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Tarot Game for Writers

Welcome back. This week I have another tarot spread that you can use to help you create your stories. This tarot spread works like a game. First, we will go over the steps you take for the came and then what each card represents.

  1. Come up with a question. This isn’t to figure out the overall storyline. It is to find out a solution to a specific problem. Be as clear as possible with your questions.
  2. Shuffle your cards and deal them out according to the spread below.
  3. Follow the thread that the cards create to come to a solution to your answer. The cards will provide you with a possible solution, but you have to ultimately decide if it’s the right thing for you to do. Whether you use the offered solutions or not, it is typically enough to break through any barriers you may have.
  4. Keep a note of what your reading provided you. I keep a writing journal with all of my tarot readings. This can help to serve as future inspiration.

Alright, here is the spread you will be using:

game

One thing I need to tell you, as you can see each section of cards is color coded. When you lay out your cards, you need to start on the side with three cards, the conflict, world, and motive, and move over to the two outcome cards.

As for what the cards mean:

Conflict: This is what the outer conflict is surrounding your questions. This could be about a character, it all depends on what your question was, to begin with.

World: This what the ordinary world around the problem is and how it plays into your problem.

Motive: This is what your characters inner motive. This is what makes everything move towards an outcome

The next four cards move into what the obstacles are that your character will have to face moving forward.

Guide: This is their guide or mentor of sorts.

Home: This refers to the pull from their home. How their home life is affecting their decisions.

Controller: This refers to what controls them the most. This could be a person, place or thing. Whatever has the most control over the character.

Key: This is the main reason why they are having problems.

Next, we are moving into actions that will help them reach their outcomes.

Decisions: This card is an optional card. You don’t have to pull one. These are the decisions that your character has to make. These will likely be tough for your character.

Steps: These are the actions steps that your character has to take in order to reach their outcome.

Lastly, we have two outcomes.

External outcomes: This the top card. These are the changes that happen in the outside world of the character the physical things that were affected by their decisions.

Internatl outcomes: This is the bottom card. These are the changes that take place inside of your character. This is how he or she was affected internally by their own actions.

Alright, that’s it for this tarot reading. Try this a few times and I bet this will be what you turn to every time you feel stuck in your writing. Tell me what you think in the comments below.

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e. do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meeting on those days.”

– J.K. Rowling

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

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The Haunting of Drish House – Alabama

Last week I asked my readers if they would like to see some real-life ghost stories on the blog. According to my twitter and facebook polls, it seems you all wanted to see ghost stories. I’ll post the stories every Friday with my regular posts being on Wednesdays. I thought I would go through each state in the US and share a story. I’ll go alphabetically to make things easier on myself. This week we have Alabama. Let me introduce you to the Drish House.

In Tuscaloosa Alabama on 17th Street there sits a home that is said to be the most haunted place in Alabama. This house is known as the Drish House. The home was built on 450 acres of land for John Drish. His slaves did most of the building. The home was inspired by the Italian Renaissance. However, this home, no matter how pretty it may be, is marred by a haunted past.

John Drish’s story was already a sad one at the time the house was built. John was a doctor and married a women name, Catherine. They had a daughter named Katherine. While their daughter was young, his wife passed away. He sent his daughter to live in Virginia with other family members because he didn’t feel living with a widower was a good idea.

Being an, allegedly, charming man, John quickly found another wife. This woman, a rich widow, was named Sarah Owen. They married in 1825. After his marriage, he brought his daughter back home to live with them, but their relationship was strained. Stories of cruelty surround their relationship. Allegedly, Sarah fell in love with a man John didn’t approve of. To punish her, he locked her in her room and gave her very little food and water. She relented and went on to marry a different man. Eventually, she and her husband divorced and she brought her sons to live in the Drish House. Some people believed that Katherine suffered from a mental illness.

John Drish may have been charming, but it was a bit of an alcoholic and had a horrible temper. This would be his ultimate demise. There are three different tales when it comes to his death. The first is he threw himself over the second-floor balcony. The second says that he was drunk and tumbled down the stairs. The last version claims that he was trying to stop drinking and had the shakes from withdrawals, which caused him to fall down the stairs. Regardless of how he actually died, he passed away in 1867. His wife, Sarah, was left to take care of his funeral.

Sarah became obsessed with his funeral. She ended up planning an elaborate, over the top, funeral. After the funeral ended, she took the candles that were used and hid them away. She planned on them being used for her own funeral. When she died in 1884, the candles were nowhere to be found so they couldn’t fulfill her wishes.

These are not the only sad tails to surround the Drish House and family. 

The niece of Dr. Drish was murdered by her husband. It is also believed that a runaway slave found refuge in one of the towers, but when he left to seek food, he was found and returned to his owner who burned him alive. People have reported seeing a male ghost that is believed to be this slave.

The house has been used for many different things since Sarah’s death. It has been a school, a church, an auto parts store, and a salvage garage. It may have even been used as a prison during the Civil War. Other than the male ghost, other people have reported ghost lights coming from near the top of the house. There have also been reports of what looks like fire shooting out of the third-floor tower. The firemen did not find an actual fire when they arrived. People will blame this occurrence on either the slave that was murdered or by Sarah Drish because it is believed she is angry due to the fact her wishes were never met.

The house fell into disrepair for a while, but it has since been restored and is an event space for people who want to rent it.

Comedic Inspiration – 5 Tips

This week we are going to look at some ways to find inspiration for comedy. I haven’t written a lot of comedy stories myself, but I say dumb things and people laugh, so there’s that.

Comedy isn’t something that should be overanalyzed. You don’t have to look deep into the human psyche to figure out what makes them tick in order to make them laugh. In fact, the less you try, the better chance you have of making a person laugh, or at least chuckle.

Comedy is a double-edged sword, though. You could create something that makes the first 100 readers pee their pants, and then the next reader could find it as dull as a spoon. But that’s just the horrors of writing.

Let’s look at five tips to help you find some inspiration to write that funny story:

  • People Watch

Some of the best inspiration a person can find is within the lives of others. Head to the mall or park and watch people around you for a bit. See if anything fun jumps out at you that is so hilarious that you have to write about it.

  • Think About Your Day

Take a moment to think about the things you did throughout the day. Find something that you found funny and write about it. Maybe one of your co-workers said or did something funny. Maybe you tripped walking up the stairs. You never know where inspiration may strike. Another option would be to keep a journal and write down things as they happen so that you don’t run the risk of forgetting them.

  • Look at Your Phone Contacts

Scroll through the contacts on your phone and see if anybody on the list reminds you of something funny that has happened to you. You can also take a scroll through your social media friends to see if anything shakes some funny cobwebs loose.

  • Look at Trending Hashtags

Jump on Twitter or Instagram and take a look at some trending hashtags. They may be able to spark some inspiration. If they don’t, make them. Take one of the hashtags, whether or not it is funny, and make it funny. It may not be a story that you want to share, but it can get the creative juices flowing.

  • Look at Family Photos

Look through some old photo albums to see if you can find some comedic inspiration. I’m sure if you dig far enough back, you are going to find somebody wearing a plaid pair of pants or somebody with a beehive hairdo. You never know what you are going to find in a photo album. You can also pick out your favorite picture and turn it into a story. This should help to shake some other ideas loose as well.

That’s it for the tips. Try out some, or all, of these tips and see what you can come up with in the funny story department. Who knows, maybe you might create the next great American novel.

“A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid. Give me a choice and I’ll take A Midsummer Night’s Dreamover Hamlet every time. Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh.”
― Stephen King

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

A Question For My Readers

Today’s post isn’t going to be about writing. In fact, I have a question for my readers. Would you like to see blog posts about ghost stories?

I’ve always been a big fan of ghost stories. I’m talking real ghost stories, not just horror books. I’m talking about stories like The Portrait of Theodosia Burr, The Pink Lady at the Grove Park Inn, Ghosts of the USS Constellation, and The Hawthorne Hotel.

I think ghost stories are helpful for writers, especially those of us who want to write horrors or similar genres. Of course, whether you believe they are true or not isn’t relevant. The point is they are fun to read and can give you some clues as to what makes a good spooky story.

I spent a lot of time in high school and college reading books about ghost stories in my state of North Caroline. Trust me, we have A LOT. In the town of Asheville alone, which is about five minutes from me, there are 10+.

My proposition is, would you like a couple (or five) blog posts that share ghost stories from around the world each week along with the regular blog posts. I wouldn’t be replacing my normal writing tips and tricks with the ghost stories. I would simply be supplementing them with some fun spooky stories.

I wanted to get my readers opinion since you guys are the reason I do this. Please let me know what you think if you want me to or not.

If you have your own ghost story, let me know, and I may share it on the blog. With your permission, of course.

“I’ve got quite a vivid imagination and I’m easily overwhelmed by sensations and things that are beautiful or scary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ghost – I think I’m probably haunted by my own ghosts than real ones.” – Florence Welch

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

Being True to You

I’ve got another post for you about writing your truth. I told you I had a lot to say about this.

In past posts, I have talked about how to write your truth. Today’s post isn’t going to be much of a how-to. I have something on my chest that I want to share. It was something that hit me when I was getting information together for a book I was ghostwriting.

I freelance write through a company. I ghostwrite books. Part of that requires me to do research on topics because most of what I write is non-fiction books. It’s through this research that I found so many books on Amazon that you can tell didn’t come from a person’s truth.

This post doesn’t have to with my ghostwriting or anything to do with that sort of thing.

What I want to talk about is the sheer number of books available on Amazon that are written for the sole purpose of making money.

Now, you may be wondering how I can tell that there are so many books on Amazon that aren’t written from a person’s truth. I’ll tell you, but first I want you to do something.

Head over to Amazon and pull up a listing of books. More specifically self-help books; weight loss, exercise, mental health, those sorts of things. Now, pull up a few and click on the preview book. Glance through to see what you can glean from it and take a look at the reviews and other information about the book.

You’ll probably start to notice that some books just have a better feel to them than others. There are some that feel like they could actually help you, while others are just ‘eh.’

Now, I don’t know what is in the heart of an author when they write a book, but what I do know is that if they wrote from their truth, from a need to help people or share something, you can feel it in their writing. It comes off as much more honest that fluff writing.

You don’t have to just write novels in order to write your truth. You can write your truth in non-fiction books as well. It means you are sharing truths about you and your passion in order to help somebody else. And this statement is true for fiction and non-fiction because I believe fiction can help people as well.

So many of the books you see on Amazon are books that have been written and published just for the purpose of making money. They weren’t created from a passion deep within somebody. They didn’t come from the heart.

The problem is, though, that all of these books that weren’t written in truth are covering up the books that are written truth. Speaking as an Indie author, there are so many other Indie authors out there that write their truth and have amazing stories to tell through novels and self-help books that get pushed underneath all of these other books that don’t have any heart in them.

I don’t know how these truthless books become successful. (I have my thoughts, but I will keep them to myself.) All I know is, we need to create more books that have heart and truth in them. We need more books in the world that tell stories that help people and entertain people for the sole purpose of helping and entertaining.

There are enough snake oil salesmen in the world. Those of us who truly have a story to tell, who want to share our truth, need to band together and share with the world what it means to love what you do and to love doing it no matter what you get back.

I know there is nothing that can be done about these filler books on Amazon and other sites. They are always going to be there and more will continue to be published. It’s easier today now than it was 20 years ago. You don’t need an agent or a publisher anymore. I’m not trying to start a revolution or what have you to stop these books from being published.

I am here to help and urge those who do have a heartfelt story to share, to share it.

If you are still unsure about what it means to write your truth, you can use these books to help you.

Because trust me, you can tell the difference when you read a book when it has been written from the heart, no matter the genre.

I think I’ll step down from my soapbox for now. I’ve said what I came here to say.

I hope I have helped you just a little bit more when it comes to writing your truth.

“What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” – Carl Rogers

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

Tarot for Writer’s Block

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more tarot spreads for writing. Last week we covered a 9 card spread for a short story. Today we will look at a plot spread to help the writer with the elusive writer’s block.

There are two parts to this spread. First, shuffle your cards until you feel you have shuffled enough. Then lay out three cards according to the picture.

writer's block 1

This first spread is about you and your writer’s block.

AS: This card is your significator card. This card represents you in this moment of stagnation.

Card 1: This card is telling you what is causing your stagnation or your writer’s block. This is the reason why you are having problems writing.

Card 2: This card tells you what you can do to work through your writer’s block. This is meant to help you overcome the problem so that you can continue to write.

Now, place these cards back into the deck, all three of them, and reshuffle your tarot deck. Once you feel you have shuffled enough, you will deal out the cards as follows.

writer's block 2

Card 1: This card tells you about your protagonist, what they are like, how they look, act, job, and so on.

PS: This is the significator for the protagonist. This tells you about a person or a situation that is influencing your protagonist. You can pull more than one PS card if you would like.

Card 2: This card tells you about your antagonist, what they are like, how they look, act, job, and so on.

AS: This is the significator for the antagonist. This tells you about a person or a situation that is influencing your protagonist. You can also pull more AS cards if you want to.

Card 3: This card tells you about the conflict between the two characters, the background, and what is going on.

Card 4: This card tells you about the situation you left the characters in last. This gives you a sort of starting point.

Card 5: This card provides you with a possible solution to the problem and story. This could be your ending or a new beginning.

This is a great way to work through writer’s block, especially the first three card spread. If you are working on multiple projects, you can do a different reading for each to figure out what the stagnation is for each project.

Please, on these tarot spread blogs, share the stories that spread has been able to help you with.

“Books are like Tarot decks. They provide answers and guidance but more importantly, they are doorways and portals to the otherworld and the imagination. They leave their imprint and keep whispering to us long after we close the pages or shuffle the deck.”
― Sasha Graham, Tarot Fundamentals

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. To celebrate the start of spring, get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles ebook for free for a limited time.

Short Story Tarot Spread

Welcome back!

It has been a bit since I wrote a blog about using tarot for writing. We’ve done a few easy spreads to help create a quite plot outline and to discover traits about our characters. Today we will do a tarot spread to help you write a short story.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you read my first to blogs and check out my videos about tarot for writing:

https://fahuffman.com/2018/10/29/4-tarot-writing-plots/

https://fahuffman.com/2018/10/02/tarot-as-a-writing-aid/

In other news, let’s get down to what we really came here for.

While I really want to talk about the Celtic Cross spread, it is a more advanced spread. Instead of jumping into something that might be difficult to use, I figured I would cover some easier spreads first. Today, we are going to look at an easy 9 card spread to help to create a short story.

Untitled

To start you spread, shuffle you tarot cards until you feel like that they have been shuffled enough. While you are shuffle, think about the reason why you are shuffling. Let the cards and the Universe know that you want to get a layout for a short story.

Then lay each of the cards out in the pattern shown above. You can place them face down and flip each over as you get to it, or you can lay it out face up, whichever works best for you.

Card 1: This card tells you who your narrator is. This could mean anything that you want it to be. Maybe you want to know if it’s an omniscient being is watching the story unfold or it could be the protagonist. Who knows, it could be the antagonist.

Card 2: This card tells you the outer persona of your protagonist. This is how they present themselves to the world. This may not correlate with how they truly feel.

Card 3: This card tells you the inner persona of your protagonist. This is how they actually feel. This is their inside and true self.

Card 4: This card tells you how the story will start. This is your beginning.

Card 5: This card tells you about the middle of the story. This is the middle.

Card 6: This card tells you how the story will end.

Card 7 & 8: These cards tell you about two minor characters. You can also pull more cards if you want more minor characters. These characters can end up helping or hindering your protagonist.

Card 9: This card tells you about the main theme of the story.

That’s it. The hardest part is interpreting the cards, but it doesn’t have to be. Practice interpreting the cards before you ever do you first spread. (Easier said than done)

Most tarot cards come with a book that explains the cards, but you can also find information online. The more you do these spreads the easier they will become.

“It’s said that the shuffling of the cards is the earth, and the pattering of the cards is the rain, and the beating of the cards is the wind, and the pointing of the cards is the fire. That’s of the four suits. But the Greater Trumps, it’s said, are the meaning of all process and the measure of the everlasting dance.”
― Charles Williams

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.