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.

Hayao Miyazaki

May 23, 2010

Wiscon is next weekend and I’m going to be on a few panels, in addition to doing my tarot and writing workshop. One of the panels is about Hayao Miyasaki, the director of movies such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

In preparation for the panel, I’ve been watching a number of movies from Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s’s animation studio. I started out with Lupin III; The Castle of Cagliostro and will end with Howl’s Moving Castle. I saw Ponyo earlier this year so I won’t need to rewatch that one. But it’s been quite the experience watching all of the movies in a row.

I love Miyasaki’s movies. The first Miyasaki movie I saw was Princess Mononoke. I was blown away by it and have become a huge fan as a result. The panel description asked if there was anything problematic about Miyasaki’s movies. I’ve had to think long and hard about that. Nope, sorry, can’t think of anything.

I only wish Miyasaki had been making these movies when I was a young girl. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like as a kid to have seen a movie like My Neighbor Totoro . The heroines in Miyasaki’s movies are strong, courageous and determined, but they have not lost the compassion, empathy and gentleness that I am finding disturbingly lacking in many of the portrayals of women protagonists being offered today.

Seriously, why does it appear nowadays that the only way a female character is taken seriously is measured either by how cold and unfeeling she is or the body count she leaves behind. The very qualities we used to chastise male characters for having. The rate of violence among young girls and teenagers is increasing and no one seems to care.

Strength should not only be measured by how “kick-ass” you are, how many people you can maim or kill, or how distant you are from your feelings. Strength, IMHO, should also be measured by one’s capacity to be strong but also compassionate and forgiving.

I’m not saying let people walk all over you. The heroines in Miyasaki’s movies are not doormats. To speak rather colloquially, they don’t take no smack from nobody. And they can get angry and cross and irritated, which gives them a three-dimensionality often missing even in live-action movies, but they are also kind and compassionate. Two qualities that also appear to be sadly lacking in our culture today.

So, if problems with Miyasaki’s films are what some people are expecting from the panel next weekend, I’m afraid I won’t have much to offer. I won’t say Miyasaki’s movies are perfect. Nothing is. But they are about as close to perfection as I have come across. Every time I watch a Miyasaki movie, I want to start writing something. He provides much-needed sustenance for the creative part of my soul.

As an example, here is a clip from the movie Whisper of the Heart. It was not directed by Miyasaki (the director was Yoshifumi Kondo, who unfortunately passed away at the age of 47) but Miyasaki wrote and storyboarded the movie.

The movie is about Shizuku Tsukishima, a middle-schooler who spends her most of her time reading books of fairy tales rather than her chores or schoolwork. She discovers that the same person, someone named Seiji Amasawa, appears to have checked out all the books she’s reading.

Seji is also a middle-schooler, who wants to become a master violin maker, something his parents are trying to discourage him from pursuing. After a series of sweet misunderstandings, Seji and Shizuku finally meet. The following clip is one of my favorite parts in the movie, as Seji and Shizuku engage in a charming, impromptu duet.

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!?!

News and more news…

April 28, 2010

Wow, hadn’t realized it’s been over two week since my last crazy post. The one where I was screaming my head off.

I’ve got some news to share, so here goes.

First off, I received confirmation from editor D. L. King that my short story “Elementary, My Dear Sir”, will be in the upcoming anthology called Spank! It will be released sometime in the fall.

Next, I’m participating in the first annual Coyote Con. It’s a 31 day digital conference for writers of speculative fiction. I’ll be participating on May 22nd in a chat on Transformative Sex with Joely Sue Burkhart, Teresa Wymore and David Sklar under my other nom de plume, Anna Black.

Registration is free and you can sign up at the website.

In conjunction with Coyote Con, my friend Joely Sue Burkhart is hosting MayNoWriMo. What’s great about MayNoWriMo is that you can set ANY goal you want for the month of May.

So if all you want to do for May is finish a short story or write a synopsis or write 100 words a day, you set the goal. There will be prizes and the yahoo group is already becoming a very lively place to hang out at.

My MayNoWriMo goal is to finish and submit a 4,500 word short story.

Okay, next is Wiscon. (May 28 – May 31st). I’m all signed up for that and I’m going to be on three panels, do a reading from one of my vampire stories and put on my tarot and writing workshop. So I’ll be spending May getting ready for that.

And I’m still working on edits for Ellora’s Cave for the two novellas that will be coming out soon. Plus I’m working on other writing projects. And I’m starting a new job on Monday. So May is going to be a crazy but fun month. At least I hope it’s fun.

