Halloween, NaNo, Tarot and Vamps

October 31, 2009

First, I apologize for what will be the rather hurried nature of this post. Due to some unforeseen and rather unpleasant personal thingies in October, I got behind with my writing projects. Two projects that were supposed to be all done by today are overlapping into the first week of November.

And, as we all know, not only is today Halloween (yeah!), and not only do we have to turn our clocks back one hour tonight (extra hour of sleep!), but for us doing NaNo, today is our last day to finish whatever preparations we are doing so that we can start writing like mad tomorrow.

So, to make a long story short, I’m also behind on the blog posts I had planned to do prior to the start of NaNo.

I had promised to talk about my Tarot and Fiction workshop. I had wanted to post a more detailed report of that but as I’m hoping to do this workshop again in the near future, I will save that longer, more detailed piece for another time.

So, here’s a brief recap of the workshop.

First, I advised the participants to get a copy of Corrine Kenner’s book Tarot for Writers

This is an excellent book to have if you’re really interested in using the tarot for writing.

In the workshop, I emphasized the fact that I see the Tarot as more of a brainstorming and writer’s block busting tool than anything else. I don’t use the Tarot every time I sit down to write. Most of the time I come up with the story ideas, characters and plots on my own but when I’m stuck, out come the tarot cards.

As a matter of fact, I’m currently stuck on a scene in my current WIP and when I’m done here I’m going to pull out my cards and see if I can get unstuck.

The reason I think the tarot works so well is that I think our minds get stuck in ruts and our thoughts run along the same grooves. And we need to get pushed out of those ruts. But it’s hard to do because most of us (definitely me) are not creative geniuses.

We can, of course, brainstorm off of others but sometimes that’s not feasible. Everybody, as we know, is so busy these days.

So, my suggestion? Pull out your tarot deck. Lay out a spread or just pull a card. You can do this randomly or you can look through the deck and pick a card that gets a response out of you.

That’s what we did in the workshop. I had all the participants pick a genre to write in. I did this because I wanted them to keep that genre in mind when using the cards. That would help them keep the meaning of the cards or whatever they picked up from the cards in context.

Since some of the participants did not have cards, I passed out some from my collection. At first I thought it was a good idea to have people use cards that were similar to their genre. For example, a woman was writing a Regency. Someone had brought the Jane Austen Tarot so I gave that deck to her.

However, in retrospect, I don’t think that was a good idea. The woman admitted that she didn’t really come up with anything but plots and ideas she had already written. That made me think that, perhaps, it would have been better for her to have used a different type of deck. Something so far removed from the world of Regency that it would have done what I wanted the tarot to do for her. Think outside the box.

For example, this card is from the Housewives Tarot, which uses images from the late 50’s and early 60’s for the Tarot. It’s kind of a tarot deck for fans of the Mad Men television series.

In the workshop, we used our tarot decks to brainstorm characters and then plots. I encouraged the participants not to worry about what the meanings of the cards were. I did pass out a cheat sheet for their use, but I asked them to first look at the card, think about or write down what they saw in the card, and then see how they could apply that to their story.

Here’s a quick example of what I came up with. I pulled the Nine of Cups for my protagonist. My genre was mainstream fiction.

Here’s what I wrote. My protagonist is a dark-haired man, wealthy and self-complacent. He believes he has achieved all that he has dreamed of. He owns a successful furniture company. He’s overweight but believes it’s a sign of his worldly success. His wife, however, urges him constantly to lose weight. He blithely ignores her, indulging in rich food, fine wines and other sensual delights.

Okay, so that was my protagonist based on that card. For the antagonist I drew the Wheel of Fortune. I wrote this.

The antagonist is Fate. Suddenly our hero loses everything! His business, his health, his wife. Like Job in the Bible, he finds himself tested everywhere he turns. He must ride the Wheel of Fortune downward as he struggles to reinvent himself and his life.

Now, this is all rough draft stuff. I would definitely work and revise and rewrite all this as I made my way through my WIP.

For example, I would definitely make my antagonist a real person, someone who symbolizes what Fate has done to my protagonist because stories work best, IMHO, when the antagonist is a person (or an alien or a vampire). Someone the protagonist can actively engage with.

Your interpretations of the cards can be literal or metaphorical. It all depends on what works best for you.

I mentioned in the workshop that when using the cards for writing, the only meaning that mattered was what the participants came up with. The interpretations in books can be helpful and I encouraged them to make use of those, but I wanted them to also try and come up with their own meanings first. Based, most importantly, on what genre they were writing in and, specifically, on what their particular writing problem was.

I, for example, need to come up with something nasty and horrible for my villain to do to my heroine. I will take out my trusty tarot deck and see what I can come up with.

Okay, vamps. I finally saw Let the Right One In. Great movie. Highly recommend it. Best vampire movie I’ve seen in a long time. It was done in a way that played around with the standard vampire tropes but put them in a context that allowed you to see those tropes in a different way. It’s also, believe it or not, a rather sweet love story. It’s bloody and gory, so a heads up on that, but I enjoyed it and my son, who as a rule does not like vampire anything, was impressed with it and judged it a really good vampire movie. And that’s saying something! Coming from him. 🙂

NaNo. Not really done with prepping but NaNo starts tomorrow so gotta run with it. Hope those who are participating are ready to get going tomorrow. Start your writing engines!

