Friday, January 21, 2011

Fortune's Favors

Process: I first shuffled all the cards thoroughly and in the traditional way, the deck cut with the left hand, and then I spread them in a fan, face down, and picked four out at random, four that seemed to call to me. I am reading them in the order of the spread. I did not choose which one went where. Again, I am using the traditional Universal Waite Tarot deck and the interpretations are assisted by Arthur Edward Waite’s accompanying discussion of the tarot.
This time I have chosen a 4 card spread, a goal and achievement spread.

First, envision the goal you are trying to achieve. My goal: To find success with my writing, and by that I mean to find a compatible and interested agent and to eventually be published.

Card 1: The seeker and his or her goal.
The Five of Cups

I am very familiar with this card. It is one that showed up in Alice’s reading in DISTILLATION. A cloaked figure stands on the shore. In the distance is a building – a castle perhaps – one with a tower in any case – a high point. The figure is on the shore of the river and there is also a bridge in the distance to the right. The seeker must cross the bridge to achieve the goal. This is a card of loss. The seeker is gazing downward contemplating the three fallen and empty cups. That aspect of the card indicates a focus on something lost. The Pictoral Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite indicates that this can be related to patronage of some sort – or of a marriage. There are also two cups still standing however, and this is indicative that there are more possibilities for union or patronage. More positives to focus on.

Card 2: The past- that which is influencing the current state of the quest.

The Seven of Wands
An individual stands above a crowd apparently battling them from the high ground with his or her own staff. This is a card of competition and/or negotiation – it can also be seen (Waite) as a card of valor and intellectual, wordy strife. Given that the individual has the upper hand in the image – it can be seen as a card of success. So – in the context of the past – from my POV, I see this as me being in the middle path of my journey to succeeding at my goals. Competition and intellectual strife have certainly been a large part of that, but so has the hope of success and doing well.

Card 3: The present condition of the goal, what is happening now that is influencing the attainment of this goal, or the current state of the goal.

Queen of Swords.

Though the image here seems to indicate strength, it is seen as a card of sorrow, of infertility, of sterility. The queen is holding out her hand expectantly, the sword is there, but is not in a position of use or power. She is reaching for something and is coming up empty. That is how I see it. So far, lots of possibility, lots of interest, but no offer. Yet.

Card 4: The future – the outcome of the goal.

The Star

This is a card of the major arcana – it features a woman bending on one knee pouring water from two jugs, one into the pool, the other into the land. There is one large star in the sky behind her and seven smaller stars. In addition, in the distance is a leafy tree with a bird in it. Waite indicates that this card has sometimes been seen as a card of hope, but he feels it is more a card of eternity and inner light, truth unveiled, a pouring out of the soul, and an element of fertility as she is an earth mother.

So – my interpretation as to the future of my goal – I see it as indefinite, but positive. It indicates to me that my writing is positive in its outcome. The act of giving, of pouring forth my ideas and my soul will result in an eternal and fruitful outcome for me as an individual. This does not mean I will get an agent and published, but it means that my writing is important and that is leading me down a path toward goodness no matter what.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fun Contest from Brenda Drake Writes

First Line Contest - Too Fun! Here is the graphic from Brenda's blog, she is hosting this fun contest that you all should do

Weronika (pronounced 'Veronica') Janczuk is a writer and an agent with D4EO Literary. She also writes YA, literary, and historical fiction, and blogs about it here. An interview with Weronika will be posted here sometime before the contest so go on over and check it out.
Brenda's Instructions: Go to her blog and sign up on the linky. On February 7 and 8, post the first line of your manuscript (any genre) on your blog to get critiques from your followers and then hop around to the other participants' sites and give critiques. Polish your line and enter it into the comments of the contest post on February 9 like this:

Name: Ariel Swan
Title: Distillation
Genre: Women's Lit

"My mother told me never to start a new endeavor on the full moon..."

You get the idea.

