Writing, Witchcraft and Woe
Season 3 Episode 3
A bit of rambling about my new book and other stuff I do.
Season 3 Episode 2
What happens when the universe sends you a random sign?
Season 3 Episode 1
I'm back, peeps.
Then I decided, I should go into my own magickal journey and tell you how I’ve ended up here, in this place.
I first started in college with The Book of Black Magic by Aleister Crowley. I remember getting it at a yard sale when I was in my teens. At the time, I was being bullied in school and was looking for a way to get the bullies to stop. I was ready to try anything, and Black Magic seemed to be the way to go at the time.
I tried to read it, but it was too difficult for me at the time, so I remember hiding it away—so well, I can’t find it even now. That led to my first tarot deck, the Aquarian Tarot, which I still have. I remember buying it when I was fourteen or fifteen—I say fifteen for ease of counting—at a place called the Curly Caterpillar, which is no longer there; it’s a coffee shop now. I also remember locking myself in my room with that and Eden Gray’s book on tarot, trying to figure out the meanings of the cards. I practiced bridge shuffling for hours, both a regular deck and a tarot deck.
Eventually, I found my way into witchcraft. First I started with Ceremonial magick, but that was too high-brow and stiff for me. I went to a couple of coven-meetings which was Gardnerian witchcraft, which is a lot of Ceremonial Magick trappings with a goddess base. My last contact with a group was with a small coven out of Woonsocket, where I went to someone’s Wiccan initiation.
I decided covens were not for me. Next, I kind of put my magic away for years, reading some things, writing about magic. At first, I chose Wicca, but I’m not that deep into the nature of things to stick with it. Nature awes me, true; but I’m too much of a city girl to go traipsing through the woods to find a perfect spot to worship the gods.
Years have gone by, and tarot cards and the gods remained with me. Athena and Hermes mostly (though Hermes scares me because he’s the trickster god. I’m always afraid he’ll twist me around every which way before it turns out okay). I have statues of Athena and Hermes, and Hekate and Hades for shadow work—when I stop being too scared of that to actually delve into the Shadow. I’ve read and studied, but as for practical stuff, I do a lot of little things, like to have a good parking spot or to get somewhere in a hurry. I’ve performed rituals before I go out and hawk my books, with mixed success. I have done protective rituals, and banishing rituals, rituals for mindfulness and circles for creating sacred space. The last time I did any worship was over thirty years ago, in a grove in the woods.
My religion, if you want to call it that, is a lot about paying it forward. I try to be kind, I give complements when I can, and I believe that when I’m in need, then it’ll come back to help. When Hermes has a hand in it, it might take a while or it might come out better than I expected.
So that’s where I am today, surrounded by tarot cards, books, and cats. Next time I’ll try and think of something a little more useful than just my journey down the path.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast, and if you want to contact me you can do so on Twitter @darkmysticquill, Facebook with Dark Mystic Quill, and email me at mercenarysorcerer at gmail .com. I also have an Instagram, @soultalestarot.
Talk to you all soon!
Season 2a Episode 7
I’m sorry that I haven’t been consistent with my podcasts. I’m undergoing dialysis. Preparing for it, doing it, and downtime from it takes up most of my time now.
I’m still finding time to write. My newest work in progress is about a small gang that gets betrayed by an organized crime boss. No magic involved here.
I also read a lot. I tried reading some business books but they were so dry and boring that I quickly gave up. I tried a book called “Once Night Falls” by Roland Merullo. I gave it fifty pages before gave up on that one. I did finally finish a book called “When I Was You” by Minka Kent. It has more plot twists than a corkscrew. I almost tossed it in frustration but I forced myself to finish it. It wasn’t spectacular. I read it in two sittings.
I’m in the middle of reading 365 Tarot Spreads by Sasha Graham, and going through each of the spreads day by day. She wrote a follow up book called 365 Tarot Spells. I’m really working on improving my tarot skills. I’ve been reading tarot for over ten years and there’s always new decks or new spreads to learn. I’ll have a podcast later about some of the spreads I use.
This podcast is about writing two kinds of things, short stories and novels. Not flash fiction—I haven’t mastered that art yet. Let me define some things, first.
A short story is about 5,000 words or less. A novel is ten times that or more. Other than that, there’s not much difference.
