Hi, everyone! As we roll toward March, we come a little bit closer to spring: a time for new beginnings, growth, and light. It seems like the perfect time for me to unveil a new project I’ve been letting incubate for a couple of months now… my first non-fiction writing!
Those of you who’ve been following me on this writing journey of mine know that I’ve always felt that magic and stories were tied very closely together. My next book, In The Cards, had the first seeds of its plot buried in a tarot spread I did with my very first deck, and ever since then, I’ve seen tarot as a great source of creative inspiration. The more I study, the more I realize that there’s a fantastic tool for writers to be had, here!
My new blog feature, The Authors' Oracle, will explore tarot from the perspective of a fiction writer. Each entry will provide an overview of a card, along with its implications for character, plot, and the writing process. Eventually, all 78 entries will be gathered into a book, which will include a chapter of custom-made tarot spreads for various aspects of the novel-writing process.
To kick off The Authors' Oracle, I’ve created a tarot-themed questionnaire for my fellow authors. Please leave a link in a comment here once you’ve answered the questionnaire, so that everyone can see and I can help spread the word about your blog!
Interested? Read on to find your questions, and happy blogging! I’ll see you all next Thursday, when we begin our tarot journey with Card 0: The Fool!
Have a beautiful week!
A couple of weeks ago, my friend and fellow author Holly Evans posted a blog questionnaire generated for her by our mutual friend Al of Hyperactive Pandemonium. At the end, Holly listed some authors whose answers she was interested in ... and yours truly was among the lucky few! I was challenged to answer Al's original questions, then add one more. My extra question comes courtesy of Twitter comrade Mike Conners. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did filling it out...
What time do you wake up in the morning when you have a day of writing planned?
I strive to get up around 7:30, but sometimes the snooze button and pillow pile win out, and it's more like 8 AM.
Do you energize yourself with tea or coffee?
It depends upon the day, and on my mood. I actually have a tiny can of V8 first thing in the morning, as I find it gives me more energy than coffee. (One of many, many reasons why I'm a weird human being.)
Where is your favourite writing location?
My desk in the sunroom. I'm in the market for a lapdesk with a big, squishy pillow base to put my wireless keyboard and mouse on, and then I'm golden. I currently have my latest novel outline on the window in sticky notes.
Where would you love to visit and sit and write?
Someplace with a big, comfy window seat and stained glass that catches the sun so I can curl up like a cat while I scribble.
Do you use pens and notebooks? Pencils? Laptop? Computer?
... Oh, wait, I should probably be specific. I do a decent balance of handwriting and typing - handwritten in black ink for first draft, Scrivener for second draft, Word for final draft and e-book conversion. I know it could be simplified a little, but tying form to process stages works for me.
How do you relax after a day of writing?
Writing IS my relaxing after a day of Work And Adulthood.
Nibble you must have whilst writing?
It varies ... tonight it's ice cream, but most of the time I'll have a handful of nacho Doritos, or some other kind of chips, and a glass of iced tea or water.
Favourite treat to offer yourself after writing?
Social media and a quick foray into the Internet Black Hole. But in all honesty, the writing itself is the treat.
If you could choose one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A complete collection of Grimm's Fairy Tales. All stories have pieces of one of those in them, somewhere, like mica in rock.
If you had the chance to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you meet?
Can I choose two for fairness' sake? Joanne Harris and Patrick Rothfuss. Both seem like very decent, smart, kind human beings.
Favourite factual book?
Tarot 101 by Kim Huggens. There's such a wealth of knowledge there: not just about the cards, but about the basic fundamentals of storytelling and various cultures. Every time I skim through it, I find another connection between symbols and favorite books or other stories.
If you were to write an article on anything, what would it be about?
I'm actually brainstorming a series of articles in conjunction with the tarot studies I've been doing ... one article for each card, tying the symbols to character types and concepts so that they can be used as a tool for fiction writers. With the right amount of luck and interest, I'm hoping to turn it into my first non-fiction book.
Would you rather be famous with a one hit wonder or stable with a long run?
Oh, I'd much rather be stable than famous. I have too many stories to tell: stability is the best way to ensure that as many of them get told as possible.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I can't tell for certain, just yet. Buster took me five years due to writing in small spurts for a long time, before I buckled down and wrote the last two thirds in about a year. In The Cards took about three months, if you condense all my writing time together. I have a month's worth of steady daily writing done on The Proper Bearing, but it's being a bit difficult, so we'll see. (Short answer? It takes how long it takes.)
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a lot of them. But I'd have to say that my interesting one is also my oldest: not only am I a lefty, but I hold a pen with the tip poking out from between the knuckles of my middle and ring finger, instead of between index finger and thumb. I keep my hand curled in a fist and balance the side of my hand on the writing surface.
