Category Archives: Writing

Two for One Review: Tarot For Writers and Astrology For Writers by Corrine Kenner

At first I was going to review both of these books separately but now that I’ve read both, I find they work best in tandem for different reasons. So, here is my first (and possibly only) review of two books in one blog post.

As a writer, I’m always looking for ideas and prompts to enhance my writing, and as a tarotist, I’ve had Tarot For Writers on my list for the longest time. I read Tarot For Writers and liked it enough that I ordered Astrology For Writers before I’d finished its predecessor. As the titles suggest, the books are about using tarot and astrology respectively to generate characters, plots, and settings for your writing. For readers who are unfamiliar with either tarot or astrology, the books also serve as introductory material to each and suggest ways to use these esoteric disciplines to enhance existing projects and inspire new ones.

Tarot For Writers is divided into three main sections: “Tarot 101”, “The Writer’s Tarot”, and “A Writer’s Guide to Tarot Cards”. The first part is your basic “Tarot 101” crash course, intended for writers who maybe aren’t familiar with tarot. The second part, “The Writer’s Tarot” is arguably the heart of the book, and discusses how a writer can use tarot cards to generate character traits, plots, and settings, flesh out an existing character, and beat writer’s block (among other things). The third section, “A Writer’s Guide to Tarot Cards” looks at all seventy eight cards in a tarot deck individually, making note of the symbolism in each card and suggesting writing prompts if that card shows up in a reading. Astrology For Writers has a four part structure. The first section covers the planets, the second the signs of the zodiac, the third covers the houses of the horoscope, and the fourth is a quick reference guide if you just want a brief rundown of the different planets, signs, and houses. These aspects of astrology are meant to provide insight on characters, plots, and settings respectively.

Both books have flaws but there’s something to like in both of them. In Tarot For Writers I liked the fresh take on the Celtic Cross, which assigns each card an element of a “standard” plot structure, as well as the spread that combines tarot and astrology to flesh out a character by drawing cards for each of the twelve houses of the horoscope. I also found the writing prompts for each card interesting although most were pretty self-explanatory. My favourite aspect of Astrology For Writers was undoubtedly the “Twenty Questions” sections at the end of each chapter, which provides questions based on the planets, signs, and houses to flesh out a character (“How is your character’s health?” “Have they ever experimented with drugs or alcohol?”) as well as offering suggestions for scenarios you can play out with your characters “Have your character visit the doctor.” “Make your character choose the lesser of two evils.” I’m always looking for prompts or interesting questions to flesh out my characters, and there are plenty in Astrology For Writers. Each sign also has an at-a-glance chart to help you determine signs that mesh or clash, which is perfect for creating group dynamics, foils, and other relationships.

Both books are not without flaws, however. For Tarot For Writers, I thought more time could have been spent in the section on “The Writer’s Tarot” as that seems to be the heart of the book, and yet, the bulk of the book is dedicated to the third section on individual cards and their symbolism. The section on beating writer’s block really only applies to starting new projects, not breathing new life into existing ones, and there’s almost nothing about using your cards during the editing, proofreading, or marketing phases of your book, and those are definitely some areas where a divination tool like tarot cards could come in handy. My biggest problem with Astrology For Writers was that I feel like the attempts to match planets with archetypes (Venus as the Love Interest, Pluto as the Dark Lord etc.) is too constricting and simplistic. In addition, the book seems fixated on the idea that heroes are helpful, kind, and physically attractive, whereas villains are the opposite, and in general seems to conflate “hero” with “protagonist” (and assume that heroic characters are all solar characters) which as most writers can tell you isn’t always the case. The signs themselves are reduced to familiar stereotypes that you see in many astrology books: Scorpio is sexy and intense, Capricorn is a social climber, etc.  Both books rely on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Gustav Freytag’s plot structure and only a few of the many conflicts that can arise in stories. In short, both books suffer from being a bit too basic to be useful to more experienced writers. There’s also a lot of gendering in both books. To be completely fair, both tarot and astrology have traditionally gendered elements of their crafts in a particular way, but occasionally I found it a bit off-putting, especially in the astrology book.

In spite of these flaws, I enjoyed both books and will add them to my small repertoire of writing tools. If you can only afford one, I would recommend Tarot For Writers if you work with tarot or if you need assistance with plots or settings in particular, whereas I found that Astrology For Writers would be more useful for character creation.  Both books touch on plot, settings, and character of course, but I think the focus makes more sense when you consider how tarot and astrology are used (tarot usually sheds light on situations, astrology is mostly used to look at individuals or pairs). If you are new to astrology, tarot, or writing, either book would be worthwhile to add to your library, but experienced writers in particular might be a little let down by the way the sections on writing seem geared more towards beginners.