Okay, I really, really, really got to get to my writing! I feel time just ticking away. I don’t know how much blogging I will be doing in November but I’ll try to stop by when I can.

November is going to be crazy! But fun crazy. I hope. 🙂


Not Panicking. Yet!

October 27, 2009

Okay, not panicking. Not yet. But soon if I don’t get caught up. Finger is hovering over the panic button.

Five days remaining until start of NaNo. Need to get a submission sent out next week. Need to get the draft I’m currently working on also done next week.

Can someone please send a memo to Father Time and tell him to slow down! He’s going by way too fast! 🙂

One Week to Go!

October 25, 2009

Just a week to go until NaNoWriMo starts!

I’m a little behind with the prepping I had planned, but that’s okay. One of the fun things about NaNo is that the exhilaration of pushing to get to that goal of 50,000 words by November 30th can really inspire one to come up with ideas.

If you’re doing NaNo this year, please buddy me here

I’m also proceeding apace on other writing projects and am nearly caught up.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Power of a Great Story!

October 22, 2009

Still writing but had to share this.

Gone Writing

October 19, 2009

I’m taking a two-week hiatus from my blog.

I have gotten uncomfortably behind with my writing projects and, now, NaNo is only two weeks away and I’m also woefully behind on prepping for that. And I’m determined to “win” NaNo this year.

Getting 50,000 words drafted on my new novella (possibly novel) would be a great help.

So I’ve “gone writing”.

I’ll try to stop by everyone’s blogs when I can to see how you’re doing and I hope anyone who is planning to do NaNo this year please be sure to add me as a buddy.

I’m over at NaNo under Jenna Reynolds

I’ll be returning to my blogging, of course, near the end of the month to get ready for the start of NaNo on Sunday, November 1st.

So, good luck to everyone with your endeavors for the next couple of weeks.

Oh, my tarot workshop this past Saturday went well (or at least I think it did) and once the insanity of NaNoWriMo is over I’ll blog about it.

Ciao for now!

The High Priestess

October 13, 2009

On Saturday, October 17th, I’ll be giving a Tarot and Fiction workshop for the Mad City Romance group. (Image from Robert M. Place)

I’m looking forward to it as it also gives me an opportunity to not only talk about using Tarot and other oracle-type cards in one’s fiction writing but about myths and archetypes.

I’m a myth and archetype junkie. I cut my reading teeth on mythology, fairy tales and legends. So when I discovered Jung, Joseph Campbell, Christoper Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, etc, it was like coming home in that I had been reading myths since I first learned to read.

In preparation for the workshop I’ve been reading over my tarot books and I recalled that one time I had determined what my Soul Card was, which is the High Priestess.

According to the Aeclectic Tarot website the High Priestess’s basic meaning is as follows.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know in order to make a decision about a problem or a job, an investment, love, career, family, etc.

And, finally, there is, behind her throne, the curtain that leads to the deepest, most esoteric and secret knowledge; the pomegranates that decorate it remind us of Persephone, who was taken down into the land of the dead, ate its fruit, and became the only goddess allowed to travel to and from that strange land. This indicates that when you get the High Priestess, you’re going to be learning some very odd things. Very odd.

I love learning odd things. 🙂 Yep, I definitely resonate with the High Priestess Card so having it as my Soul Card feels completely right.

In the Mythic Tarot Deck Persephone is the High Priestess and that’s so in sync with the novella, which is based on Greek mythology, that I’m currently writing.

Persephone, pomegranate in hand, is about to descend from the world of light back to the Kingdom of the Dead, over which she rules with her husband, Hades.

As for the mundane things, I’m still plugging away at my writing and still trying to stay warm. We’re about 20 degrees below normal in these parts and the middle of October is bit early for these kind of temps. Brrrrrr!

NaNo Prep #1

October 10, 2009

Time is flying! Today is October 10th, which leaves three weeks until the start of NaNoWriMo.

If anyone is plotting or prepping beforehand, here’s a link to Holly Lisle’s Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure.

I used this when I was doing NaNo a few years back. It really helped so I highly recommend it.

Here’s an atricle about writing a novel in a month. Write a Novel in a Month

A book and website you might find helpful is First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Weisner.

If I think of or come across any more prepping/plotting stuff between now and the end of the month I’ll post them.

And please feel free to share any of your tips and/or tricks for NaNo.

I’m currently working on character sketches for my NaNo project (both major and secondary characters). I probably won’t start my hard core plotting, however, until October 18th or 19th. I’m writing a historical supernatural thriller. Yeah, it involves vampires. 🙂

I’m still revising my vampire novella and just started drafting a new novella centered around Greek mythology. I LOVE Greek mythology.

Oh, and I also have my Tarot and Fiction Writing workshop which is just a week away on Saturday the 17th. I’m very much looking forward to doing that.