Do you have any suggestions to help people become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Don't get wrapped up in trying to find The One Way To Write. I read an awful lot of books on writing before I realized that it was up to me to figure out what my process was, to build my own voice and style. Writing is a little like a recipe: sure, most of the ingredients have to be the same as others', and in similar quantities, but you have wiggle room to experiment and find what you like best, to work with what you have.
How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
Fun fact: my spiritual practice actually came about because of my writing. When I began creating Aviario, I knew that I wanted magic involved somewhere, somehow. I didn't want something like the magic I knew from high fantasy and fairy tales, though: I wanted magic that would feel believable. So I started researching real-life witchcraft. I self-initiated myself as a solitary witch in 2001, and began a long path of learning and growth. Along the way, I changed labels from Wicca to Eclectic Pagan before finally settling on Druidry a few years ago. Not all of my characters follow paganistic beliefs, but the concepts of truth, order, and balance factor very heavily throughout the stories of Aviario. The magic came from the story, and the stories feed the magic.
Bonus Question: When do you sleep (if you sleep at all)?
Mike said he was half-joking when he asked me this, so I'm going to give him a half-serious answer. I don't actually sleep. Between midnight and 7 AM, my spirit leaves my body and I go to other spheres of existence. ;)
Since this was a pretty informal questionnaire to begin with, I'm not going to tag anyone in particular, BUT ... if you want to fill it out, go right ahead - just make up your own bonus question, and have fun! See you all back here next Thursday!
It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that I welcome you, this Thursday ... for I have obtained my first official blog award!
The Liebster Award is for new bloggers (those with fewer than 3,000 followers) to help us find new followers and friends in the blogging world. The rules are as follows:
1. Thank the blogger that nominated you
2. Answer the 11 questions that the blogger gave you
3. Nominate 5-11 bloggers that you think deserve the Liebster Award.
4. Let the bloggers know about their nomination
5. Give them 11 questions they should answer
And now, without further ado, I claim my Liebster with gusto! Here are the questions I received from the lovely and considerate Jewel E. Leonard!
1. What book (written by someone else) do you want to see turned into a movie/TV show? (Bonus points for casting characters!)
I think "The Crazy School" by Cornelia Read would make a fantastic movie ... I'd need to re-read it to try and make a dream cast, but the writing was very cinematic and dynamic. It's a great story about a woman who finds herself working in a mental institution for teens, and uncovers a lot of dark secrets. It took a turn I wasn't expecting, and I think it'd make a great miniseries.
2. What’s the dream cast for one of your projects? (Bonus points for including pictures!)
I make a point of building Pinterest boards with dream casts for all of my novels! I'll be unveiling the cast of The Proper Bearing to celebrate the completion of its first draft, but for now ... here are the boards for From The Desk of Buster Heywood and my upcoming novel, In The Cards!
3. What line have you written recently that made you laugh out loud?
Nick looked over at the set of bunks opposite his and gave Terry a bleary smile, just as Cris swung his bare feet down in front of his face.
“How they smellin’ this morning, Nick? Can the bath wait ‘til tonight?”
With a slow, deliberate hand, Nick reached up and pushed his friend’s feet out of the way. “I think that stopped being funny about two years ago, Crispin.”
4. Who do you think was the absolute perfect casting in a movie/TV show adaptation of a book? (More bonus points for including pictures!)
Given that it comes out this weekend, I think I'd be a fool for not instantly answering: Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool.
5. What’s the highest compliment you’ve received on your writing?
It was years and years ago, now, but: one of my dream cast, Robert Hirschboeck, read a sample of my writing and was gracious enough to say it reminded him of Alice Hoffman. I still have a printout of that e-mail, and intend to treasure it forever.
6. What’s your favorite part of writing?
Um. The WRITING. Duh. ... In all seriousness, though: I love getting so deep down in a scene that the rest of the world falls away. It's like that swept-up feeling of reading, multiplied by so, so much more.
7. What book have you read more than once? (Fess up: how many times? Bonus points for a purchase link!)
"Secret Window, Secret Garden" by Stephen King... I've read the story and watched the movie it inspired countless times. You can read it in the Four Past Midnight collection of stories, along with another favorite of mine, "The Langoliers". Just between you and I, skip "The Library Police", though.
8. How do you handle having written yourself into a corner?
I take out my purple crayon and draw a way out: that is to say, I use my imagination. Eventually, something workable comes of it. (Though it's usually after a couple hours of tea and deliberation with my partner-in-crime, Krista Viar.)