A short story can have a subplot, probably no more than that, while a novel can have many sub plots. Short stories are just that, shorter, than novels, but their premise is still the same: to tell a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. There is usually a protagonist or hero, and that protagonist wants something, even if they don’t know what it is immediately. Some one or some thing stops the protagonist. This equals conflict, which is the spine of your story. If you have no conflict, you have no story.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret sauce for writing: conflict. Think about it: when you’re telling someone something that might have happened to you, it’s not, “I got in my car and drove home for dinner.” It’s “I got in my car and there was a bat in it and it was flying around and I couldn’t get it out and I needed to be at home for dinner or my mother was going to throw it out again because I was late.”
See how much more interesting it is when there’s something stopping your protagonist from doing what they want? If they do what they want, it makes for a boring story. Short stories are just that, short. Novels have threads that you hold in your head—or on paper for the more complicated novels—and the threads get tied together at the end. Short stories have one or two threads, or conflicts, while novels could have many. Novels, you have plenty of room for description, prose poetry, establishing setting and character development. Short stories, not so much. Short stories, you get in, tell the story, and get out. Novels, you can meander. But meander with a purpose, or you’ll tick off your readers—as what happened with Once Night Falls in my most recent case.
Remember what’s most important: Conflict. Your character has to wanna, and something has to stop them.
That’s about it for this episode. Next time I’ll get into witchy stuff.
Oh, appearances: I’ll be at Rhode Island ComicCon this year, with a selection of signed books from Paper Angel Press and Water Dragon Publishing. This Saturday, February 15th, I’ll be at the Cumberland public library for their fourth annual Author Expo. In the meantime, check out the wares at paperangelpress.com and waterdragonpublishing.com.
So…you can hit me up on Twitter @warwriter, Facebook at L.A. Jacob or Soultales, or follow me on Goodreads at L.A. Jacob.
Talk to you soon!
Season 2a Episode 6
It’s nine in the morning here, on a rainy Sunday. A good day to crawl back into bed with a few good books on my Kindle. Or a good day to write. I think I’d rather do the former.
I skipped the entire week for NaNoWriMo. Dialysis kicks butt. Just sayin’. So my word count is the roughly the same as last week: 24,000 words. There’s probably no way I’m going to make 50K, and anyway, I’m bored with this project.
I’m itching to try a new novel planning workbook that I purchased, or trying to develop a “beat sheet” from Save the Cat!. I want to start something brand new, but I have no idea what. My life has been eaten up by dialysis and work, with no time or space really for creative endeavors. Heck, I can’t even think about “what ifs” for people I see on the street. I used to do that. Now, there seems to be no inspiration.
A friend suggested I read more fiction, so i tried that. The problem is I just couldn’t get into the books I read. Three urban fantasy books. The first book had a main character I didn’t like (The Paranormalist), the second book had a prologue that I skipped and then the first chapter was a backstory infodump (Nighthawks), and the third book had the typical badass female protagonist that I also didn’t like (Shadow of Doubt). Now, it’s not that I don’t give new authors a try. I have twelve hours of forced reading, but it seems that other authors’ babies are formulaic and boring. I have four more fiction books on my Kindle. Maybe I need to branch out to read—and write—some thing different than Urban Fantasy.
I keep wanting to try my hand at Romance but they all seem the same. Two characters hate each other and then grow to love each other. I’m still reading Save the Cat! to find out about the other “genres” that the authors have developed. I like the “Dude With a Problem” idea but I need to come up with something around that beat sheet.
In the meantime, my story The Band Singer seems to be going nowhere. Next weekend, I will be at a virtual write-in at paperangelpress.com/writein over Thanksgiving weekend. I’m going to probably wrap this book up more quickly than I expected. There’s stuff I need to pad it with first. If I make it to 40K, I’ll be happy.
So, if you want to tweet at me I’m @warwriter and on Facebook at L.A. Jacob. I just got a positive review of my story “Hextron, Inc.” that’s in the anthology Corporate Catharsis. All the stories in that book are really good. I’m not just saying that because I’m shilling the book, but they were really just that good. My favorite, or the one that sticks in my mind, is “Rat Race”.
I will let you know next week how NaNoWriMo ended for me. See you then!