23 February 2017 0 comments

Piaffe: The Cast

As promised, picspam! Sorted roughly by order of appearance (except for Traken down there at the bottom), here's the rest of the cast of characters in Piaffe. Some of them don't have much page time. Others have a much larger role than what is seen or claimed in this volume of the series.

I had fun exploring these first two, because Neolus and Erryn are two of my favorite supporting characters. We'll see more of them. Can I say that without it being spoilery? I really like them. Willoughby, who plays Neolus, is of Ojibway from Whitesand First Nation and Jamaican descent. Thuy is a Vietnamese model.

Also worth mentioning is that Jherrfaulken Torrente character about halfway down. He doesn't actually get page space, but he kind of steals it. And his presence and influence loom a bit. He never really had a face, until I stumbled on a photo shoot a while back, and then I couldn't see him as anyone else. I'm sure he won't mind. Everyone wants to be named after the biggest, baddest falcon, right? He does a fine job of making shaggy look chic.
22 February 2017 0 comments

Piaffe: The Sacred Groves

The Sacred Manda Grove
It was in drafting a spiritual system for Piaffe's world that trees became a major player. I didn't want there to be religious structure, per se, but I did want to create a measure of spirituality in the form of respect for the planet and all its inhabitants. A sharing of resources and space.

Filtered Sunlight
Because their language system is heavily Latinus influenced, I opted to transform Gaia into Ommat, literally "all things are," from om mat, which means "mother of all." She began not so much a specific goddess entity as she is a communion with nature. The sacred groves were space set aside for rites in which the dead were returned to the earth, the final embrace.

I was in the throes of working these details back into the story, trolling the internet for images of what these groves might look like. How old were they? What kind of trees were mandas, beyond being old, dense, and dark? That was when my longtime friend Amara hit me up. She was working on a shiny, and she wasn't sure if the stones worked so well together. She was debating scrapping the combination entirely and beginning again. Artist to artist, I sympathized with her pain.

"Send me a pic of what it looks like," I told her. "I'll tell you if it works or not."

21 February 2017 0 comments

Piaffe: The Insigni

Once upon a time, tanks could dance.
One of my favorite parts of creating the world in Piaffe revolved around the insigni. I'll admit that my inspiration was born in Vienna, Austria at the Spanish Riding School where, at the age of five, I had the pleasure of straddling the back of a Lipizzaner mare. She was huge. Enormous. Fluid.

Exploring the abilities of the mundane horse, the years of training required to perform complex maneuvers which the Spanish Riding School teaches, and extrapolating the possibilities of combining those with a sharp intellect and an aware mind, led to the evolution of the equine soldier.

Forging that image in the reader's mind was a bit of a challenge. I see their towering presence in my head, but how could I convey it? I could see them moving in my head, but how does one describe it?

20 February 2017 0 comments

Piaffe is loose in the world.

I've been working on this story for longer than I'd like to admit. It's been written, rewritten, revised, thoroughly overhauled, and rewritten again after sitting for a good long while. If it were a bottle of whiskey or bourbon, it'd be worth a pretty penny at this point.

It's not... but I hope it kicks like one.
This fantasy world is one that's been with me for so long that I've had to include a glossary of terms to anchor readers because it becomes a struggle to remember, in the throes of writing, what is known and what has simply become ingrained in the fiber of my being and flows through my veins.

So I'd like to do a little post introducing you to this not-Earth, where Gaia is called Ommat, the All-Mother, the sacred trees have veins of crystal, and the humans aren't the only recognized sapient species that contributes to the foundation of society and culture.
07 February 2017 3 comments

Dreams unwind

(L to R) Mary-el, Lumina, and Deviant Moon tarots.

Love's a state of mind. "This is the story of an old Welsh witch." Do you know that song?

In the society and time from which tarot originated (to our best estimations), arranged marriages were a norm. Marriage was a contract for political or financial gain. Lovers were an expense, a luxury, a potential weakness for exploitation, an opportunity to further one's interest, garner favor, and increase power.