9. What kind of villain is your favorite (to read/to write)?
The crafty, clever, sneaky sort. James Moriarty, The Master, Hannibal Lecter, Chancellor Palpatine ... villains who know they're very, very good at being very, very bad, and can still pull the wool over people's eyes about it while having the time of their wicked lives.
10. Which book has been a guilty-pleasure read?
Lately, I feel like any book that I can steal time to read is a guilty pleasure! In the traditional sense, though, I must admit that I found some old Christopher Pike novels at Goodwill, and snapped them up to try and relive my junior high years. One of them was just as good as I remembered: but to my surprise, it wasn't the one I expected to stand the test of time. (It was Monster, for the curious. The other was Witch.)
11. If you could pick a super power to have, which would it be and why? (Extra bonus points for somehow applying this to your writing/reading!)
Time manipulation, of course. How else am I going to get everything done?
Here are my lucky ladies ... I'm amazed they didn't all have Liebsters already!
1. What was one of your most random, unexpected inspirations?
2. Which book made you realize that you wanted to be an author?
3. Is there a book that you absolutely love that's the exact opposite of your "usual fare"? (Example: I hoard high fantasy, but have read Augusten Burroughs' "Running With Scissors" three times.)
4. Do you ever craft playlists for your writing projects? (Please share some of the songs you've used, if you do!)
5. Which authors do you read when you need to fine-tune your own writing voice?
6. What would your dream workspace look like?
7. Obligatory Writing Beverage of Choice Question! (Bonus points if it isn't actually stereotypically coffee!)
8. CDs or MP3s (or, hey, vinyl or cassette)?
9. What's your favorite Disney movie? (The former aspiring animator in me NEEDS to know.)
10. If you had to model your entire wardrobe after any fictional character, who would it be?
11. Is there a theme which persistently creeps into your work, whether you want it to or not? (Please tell me it's not just me.) If so: what is it? If not: tell me your favorite to read about!
Thank you for joining me this week, folks! I'll see you all next Thursday! Please remember to sign up for my mailing list, where you'll receive all sorts of great things I don't post here, including the occasional free short story!
This week, I've been interviewed for a guest blog over at Jewel E. Leonard's website, as part of her Friday Frivolity feature - it will be posted tomorrow, so please keep an eye on her site! She also tagged me in a blogging questionnaire making the rounds about the 7 Deadly Sins. Without further ado, my answers...
Pride. Share a line or small scene that you’re really proud to have written.
“Hello, Ral.” Dorothy laid a hand on his forearm. “How are you?”
Envy. Tell us about the book you wish that’d you written.
It's actually A Series. .... of Unfortunate Events. Lemony Snicket's 13-book yarn about the trials and tribulations of the Baudelaire orphans starts out as standard silly, vaguely repetitive middle-grade literature, but by the end of the series, you realize he's been seeding an enormous plot through the entire thing. It's got nods to a ridiculous amount of classic books, some really deep themes about good and evil, and such a great sense of humor and style to it. I hope I can even come close to the amount of foreshadowing and plot-seeding that those books have.
Wrath. Tell us about a trope or cliche that makes you furious.
Romance plots that only really take off after one character makes some major physical or superficial change in order to Win The Heart Of Their One True Love. My favorite example of this, hands-down, is "Grease".
Gluttony. Tell us about a trope you just can’t get enough of.
I'm a huge fan of what I call The Sarcastic Sage: mentors who have immense knowledge and wisdom, but really aren't about to take any crap from their students, and give their attitudes right back to them. See: Rafiki in The Lion King, Durzo Blint in Brent Weeks' Night Angel Trilogy, Men in Black's Agent Kay, and of course ... these two:
Lust. Tell us about a character you’d do unspeakable things to.
Honestly, I don't lust after any of my characters. I can tell you that I have a few characters that embody the trait pretty well, though: Dr. Jon Knight, in particular, is a ladykiller and confirmed bachelor.
Sloth. Tell us about your favourite form of procrastination.
Ohhhh, it's definitely The Internet. Not even one particular site: just that organic process that leads you from "hey, there's a neat new picture from the set of that movie I want to see" to a lengthy article on the cultural importance of the kumquat half an hour later. Some days, I really don't know how I end up in the places I end up, but my brain is such a fantastic sponge that most of the time, I don't mind. For someone who's always enjoyed the concept of a "Renaissance Person", the internet is a very, very dangerous place.
Greed. Tell us which author’s top of your auto-buy list.
At the moment, I'd have to say Neil Gaiman and Lynn Flewelling, though Daniel Handler, Libba Bray, and Christopher Moore are also pretty high up there. In my youth, I binge-read Christopher Pike and Brian Jacques in equal amounts ... which explains an awful lot, looking back.
Site news, reviews, and book-related fun. Updated Wednesdays,
I'd be grateful if you'd help support me by clicking below: