in school, and Kyla loves Ana to death (they’ve been besties since they were babies), so the others try to include her, too.

Chapter 6: Meet Abe, Ana’s adorable, protective, loving, widowed father. <3

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So, there is a lot of important information in the opening chapters and I obviously didn’t list it all in the recap. I’m going to tell you right now from an insider’s perspective what info to keep in mind when you start The Tower:

-The protective stones and coins left on Ana’s mother’s grave after the funeral

-Ana’s rejection of the man AND what happens in the cemetery (she is so not here for this drama)

-Ana and her father’s shared anger management issues

Just some important things to keep in the back of your head!

Some fun facts:

The Hierophant is the first officially young adult book I’ve ever written! I’ve always written about young adults, but I didn’t know there was a whole “genre” for it until I was in college. There were many space operas written in middle school and high school with teenage heroes and heroines, but I don’t know if any of those will ever see the light of day…

The Hierophant is set in the very real Village of Williamsville, in a suburb of the city of Buffalo, New York (yes the one with all the snow and chicken wings). This is where I actually grew up! Ana goes to my actual high school, and [SPOILER ALERT] nearly drowns in the same creek that I used to swim in/jump into fully clothed, on a dare. In fact, everything I mention about the school, the cemetery, the creek–the whole natural setting–is or was at some point actually there. Why did I choose this? Well, because this is a novel that was brewing in my head when I was young enough to frequent those places mentioned. The story just didn’t find its flavor until I was long gone.

-If you have ever wondered: I absolutely am aware that the main character from Fifty Shades of Grey has the same first name as Ana :P THE SIMILARITIES STOP THERE, I PROMISE YOU. (And no, I haven’t read that book, and no, it in no way influenced my naming. The very first draft of this novel was written in 2008, and no names have changed from that version even if everything else has).

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And now, if you’ve read this far, here’s a “treat”: a video of me reading a bit of chapter 1, talking about dead moms, and sharing some personal information about one of the most influential moments of my adolescence. Step into the confessional! (Forgive my gravely voice, I filmed this at 6:30 in the morning.)




That’s all for today! Remember you can chat with me and others on twitter using the hashtag #ArcanaRA. Send me your questions and comments! I wants them all!

Tomorrow: Chapters 7-10!

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Announcing: THE HIEROPHANT Read-Along!


In preparation for The Tower’s release (August 11!), I’ve decided it might be good to have a little refresher for the first book in the series: The Hierophant. Whether you’ve read it before or are reading it for the first time, I invite you to join me in a read-along for the 15 days counting down to the release of The Tower!

How does a read-along work?

I’m glad you asked!

Below, I’ll post the schedule for the “assigned reading” each night. Starting Monday, July 27th, I’ll be posting recaps here on the blog (and possibly recordings/videos of readings by yours truly!) from the previous day’s chapters. I’ll also be dropping some truth bombs about the characters and the writing process for The Hierophant (and some of it might surprise you!).

In addition to that fun stuff, I’ll be doing an ongoing twitter Q&A! Any time you want, use the hashtag #ArcanaRA to discuss or ask questions about The Hierophant and I will be more than happy to answer!

Also, by participating in the #ArcanaRA tag, you’ll automatically be entered to win one of THREE prizes!

1) Signed copies of both The Hierophant AND The Tower

2) Signed copies of The Tower and another novel (your choice!)

3) And the GRAND prize: signed copies of The Tower + any of my other novels, AND a Pocket Rider Waite tarot deck! :D

I’m SUPER excited about this, and only wish I’d thought to do it sooner. I can’t wait to share some of the story behind the story, to chat about favorite characters and scenes (I’ve been so surprised by some of the things people have told me, about how deeply a scene or a line affected them after reading this book, and it made my little heart grow ten times its size! <3), and of course, to give away some free stuff!