This is kind of tangential but I feel like the techniques in the books (particularly the tarot book( could also be applied to Lenormand cards (particularly if you want inside into the day to day of a character’s life or inspiration for a setting). I’d love to see a book on Lenormand For Writers.

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The Eldermaid is Now Available!

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My very first novel, The Eldermaid, is now available for purchase via the Createspace store and on Kindle.

Purchase the paperback.

Purchase on Kindle.

Once, it is said, the Powers—the five deities who rule over Love, War, Knowledge, Nature, and Death—walked the land.

But now They are gone, entrusting the guardianship of the world to the many spirits that live in it. These spirits of flame and sea, of tree and metal and storm form bonds with chosen humans, strengthening humanity’s ties with the land.

In this world, bereft of the Powers that created it, a young girl bonds with a spirit of the elder tree. All is not right with the world, however; and it will be up to these two companions to survive an invisible war of conflicting ideologies in which politics, religion, love, and jealousy are major players.

The Eldermaid is a coming-of-age tale about friendship, political wrangling, religion, absent deities, strange spirit companions, and badass queer ladies.

Includes the bonus story “The Genesis of House Hilluck”.

The Eldermaid was a NaNoWriMo 2012 winner.

Please feel free to pass this around to whomever might be interested.

An Update on My Novel

If you’ve been following my blog since November 2012, you’ll recall that I participated in NaNoWriMo that year and won. It’s been two years since I wrote the book, and since then I’ve had eye problems, had surgery that didn’t fix my eye problems but stopped them from getting worse, and have been very stressed out and lacking the motivation to finish the book due to said eye problems. It’s been two years of tax-related paperwork, editing, more editing, and formatting.

But yesterday, yesterday, dear readers, I ordered a proof copy of The Eldermaid.

It’s been a long two years, but it’s finally happening.

Fire Jewel is Out!

Fire Jewel: A Devotional for Freyja is now officially for sale on Lulu! It comes in three lovely formats!

 

Click here to buy the Paperback

 

Click here to by the ebook version (PDF)

 

Click here to buy the ebook version (ePub)

 

Link to Asphodel Press’ devotionals page

 

Synopsis, from the Lulu page:

 

“Freyja, the ancient Norse Goddess of love, fertility, and sorcery is one of the most popular deities of modern Norse religious traditions, and yet there is a dearth of devotional material dedicated to her. This collection of writings hopes to remedy that problem. Here you will find poems, prayers, rituals, songs, and more in praise of the goddess in her various aspects. To some, she is a goddess of love, others speak of her as sorceress and seidr-worker, some see her as the goddess who mourns for her absent husband, others as a mighty warrior, still others as her father’s daughter shining upon the sea. She is all of these things, and more. She is the Goddess who wears Brisingamen, the Fire Jewel, the most beautiful necklace in the world – and knows that she is worthy of its gift.”

 

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here!

 

I’m so happy that I’ve set a 15% discount on the paperback version if you buy direct from Lulu. The discount will be in effect until Monday, February 3rd.

P.S. To my contributors (you know who you are), DO NOT TOUCH THOSE LINKS! Free copies for you!

Fire Jewel is Coming….

Fire Jewel is almost ready to be made available for purchase. You’ll just have to hold on a little longer so the proof copies can be checked.

I know it’s been a long time coming, peeps, but it’s ALMOST here! Just be patient and I’ll have a link for you.

The price will be $16 USD + S&H and will be available via Lulu in case you need a head start on saving those pennies.

A Story

Once there was an Urban Fantasy Protagonist, and she had a special power that was only possessed by a few people in her area. Maybe she could read minds, or understand animals, or read a hundred books in a day, all you need to know is that this power was special, but then again, everyone else had a special power as well, so it’s not like it was that special.

This Urban Fantasy Protagonist had a few close friends, friends she’d known since grade school, friends who supported her and were supported by her in turn. She knew she could always rely on these friends for helpful advice or a shoulder to cry on after a bad breakup, and she was always the first to appear at a friend’s door with chicken soup and a box of tissues when one of her friends was sick. Although they did have disagreements (as all friends do) they were never jealous of each other, especially not when one of them was dating.

Among this Urban Fantasy Protagonist’s friends was a Nice Everyman, this Nice Everyman worked at a rather bland and unexciting job. Maybe he worked for a large corporation in a cubicle, or perhaps in sales. The Nice Everyman was occasionally frustrated with his job, but it paid the bills, and maybe he was saving up to become a teacher or a nurse or even a writer. Our Urban Fantasy Protagonist has secretly had a crush on him since forever.

