Tarot and Writing Workshop

June 20, 2010

I must say, getting back to working full-time is proving quite the experience. Having to do errands on the weekends. Squeezing in my writing during the week.

I get up around 4:30 a.m. in the mornings to write during the week. Of course I get really sleepy in the evenings but I prefer writing in the morning when I’m still fresh and have not been “corrupted” by all the attendant “slings and arrows” of everyday life in the 21st century.

As a result, I’m still making progress on my writing goals. As a matter of fact, once I log off the internet I’ve got edits to do today for Ellora’s Cave and a short story to finish and start revising.

I posted the following over at my Tarot and Writing Yahoo Group site. It’s about the tarot workshop I did at Wiscon.

The workshop was held on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. I initially didn’t think many would show up due to the late-night and into the early-morning partying that goes on at Wiscon on Friday night. But the room was full (although it wasn’t a terribly big room to start).

Basically, I went over the handout of the workshop which you can find in the files at the website. I talked about how when it comes to using the Tarot for writing, there are no rules. That the beauty of using Tarot is that you can and should make up your own rules.

The point of using Tarot for creative writing is to get past preconceptions, to get out of a creative rut, to look at your story and possibly yourself in a new way.

Tarot cards are a mental shortcut to your unconscious. They allow you to tap into ideas that are swimming just beneath the surface of your conscious thoughts. What’s on the surface can, in a sense, be polluted with all that everyday stuff we all have to deal with. Our jobs, family issues, being bombarded with voices coming at us from every direction. It can be hard to break through all that and get to the wellspring of your creativity.

Tarot can help you do that. I find when I lay out the cards that I immediately get calmer and I began to shut out the noise and cacophony and focus on my inner self. Once that’s done I can then quiet my mind and find the answer to whatever creative problem I’m dealing with.

I advised the workshop attendees to try and use different Tarot decks if they had them. To even mix it up. Writing a dark Gothic vampire? Use a light, airy deck. Writing a romantic comedy? Use a dark, horror deck.

Don’t censor your thoughts when it comes to using the Tarot. Whatever feels right do it! Seriously. The spread worksheets I provided are only the beginning. Create your own spreads unique to your writing process or your writing topics.

Mix up decks. Use one deck just for the Major Arcana and another for the Minor.

Read books on the Tarot. Join forums. Read with others.

During the workshop as a group we had a lot of fun brainstorming not only a character for a sci-fi mystery-adventure, but a plot for her too. I had never done a group brainstorming session with Tarot but if you’re in a writer’s group I highly recommend it.

I also did an impromptu workshop that following Monday morning in a coffee shop. There were only a handful of us but just pulling the Magician card and coming up with the description of “a rebellious librarian” we managed to plot out a pretty interesting high-fantasy novel.

So, yes, definitely work with others (can just be your writing partner and you) but using Tarot can work just as well when you’re alone. As a matter of fact, that’s how I see it. As a pull it out of your pocket and brainstorm on your own kind of tool.

I’m currently stuck on a plot point for a short story and will be pulling out my deck later in the day to see if I can find a solution to it.

Please feel free to join the Yahoo Groups, Tarot and Writing, if you’d like to learn more.

Tarot and Writing


Tarot Workshop Recap

June 11, 2010

I’m pretty much over my really nasty cold. Thank goodness. I hate being sick! And it wasn’t fun being sick my first week at new job.

There’s a huge learning curve for my new job, however, so when I get home in the evening I’m pretty much wiped. And any spare time I have goes toward my writing.

Speaking of, I’m nearly done with edits for vampire novella for EC and release date will be forthcoming. Starting edits for erotic fantasy novella for EC, working on a short erotica sci-fi for an anthology call, working on another under-the-wraps-for-now project, which I will be talking about down the line, and revising and hoping to submit soon a novel I wrote many moons ago but need to get out in order to start making the submissions rounds. And I’ve got writing projects in holding patterns after that! And, last but not least, worldbuilding for a SF romance novel I hope to start writing later this year.

Because my free time is once again limited and in order to be more efficient, if anyone is interested in the recap of my Tarot and Writing workshop at Wiscon, I will be doing it at my yahoo groups appropriately titled Tarot and Writing.

I’m hoping to do it sometime this upcoming Sunday but if I’m unable to because of time constraints I will recap the workshop the weekend of June 19-20th.

And if anyone can tell me what deck that Star card is from, I’d be eternally grateful. I found it on the Internet but have no idea what deck it came from.

