Cracking the Whip

One of the many projects that I’ve been working on is being the webmistress for my university’s Creative Writing Club.

fever-whiplash-zoom

The only thing that should wear this much leather is a cow.

I won’t lie, some mornings (translation: all week) I wake up and I just don’t want to deal with it.  And then I pull up the blog and start in on the day’s writing prompt.

I have not had the chance to write on any of them because of all the other stuff going on.  If you get the chance, you should check them out.  The book I’m pulling the information out of was one I used for my advanced fiction writing class and the end result of the class was the publication of Celia.  These are especially great if you’ve always wanted to write, but had no idea where to start, what to do, or was too scared of ridicule to try.  You have to be local if you want to attend the club’s weekly workshops, but you can participate online almost as much.  You’ll meet people who just started writing and who have been writing for awhile.

Stop on by and then tell me what you think of things.

Updates and Whatnot

I’ve been battling a second round of flu this week, but I’m happy to report I’m finally on the winning side.  Still sick, but not begging people to rob pharmacies anymore.  Yes, I actually did this.  No, there were no pharmacies robbed as a result of my illness.  Before you judge me, you should know that at one point my face looked and felt like this from all the sinus pressure:

Puffer fish photo

The week wasn’t all bad, though.  I received word that I was unanimously accepted into my grad school program.  I start in the fall and I have my classes already picked out.  It’s only six more weeks until graduation.  As part of my multimedia writing class, I have to build an online portfolio.  I’ll be sure to post links to that once it’s up and running.  I plan on including a book trailer for Celia, so if you’ve been waiting to get it, hopefully it will convince you to wait no longer.  Since I’ve been sick, and all of my efforts have revolved around breathing properly, Recommend It Monday will be put on hold next week.  Instead, I’ve invited Lori Michelle over to vist for the first ever author interview.  I wanted to add this as a Tuesday blog feature, and will in the future, but this week I’m going to cheat a little bit.  At least I’m honest about it.  I was recently interviewed about Celia as well.  That interview will be posted on April 24th, and I’ll provide links to that.  The poetry chapbook is almost finished.  I’m waiting to get some feedback on the MS before I decide I’m officially done with it.  Hopefully, I’ll have some official news on it in the next few months.

Born Magazine and the Baltimore Review

One of the benefits of being up all night from the disease you’re harboring, if such benefits can exist, is you find some cool stuff on the internet.  Because really, who would rather sleep than miserably surf the web?  Well, I would, but that’s not the point.

I came across a couple of neat online writing journals: Born Magazine and The Baltimore Review.The thing I love about these journals is the multimedia experiences you get because they are housed online.  That’s more a factor with Born Magazine, but they both go beyond the traditional print experience.  For example, I like how The Baltimore Review has an author photo for everything on the site.  There’s also a tab for blog content.  However, if you’re a die hard printist (Is that even a word? It doesn’t matter.  I’m an English Major and I can create language as I have need for it.) you can purchase print copies of the journal.  But that’s not all!  The very last category link is “Visual.”  “Landing” is amazing.

Born Magazine, though, marries multimedia content with written works.  You can view the text of a poem, or you can watch the movie for the poem, such as “Like Wings Abandoned from Some Future Score.”  “Ways to Carry You” is probably the single coolest thing I’ve seen all week.

I should probably be talking more about the poems, but I’m taking a multimedia writing class so I’m really interested in the ways these sites incorporate more than just the words on the screen.  There are a lot of drawbacks to providing content online.  The need for a device to access content (PC, Mac, a Tablet of some sort), the need for electricity to power the device or the finite battery life, the additional eye strain caused by reading on an electronic screen, and potential formatting headaches are just a few of them.  There’s a versatility to online content, though, that makes it worth it.

You really should check out “Ways to Carry You.”

