Friday, May 28, 2010

How I use Tarot in writing

So, yeah. I've kinda taken the past month off. I didn't mean to do it, but--well, it happens.

I think I'm finally getting myself off dead center, though. I let the story ferment in the swamp a while, deliberately not thinking about it. Then I talked about it, a little bit. Mostly about how I really didn't know which scene needed to come next.

This week, I threw down some Tarot cards. I thought I was doing a reading for my heroine, who is the confused one right now in the story, but the first spread--yeah, I went ahead and laid them out in a Celtic cross--seemed to fit my hero better. I didn't write any of them down, but the "You, where you are" card was one of the ones involving heartache--not the 5 of Cups, but maybe the 2 of Swords. Or maybe the 8 of Cups. I don't remember. What I do remember was the "As others see you" card was the 9 of Cups. In that others saw that he had everything he could possibly want--but really, inside, there was heartache. But heartache moving away. And the outcome card was -- dang it, I don't really remember. Either Justice or Resurrection. Justice, I think. Getting everything he deserved.

Then I did another spread, a triangle for my heroine. I wrote these down, and so I remember them better. I don't have the notebook I wrote it in with me, alas. Anyway, in her present, there was the Fool. But for my heroine, it was more like deliberate ignorance and fooling herself than innocence and faith. She's ignoring things she really does know. Then in the near future, there was the Magician, but he was reversed. I know a lot of people don't read reversed cards. I used to turn them right side up, but I usually don't any more. And it fit--though the meaning I got from it doesn't match what I usually read this one as, because in the heroine's story, her attempts to fix things and "make the magic happen," blow up in her face. And then she lets her fears and the lies she's told herself run her right off the cliff (Knight of Cups and Knight of Swords in her later future). There were 2 cards in each side of the triangle, but I mostly remember the Fool and the reversed Magician. (The others fit with these cards. I do remember that.) And the central card, that centers the whole reading was Strength. IOW, the heroine is stronger than she thinks and stronger than she realizes, but she needs to get control of her fears and guilt and grief--and she can.

So, between the two readings, I have decided that I'm going to write the scene I had in mind, rather than skip it. Or at least have the event happen. I may skim over a lot of it, but I think it's going to be a triggering event to kick off the Big Black Moment. Which I will then have to write, but it will get me to the end of the book, and I'm hoping I can have it done by the end of June. There just isn't that much left to write. An emotional blow up. Probably a literal battle scene of one sort or another. And it's done.

What did those readings have to do with my writing? A couple of days ago, I wrote about being stuck. I couldn't decide whether to have this event actually happen, or jump straight into the Black Moment. Either way could work, but I just didn't know. I couldn't make up my mind, even after letting the alligators in the swamp that is my subconscious chew on things.

This is where Tarot comes in, for me. It's a good tool to get the chewed-up bits in the subconscious out where I can get a look at them. The pictures can be symbols, or they can be literal. They don't have to mean what the book, or some class or site on the Internet says they mean. (And that internet link is a good one; it's where I learned Tarot.) It's about what they make me think of when I see them. And the "everyone thinks you have everything you want" card hit me. The scene I wasn't sure about is one where that would happen. People would see the hero and heroine together, and think they have it all. But they don't. The "magic" blows up in her face. That's how the cards helped me see what I sort of knew, but couldn't pull up out of the swamp. The cards themselves are nothing more than tools to help me see what I already really know.

In the meantime, since my writing process includes what you see in the picture above, I am typing in what I already have written, so as to get my head fully back into the story.

We're off to visit the fella's parents this weekend. I haven't been up there since his mom broke her arm back in January, though he has. We also have to get the paperwork filled out so the grandboys can come down and go to Sea Camp this summer. It will be fun. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Storage buildings

We don't have a storage building, unless you want to count our garage. It's big enough for 3 cars, but we can't get a car in it. It's too full of bicycles, furniture, boxes (mostly of books) and other... stuff.

