The Finish Line!

Athlete Running Through Finish LineI won! I crossed the NaNo finish line Saturday evening, November 29th. I’d even had to work all day, but I got up and wrote that morning and that evening.

I won NaNo at 50,092. I got REALLY behind the middle of the month and was about to give up. but I put in the effort and even wound up writing almost 10,000 words in one day.

I think a lot of it had to do with the tarot reading I did earlier where The Sun showed up as the possible outcome of my doing NaNo this year. I hadn’t won NaNo the past few years and was afraid I was going to wind up not winning again this year.

ancestral-path-tarot - CopyI kept seeing that Sun card whenever I wanted to give up. It kept me going. Another thing I did is to stop doing certain things.

I got the idea from a book to make a list of things to stop doing. I call it “The To Stop Doing List”. Kind of a mirror image of a To Do List.

One of the things I stopped doing was watching television or surfing the internet when I was bored. If I’m bored now, I walk, stretch, read or, most especially, write.

My NaNo novel needs a LOT of work but it’s a complete story and it’s done.

Hope things went well with your NaNo novels and if not, do like I did and try again next year. And you don’t even have to wait until next November. Every month can be a “book in a month” month.

I’m certainly planning on writing another book in a month! The important thing about winning NaNo is not just writing 50,000 words in a month. It’s setting myself a goal and achieving it, no matter how rough things get.

I’ll always have to keep trying and struggling and making mistakes and even failing. But I don’t plan on ever giving up.

NaNoWriMo Day #10 – Who Loves Ya?

Although my NaNo novel is not a romance per se, the romance is important. Because I’ve been having a bit of trouble determining the dynamics of the relationship, I decided to do a quick spread called the Love and Relationship Celtic Cross (modified.) It’s similar to the Celtic Cross spread but does not have as many cards.

I used the Spiral Tarot deck.

Here is a picture of the layout.

Love Spread

I often do this with my characters, meaning I read for them. It’s a great way to get some insight into my characters and/or to break any blockage I may be experiencing.

Position 1 – What is the central problem/issue in the relationship?

Card drawn: The Star – Since I’m wanting to know what the problem/issue is in this relationship, I looked at the reverse meanings. The key words that jumped were out were disappointment, stubbornness and unfulfilled hopes.

The hero and heroine have both disappointed the other regarding their dreams and hopes for their relationship and both are too stubborn to admit they’re wrong.

Position 2 – What is blocking them from solving their problems?

Card drawn – The Three of Cups. Cups are usually symbolic of love but in this case, again, I’ll look at the reversed meanings. The keyword that jumped out “lack of appreciation.” Ah, that makes sense. Neither appreciated the strengths of the other. They were too focused on the weaknesses. Sometimes in a relationship we don’t appreciate the good points of our partners. Big problem. Both the hero and heroine were too focused on what was wrong. Not on what was right about their relationship.

Position 3 – What are the unconscious/underlying factors?

Card drawn – Princess of Pentacles –  In this deck, what is usually known as the Page is called a Princess. I see this card as representing my heroine. She is a  practical, down-to-earth kind person (Pentacles usually represent that kind of personality) but the hero isn’t. He tends to reside in a more intuitive world of possibility. He wants to deal with what can be. She, with what is. And,also, she’s the one who broke it off because, in her eyes, it made sense to do so if things weren’t going to get any better.

Position 4 – What is the best higher guidance?

Card drawn – Ace of Cups – The penultimate representation of love. They’ve got to find a way to fall in love again and that means trusting, listening, being open to seeing the other for why they really are. Won’t be easy, however. If it’s too easy, I’ve got no story.

Position 5 – What are the past influences?

Card drawn – Nine of Pentacles – This card usually means accomplishment and material well-being. I know that one of the reasons my heroine called it off with the hero is that she thought he didn’t appreciate her accomplishments, and she often felt as if she were alone anyway since he spent most of his time immersed in his work. So, finally, she thought it would be better if she just struck on her own as the Nine of Pentacles often portrays a woman alone in a garden.

Position 6 – What is the likely outcome?

Four of SwordsWell, honestly, I don’t know yet. I have a vague idea as to how it’s going to end. But, it’s interesting that I pulled the Four of Swords, which in this deck shows a woman wrapped in a blanket. And she’s alone. Because this image for the Four of Swords is not one that’s typically seen in other decks, I looked up the meaning in the book that came with the deck. Here is what it said:

A woman has turned her back on the world. She has been asleep for some time. A candle has burnt out and the door is bolted.

That’s not the card I’d usually like to see as an outcome for a relationship BUT I’m not writing a romance. The romance is important but it’s not the overall thrust of the story. And it is the first book in a potential series. So, there’s a possibility my heroine might wind up either alone, unreconciled with the hero, or something else. I don’t know. But that’s okay, It gives me something to think about.

