Hello, Readers! You may remember that as part of the celebration of last year's In The Cards, I created and gave away a piece of artwork. This year, I'm continuing the tradition! The Proper Bearing contains many pivotal scenes, but the image which seemed a natural choice was one that another character creates:
The Three Musketeers stood large-as-life in all their finery, each with their foils in the air and a defeated, unconscious Cardinal Richelieu at their feet: but their tunics were Oakridge navy and gold, instead of the robin’s-egg blue and shining silver that Nick had seen in countless illustrations. Each of them bore a familiar face: Scrib had done an amazing job of capturing Terry and Cris’ likenesses, as well as his own. It was clear that she had only had Terry’s caricatures of Goddard to draw on, but even so, there was no mistaking who she had used as her model for the scheming Richelieu.
The original was done with Chameleon pens on 9x12 Bristol, and I will be mounting it on black mat board. In my art shop, Gifts of Awen, this would sell for $60 ... but you've got the chance to own it for FREE! All you have to do is enter the giveaway over on Rafflecopter! You even have chances to gain extra entries in the raffle by helping spread the news about The Proper Bearing on social media or following me ... and if you haven't bought my other two books yet, you'll get super extra entries by doing that.
The deadline for entries is September 17th.
Good luck to everyone who enters! I hope you'll join me next week for the second giveaway!
Despite how busy and strange this month has been, I still managed to cross the Camp NaNoWriMo finish line for the fourth straight year in a row! It's hard to believe I've been at this, in a constant and dedicated fashion, long enough for it to theoretically be a college degree. This is, by no means, to say that I feel like I know everything about How To Be A Self-Published Author: that'd be impossible. I will say that there are probably a few secrets lurking in the practice of surrounding yourself with people and experiences which make you happy and/or inspired. (For the curious: those current experiences, for me, include watching the entirety of Twin Peaks, attending a community theatre performance of The Hound of the Baskervilles, helping a friend move, picking blueberries while there's still dew on them, and stepping up my artistic noodling away from the written word.)
Those of you with a sharp eye may notice that I've changed the Arts & Crafts section of my website and removed my link to my DeviantArt gallery, replacing it with an onsite one. Not only does it make it easier for you all to see my art, but it helps pave the way for my secondary creative venture: an arts and crafts storefront called Gifts of Awen. Some of it is related to Aviario, but a good deal of it will be more inspirational and metaphysical in nature, focusing on the intent of creating magical and/or peaceful art for small spaces. My first project for Gifts of Awen is a series of artist cards dedicated to the seven chakras. Here's a peek at the first two, which I completed last night:
My goal is to also create postcards and other prints of these, along with other small art designed to help people find insight, inspiration, and a moment of peace in a busy, cluttered world. Commisssions will also be available through the site: I have several slots currently open. If you would like to see what else I have up at the moment, I'd be honored if you'd join me over at the storefront. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will also see pictures of new pieces as they're completed and posted! This may also mean the return of The Author's Oracle ... only time will tell. For now, I'm headed back to my creative corner to chip away at The Proper Bearing and work on some more illustrations. I hope you all have a lovely week!
Welcome back Between the Lines! This week marks the start of The Author’s Oracle: a series which will take over a year to complete. With the exception of announcements for In The Cards, or posts requested by fellow authors, I will be adding an entry every week.
The Author’s Oracle is meant to be a look through the tarot designed specifically for fiction writers. Several decks of inspirational cards have been made to help burn through writer’s block or give jumping-off points … I own one, myself, and use it from time to time. But what many of my fellow wordsmiths may not understand is that the tarot can serve as a similar tool, and be even more useful and versatile with the right knowledge. After spending over a decade studying and working with tarot cards, I am more than happy to share that knowledge with you all!
Each entry will give a basic overview of the symbolism of each card, a few suggestions for what it could signify, and some questions related to the card for brainstorming and expanding on ideas. In addition to showcasing the quintessential Rider-Waite deck, which is within the public domain, I am also creating my own tarot deck for the town of Aviario, and will be sharing each card as it is created along with the entry. I hope you will join me on this journey through symbolism, literary archetypes, and the deep, layered potential of human creativity.
(A note for those familiar with tarot: most of my research is rooted in the Rider-Waite family of tarot decks, though occasionally I will incorporate concepts from the Thoth or other symbolic systems.)
We begin our journey where all journeys begin: at the first card of the Major Arcana.