Recommend It Monday–Goddess’s Choice by Jamie Marchant

Jamie Marchant stopped by and asked me to review her book, The Goddess’s Choice, for RIM.  It’s fantasy, and who doesn’t love fantasy, so I said, “Sure!  Shoot me a copy and I’ll give it a read.”  She sent me a copy and I settled in to read.  The book is based on the Norwegian fairy tale “The Princess and the Glass Hill.”

Overall, this was a rather entertaining read.  There were some flaws, however, both in craft and basic nuts and bolts.  For the ebook version (I have a Nook Tablet), the formatting was all over the place.  Since it was an entertaining read, I’m won’t consider that a deal breaker.  It was pretty disctracting, though.  I do not know if the paperback version of the book has the same formatting issues.  I also found a typo or two while I was reading.  I’m a bit less forgiving on that point.  For craft, the first chapter went out of its way to make sure you knew that everyone considered Robbie a demon.  It was a bit heavy handed.  Also, the book makes a big deal out of Solar keeping the peace between the joined kingdoms, but we really don’t get a lot of why that matters.  I’d let it go, but there are several places where the importance of maintaining the peace is mentioned.  In fact, the bulk of the story revolves around Samantha refusing to marry the court suitors, which she needs to do to help maintain the peace.  It would have been nice to find out some of that history.  Oh well, moving on to the good stuff.

I liked that Samantha was an aurora and Robbie was an amihealer.  I enjoyed the way those abilities complicated the story for the characters.  I thought the divide within the Church of Sulis was very well done.  I had not heard of the fairy tale she based the story on prior to reading the book, and I don’t think you really need to.  The elements don’t need the tale to justify them being in the story.  If you are familiar with the tale, you will definitely recognize the elements from it that Marchant incorprates.  The story was paced well, and there is a good mix of romance with action.  There are some rather graphic scenes, so there’s that.  I’m not off-put by them, but if you’re considering letting a younger person read it…well, perhaps you should reconsider that.  I did appreciate that the graphic nature of the scenes accomplish a purpose beyond just being graphic.  Duke Argblutal is a very bad man and these scenes do a good job of showing that.  The one thing I had a very big problem with was when Samantha was hearing about Captain Tremayne and how he raped a young woman.  I think it was the woman’s father who exclaims that it’s an experience worse than death and the author has Samantha thinking it was no such thing.  Bad move.  For some women, death would be far kinder than the hell they’ve experienced at the hands of a rapist and for the author to not only suggest otherwise, but to do it from the strong female heroine, is inexcusable.

So, there you have it.  Beyond the one major gaffe, the story is an entertaining read.  I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I’d give it 4 out of 5 without the rape apologist comment.  This is book one in a series of books, so I’m hoping that the future books will be better proofread and better formatted.  Also, leave the rape apologetics at home.

New Publication Announcement

I just received word that my short story “Blood and Rain” will be published through Analecta, the Indiana University-South Bend’s literary journal.  Traditionally, Analecta has hated me, so I’m very excited to be included in it this year.  I haven’t heard back on the poetry I submitted, but I’m guessing that it was not accepted.  I’m ok with that, though.  My fiction piece made it in.

In other rejection news, I still have not heard back from Yale on the writers conference this summer.  The hear back date was March 20th, and I sent a follow up email after that date with no word.  I am assuming they did not accept me into the conference.  I’m sad, but it was a lot of money to come up with in short notice.  Instead, I found a conference in Ireland at Lismore Castle.  And by me, I mean someone else entirely.  It costs more, and it’s international so travel will be more plus that whole passport thing.  Still, it’s good to dream and the conference isn’t until December so it’s also good to save.  I may pull it off yet.

No word, yet, on the status of my grad school application.  I’ve been told not to worry because I’m going to be accepted, but there are a lot of things I can’t do until I’m officially in the program.  Things like picking out my classes.

In a few weeks I should be hearing back on all the scholarships I’ve applied to.  Grad school will be less stressful if I can pay for it.

Chapbook Update and New Work

I’ve been playing around with Lulu for my chapbook project so I can start getting a feel for what I’ve got.  I’ve decided to title the book In Pieces, although I still need to write the title poem.  I’m shooting for around 32 pages.  It’s coming along really well and I’m pleased with it overall.  I’d like to send it off into the world to see who might be interested in it, but I haven’t completely ruled out self-publishing.  I guess it depends on the kind of response people have to the project.  A few days ago, I posted a new erasure poem I wrote out of a poem from Larry Levis.  I’ve decided I kind of like doing erasures, so I did another one.  This is from Louise Glück’s poem, “The Fear of Love.”

 

Winter

 

That body

seemed to

have spoken

 

It was winter

the sun rose

mirrored in the moon

passed over

as though

to leave no shadows

only dents

stretched before us

impenetrable

 

we lie there

arm in arm

the gods

we built

New Work–Into Sodom and Reruns

One of the things I’m discovering about putting together this new chapbook of poetry is that as I write new pieces for it, some of the older pieces are no longer fitting in so well.  I’ve decided I’m going to take those older pieces out and write some new pieces to replace them.  I was sitting in class last night and ended up writing two new pieces.  They are very rough, so commentary is appreciated.

 

Into Sodom

 

I wanted him to stop

told him as much

I’m not done yet

he said with his body

 

He took me into Sodom

mistook me for the Angels

He showered while I cried

 

 

Reruns

 

this place feels familiar

the snow across the TV picture

stays behind my closed eyes

and the TV doesn’t work

the horizontal hold slips

flips the scene, grabs again

my belly distends like an Ethiopian child’s

he is starving, I am pregnant

I wish we could switch shows

Recommend It Monday–Mistresses of the Macabre

Today on Recommend It Monday, I read Mistresses of the Macabre, edited by Lori Michelle.  This all-female collection offered a wide range of stories, from a hand that won’t obey to a battered housewife who is saved by a giant spider.

First, the introduction by Angel Leigh McCoy was fabulous.  If I had to say what the strongest portion of the collection was, it was hands-down the intro.  It was smart and full of sobering statistics.  My favorite story out of the 18 was “Playdate.”  It was very short, and that made me sad, but I loved the premise of it, and I think it was really well done.  The stories, for the most part were more unsettling than anything.  “Out with the Old” read a lot like the movie, The Skeleton Key, starring Kate Hudson, only for one person instead of a couple.  Had I not seen the movie, I probably would have loved that story as well.  It’s a relatively fast read.  The stories range from very short to moderate length.

I love the concept of an all-female collection like this.  On a scale of 1 to 5, I’d give the overall collection a 3.  There were some great spots in it, but there were other spots that really didn’t do it for me.  Maybe you’ll disagree.  Give it a read and let me know your thoughts on it.

 

Spencerian Verse, Anyone?

I was having a discussion on my Facebook wall about Chaucer.  I’m in the middle of (finally) writing my paper and a friend suggested that I should write it in Middle English to earn “moxie” points with the professor.  If you’ve ever read Middle English, you will know why I have no intention of doing such a thing.  I do have an end of semester project coming up where I have to write my own tale for the Canterbury tales, and I’ll be writing that in iambic pentameter and in heroic couplets the way Chaucer wrote his tales.  I figured if I could write my own spin on the book of Genesis in Spencerian verse, this will be a piece of cake.  I thought it might be fun to share a snippet of it.  It’s by no means complete, and there are some gaps, so I’m only sharing the first three stanzas of the epic (which, even in its current state is 3 pages and 900 words long).

 

Creation

 

I sat to sup with family, friends, and more

With plates o’erfilled and goblets full of wine

When suddenly the host, to me, implored

That wouldn’t it be wonderful to dine

Amused by such a tale you tell so fine

Regale us with a story, make it true

Recount to us whilst we feast on this swine

And refill all our chalices with brew

And suddenly which story I should tell I knew.

 

Good Sirs, said I, and Wondrous Ladies fair

Our host has begged a tale, and I comply

With such a tale, make comfortable your chair

This tale I tell is long, but I shall try

To tell its ending ‘ere the sun is high

To light your way from table to your bed

To slumber deep as though in death do lie

With stomach full and wine imbibèd head

With generosity your gullets our host fed.

 

I tell with truth this story as it hap’d

So long ago while I was still a boy

And bored, I was, for I was freshly napped

I made myself a world to be my toy

And this new world I truly did enjoy

It started out as nothing, black and stark

And so some light I knew I must employ

To come and sweep away all that was dark

And “Let there be some light” was my only remark.

Tarot Decks and a New Resource

I went to Barnes & Noble earlier today to look for a book a friend of mine was telling me about.  It was Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner, and according to Amazon, I seriously overpaid.  Still, instant gratification and all.  It looks like a great resource to add to my collection and I’m actually pretty excited to get into it.   They also have a couple of tarot decks that looked pretty amazing.  One was the  Tarot of Vampyres deck and book set.  This is not a deck I would normally choose to work with, but I could see it being very handy for writers of vampire fiction.  The other deck that caught my eye was the Steampunk tarot deck and book set.  Again, this isn’t a deck I would choose to work with since I don’t write Steampunk fiction, but I can see this being a great tool for people who do.

This brings me to today’s topic: choosing a tarot deck.

Different decks are going to work better for different types of stories.  Even if you picked up a deck with absolutely no idea what you were doing or how to read any of the cards, you could still intuit means just from the card.  That’s the main reason I don’t use my Celtic dragon deck when I write.  I haven’t written any fantasy stories.  I’m sure I could still use that deck once I’m better at working with the cards, but the deck itself is fantasy, so it would be perfect for a fantasy story.  My Gilded tarot deck is my working deck because it fits well with the stories I’m currently writing.  So, how do you choose a deck?

The first, and probably the most obvious, choice is to look online.  Pro: you will get the largest variety of decks.  Con: You only have the pictures to go by.  Call me crazy, but I don’t like to buy a tarot deck that I haven’t personally handled.  Even though I’m not a reader, I still feel an attraction to certain decks over others.  That’s why, even though it’s a respected deck, I will never own a Rider Waite deck.  It doesn’t speak to me.  I found a dragon deck one time at B&N, and it spoke to me so strongly that I could barely get out of the store without buying it.  I didn’t, and I’ve regretted it ever since.  The dragon deck I have now is a display deck, and maybe I’m giving the cards too much credit, but I think they knew that because they sit in my display and I’m rarely tempted to bring them out.

Find something you enjoy looking at because you’ll spend a lot of time looking at them.  Find something that speaks to you in some way.  Don’t buy a deck you don’t love because you most likely won’t use it and it will be wasted money.  Buy more than one deck.  Like I said, some decks lend themselves to certain types of writing better than others, so the more decks you own, the more versatility you have in using them for your writing.  Invest in an instructional book of some kind.  Most of the decks I’ve seen have books that come with that specific deck.  Since decks can vary in number (some have 1 extra card per suit), you’ll need the book for that deck in order to know how to read the extra card.  My local library has several books on tarot, so I would recommend checking some out, going through them, and then purchasing one you feel is the most helpful.  In fact, I picked up a couple of books from there earlier to go with the one I just bought.  Most of all, have fun.  Remember, you can’t do it wrong.

 

Cross of Truth Tarot Spread for Enraptured–Plot Point

Yesterday’s blog showed a sample tarot spread for characters.  Even though I had a good idea about the character and his motivations, it still gave insight into his potential character as well as gave me some plot ideas.  That’s the nice thing about doing these spreads for story writing.  You may be specifically looking for one thing and see something else in the bargain.

Today, I did a tarot spread called the Cross of Truth in order to help me resolve a plot point that I’m stuck on.   I used my Gilded Tarot deck again, as well.  I don’t have the camera today, so I’ll just have to describe the layout.  Card 1 is the Basis, your starting point.  Card 2 is Desires, hopes or fears, and is positioned above card 1.  Card 3 is Helpful, something that will be of use for the question you’re asking, and it is positioned to the right of card 2.  Card 4 is Challenges, something that could hinder or get in the way of what you’re asking about, and it is positioned to the left of card 2.  Card 5 is Outcome, what eventually happens, and it is positioned above card 2.  When you’ve finished, you should have a giant plus sign with your 2 card at its center.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any good links like I could with the dragon spread.