We also have a storage unit in the little town where my parents live, about 174 miles inland from our sand bar of an island. It's drier there. None of my books have become moldy yet, but the furniture is, and some of the plastic binders the fella had in boxes.

So, when I drove up to check on the parental units and go to the doctor with Daddy, I took ten boxes to put in the storage unit.

Both the fella and the son told me, "Some of them don't weigh anything at all, and the rest are only sort of heavy."

They lied.

NONE of the boxes weighed nothing. One was fairly light, but the rest were all at least "sort of heavy." And a couple were so heavy, I staggered the few paces from the back end of my Ginormous SUV to the opening of the storage space, dropped the box on the concrete, and kicked it into place. Sort of.

Two of the boxes were of my books. One was a box full of the books I've written--mostly the Rose books, I think. But I didn't open it to look inside. The other box, I made up from two boxes of books. I opened them up and merged them, taking out books I thought the boy would like to read (Linnea Sinclair books from before 2007, Patricia Briggs, etc.), and writing books and some books I couldn't remember why I kept them. Those, I've been re-reading and enjoying.

The parental visit was rather climactic. The doctor decided it was time Daddy needed to stop driving, and did us the favor of telling him so. He seemed disappointed but accepting in the doctor's office. Sort of "Hmm. Well, I've quit driving on the long trips."

"Yes, but you need to stop driving altogether. Your reaction time just isn't good any more."

"Hmm, well, all driving? Hmm. I guess."

But he got cranky about it later. Sigh. So, that step has been taken. He's gone off his patch medicine, because of side effects--he's lost 10 pounds since he's been on it, and 138 lbs for a man 6 feet tall is just too skinny. I'm really hoping we can keep them at home for the rest of the year... Oh well.

I'll try to post something writing related later this week. It's been really busy since I got home. And we're going to visit the fella's parental units this weekend.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A post about writing

I'm trying to write two blogposts a week now. One about my life, such as it is, and one about something to do with either writing or reading. About books. The last several weeks, that post has mostly been about reading books, rather than writing them.

This one is going to be about writing, mostly because of that. Because I haven't been. Writing, I mean. I've been reading. A lot. And doing a lot of other stuff. But mostly, I've been reading and not writing.

Sometimes, when I get stuck in a story, I do better when I stop and think, give myself a little time off to decide what I want to have happen next, or figure out what the characters want / need to do next. That's why I originally slowed down on this one. I wasn't sure if I wanted to write a particular scene.

But that was weeks ago. (Maybe only two.) And I still don't know if this scene needs to be written, or if the story will be better off without it. I don't think I've ever been this paralyzed about my writing.

So, in between thinking "I really need to get busy writing," and making giant bowls of potato salad, and calling parents, and deciding what book to read next, I have thought about why I'm not writing. Part of it is, yes, that I don't know what to write next. But I'm wondering now, after all this paralysis, if that's all of it.

Right now, I'm between books, out of contract. There isn't a book I have to write. There's no real deadline pressure on me. That's undoubtedly a factor.

I'm wondering if I'm having a teensy bit of "fear of finishing." This is a book I've wanted to write for a long time. It's hung around, waiting for me to learn how to write for decades. And once I picked it back up and went to work in earnest on it, it's taken me a couple of years. Not because I'm actually writing it that slowly, but because there's a lot of stopping and starting. I've written two whole books in between the big hiatus. (This one is actually a small hiatus, but it's a break because I'm not writing anything, not because I'm writing something else.) The book means a lot to me. But when I finish it, I have to send it out into the big mean world.

Yes, my agent has seen a big part of it, and loved it. But will she love the rest of it? Will anyone else? Will the economy wreck its chances? Have I built up the earlier parts of the story to wonderful heights only to smash the ending on a jagged reef of pathetic boredom? Does my ending make any sense? Can I do what I think I want to do, and have people continue to suspend their disbelief? Or can I just run off into the night screaming ARRRGGGGHHHH!! and pulling at my hair?

Yeah, okay. There definitely is some of that.

