June 8, 2013 at 12:45 (Tarot, The Foreigner, Writing)
Tags: characterization, plotting, tarot, writing
Ever discover you like something you didn’t know you liked? Or found a fascination with something you’ve never paid much attention to?
For me, it’s the tarot. I collect tarot decks. I own four so far, the Gilded Tarot, the Rider Tarot, the Vampire Tarot, my favorite, and now my latest acquisition, the Steampunk Tarot, purchased today. I’m not a practitioner; what attracts me to the tarot is the art (the visual symbolism of astrology) and the mythology. The art of the tarot captures the wonder of fantasy and the mythology is equally fascinating, and fits right in with my lifelong love of fantasy and my interest in the imaginative, the bizarre, and the wondrously strange.
Furthermore, when I’m wandering lost in the narrative forest seeking the path into a character or trying to puzzle out a plot, I find the tarot makes a useful and fun writing tool. A few years ago, I used the Vampire Tarot to help me work out an understanding of my characters in my fantasy novel, A Lamentation of Swans, which I’ve been writing for years. I used each character’s reading to weave in wants and conflicts and to see where story threads could intertwine. The readings were a kick–great brainstorming aids.
Each specialty tarot deck has its own distinctive interpretations of the conventional Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The finely detailed, beautifully drawn artwork on the cards fires up my brain–synapses pop and crackle. And I like to use the tarot deck that suits the novel. The Vampire Tarot was perfect for A Lamentation of Swans, which isn’t a vampire novel, but it’s about a supernatural race that has embedded itself among humans.) Too much fun!
And that reminds me–I think my characters in The Foreigner could do with a reading.
I’ve no idea what new tarot deck will catch my fancy next–hey is there a Dragon Tarot out there?
Happy writing, d:))
June 3, 2013 at 9:35 (Uncategorized)
June 2, 2013 at 11:30 (Books, Daily life, Indie Publishing, Kindle, Writing)
Tags: anthology, dark fantasy, horror, short stories, writing
While cleaning the kitchen, the thought crossed my mind: in my home, where do I live? What spaces do I actually inhabit in the complete sense of the word? Turns out it’s the living room and my writing office.
I’m either on the couch writing, reading, or watching cable or a movie dvd or I’m at my writing desk. These two places are where I spend most of my daily hours. We all have our favorite spaces and probably don’t realize or think about the amount of time we spend in them. Some people can always be found cruising through the hours in their living room, or bedroom, kitchen, game room, or home office. And what do you do in these favorite spaces? Your favorite activities, of course. Mine are writing, reading, or watching.
Yesterday had a good meeting with my writing buddy, a productive day. And this morning I spent time creating a cover for my sword and sorcery tale which I plan to publish as a Kindle Single. I’ve got one more of those to do for another short story. Today is all writing desk time.
And, after a long time thinking about it, I’ve published a print edition of Grave Shadows, with a new cover and available at Amazon (Reviews are welcome!) and at my CreateSpace page.
Happy writing, d:)!
May 29, 2013 at 10:26 (Movies, The Foreigner, Vampires, Writing)
Tags: movies, vampires
I don’t know what to do today. I should write a page of The Foreigner, but my mind is word-empty–although I’ve got a vague sense of a scene bit: Marius encounters Fanh-Daole at the village market. I wrote 869 words of this scene yesterday, but didn’t get to the actual encounter. Balking at fences again.
It’s bright and sunny outside, but don’t know if I’ll go out today. There’s some reading I need to do, and I’ve got other story ideas passing through my thoughts like floaters passing through my vision. Very distracting.
Last week I watched my latest vampire movie discoveries, The Hamiltons and its sequel The Thompsons. Both were well done films with serious themes of the meaning of family and family loyalty. The Thompsons, formerly the Hamiltons, were born vampires, not made, and are not the undead and, having lost their parents, must survive in the contemporary world. Although the movies are described as “Twilight meets Tarantino” that’s just a clever marketing gimmick. I wonder if there’ll be a third movie. I’d certainly buy it.
One vampire film series I’ve never been able to get into is the Underworld series. Seems like it would be right up my alley, but no. I think part of the reason, and yes this is weird, is the films are shot so darkly–all that deep blue-black–that I can’t focus on what’s really going on ’cause I can’t see it! And, I dunno, I don’t really connect with Selene.
Enough with holding off the blank page. The Foreigner demands some attention.
May 22, 2013 at 2:27 (The Foreigner, Writing)
Tags: crows, writing
American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
Outside my bedroom window every morning, the air battles of WWI are reenacted. Heralds of the rising new day to the extreme–crows start screaming at each other when dawn is only a hint on the horizon, the sun hasn’t yet unfurled a single ray. Winging through the trees, they chase each other and let loose the loudest, ear-shattering caws you’ve ever heard. You’d think their wings were on fire. I like birds; I even like crows, but goodness, I wish they’d dial it down.
Roosters are so much more sensible. They cock-a-doodle-do as the sun peeks over the horizon, and having had their moment, roosters go about their business harassing the hens or whatever roosters do when they’re off the clock. Crows, on the other hand, have conniptions all the way until sunlight fills the sky–at least half an hour of throat-ripping caws and hysterical cackling. What do you call a group of crows? A cacophony.