Since this is about a specific plot point, the “question” I had is who would be concerned about Jeanne, the little girl who has been abducted, and want to search for her.  I had tried with one person and it wasn’t working out at all.  I haven’t talked much about Enraptured, so in a nutshell, a little girl goes missing and her religious small-town community thinks she’s been Raptured.  As a side note, and something I didn’t mention yesterday, I talk to my cards while I shuffle them.  I basically repeat variations on a theme.  For yesterday’s spread, I said, “Buddy is a bad man” over and over as I shuffled.  Today, I said, “Who wants to find Jeanne?  Who wants to protect Jeanne?”  Anyway, let’s get started.

  1. Basis: Eight of Swords–A female is in danger.  Her hands are bound and she is blindfolded.
  2. Desires: Nine of Swords–A female is in bed.  Swords are positioned above her.  She is terrified.  Her life is in danger.
  3. Helpful: The Fool–A man.  This is someone who cares for her and wants to find her.  Father?
  4. Challenges: Nine of Pentacles–A woman.  She has riches.  Spiritual riches?  She refuses to believe Jeanne is missing.  She will stand in the way of a search.
  5. Outcome: Seven of Pentacles–The woman prevails.  They will not search for Jeanne, despite her father’s unease.

So, this fits in pretty much perfectly with where the plot was going anyway.  The added bonus is that I now have the idea that her father should become skeptical of the Rapture and be shot down by his wife.  I’m almost a little ashamed I didn’t just come up with that on my own.

Like I said, I’m no professional card reader.  I simply approach the cards with a problem I’m having, shuffle while stating my problem or asking my questions, and then lay them out to see what I see.  Everything is filtered through the plot or character I’m working on.  If you have no idea what to write about, do a simple spread to get ideas.  Different spreads will allow you to do different things because they vary in complexity.  I had a very specific question today, so I did a very simple spread to address that one question.  Characters are supposed to be complicated, so I did a complex spread for that.

I hope this gives you ideas for your own projects, and if you had fun with this, let me know.

 

 

Erasure Poems

I tried something today that I’ve never tried before: erasure poems.  I have no title for it, nor do I have any idea if it’s good or not.  This poem can be found in The Selected Levis.

 

Larry Levis Erasure Poem

 

The Town (His title, not mine)

 

This moon, so empty

You can pin it down, make it stop

The feel of pussy, and candy

They left them in ditches

Their wives grew older

Hair in their eyes

They weaned, they multiplied

One died, curls up and disappears

Under the moon.

Dragon Tarot Spread for Enraptured–Buddy

Since I talked about using tarot spreads to help along character creation or move a plot point along, I thought I would take my own advice and do a dragon tarot spread for one of the characters in my work in progress, Enraptured.  I used my Gilded Tarot deck for this because it’s the first deck I ever bought and it’s more of a working deck than a display deck (like my Celtic dragon deck).  I wanted to find pictures of the individual cards to show you just how gorgeous this deck is, but I couldn’t find any online and the ones I tried to take were abysmal, to say the least.  I did find a beautiful image of a selection of cards, and one of them appeared in my spread, so you can get an idea of how they look.  I won’t be able to post each individual card, but I took a picture of the finished spread, so stay tuned until the end.

Enraptured is a story of child sexual abuse.  Buddy is a transient who abducts a little girl.  I chose to do his reading because, although I have a good idea about who he is and what he wants, I thought this could give me additional insights into his motivation.  The reading also gave me some possible ideas for the plot that I hadn’t considered before.  This is a rather large spread, so let’s get started.

  1. THE HEART OF THE QUESTION: Two of Wands–There is a fork in the road.  He has a choice which path to take.  One leads into darkness, the other to the light.  He wants to take the light path, but like the birds, he’s drawn to the darkness.  Dominion achieved by forceful action and powerful will.  He requires a partner to achieve his goals.
  2. WHAT CROSSES THE QUESTION: The Hermit–An older man carrying a lantern.  He tries to bring light to the darkness.  He’s on a narrow path.  One step to either side and he falls into endless darkness.  The Hermit presents an obstacle to getting what Buddy wants.  He needs to be wary of him.
  3. THE FOUNDATION: Four of Wands–An adult couple with their child.  The woman watches the man, but the man watches the child.  There are a pair of rabbits in the lush greenery.  The season of lust?  The woman holds the child to her.  Protection?  The man is reaching for the woman’s arm.  To remove it?  This is a card for happiness–but for whom?  Buddy with his parents?
  4. OUTSIDE INFLUENCES: Seven of Cups–Seven cups with water and sky.  Each filled with something.  Outside influences.  Drinking?  There is a rainbow in one cup, a dove in another.  Someone actively working against Buddy’s darkness?  The card represents choices.  Which choice to make and not get caught.
  5. THE SHADOWTAIL CARD: Ten of Pentacles–Money.  Money will influence the whole situation, but whose?  How much?  Is the money being offered to Buddy or to someone else?
  6. YOUR HOPES: Eight of Cups–His back is turned to the knocked over choices.  One choice removed as one is made?  Some are still standing.  Is he turning from them because he’s already made his choice or because he can’t face them?  Abandonment.  Disappointment.
  7. YOUR FEARS: Knight of Wands–A protector, a champion.  This person could ruin everything or could even harm Buddy.  It’s Autumn–death is coming.  The knight brings urgency.  Buddy needs to leave.  Now.
  8. THE WING OF LIGHT: Four of Cups–A man being fed from a cup by the hand of God.  The best possible outcome: his actions are sanctioned by Heaven and he is normal.  He’s not bored, as the meaning suggests.  He’s enraptured.
  9. THE WING OF DARKNESS: Ten of Wands–A man carrying a large burden in the dead of night.  The task is difficult, bulky.  He’s exposed.  He risks detection.  This is a warning.
  10. THE PAST: Five of Swords–He has taken other men’s treasures and he boasts as they weep.  He’s taken them all and he’s never satisfied.  He still wants more.  This man has made Evil live.
  11. THE PRESENT: Page of Pentacles–Right now, he feels safe and happy.  His shield protects him from harm and his peacock is his captive beauty.  He is content.

12 & 13. THE FUTURE: King of Wands and The World–A man and a woman in opposition.  A king is one and the world is many.            The king is darkness and the World is light.  Only one of them can win.

Enraptured Spread-Buddy

Like I said, I’m not professional tarot card reader.  Most of the above I got from looking at the cards with my particular book in mind.  Some I’ll use, maybe some I’ll discard.  I have new considerations now, so I consider this a successful exercise.  As I do the reading, I write down each card name along with its position in the spread before I write down any interpretations.  That way, if I ever want to recreate this spread for any reason, I can do so.  This picture really doesn’t do this deck justice, but you have an idea of what it looks like when finished.

Adverbs–I Hate Them

Grumpy Cat hates them, too.

In a nutshell, if you’re using an adverb to do what you want done, you’ve got a lazy verb.  Lazy verbs are also boring verbs.  Take the following example:  Elaine was really mad.  Why use this when you could have:

  • Elaine was irate.
  • Elaine was incensed.
  • Elaine was enraged.
  • Elaine was fuming.
  • Elaine was furious.

You get the idea.  I was able to go to a Creative Writing Club meeting yesterday because I had the day off.  Normally, I work when they meet and workshop.  I took my trusty pen (ok, it was Lori’s trusty pen), and started crossing them out.  The pen makes a lovely scratch against the paper when it’s crossing out adverbs.

I had a great laugh while I was there, though.  A couple of semesters ago, I told Lori she was no longer allowed to use the word “seemed.”  I forbade it.  Either something was or it was not.  It was very Yoda of me.  (Is, or Is not.  There is no seemed.)  If there is deception taking place, there are better ways to show it.  So, I’m reading an older story of her’s and near the end of one of the pages, she used seemed.  She started laughing when she saw, “No seemed EVER!” written on the bottom of the page.  It was a good time.

But back to my point.  Adverbs: don’t do that.  Seriously. 😛

Recommend It Monday–Out to Lunch

This image is not intended for commercial use.

This image is not intended for commercial use.

As I mentioned last week, RIM is on vacation today.  I’ll be back next Monday, though.  Spring Break is this week, so I’m looking forward to the time off.  I finished my Othello paper last week, so I only have my Chaucer paper to write.  I have some miscellaneous items to finish up through the week, but mostly, I have the time to catch up on rest and reading.  If you have not yet done so, why not join me over at the IU-South Bend Creative Writing Club for some writing prompts?  We’re getting some great stuff posted.  I’ll be posting today’s prompt in a bit.

Some good news: I had a company contact me for a position today.  I’m a little sad I won’t be able to take it because it sounded really interesting.  It would mean relocating, though, and I have grad school here, so that’s not going to work.  Still, they came to me so I’m pretty happy about that.

I should have an empty house which means I might even get some writing done.  I still have work this week, but it’ll be a lot easier without classes after.

Hope the weather is turning sunnier and warmer wherever you are and have a Happy Monday!

Book Signings and General Updates

I’m very excited to announce that I am in the planning stages of my first-ever book signing.  Dates and locations will be announced once I have that information, but I am aiming for September dates.  At this point, I am planning one event, but depending on turnout and stock I might have additional events.  People who already have the book can bring it to be signed, and those who want to purchase a book to have signed will be able to do so.  Also, don’t forget to visit Authorgraph if you have a digital version of the book that you want signed.  Each digital autograph is personalized by me.

This week is Spring Break, and I have so many things to do.  First, I am alpha reading the brand new novel by the wonderfully talented Johnny Worthen titled The Brand Demand.  So far, I’m loving the story.  I had hoped to be finished with it by today, but I’ve been spending time with my kids so it’ll be a few more days.  I’m also the new web mistress for the IU-South Bend Creative Writing Club.  I have an Informatics minor, so I decided to put my education to use.  I built the social media platform and am posting the writing prompts, advice blogs, etc.  It’s a lot of extra work, but I’m enjoying it and we’re getting some really great conversations going.  If you’d like to play along, visit the blog and post what you come up with in the comments section of the post or on our Google Groups page.  Introduce yourself, make some friends, and let’s write together.  I have a few more pieces I want to work on for my poetry chapbook.  The more new material I write, the more I’m deciding the bulk of the old stuff needs to go.  I’m also looking into setting up some freelance writing gigs.  I may or may not pursue that option, but I want the information anyway.  I won’t be able to get back to Enraptured this week, which makes me sad, but I have some homework assigned over break that needs to get done first.  Notably, I need to read Taming of the Shrew and write a paper on the Wife of Bath’s tale in Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.

The time is flying and in around six weeks I will be awarded my degree in English Creative Writing.  I hope I have time to get everything done.

 

Digital Autographs

I was going through my Facebook news feed, and I saw that one of my author friends had “liked” a page called Authorgraphs.  I was curious, so I went to the page to check it out.  It’s a service that delivers personalized digital autographs for ebook owners.  I’ve been making jokes about autographing people’s Kindles with a Sharpie, but with this I don’t have to.

It took forever to get a signature that even remotely looked like mine.  Apparently, I don’t write well with a mouse.  But after about the 10th try, I decided it was close enough.  I loaded my book onto the site, and I’ve already signed my first digital autograph.

If you use GoodreadsCelia is listed there as well.  It’s getting fantastic reviews, so if you haven’t read it yet, please consider grabbing a copy.  I’d be thrilled to sign it for you.

Plot–One Way to Get Unstuck

Yesterday’s post talked a lot about using a tarot card spread for character creation.  I wanted to keep going with that and talk about how you can also use a tarot spread to help develop your story/plot or to create one from scratch if you’re low on ideas.  The premise is basically the same as for the character creation.  You may want to try out some different spreads for this.  You may like one spread for character creation and a second spread for plot.  Play around with it.  Also, something I didn’t mention yesterday but should have is that you might want to consider investing in more than one deck.  I think they’re beautiful, so I don’t mind doing this, but the advantage of multiple decks is that the different artwork may give you different information.  If I was writing a book with dragons, I might make that extra trip upstairs and use my dragon deck.

How this is different:

Because you already have your characters in mind, particularly your protagonist, you do a “reading” for that specific character similarly to how a real person would get a reading.  You can do a single, broad reading; you could do several readings, narrowing each one in scope based on choices the character can take.  It’s all up to you.

I used this method to outline a fantasy series.  I did a new spread for each book.  I haven’t written any of it (mostly because I doubt my abilities and I let the scope of the fantasy world intimidate me), but I have 4 books outlined.  Let me know how this works for you should you decide to give it a go.

Character Creation

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about character creation, how other people do it (and much better than I do, at that) and how I do it.  Most of the time, I just try to get the story on the page and I think that’s the problem right there.

One of the character creation methods I use from time to time is a tarot creation.  Now, I’m not a good tarot reader by any means, but it’s a fun way to think about characters in a new way and without getting into your own way.  First, I break out my handy dandy tarot deck.  I have two of them, a Celtic dragon deck and the Guilded Tarot deck.  I prefer to use the Guilded Tarot deck, but that’s only because I’m too lazy usually to walk upstairs and grab the dragon deck out of my dragon hutch.  I collect all things draconic, and the deck is in my display, but that’s not really important right now.

The layout I use is called a dragon spread.  Because of course it is.  I lay the cards and read them one at a time.  You can probably lay them all at once if you’d like, but I find I can concentrate on each card better one at a time.  The first way I’ll “read” a card is intuitively. I’ll look at it and see what’s physically on it.  Is there water?  Sky?  Forests or rich manor houses?  Are there people?  Man, woman, child?  Young, old?  I’ll take the position the card is in and try to answer it with what I see on the card.  For example, position #1 is the core issue or problem facing the character I’m creating.  So, what’s going on in the card that could tell me what that is?  Is it a money issue?  Unfaithful lover?  An unexpected death?  An expected death?  The next thing I do is look up the card’s meaning, because I’m not a tarot reader and I don’t have them all memorized.  How does the card’s meaning match up with what I intuited?  How does it work for the card position?  How does it work against it?

*IMPORTANT* Keep a notebook handy.  You’ll want to write all this stuff down.  Don’t be stingy with it either.  Write down as much detail as you can.

Now, you lay your next card and repeat everything you did for the first card.  Only now, you’ll examine how it works with the first card you placed.  In this way, it’s a lot like a traditional tarot reading, only you’re not reading anyone.  You’re creating them.  There’s no right or wrong interpretation here.  If you see something that sparks something else, use it.  Experiment with different tarot spreads.  The dragon spread is a bit complex, so maybe a more traditional one would work best to start with.  Keep in mind what you’re creating the character for, too.  If you’re writing a short story, you might not want all the information the more complicated spreads will give you.  If you’re writing a series, though, you might not get enough information from the simpler spreads.

This is just one of many ways to do character creation.  I like it because it gives me an excuse to play with my tarot deck and I enjoy that.

Newest Piece

I came home from class last night and wrote a new piece.  I think it’ll fit nicely inside my chapbook.

The Current

You are my current

so tired of swimming against you

pulling, pulling

each time a stroke to nowhere

I could turn around

let go

limbs limp, a cadaver—

you’ll sweep me where

I’ve already been