So. Now that I have defined it, what am I going to do about it?

That, my dears, is what defines the difference between the published (or even multi-published) author and the one who is still dreaming of making that first sale. (Or second, or tenth.) When things stall out, when the writing stops happening, you do something about it.

Fortunately, I don't have a deadline. I like deadlines. They help me get the work done, keep me at it when I'd really rather be reading the new Duran release. But right now, I need that time, so I can spend a day taking my dad to the doctor and not sweat it.

BUT, I really do need to get back to work. So I have a plan.

I'm going to think about the story. Try out the scene in my head. I'm going to use my Tarot cards. Draw one, or two, or five, and see if my intuition can break out of the straitjacket my worries have put it in. And then, when I get back from the parents', I'm just going to have to plant my fanny in that desk chair and get to work. Because when it comes right down to it, I just flat have to get words on the page.

And maybe I'll clean off my desk between now and then...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Annnd--He's Done!

Yes, the moment has arrived. The youngest son has graduated. He's done. Through. Finished. Complete--or his degree is anyway.

The grandboys were thoroughly bored sitting through the graduation. They got up to go to the bathroom at least three times, each. And had to stop to talk to their Dad, who was waiting to take pictures on the sidelines, on the way to and from. But they were good, except for whining about being bored.

The son is taking a week off to sleep, and play a little bit. Then he's going to hit the job hunt. There are thousands and thousands of just-graduated students all hitting the job hunt at the same time, but I don't imagine too many of them have degrees in marine engineering technology. Hopefully, that will give him an something.

Our two boys look a lot alike, don't they? (It's the hairline, and the chin.) Some of Rob's friends were asking if they were twins, but no. Rhys is 6 years older. We were glad he got to come down. It would have been great to have their sister down for graduation too, but she was in Italy. Sardinia, to be precise.

We ate all our food--had lots left over. I had strawberries on my waffles for breakfast, and made shrimp enchilada casserole (I didn't have enough actual corn tortillas to make enchiladas, so I used tortilla chips and layered things.) with leftover grilled shrimps. Yum. We did away with the 10 pounds of potato salad pretty quickly... (Ten pounds of potatoes makes 10 pounds of potato salad, right? You may take off the peelings, but you add eggs and pickles and mayo and mustard and pickle juice, right?) (Yeah, I made that much potato salad. And I ate the last little bit for my Sunday night supper.)

We went to the girlfriend's graduation party on Sunday, and left the boy there to visit for his week of sleeping. He might come home during the week. Don't know. They came to go to Schlitterbahn (the water park, which the littlest grandboy calls "Slitherbonn") today, but it was closed. So we had lunch, Rob got the oil changed in his car, and they're going back to the Big H to play putt-putt.

I am trying to get back into a rhythm, but so far, it ain't happening. Maybe tomorrow. Today is my RWA meeting for Houston Bay Area Chapter. We're having a workshop on Tarot for Writers by Arwen Lynch. I'm looking forward to it. I dug out my five extra Tarot decks to pass around for people to look at.

Tomorrow is soon enough to get myself together, right? Right.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Graduation Blow-out!

So, the boy is graduating. His degree will be a Bachelor of Science in marine engineering technology. It seems to be the sort of degree one ought to be able to find a job with, even in a slow economy. We are justifiably proud of him, and have invited everyone we can think of who might come to attend graduation, and then come to the house for a party afterward.

Okay, so it won't be exactly a blowout. We're not exactly the "blowout" types. There won't be a kazillion people there--maybe as many as 15, depending on how many of the boy's friends come. Our older son and his boys will be here by supper time tonight. The fella's parents can't come--his mom's broken arm and injured hip is much better, but still not good enough to sit in a car for 5 hours. His brother has a son graduating college in Colorado at the exact same time (even accounting for the time zone difference). My parents--well, when I called them this morning, they had forgotten that we made arrangements for my sister to bring them down today. (sigh) But I think they'll get it together and be here. Along with whoever else decides to come with the party. One or more of the nieces might come. The little one likes to travel...

The graduation ceremony will be in the morning (which is how the sister gets to come, since Saturday night is her son's senior prom), and then we will repair to the house and barbecue shrimps and chicken, and eat potato salad, beans, and strawberries and angel food cake. I have boiled the eggs. I will make the potato salad tonight. As well as peel the shrimp and skewer them to be ready for grilling, and cut up the strawberries, and maybe cook the beans. We will be ready. :)

I figured I'll probably be doing family stuff for a while--I might be taking the parents back myself, if they want to stay another day-- and we're going to a graduation party for the girlfriend on Sunday, so I thought I'd do the graduation post before it happens. Who knows when I'll have time to do a post-graduation post. And I still can't find the camera cord to download my pictures from a month ago. Sigh. Craziness.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reading Glom

I really shouldn't be doing this. I have lots of other things to do. The son is graduating college. (YAY! Last one out!! We will get a Raise!) (That is, once he gets a job and moves out.) Anyway, his graduation is Saturday morning, and we have lots of company coming in Friday night. We have cleaning to do, shrimps to buy (because we're going to throw them on the barbie), potato salad to make, beans to cook--all the things one does when one has a party.

And I'm still in a reading frenzy. See, I picked up a book I had in my closet, in a stack of "re-read in case you still want to keep it" books, and re-read it. Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff. And I liked it. So I bought another book in Huff's Valor series, and also picked up the first book in Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series, Trading in Danger. I read the Huff book, and liked it, but wanted a bit more of a time gap before I read another in that series. So I read the Moon book.

Then I got books 2 and 3 in the series. And read them. I am now reading book 4, and have book 5 on the Reader waiting for me to finish #4. I do not want to clean. I don't want to cook. I don't want to go to work. All I want to do is read. I really hate getting stuck like this. Especially when I have so much else to do.

Yeah, I'm enjoying these books. They start off a tiny bit like Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan story when he gets kicked out of the space force academy and goes off and creates his own mercenaries--but not. The heroine, Kylara Vatta, gets kicked out of the academy, and is shipped off on a family trading ship, but the characters aren't really similar--Miles is much more romantic than Kylara, and much more hyperactive. Ky gets into fixes more because of events around her, than her own actions (though not always). Anyway, there's a lot of adventure and space battling and intrigue and, well, all kinds of stuff. And I need to finish the darn books and get through graduation and the flurry of things I have going on afterward--like doctor appointments, and dentist appointments--I have to have a new crown on a back tooth because a piece of it is threatening to break off--and parental unit stuff, and-- Just thinking about it makes me tired. At least the sister is bringing them TO graduation. I may have to take them back.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cute kid stories

My kids are grown. Yes, I'm old enough to have grandkids (But only because my children got started early)--I've talked about them before.

Anyway, the older son recently called to tell me some cute grandboy stories. The oldest is eight, will be nine in July. He was walking with his dad in some large mega-box store, and it was crowded, so Dad said "Hey, give me your hand. We need to hold hands."

And the boy said "Oh Dad, that's so embarrassing." At eight. Broke his Daddy's heart. They grow up so fast. Of course, Dad made him hold hands anyway.

His little brother, our youngest grandchild, just turned six. He's been dying to be a Cub Scout since he was three, when his big brother joined up, and will finally get to be a Tiger Cub in the fall when he starts first grade. (We come from a Boy Scout family--the fella is an Eagle Scout, as are our two sons.) And since Mom is a Den Leader, the little guy has been going to all his big brother's meetings, pretty much since the beginning.

So at the most recent Bear Cub den meeting (3rd grade Cub Scouts), a new boy came. After the meeting, the new kid started beating up one of the other little brothers. The littlest grandboy pulled him off and pushed him back and said, "Do you want to be a Cub Scout?"

The new kid said "Yeah."

And my Guy said "Then act like one."

Just warmed the cockles of my heart. He's such a good kid.