Transformative Sex Panel

May 15, 2010

Just a heads up that I’m going to be a guest speaker at Coyote Con on Saturday, May 22nd at 1PM EST on the Transformative Sex panel, along with
Teresa Wymore, David Sklar, and Joely Sue Burkhart.

The idea for the panel came from a post that Joely did earlier this year about how sex can be used to further both the plot and your character’s journey through the story.

To attend any of the chats at Coytoe Con you have to be registered but registration is free and you can do that here

All the chat sessions are held over the weekends and I’ve attended a few and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the chats. I’m hoping this will become an annual event.

If you’ve missed chats, on this page you’ll find the transcripts. Some of the chats have been on artificial intelligence and sex, costumes in fiction, creating religions and worlds, etc. Check it out!

I’ve finally started draft of 4,500 word short story I want to submit at the end of the month. And I’m getting ready for Wiscon which is now only two weeks away! Creating worksheets for Tarot Workshop, mulling over structure and topics for panel I’m moderating, etc, etc, etc.

Again, where is the darn time going! May 15th!?! Really!?! Already!?!

Checking In Again

March 28, 2010

Hadn’t realized a week has gone by since my last post. Been very busy with both writing and day-to-day living stuff.

I started drafting my cowboy ménage à trois. I should be finished with it by the end of April if not sooner. It’s proving quite interesting to write as it’s the emotional dynamics of the two men and the woman that I’m finding fascinating.

I’m still prepping for Script Frenzy, which is only four days away! Which means, also, it will be April 1st in just four days. Which means time is flying again! The first quarter of 2010 is nearly over!

I’m going to Wiscon. I’ve signed up for some panels and I’ll be doing my Tarot for Writers workshop. I’m looking forward to that.

I watched Vicky Christina Barcelona the other day.

It was a gorgeous movie with a gorgeous backdrop—Barcelona—and gorgeous actors, such as Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson. It was enjoyable, although I have to admit, I was enjoying the breathtaking scenery, the beautiful Spanish architecture and the haunting strains of the Spanish guitar more than the actual plot. It was strangely narrated, too, as if someone was doing a reading of the story at a bookstore or something.

I thought it was going to be a lot sexier than it was. It has a ménage à trois which involves Cruz, Bardem and Johansson, but their threesome is pretty tame, IMHO. It’s a Woody Allen movie so there are plenty of neuroses to go around among all its characters.

I really thought that with such a sensual, sexy cast and being set in Spain—in summer no less—there would have been a lot more heat. You know? 🙂

Anywho, I have to get back to my edits, my drafting, my prepping, my worldbuilding and, of course, my sundry non-writing activities that make up day-to-day life in 21st century America.

Ciao for now!

The Ten of Wands

January 31, 2010

It’s been a rough week. But then, it’s been a rough couple of years. Ever since the economy crashed and burned. And I know I’m not the only one. However, compared to what’s going on in Haiti, most of us, even those who are struggling in the US, are pretty blessed. And I have not forgotten that and have done what I could financially to help the people of Haiti.

But I have to admit that lately I’m starting to feel a bit weighed down. This is a picture of the Ten of Wands from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith.

The following interpretations for the card are from the Learning the Tarot website, which is an excellent site, by the way, to learn the tarot.

trying to do too much
refusing to say “no”
taking all the blame
assuming another’s debt
doing the lion’s share
having to work overtime
shouldering all the work
being saddled with an extra load

feeling burdened
never having time to relax
feeling tied to a treadmill
being taxed to the limit
assuming responsibility
being held accountable
carrying out an unpleasant duty
cleaning up a messy situation
being left holding the bag

fighting uphill
doing everything the hard way
experiencing resistance
pushing against the current
having to work for every gain
finding that nothing comes easily

Yeah, I’d say I’ve been felling a bit like the Ten of Wands. What’s interesting about this card is the way the man is carrying the wands. For one, that’s a rather strange way to carry them. And it looks rather awkward. Plus, he’s carrying them in such a way as to prevent him from seeing what’s beyond those burdensome wands.

Which is what can happen when we have problems. They can appear to us as if they’re the only thing in our whole world. And the way that fellow is carrying those wands, with his face buried deep in them, there’s no way he can see where he’s going, much less that he’s near to his destination, the village just ahead.

My advice to him (and, consequently to myself) is to stop, put those wands down, figure out a way to carry them so that he can see where he’s going and then continue on. But this time with an eye to his destination and the confidence that he will make it.

Sounds good to me. 🙂

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. 🙂

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!