One day, our Urban Fantasy Protagonist encounters a Bad Boy, he may be a werewolf, or a vampire, or perhaps a demon, but he is something different, and our Urban Fantasy Protagonist falls for him immediately.

“Oh, no!” the Urban Fantasy Protagonist laments. “I still have feelings for my Nice Everyman! He is so sweet, a secure and stable partner, but the Bad Boy is different, and the (enthusiastic, consensual) sex I have with him is amazing! Oh! Whatever should I do? Who should I choose?”

And then, something wonderful happened.

The Nice Everyman looked at the Bad Boy, and noticed how he had perfect hair and lovely eyes, and said: “Threesome?”

And the Bad Boy looked at him, with his rumpled shirt and beautiful hands,  and grinned. “I’m down with that.”

Thus was the Urban Fantasy Protagonist’s romantic dilemma solved, enabling her to get back to more important things, like saving the world, which she accomplished all on her own with the assistance of a motorcycle, a shotgun, and a half-eaten chocolate cake.

END

Introducing the Tales of Shift!

Fine, I’ll spill my news.

So I’ve been talking with friends and thinking about stuff and wanting something I’ve written to be published like, right now.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at writing erotica ever since I told myself that I could do better than E.L. James and Fifty Shades of Grey, so I started writing Fur and Scale, which is a story about lesbian shapeshifters in love and is set in the same universe as my Splicer serial. Originally, I was just going to post it here and let everyone beg me for more stories.

But, as I said, I’m tired of not having any income coming my way. As much as I would love to just keep writing for free, I have to draw the line somewhere.

Thus, the Tales of Shift, a series of short stories set in the shapeshifter-dominated city of Shift, of which Fur and Scale is the first. I plan on writing a bunch of stories which will be available in ebook format at low cost, and then collecting them all in an anthology that will probably be available as both paperback and ebook. The anthology will also include a bonus story or two and, I don’t know, what do other authors include in their extras? Point is, I want to make it worth your while to buy the whole thing, but also give you the option to buy the individual stories (I’m also planning on offering them for free on Kindle at times if they’ll let me).

Also, I will say right now that all my stories will be DRM-free, because I hate DRM and I trust my customers. and DRM sucks.

And now some questions!

How do the Tales of Shift relate to the Splicer?

The Ta;es of Shift are set in the same universe but in an entirely different city. You will not need to have read any of my other stories to enjoy this one.

How many stories are you planning on writing?

At this point I’m aiming for five, because five is a nice number.

What genre are these stories?

Fur and Scale is, shall we say, my experimenting with erotica, although perhaps it would be better termed “slightly explicit romance”. The other stories may or may not follow this pattern, but they are definitely more about teh sexytiems than The Splicer.

Will there be queer characters?

Yes, all of the protagonists will be some flavour of queer, for minor characters and antagonists, assume they are queer until further notice.

When you say “shapeshifter” do you mean “werewolf”?

No, for starters, werecreatures and shapeshifters are slightly different in this universe, but I’m trying to move away from werewolves in general and have lots of different animals. Also, Shift might not be as diverse (species-wise) as St. Cyprian, but some other non-humans make their homes there.

How are you planning on distributing these stories?

I’ve chosen to put Fur and Scale in the Kindle KDP Select program, which means that it will be exclusively on Kindle for 90 days and it will be available in the Kindle library (where I believe you can get it for free). After that period, I can make it available elsewhere if there’s demand for it. (I don’t anticipate there being a lot of demand.)

What is Fur and Scale about, exactly?

Fur and Scale is about a chipmunk shapeshifter who somehow ends up being invited to the Dragon Princess’ birthday party (Western dragons are still so feudal). There will be dragons, innovative safer sex methods, and possibly cake.

Is this….you know….that kind of erotica?

The City of Shift has strict laws regarding…erm….”mating” between shifters, between shifters and regular humans, and between shifters and other species. The Tales of Shift series will mostly be about humans who happen to turn into animals engaging in loving, consensual sex with other humans who occasionally turn into animals, in human form, and sometimes deities, or other species like Fae or Demons will get in on the action, and they all tend to take humanoid forms. (Animal-headed deities are exempt from the laws governing animal forms.)

Will this affect any of your other writing?

Yes, I will continue to give you free stories that you can read for free on my blog.

If anyone has any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or via my ask box on tumblr. I’ll let you know when Fur and Scale is out.