Oh, and the middle grandboy--the daughter's son. He's the one with autism. Anyway, Mom's taking him on one of her conference trips so he can go stay with his other grandparents in Colorado, since her conference is in Denver.

She was telling him they were going to go on an airplane to see Grammy and Grandpa. He comes back with "Go see Gigi and Granddaddy" (what the little boys call us). They go back and forth a couple of times about which grandparents they were going to go see, and she finally asks him, "WHY do you want to go see Gigi and Granddaddy?"

He comes back with "Go to the Beach."

Beach trumps mountains for a kid who lives where it snows, I guess. Apparently not because he wants to see US. ;)

Ah well. I enjoy cute kid stories. I have a number saved up from when my kids were little, to tell the grandkids and embarrass their parents one of these days. You got any to share?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I've been reading

Summer has arrived on the island. It's not as hot yet as it will get in July or August--we've got at least 10 degrees to go for that, but it's consistently reaching 85 F (29.5 C) by 1 p.m. In a lot of places, it doesn't get that warm in the height of summer, but we're not out of spring yet.

I still haven't downloaded my Valley Mills pictures--the son borrowed my camera cord, I asked him to put it on my desk, but I can't find it. Wondering if I buried it, or if it's still on his desk.

Anyway, I thought I'd blog about the books I've been reading, because I've been reading a lot. I picked up several hardbacks at the library that I'd been wanting to read, but resisting because I didn't want to spend the bucks to buy them. And I've been reading through the RITA finalists--at least the categories that I read ordinarily. I don't read a whole lot of romantic suspense in my "regular" reading, so I haven't put any of those on my "TBR" list. I have read all the historicals, and I think I'm almost through the series contemporary romance. I've read a few of the Novel with Romantic Elements entries. And I've enjoyed them all. I have two now--a series romance, and a NRE, both finalists, both by Christie Ridgeway.

But I haven't got round to them, because I had to read the last book in The Lost Fleet series: Victorious, by Jack Campbell.

I've enjoyed these books from the very first one, and Victorious is a satisfying conclusion to the six book series. It hits all the notes and wraps up all the loose ends, (the big ones, anyway) and even lets the hero get the girl. Campbell's not a particularly romantic writer, but there is a hint of romance, and I like the way he handles it. It fits the characters and the story. And there is the possibility of a new series in this same universe. Yes, the loose ends are tied up, but you know how it is with life (even life in space). There's always something. Politics and human nature can always create conflict (necessary for a book), and when you throw mysterious aliens into the mix... Well, I do have hopes. :)

I've also been to the library and brought home some hardbacks I wanted to read, but wasn't sure I wanted to spring for. I've read Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb--it's a locked-room mystery. I liked it a lot, and especially enjoyed the banter between Eve and Peabody. (The conversation about penises going on vacation cracked me up.) A very satisfying read.

I also got Patricia Briggs's Silver Borne in which Mercy deals with fae and werewolves and friends. Hmm. Yeah, okay--the same but different, and totally enjoyable. Mercy was dealing with her new relationship with the werewolf alpha, and fae who wanted things from her, and still dealing with the fallout of what happened to her a couple of books ago. Liked it a lot.

I picked up some paperback romances, but can't for the life of me remember what they were... One was a Stephanie Laurens. To Distraction. Not one of my favorites, but readable. I've gone back since I got those, and this time, I got If His Kiss is Wicked by Jo Goodman. She uses very formal, very historical sounding language. I enjoyed the book, but it was slower to get through than books by others. In this one, the heroine is kidnapped in the prologue, and in chapter 1 goes to the hero, because she thinks she was kidnapped by mistake, and her cousin is in danger. She was also brutally beaten, and suffers from PTSD because of it, and much of the book is about the hero trying to help her recover, and trying to protect her. It's a very good book, with a slow revealing of who the villain is and just what has been going on. It has a gothic feel, though (thank goodness) the hero is never suspect. Just everybody else.

Reading, reading, reading. And I can't remember half of them. Drat. I may have to go back to the library and look.