The Foreigner rewrite, 9,609. A little progress made yesterday. Now I’ve come to the name-day celebration scene. Having trouble deciding on whose point of view, but i think it’ll be Fanh-Daole’s. No work done today–too much monkey mind.
May 21, 2013 at 9:36 (Art, The Foreigner, Writing)
Tags: characterization techniques, writing
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Baron Arild Rosenkrantz
Yesterday I started a scene to introduce the antagonist of The Foreigner, Thabe-Baht, Fanh-Daole’s husband. I thought I was off to a good start with him, but soon realized he was flat when I needed him to be fully rounded. I’ve got a nice detailed sketch of him in my notes, a good sense of him in my head, but he dies on the page. Something’s not working.
I was thinking he and Marius Saul, the protagonist, must interact, although that’s not the scene I was writing yesterday. I know that when Marius meets Thabe-Baht, he’ll think him a decent man and take him at face value, but Thabe-Baht has a hidden vicious quality. That first impression has to convey both his charm and give a sense of what it hides.
There are a number of ways to go:
- Gestures and mannerisms
- Setting, tastes, interests
- The opinion of others
- Narrative voice
Of these choices, I want to use the one or a combination that best conveys Thabe-Baht’s character. Don’t know if I’ll get any new words down today.
May 20, 2013 at 5:10 (The Foreigner, Writing)
Tags: flora, The Foreigner, writing
Had a lovely weekend. Saturday, a visit to Huntington Library before going to my writers group meeting. At Huntington, spent some time in the “When They Were Wild: Recapturing California’s Wildflower Heritage”, a beautiful exhibit of botanical drawings from the late 19th and early 20th century of California’s flora. And Sunday, brunch with friends whom I had not seen in a long time. Some days are certainly more joyful than others.
Brilliantly sunny and hot today, but I had work to do, so despite the allure of a golden day I stayed inside with The Foreigner, ‘though at lunch time I ran out to the liquor store across the street for a coke. 9,533 words so far for the rewrite.
Took a break and checked out sanyikas. Made me laugh.
Started a new scene for a character whom I’ve got notes on, but have not written about except for one old scene that I’m not sure I’ll keep and the character in that old scene was as flat as the floor. Can’t have that. So I started fresh with that character today. I’m hoping he shapes up. Oh–who is that character? The antagonist. Yeah that guy.
Putting down those first words about him was shaky, and I know the going will be slow, like getting to know a newly-met relative whom you don’t trust or who doesn’t trust you. Still I’m pleased with today’s writing.
Thinking of the whole book makes it hard to breathe, so I’m taking to heart a piece of advice from a wise writing friend: You don’t have to write the whole book; just write what comes next.
May 16, 2013 at 9:52 (The Foreigner, Writing)
Tags: nuts and bolts of writing, writing
Hopeful, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
This morning, soft, cool, and gray–a change from the recent hot, gold and blue days, but summer’s coming and I don’t mind the heat. Working on The Foreigner, a fantasy novel that I’m rewriting from the 2010 draft. I’m feeling like a caterpillar inching up a blade of grass, reaching the tip, and flailing helplessly in the air for the next blade of grass. There’s a scene I’d like to write. I’ve got an idea about it; I sort of know the point, but apparently not well enough ’cause the words won’t come and the brain is dry. Yet the scene beckons.
I’m thinking I’ll write it today, or at least get it started. For every scene there’s so much to consider–point of view, setting, character, tone, how it starts, where it’s going, how it ends, why it’s needed. The purpose of this particular scene is to make a certain connection between two characters whose relationship is important to the plot. The scene is a family gathering to celebrate the birth of a child, background setting for the start of a forbidden relationship which will not be like the typical romantic relationship.
And the end of the scene? I’ve no idea.
May 1, 2013 at 9:33 (Daily life, Writing)
I enjoy watching the court shows; they’re addicting. I’m fascinated by the many ways in which people get themselves in trouble with one another (not to mention the cases are fat with ideas and characters). One thing I’ve learned from watching these shows: people display an appalling lack of integrity in their dealings with one another. It makes me sad, makes me shake my head and wonder about the future of humanity.
I was raised with certain values, one being to treat others with consideration and fairness, and to be honest in my dealings (as brought deeply home by The Chicken Incident.)
I’m bamboozled, flummoxed, and mentally discombobulated by the lack of integrity and the sheer thoughtlessness and the dearth of consideration that is shown in these court cases by the individuals involved, sometimes it’s the plaintiff, sometimes it’s the defendant. Who are these people? What planet do they come from? The enemy is most definitely us.
After much distress over Shadow Walk, I’ve decided to shelve the book. It’s not a good book, despite all the work and effort I’ve put into it, it remains so deeply flawed I can’t see my way clear with it, even with the help of Devon Ellington’s Layered Edit. Time, long past time actually, to let it go.
This week I’ve been taken over by The Foreigner.
April 23, 2013 at 7:36 (Daily life, Writing)
After years of gentle rib-poking from me, my good friend writer michelleknowlden has joined the blogging universe! Go and enjoy!
As for me, today I’ve got an interview, but before I run off to that, I’ll be wrestling with Shadow Walk; it’s giving me such a hard time in the rewrite.