Prizes from Weronika:

1st place -- a critique of the first 50 pages + query

2nd place -- a critique of the first 25 pages + query

3rd place -- a critique of the query

I'm in. So go to it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Team Jacob All the Way - better late than never

So, I am late in coming to this trough, but I have recently (as in 5 minutes ago) finished the Twilight films. No, I didn't read the books and I probably won't. Being a high school teacher, and beyond teeny-bopper schmoopiness - I did not even consider Twilight when it came out. Many of my students were into it and still I resisted, privately rolling my eyes at the bubble gum vampire adventures they swooned over. But now that the hype is passed, I figured why not watch the films, because, I confess I was at one point a full on vampire girl. Full on.

I was absolutely obsessed with Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles when I was sixteen. I wished very much that Lestat or someone like him would come through my window and transform me. Alas, it never happened. I have a whole vampire library to prove my obsession went way beyond Rice's series. In fact, even as a young lass, way before Anne Rice, I was in to films like Once Bitten and The Monster Squad - I was just into that type of thing. But Lestat is not Edward. The vampires I was raised on were not PG 13. Classic to modern, Palodori to Camilla, Dracula to the Blood Countess, they were much more erotic, not to mention intellectual and sophisticated.

But...I happily watched all 3 Twilight films, ready to forgive its flaws, and eager to be swept away in romance and fantasy. Twilight - the first film - was good to start. I liked the setting, I liked Bella, and I liked the Native American descended from the wolf thing. The vampires, however, were lacking and just a bit silly with their sparkly baseball, which I had previously heard about. Just like musicals in which I like everything but the singing, I liked everything but the vampires in the first story. It was enough in the end however, to make me want to see New Moon. I watched that last night. Not so good. As with many trilogies #2 seemed but a bridge story. Not enough about what I was interested, which much to my chagrin, was Edward vs Jacob.

I was particularly struck by the sexual allegory, albeit par for the course in vampire lit. Bella and Edward can not consummate their relationship because it means he must "bite" her, or enter her body and pull from her the very goodness he so desires. Now this varies depending on the lore, but most vampires are not able to engage in the traditional sexual act. The bite and the drinking of blood is their release. Meyers doesn't seem to be playing it this way, but her rules are vague to say the least. Can Edward actually do the deed? He wants to be married first before they "do it" - interchangeably relating to having sex and him making her into a vampire, on which be blames his old fashioned ways - being 100+ years old and all. But as a teenager, it makes sense that Bella is abstinent, and a vampire boyfriend, who for one reason or another is unwilling to go beyond a kiss, makes sense.

And then there is Jacob: warm blooded, animistic (in more ways than one). His clan can have children, and only some of them "inherit the gene" for being a werewolf. He is tan, he is jacked, he is witty, and...he can do what needs to be done. No contest. Although, running around perpetually without his shirt on and donning cut off jeans is a bit questionable. But...he is also dangerous. He says himself, he doesn't know what he could do to her if he got angry. Uh oh. Watch out for those hot blooded guys, they might blacken your eye or worse, therefore presenting another allegorical warning. Even the nice guys can be dangerous if they are that type.

But of course Jacob never hurts her, and neither does Edward. But Edward is a vampire, he is cold, pale and sickly looking, mopey, and somewhat insecure. Who would want that for a man? This was most prominently dealt with in the winter/tent scene in Eclipse. Of course Jacob can keep her warm, and the line that he is..after all...hotter than Edward made me laugh hard. So true.

Overall, it was teen romance, mixed with the classic vampire love story, which I once was in love with myself, so I can't fault it for that. The evil vampire clan thing was totally unnecessary and I tried to ignore it in all the movies as much as possible. It was not possible though in New Moon and that is why that was the worst of the three films.

Now, there was a moment there, between New Moon and Eclipse where I believed that maybe this story was going to end in a new and original way. Maybe Edward would actually consummate the relationship with a deep and juicy bite and they would actually live happily ever after, and after, and after, going against the traditional vampire story. And, truly, I suppose that is how it ends in a way. We just don't get to see the deed being done, which was a major let down. Instead all we got was a flower laden field with talk of wedding dresses and guest lists. Isn't that how it is for every bride? all fantasy, and little focus on the reality of married life. A virginal wedding with oh such a surprise on the wedding night. Now that IS the old fashioned way.