Wow, that really helped. I still have details to work out regarding the relationship but I have a bit more clarity now.

NaNoWriMo Day 6

Did a quick reading this morning to get some advice on how to proceed with NaNo. I’m a bit off the pace because I started late so just wanted to see what I should be paying attention to or avoiding.

Used the Illuminati Tarot, which is another of my favorite decks.

The MoonAce of WandsThe High Priestess

The Moon – This card often speaks of deception or of deceiving one’s self. It’s also the card of dreams, illusions, psychic abilities, the untamed versus the tamed. What I need to do is not delude myself as to how much work and writing I still have to do. Self-doubt is creeping in, as it always does when I write. Am I writing the right story? Is this dumb? Does this suck?

The Ace of Wands – One of the most creative cards in the deck. The will directed toward a goal. This card represents my desire to succeed with NaNo this year. And I can’t help but see the wand as some kind of writing instrument, like a pen, although I’m using a laptop to write. But the pen is the universal symbol of writing.

The High Priestess – This is my Soul Card, so this card is definitely me. Also, look, she’s holding a book. My NaNo novel. Finally finished.

This spread is telling me the best way to deal with any doubts I have about my writing is to keep writing in spite of them. And to find creative ways of doing that. As a matter of fact I’m currently reading Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit. But it’s going to be hard work. The Ace of Wands is a great card for any creative endeavor but it only represents the spark, the initiation of creative effort. There’s still a lot of hard work to be done before the finish.

NaNoWriMo Day 3

So I’m finally getting words down for NaNo. It only took Day 3 for me to get started. I work weekends so that threw me off somewhat. The time change didn’t help either. Was nice to get an extra hour of sleep but the day at work on Sunday dragged!

Plus first chapters are always a hurdle for me. But once I get that first chapter done, I’m usually fine.

I plan on using the Tarot a lot this NaNo. I’m gonna need the inspiration and guidance I suspect. I pulled these three cards from my Ancestral Path Tarot deck, one of my favorite decks, to get some insight on today and the fact I’m starting late.

ancestralempress - Copyanc9s - Copyancestral-path-tarot - Copy

The Empress is telling me to have faith and patience and that my creative energy will flow and, that despite my fears I’m going to fail (Nine of Swords) I will succeed at NaNo. (The Sun).

Sounds good to me. I’ve been a bit concerned because I didn’t start on November 1st like I’d planned. So far I’ve gotten 546 words done but will do more before the day is done.

Happy Halloween and NaNoWriMo Eve

Happy Halloween! And Happy NaNoWriMo Eve! I hoped my month of prep posts has helped you prepare for NaNoWrimo. I’ll continue to post on a weekly basis on writing, especially using the Tarot, so please continue to stop by. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll also be posting on how NaNo is going for me. It’s been awhile since I’ve won so I’m really hoping to do so this year.

Good luck and happy writing!

NaNoWriMo Prep #23 – Structuring Your Plot with Tarot

Writing & Tarot Plotting Cover

Today I’m going to share an excerpt from my book Write Faster with Tarot – Structuring Plots. 

Plot. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the plan or pattern of events or the main story of a literary work (as a novel, play, short story, or poem) comprising the gradual unfolding of a casually connected series of motivated incidents.”

There’s a famous quote from E. M. Forster, the English novelist, who wrote a book about writing called Aspects of the Novel.

The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then queen died of grief is a plot.

Forster’s point is you can write a series of events that are not casually connected and you’ll have a story. But you won’t have a plot unless there is a connection between those events. In this case, the queen dies as a result of the king’s death.

In this book I’ll share some of the tarot spreads I’ve created and use regularly for plotting my fiction.

I’ll speak briefly about the plotting theories the spreads are based on, but my focus in this book will be on using the spreads. I’ll provide a list of resources, however, if you want specific information on how to plot your story.

Tarot Plotting Brainstorm

The first spread is called Tarot Plotting. This is a spread I use to uncover what I like to think of as tent-pole scenes.

Tent-pole scenes are the scenes that hold your storyline up and that will keep your story from sagging.

To show you how this spread works, I will lay out the cards and brainstorm a plot. My genre will be contemporary romance.

It’s important to have some idea as to your story’s genre when doing a spread because it helps the focus of your reading.

I’ve decided that my main character is a woman in her early 30’s who has recently suffered a breakup with the man she thought she was going to marry.

Tarot Plotting Spread

Plot Spread

 

Beginning – The Ordinary World – This is where the character starts; the situation she’s in when the story begins.

The card I pulled for Beginning – The Ordinary World is the Knight of Wands.

Knight of Swords

That’s the guy who left her. He was fiery and passionate but he realized at the last moment he didn’t want to be tied down. So he left her.

The Trigger Event – Introducing Goal – This is the event that starts the character on the story journey. It’s called a trigger event because it sets everything in motion.

The card I pulled for this position is the Queen of Swords.

Queen of Swords

You may find when you’re doing the spreads that some ideas will spring instantly into your mind as soon as you see the card, as what happened when I saw the Knight of Wands. I knew right away it was the heroine’s former lover.

Other cards, however, may require a little more thought, which can involve considering the images on the card or looking up the card’s meaning (and it’s not cheating to do this!). I haven’t tried memorizing all the meanings for the cards and don’t have any intention on doing so. I have enough stuff rattling around in my brain. So don’t feel you have to memorize them either. Any time you’re stumped on a card, don’t hesitate to use the booklet of meanings that came with the card, look the meaning up online or buy a book that specializes in providing interpretations for the cards. You’ll find a list of them in Resources.

I’ll look at the card first. I see a woman on a throne holding up a sword. One of her hands is outstretched as if she’s beckoning to someone. Or perhaps she’s in the process of administering justice or a verdict.

Nothing jumps out at me yet. I’ll try the booklet of meanings. It says the Queen of Swords is someone who has survived adversity. That sounds like a description of my heroine. She has survived the hardship that came with the breakup of her relationship.

Or has she? I’m going to pull another card to see if I can find out more. Don’t feel as if you can only draw one card per the position in the spread. You can draw as many cards as you want for any position in a spread. Professional tarot readers do this when they want additional clarification about a reading for a client.

In the photo for the spread I laid out you’ll see I did exactly that.

If you’d like to read more you can find Write Faster with Tarot – Structuring Plot at the following sales outlets:

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Kobo 

NaNoWriMo Prep #22 – Creating Characters with Tarot

Writing & Tarot Characters CoverToday I’m going to share an excerpt from my book Write Faster with Tarot – Creating Characters.

Physical Description of Character

In her book, Tarot for Writers, (which I highly recommend) Corrine Kenner has an exercise where she suggests you select a card and build your character’s physical description off it. You can either deliberately select a Tarot card or randomly choose one

When you look at the card, focus on physical attributes such as age, hair and eye color, body build, skin color, clothing, and overall appearance.

Let’s try this with the Seven of Pentacles. Don’t worry about what the card means for the time being. That’s not necessary when using the card to brainstorm a physical description.

7 of Pentacles

A young man with dark hair is leaning on a hoe staring at a bush of growing pentacles.

My character will be in his mid-twenties with dark brown hair. He’s in good health, but perhaps needs to walk with a cane. Not permanently but only because he was injured in a car accident.

Let’s try another.

Strength

The Strength card. Again, don’t worry about the meaning of the card. Focus on what’s on the card itself.

A young woman dressed in a white gown garlanded with flowers is pictured with a lion. She also has flowers in her hair.

How would you brainstorm a character off this card?

This character will also be young. A potential friend or love interest for the young man.

What else is in the card?

The woman is wearing a white gown. She’s shown with a lion. Perhaps she’s a veterinarian or works in a circus or at the zoo. Maybe she has a pet.

Or the lion can be ignored altogether. The idea is to go with whatever pops into your mind as all that’s being done here is brainstorming.

Don’t make it too hard. Relax and jot down as many ideas as come to you.

So far we have a dark-haired young man who walks with a cane as the result of a car accident. We also have a young woman who will have been the cause of the car accident. When creating your characters, try to bring in conflict or potential conflict as soon as possible.

What happens if you pull a card like this one?

Three of Swords

This is the Three of Swords. How do you brainstorm a character off of this card?

You have two options. You can choose another card, one with a person portrayed on it, or you can brainstorm off the card. How?

What colors predominate in the card?  Red and gray and silver. The character could have red, gray or silver hair. There are also rain clouds. Perhaps the character cries a lot or looks like he’s always about to cry? The swords could suggest someone with very sharp features.

For this example, the Three of Swords could imply an older man with gray or silver hair. He’s hawk-nosed with severe features. He’s very good at making other people cry due to his harsh personality. He’s the young man’s father.

Not only is he harsh with his only son, but he’s not happy with the young woman who caused the car accident. Again, more potential conflict.

This is a really fun way to come up with characters. You can brainstorm as many as you want or need for your story.

If you’d like to read more, you can purchase Write Faster with Tarot – Creating Characters at the following sales outlets:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple 

Kobo Books

Tomorrow I’ll have an excerpt from Write Faster with Tarot – Structuring Plots. Then, on Friday, I’ll wrap up my NaNoPrep series and after that, on Saturday, November 1st, we can all start writing our novels!