The Fool does not imply stupidity, but rather something new. This card almost always depicts the beginning of a journey: the subject setting out into the unknown. They do so willingly, sometimes even overzealously enthusiastic about how little they know of their future. And what author would dare not recognize the importance of the Shakespearean Fool: that figure which tells the truth and cloaks it in humor to reduce its sting?
Hero’s Journey Aspect: The Call To Action
Common Symbols: Traveler, sun, mountains, knapsack, road, cliff, a companion animal
Examples in Plot: Moving to a new town, taking up a new hobby, making a life-changing decision
Character Archetypes: The Innocent, The Trickster, The Voice of Truth, The Buffoon, or The Rash Decision-Maker. Maybe they’re side characters, or maybe the scene highlights one of these qualities as they pertain to its central character.
Reversed Meaning: Something old and tired, overworn. Stagnation.
Concepts To Consider:
For the character: a skill or opportunity which can be explored, or is yet to be discovered.
For the author: There may be something in this scene which could mean more than you expect it to. A tiny throw-away conversation which is meant to be transitional might hold the seeds of a whole sub-plot, or be able to help you fill that plot hole you’ve been agonizing over.
A Leap Forward:
For the character: They decide to (finally?) take action on something! Of course, it could be a blind leap, or a leap in the wrong direction!
For the author: We all know every word put down on the page that wasn’t there before is progress… but maybe you can take an approach to this scene that you haven’t tried before.
For the character: The scales tip in their favor. (But they don’t have to stay that way!)
For the author: Take this as a good sign. If you’ve been stuck on this part, consider The Fool to be your cheerleader: you can do it! You’ve got this! You’ll find a way through!
For the character: Anything can happen: especially what they don’t expect. Shake their life up! Let them follow fate wherever it chooses to lead.
For the author: Maybe you should drop the outline and let your characters steer for a little while. It’s okay, you can trust them!
The beginner’s mind:
For the character: Have them experience something as though they’re doing it for the first time … or, let them be the reader’s eyes and show what you need them to see for the first time.
For the author: This is the concept of looking at everything with fresh eyes! This can be difficult if you have read and reread this bit – or your outline, or thought about the scene – over and over again. If you cannot bring yourself to the scene with Beginner’s Mind, enlist a friend, and let them show you theirs. A second pair of eyes always helps, as they say!
Discarding Old Habits:
For the character: Perhaps they decide to give something up ... or this scene highlights something about the habit which will lead them to make the decision at a more pivotal moment.
For the author: Are there techniques or phrases you’re using from when you first began to write? Perhaps there’s something you Always Do that you may have evolved past needing, or a part of your method that isn’t gelling with this particular project.
Lack of Experience:
For the character: This is pretty clear-cut. What doesn’t your character know? Or ...
For the author: Look at this scene from the reader’s point of view. Is there anything you could stand to show them that they wouldn’t be able to see? Is the scene in a bakery, but missing the scent of fresh pastries? Maybe it needs the warmth of the ovens, or the sound of chatter in the kitchen. Make sure the experience you’re creating is immersive.
For the character: If they’re doing something foolish, can they see it? Are they doing it anyway? Why? If not, who would be able to observe their behavior and point out their errors? Are there consequences? Foolishness can be a really powerful tool in moving your story forward.
For the author: This is especially crucial in the editing phase ... if you’ve shown someone your work, are you truly listening to their feedback? No matter how much you may love a scene or character, look for the kernel of truth in any criticism. That scene you adore may be slowing your reader down...
Thank you for joining me! Please come back next week for a look at The Magician!
Buster may not look too excited, but I certainly am: I'm starting off March with a new chapter of From the Desk... which means I've finished Chapter Four and the novel's well on its way!
I got this morning's bout of writing done with a little help from a fantastic program called ZenWriter. If you haven't heard of it, it's a great tool for keeping yourself focused: it maximizes itself to fill the entire screen, so you aren't tempted to click anything else on your toolbar or, if you're like me, check your email and media feeds for the fiftieth time "just in case". It allows you to keep music running in the background, too, and has a lot of customizable settings so that you can achieve perfect writing zone Zen.
I was lucky enough to catch wind of it during its early developmental stages, when it was still free, but it's well worth what they charge for it, now. If you're curious, you can check it out here (the link will open in a new window).
To all of you who've helped spread the word and given me your feedback so far: thank you so much! It means a lot to me to know that know you're out there and interested in my little fictional corner of the world, and my neurotic, gangly accountant. February may not have been kind to a lot of us (thank you, winter storms), but here's looking forward to March!
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