In Eclipse, I thought for a moment that Bella would choose Jacob and the whole thing would be turned on its head. The scene where, as a wolf, he rubs his head against her like a pet dog, brought tears to my eyes. A guy who is hot, magical, and as soft and cozy as a pet pooch - well who could want anything more? She even kisses Jacob and tells him she loves him. All the vampires, including Edward, told her she shouldn't "marry" him and become a vampire. So why didn't she choose Jacob for God's sake?!

Well, because there is one theme that will go on in perpetuity. Women always choose the guy that is not right for them. Even if he himself tells her he is not the right guy for her. The nice, warm blooded, family oriented, caring guy will never win out over the withdrawn, despond ant, outsider. Nice guys always finish last.

Now, I almost do wish I had read it along with my school girls. I could have then told them that worst guys are hairy on the inside, and not the outside.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fortune's favors?

 The Tarot is a form of divination using archetypal imagery to delve into the psyche. Archetypes have meaning to us all and any image will have some meaning to the seeker. Just like the interpretation of dreams, it is more important what the dream (or card) makes you personally feel (afraid, relieved, rushed etc.) than the actual story of the dream or image.

Josephine, the mother of my MC Alice Towne, reads tarot cards. In DISTILLATION she does a reading for her daughter - which took me a lot of time to do. When I started my novel I never thought I'd be doing tarot readings for imaginary characters, but it was insightful for me and for Alice, I think.

I grew up with a traditional with a Universal Waite Tarot deck in my own household. I played with it often, examining the images and imagining their stories. Although I do not claim to be a true cartomancer, I know my way around a deck. So, I thought it might be fun to add a little divination to my blogging repertoire.

So, here is the card for today: The Seven of Cups - pulled from a shuffled deck - cut with the left hand.

Cups is a generally positive suit. This card depicts a figure gazing at an array of full cups. It is an indicator of imaginative purpose, of possibility, and of potential realization. Each of the cups may contain something desired or something feared, and the figure is in contemplation of those possibilites. The cups sit on a cloud, rather than at the end of a road or in a distant landscape, which means the object of the seeker's imagination is not yet a reality. Attainment of something desired is not guarenteed, but the possibility is there. It indicates that there is yet a choice the seeker must make, or a path he or she must take to bring what is wanted to fruition. I see this image as a reflection of wishing, of wanting, and of inaction.

If I am the seeker, this means I must stop looking at the imagined possibilities and get back on the road in order to actually make any possibility a reality. If applied to my writing - this means I need to get writing and stop waiting, something I have been struggling to do.

If you are the seeker what does this image mean to you?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What author would you like to meet?

I just checked in at the 2011 Muse and the Marketplace website to see how this year's conference planning was coming along and found that my favorite author, the one who inspired me to write novels in the first place, is going to be there. Now I am going to have to go - because I must meet Alice Hoffman.

If you could meet any living author, who would it be?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

#2 No Kiss Blog Fest


My second blogging/writing resolution is to get more involved in the online community. I have been visiting Nathan Bransford's forums again and I am going to try and comment on others blogs every day and begin taking part in some of the activities going on. So...Starting right away - my first activity is to participate in the "No Kiss Blogfest" which I learned about from Lindsay's (a.k.a Isabella's) lovely blog Adventure in Writing - which linked me to Frankie Writes who is the creator of this exercise. Note: This excerpt has been edited for length quite a bit.

I stepped down from the bank onto the ledge and felt the shock of the water surge through me, sucking the air from my lungs. I let out a little yelp and saw Kyle turn his face to see what was happening. I had no choice. It was either stand there exposed in my underwear, or dive in. So, I jumped, the freezing water rushing over my body, tiny bubbles effervescing against my skin.
I swam across to the ledge where Kyle was now sitting up again, and found a wide rock beneath the water on which I could sit, modestly submerged. But my rock was in the shade and I began to shiver.

“It’s really cold,” I chattered, my arms folded over my breasts.

“It’s invigorating for sure,” the sun was in his eyes and he was squinting at me. “You can come up here in the sun. Believe it or not, I’ve seen women in their underwear before.”

I laughed a little sourly, and breathed “Yeah,” looked away and shivered harder.

“Come on,” he held out his hand to me and after a moment I took it, getting a foothold on my rock and stepping over the water onto the dry, sun drenched ledge. “See?”

“See what?” I said sitting down beside him, shaking still.

“Not so bad.”

“No,” I laughed.

When I looked back at Kyle was staring at me. I held his gaze, my stomach doing flips, my arm pits prickling, watching him watch me.

“I’ve never met anyone with your color eyes before,” he said matter of factly.

“Ah. Yes, a family trait.” I looked down, breaking the hold, a little embarrassed.

“They’re almost all gold. It’s interesting. You’re different.”

“Than what,” I asked, feeling warm and relaxed now in the sun, although a jittery feeling inside persisted.

“Than the other girls I know.”

“Really? Well, I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but thanks I guess.”

“You seem so …” and he broke off, not finishing his sentence.

“So what?”

“I don’t know… solitary, hiding out in that old house. Truthfully, I’ve been a little intimidated by you.”

“Ha,” I laughed, incredulous, and then felt I shouldn’t have. “It’s true, I guess. I’m here taking some time for me. But, I wouldn’t say I’m hiding out,” I said.

He was quiet for a minute, thinking, looking off into the woods and then back at me. Then with one finger, he touched the tip of my nose. “You look like a llama.”

“What? I thought llamas were ugly with big hooked snouts.” Of all the things I’d ever wanted to look like, this was not one of them.

He laughed with a full smile. “No. Llamas are cute. They have long dark eye lashes and pretty triangle shaped noses like you, although mostly they don’t have freckles, but there are blonde ones.”

“I see.”

He was still smiling, his head leaning on his shoulder, his body leaning back on one hand.

I shifted my eyes sideways, sensing that there was something uncomfortable in the possibilities of where this conversation could lead.

I imagined how he would taste: sweet and cool as silver. Then reality slipped in. I saw Steven’s brown eyes peering out at me from my conscience, sending at once a pang of both guilt and anger through me.

I turned my face, breaking the moment, before Kyle even made up his mind.

When I turned back, he was still close to me, but I could see the intention had faded. He smiled with closed lips, leaned away, and slipped into the water and waited for me to follow. Disappointment and relief surged through me as I plunged in after him, bracing against the shock of the water, and we swam back across.

Do you have an almost kiss - either from a WIP, a movie, a novel, or...wherever to share? If so - get to it - but stop off at Frankie Writes first to sign up so yours will get added to the list.

Happy New Year! #1 Reading and Writing

Happy New Year. Resolution # 1 - to start blogging more often about what I am reading and finding out what you all are reading.

I am reading right now "Outside the Ordinary World" by local author Dori Ostermiller.
Outside the Ordinary WorldSo far this book is pretty good. It is about Sylvia Sandon who swore she wouldn't become like her mother (imagine that - it seems to be a common theme) but finds that she is retracing some of her steps as Sylvia tries to create a better life in small town New England (also very common in these parts) as her marriage is failing. The beginning at least is set in California in the 1970s amidst ambient brush fires that give the sense that the world is going up in flames.

I was a little familiar with Ms. Ostermiller before because she runs the Writers in Progress Workshops in Florence, MA. I have considered attending them numerous times and still plan on it at some point. I did try to contact her a few times because she did offer manuscript critiques (for a fee which I couldn't really afford) - but I was going to see if there was a partial critique we could do. But alas, she didn't return my calls or emails. But when I saw her book in the library the other day I figured, she must have been busy with this.

and "At Home: A Short History of Private Life" by Bill Bryson At Home: A Short History of Private Life
This book is non-fiction and is one I heard about on NPR - I ordered it from the library and had to wait. It is really interesting - taking the reader through all the rooms and passageways in a home - and in doing so going off on a million tangents about the things found in them - or in ideas (somewhat) related to that room. I started reading it because I love old houses and I wanted to know the history of the rooms. Unfortunately though, Mr. Bryson does not stick to that formula. For example, he spends the entire chapter on the Cellar (which I was very interested to learn about) talking about the history of bricks and cement. Right now - we are in the study - and he is talking about the lives and habits of rats and mice. These are interesting subjects, though I do not share his particular interest in eccentric architects, and I have kept reading - but it is not solely about the house. It should have been a clue that one of Mr. Bryson's earlier works was "A Short History of Nearly Everything."

So What are You Reading? Please do tell.