The Reading Schedule

It’s a bit of a time crunch (15 days), so we’ll be averaging about 20 pages a day. And remember, feel free to @ me on twitter (@madelineclaire_) or use the read-along hashtag (#ArcanaRA) at any time with questions or comments! I’ll get back to you ASAP :)

Here is the schedule by chapters, beginning on July 26 (I’ll be posting the first recap on MONDAY, July 27!):

7/26 Chapters 1-6

7/27 Chapters 7-10

7/28 Chapters 11-14

7/29 Chapters 15-20

7/30 Chapters 21-24

7/31 Chapters 25-28

8/1 Chapters 29-31

8/2 Chapters 32-34

8/3 Chapters 35-38

8/4 Chapters 39-42

8/5 Chapters 43-47

8/6 Chapters 48-53

8/7 Chapters 54-57

8/8 Chapters 58-59

8/9 Chapters 60-63

8/10 Chapters 64-END

8/11 Happy Book Birthday, The Tower!

Thanks for joining in! See you next week!

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Video et Videor – To see and to be seen.

When you write a story, you know its insides as well as its skin color, its height, the shape of its mouth and its eyes. A lot of people burn through books these days and walk away with a photograph in their mind of what the story looked like, memories of the feelings that it gave them, maybe a smear of its blood on their lips or a few bruises where the story tried to open them up and slip inside. But it’s rare that people really see the bones.

But then sometimes a person reads your book and they have no bruises, because the had no resistance to its punches. They let the story move inside of them, meanwhile slicing through to the heart of the story itself. They peel back the skin, examine the muscles, the connective tissue, the organs, the waste. They bite into the marrow of the story, the place where fantasy turns back to reality, and they understand the ineffable, the seed power that spouted into the novel before them.

I got an email this morning that told me the reader had done that. (I would post it here, except that it’s spoiler-heavy) I felt at once totally naked, totally free, and totally understood. The things he saw in The Hierophant were not projections, as sometimes happens when you hand a story over to the world. They are genuinely there, carefully cultivated and hidden in the text, the characters, and the metaphor of fantasy. And he told me he recognized them. And there is nothing quite as empowering as the feeling of being seen and understood.

On the outside, it is easy to pitch my novel as a paranormal fantasy adventure complete with magic and demons and true love. But let’s be honest: those books are a dime a dozen these days, especially in YA. So I have always wanted nothing more than to tell people about the soul of it–the secrets of it–the things that, even though it is a fantastical story, can be taken away into the “real world.” I want the jacket blurb to talk about Ana and Kyla’s amazing friendship; about Ana’s relationship with her ancestors and her desire to belong somewhere without changing who she is; about how Ana’s father is only human, doing the best he can; about how we each choose and learn to bear our crosses differently.

But that’s the point of the novel, isn’t it? To express those things that can’t be said in just a few words. To express those things that must be said with story.

And if I tell you about it, well, that ruins the magic of discovering it for yourself, doesn’t it?




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Why YA?

Okay, let’s just say it: YA books tend to be a controversial topic. There’s controversy over what’s “appropriate” for young adults, what defines young adult, whether or not YA is a genre or an audience, or just a way of saying “hey the MC is between 13 and 20!” and even that age range is debatable. And a question I often hear from people who don’t read YA is “why would an adult want to write for teens?” Usually, there is an implication that YA is less-than adult fiction, or that the author has some serious hang-ups about their glory days.

I’m not going to address any of that because I’m certainly not an authority, and frankly I hate labels so I’m not going to defend or define any of them. What I will discuss is how and why I came to write stories of the YA variety.

First, let’s start with a little history of my writing. I’ll fast forward through a handful of years of unintentionally plagiarizing other great works while I was in elementary school–okay. Now I’m in 5th grade, officially in middle school as far as my school district is concerned. I’m devouring (adult) science fiction novels and writing a sprawling, epic space opera called Light Shadows (how original :p). It seems to be about the adults, because that’s what I’m used to reading about, but it quickly becomes about a child they discover in the wilderness and her mysterious connection with one of the adults. Her connection to the MC shapes the next three novels, also about young people in relation to the original main characters.

Deeming myself “not quite ready” to take on the epic after several failed drafts, at 20 years old I write a different novel for National Novel Writing Month–my first novel in first person. I’m caught up in narrative technique and experimentation, and though I’m focusing on unreliable narration and the art of ambiguity, what I end up with is a story about fraternal twins growing up during and post WWII, and the ways in which their various caregivers spectacularly fail them.

At 21, I decide to tackle the first book in that space opera saga, Renaissance. It ends up being about the original MC at 15 years old, and I rename the saga The Lotus Children.

That summer I go to a Renaissance Festival (ironic?) and have my palm read by a woman dressed like an old gypsy fortune teller, and she tells me that whatever work I do has to do with children. She says I don’t work with children exactly, but I do indirectly. Whatever it is I’m doing, she says, keep it up. I’m good at it–I’ll be successful.

I have no idea what she means, until I tell my best friend (YA author Sarah Diemer!), and she says “well, she means your writing, obviously. You always write about kids. Didn’t you realize that?” No, I had no idea. But looking back, she was right.

So, basically, I write YA because I’ve always written about young adults (although at that point in life I had no idea that YA even existed, let alone had its own section at the book store). Plain and simple.

The not so plain and simple? I am a huge defender of respecting the autonomy and intelligence of young people. I’m almost ten years past my high school graduation, but I still feel the same way now that I felt all throughout childhood: young people do not get the respect they deserve, and are unfairly asked to demonstrate respect for figures who have done nothing to deserve it. (If you want me to cite real life examples, let me know and I’ll do a whole other blog post that is sure to amaze and entertain. I HAVE STORIES.)

So I write about young adults who overcome great obstacles, and who demonstrate passion, wisdom, and complexity of reason, because I know that young adults are equally, if not more so, capable of those things as adults are.

Fact: authority, like respect, is given, not taken. I have never been what I’d consider a troublemaker (because if you never get caught you never get in trouble!), but I have always had a problem with the idea of “authority.” I was a moderately well-behaved child, and I had and have a healthy respect for my elders, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t talk back when I thought they were wrong. The same thing went with teachers at school. If you’re going to punish me for something I didn’t do, you’re damn right I’m going to protest, and hell no I’m not going to keep quiet and be obedient. Obedience is for dogs. If you want my respect, you earn it, and part of that is showing your respect for me and my peers.

The great lie that schools and parents often try to perpetrate is that adults are better than children–that adults know more, have experienced more, are always correct, and should always be deferred to. That’s some bullshit right there. All an adult is, is a child plus more years. Don’t more years equal more experience, you might wonder? No, it means different experience, which can be found in people of the same age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc., and makes none of those people more deserving of respect than the others.

And that’s why as a child, and now as an adult, I hate/d to see young people discriminated against, portrayed as problems to be addressed rather than human beings to be considered.

Now, I’m not saying that kids are perfect and don’t need supervision or guidance. What I’m saying is that young people deserve the same respect that they’re asked to give. Treat them as individuals, not clay to be molded into a preferred and pleasing shape. And in books meant for the young adult audience, don’t think so hard about your readers being “young” and worrying about what’s “appropriate.” Stop trying so hard to send the right message. Obvious life lessons/moral stances are obvious.

Admittedly, when I sat down to write The Hierophant (what I suppose is my first “official” YA novel), I did have two intentions in mind: I wanted to write a book with a female protagonist that didn’t annoy me or piss me off, and a book that I would have loved to have read as a teenager. I wanted to tell a story that entertained fantasy while highlighting some of the very real struggles we go through as young adults, struggles that can often continue on into adulthood, if not the rest of our lives. Ana, the main character, is trying to accept the fact that she sees the world differently from her peers, and she can’t change that. She wonders what wisdom her extended family might have passed onto her, if she had known them. And she’s trying to reconcile her desire for connection and belonging, while at the same time feeling the need to protect herself, and spare the ones she loves, by being alone. Now more than ever, in a world where we are both more connected and more separate than ever before, I think her struggle is something many of us can relate to–even if we don’t see demons lurking in the shadows.

But ultimately? I wrote The Hierophant because I loved it. I fell in love with the characters, with the worlds they traveled between, and the stories they lived as everything unfolded in my mind and on the page. And that’s the same reason why I write anything, regardless of the age of the protagonist, or the age of the intended audience: because I love it.



The Hierophant – Book I of the Arcana Series – is coming June 18, 2013!

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THE HIEROPHANT – Cover reveal!

A couple of weeks ago I announced the upcoming release of my second novel, The Hierophant, coming June 18, 2013. I can’t begin to explain how happy it makes me JUST to be able to make that announcement. About as happy as Aro with a red panda.

This is how happy I am that I got to make that announcement.

This is how happy I am that I got to make that announcement.

This book has been a very long time coming. I wrote the original (and thankfully LONG LOST) draft of The Hierophant in 2007, while I was still an Anthropology major, before I had realized that Young Adult Literature was even a thing. The book has transformed into something almost unrecognizable since then, but the soul of the story remains, and it’s stronger than ever. The Hierophant has always been about a girl–Ana–coming to terms with the unknown and uncertain: unknown heritage, uncertain future, unknown worlds and all the paranormal creatures that inhabit them. But mostly, as it turned out in this final incarnation, Ana’s story is about learning to accept the things she can’t control.

Funny, that it took getting unexpectedly fired for me to commit to sharing her story with the world.

This is an independently published book, and I make no attempt to hide it. I do the best I can by the words and the product, and to create a book worthy of any legacy publisher’s standards. But self-publishing is not a sure-fire career. It’s risky business, and an investment in time, energy, and money. I can’t control how sales will turn out. People might hate this book. It might never even reach enough readers for it to matter.

But you have to take risks to follow your dreams, and my dream has always, always been to tell stories. So thank you–yes You!–for being, for reading, for wanting the stories that authors dream to tell. You make it possible for us to do what we do. By reading, sharing, and supporting our work, you help make dreams come true.

When I first wrote The Hierophant six years ago, I could not imagine in (2007, or 2010, or even earlier in 2013) what the cover–the face–of this book would look like. And then a split second of inspired crowd sourcing put me in touch with an amazing design team, and everything fell into place.

So, ladies and gents, without further ado, I give you the cover of The Hierophant.


And the description, in case you haven’t seen it:

Demons are watching you. They move invisible through our world, hunting for rare prey–most humans don’t see the monsters that lurk in the dark, and as long as you can’t see them, they can’t hurt you.

But Ana sees the demons. Creatures once found only in the bedtime stories told by her late mother have crept from the shadows, whispering her name, and stirring ancient magic in her veins.

On the day her tarot deck foretells a disturbing change, Ana encounters an uncanny young man who literally stops her heart. Trebor has strange powers, and an even stranger quest, and for some reason wants to help her. But the closer Trebor gets to unlocking Ana’s power, the more important–and dangerous–his own quest becomes. And in a world haunted by demons determined to find the key to their empire, there is much more at stake than one girl’s soul.

This glorious cover was designed by the brilliant minds of Nathaniel and Lana Winter-Hebert at www.winterhebert.com, who were absolutely wonderful to work with. They took my vague idea of “uh, Tarot” and came up with something more beautiful and intriguing than I could have ever imagined. I’d love to hear what you think about it!

And of course, with the cover reveal comes an official Goodreads listing! If you are so inclined, I would be absolutely as delighted as Aro on the Millennium Falcon if you would consider adding it to your bookshelves!:)

This is how happy I would be if you added THE HIEROPHANT on Goodreads!

This is how happy I would be if you added THE HIEROPHANT on Goodreads!



Stay tuned for more exciting reveals like the book trailer, giveaways, and information on pre-ordering signed paperback copies (plus a free bonus eReader copy)!

If you’d like to be notified when The Hierophant is released, please sign up for my mailing list! No spam, I promise. ;)

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