I’ve been watching quite a few movies I had hoped to blog about but I’m afraid I’ll have to save those for another time.

I’m planning on using my blog to keep track of my progress during May because not only am I doing MayNoWriMo, I’ve set myself a weight-loss goal for May.

Anyway, that’s the news and updates for now. May 1st is this coming Saturday so I need to get cracking.

Oh, yeah. Forgot to mention. I didn’t finish Script Frenzy. 😦 I had to work on edits all during April and that was not the month to be trying something new like writing a script. But there’s always next year. I learned a lot, however, and I don’t regret the time, albeit brief as it was, I spent in the world of scriptwriting. 🙂

Okay, gotta run!

Ciao for now!

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!

Vampires. Finally!

June 17, 2009

Okay, here’s that post I promised regarding the panel I went to at Wiscon called The Care and Feeding of Your Vampire.

As I noted over on Facebook this morning, I’ve been thinking about vampires of late. I’ve been watching reruns of Moonlight on Scif-Fi Channel, I’m reading the first of Chelsa Quinn Yarbo’s Saint-Germain vampire novels, I recently watched my copy of the anime vampire movie, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and I sat through Underworld: Rise of the Lycans this past weekend. I say sat through because it was a bit of a disappointment. Well, the Underworld movies have never been my favorite vampire movies anyway.

Now, my notes are not that great but below is what I was able to get down. As I mentioned previously, it was a very good panel. One of the better panels I attended at Wiscon.

The panelists were Fred Schepartz, Alex Bledsoe, Suzy Charnas, Alaya Dawn Johnson and Jordan Castillo Price. All of them have written vampire novels and had a lot to share about how they went about doing so. Again, forgive the paucity of my notes.

The Care and Feeding of Your Vampire How do our favorite undead heroes come to life? Vampire writers reveal their dark secrets and give a blood to fangs description of how they create unforgettable vampires.

There was discussion and generally positive reviews about a vampire movie called Let the Right One In.

Suzy Charnas, author of The Vampire Tapestry, commented that her vampires were never human beings. They had adapted to look like human beings. They were more like parasites or mosquitoes. They become more human as a result of pretending to be human.

The panelists acknowledged knowing the vampire “rules” and to tweaking or playing around with them. But the panel also stressed that it’s important to at least adhere to some of the conventions surrounding the vampire mythos or why call them vampires.

Which is not to say one should not be inventive but that an author should not go too far off the beaten track or you might lose reader interest or destroy even their ability to suspend disbelief.

Here are some of the strengths and liabilities of vampires that the panelists discussed:

Unable to go out in sunlight
Reacting negatively to religious icons, i.e crosses.
Unable to cross running water
No reflection in mirror
Needs to drink blood
Susceptible to garlic
Needs to sleep in coffin or earth where buried
Unable to enter a dwelling without being invited

Mind control
Superior strength
Hard if not impossible to kill
Eternal life
Doesn’t need to sleep
Preternatural healing powers
Control over animals

Again, these are general conventions regarding vampires that have evolved over the years. Some authors use them; some authors disregard them. The important thing is to pick a “rule” for your vamp and then remain consistent regarding that rule.

There was discussion regarding the predator/prey relationship and behavior between vampires and their victims.

Some of the panelists commented on the issue of “passing”. That is, a vampire pretending to be human. Most agreed that this was often a very important survival tactic for vampires in order to keep from being staked or burned or having their heads cut off.

Some of the questions the panelists asked themselves when creating their vampires and that they tried to answer before writing their books were as follows:

What is the vampire’s relationship to humans?
What are the vampire’s strengths? Its weaknesses?
How does a vampire see humans? As prey? Is the vampire envious of humans?
What about sex and vampires?

The panelists agreed that in their stories sex for vampires ranged from fevered interest to cold indifference.

Their was general agreement that due to the fact that vampires are predators, they generally should be stronger, faster, bigger and/or better at blending in.

And that’s it. I wish I had taken down more.

Oh, the pictures in this post are from Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, that anime vampire movie I mentioned. Which I own because I love it so much. The vampire is Meier Link and he’s one of my favorite vamps.

I should mention that there is another Vampire Hunter D anime movie out there but it’s not nearly as good. Just make sure that you see the word Bloodlust in the title if you decide you want to check the movie out.

Okay, enough vamps for now. I have to write. 🙂