The Lovers is a card associated with the element of air. I also associate this card with Gemini, the Twins, as well as Yin and Yang. I see it as an allusion to balances of power between myself and others, about power plays and relationships and connections, none of them necessarily romantic or sexual. This card speaks to me of othila and ehwaz, of group souls, and links between people -- the ancestral connection, the collective unconscious.

01 February 2017 0 comments

It's actually happening.

It's official. You can now pre-order my next book. It's slotted for a release date of February 20th, and what's more, it'll be available in paperback as well as digital format for those of you who've expressed interest.
This is the first in a series, and while I'll try very hard not to be Robert Jordan or GRRM, I can't very well make any hard promises. Because as George recently said, years from now it won't be the wait for the next book that everyone talks about, but how good it is, and that's ultimately what I'm striving for. Not perfection per se (I realize it's an unreasonable and I'm working on that) but the best artistic effort that I'm capable of, given where I am right now.

It's a journey. Let's see where it takes us. It's (finally) one I want to share with all of you.

Keep an eye on my website, or better yet sign up for my newsletter, as I'll be sharing a free excerpt in the week before release.
13 January 2017 5 comments

Courage, young warrior.

It takes bravery and courage to move forward through life. Over and through and under and around all the obstacles and resistance rising up to thwart us.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important. - Theodore Roosevelt
 Confronting fears and pushing forward despite them takes strength. I like to think the Fool isn't unaware of the cliff before them, or the precipice of unknown. Instead, they're choosing to focus on the possibilities, the positive, and the potential gain of flight. They've stopped second guessing. They've stopped doubting. They've stopped asking "what if" and decided to find out what they're capable of.

"The Fool's Journey" is often described as the parallel of "The Hero's Journey" which most avid readers would agree is a staple framework for the majority of literature out there, as well as movies. But as the calendar turns and offers an opportunity to "start fresh," I've found that what it's inspired in me is the strength to let go.

For me, taking that step means making the decision to do a final editing pass on a story that's been with me since my teens, in what seems a thousand variations and iterations. It is a fragment of my magnum opus; the story is so large it will require more than a single book for the telling. I've sat on it for a couple years now, stalled and stagnated, unwilling to release it, the need for perfection and control too strong to overcome, the fear of finishing, of completion, paralyzing me.

So this is not so much some character in a story I'm telling who's embarking on some new journey of self discovery and enlightenment as it is the choice to face one's fears and push forward into the unknown regardless. This is more important to me than any misgivings I harbor, it means more than my flaws and my weaknesses. I will not let me keep this story from telling itself any longer. I have the next part of it to work on, and my death grip on this part will cripple me no more.

The energy of the Fool gives me courage to face my reflection in the mirror, look myself in the eye, and give a Lion's Roar.


This entry is part of the Tarot Rebels Alternative Tarot Blog Hop. January's topic revolved around The Fool. Click through the badge below for the full list of participating blog content.

12 December 2016 5 comments

A Time & A Place

(From L: Mary-el, Arcana, Lumina, Darkana, Wooden)
The Wheel of Fortune in the traditional tarot structure is customarily portrayed as a wheel construct or form. The cyclic nature of life, of seasons, the constancy of only one thing -- change -- is inherent in this card's meaning and interpretation.

For me personally, this card evokes a theme introduced early in life while still beneath the influence of religious upbringing. And despite the deviation of my spiritual path away from those teachings, I find that some truths are simply universal and cannot be claimed, contained, or constrained by any particular faith or path. In Hinduism, it is dharma, the principle of cosmic order. In the West, it is Ecclesiastes 3, written by Solomon, recognized as a king of Israel by both Muslims and Judeo-Christians.

There is a time and a place for everything, a season for everything under the sun.

The Wheel: Fortuna, the heartless and unbiased goddess of Luck and Chance. The Orbweaver, webspinner of Fate, Destiny, Synchronicity. I cannot force or push things to happen faster than they're meant to. Does that mean everything is preordained and I don't control anything? Of course not, but there is a rhythm, a natural cadence for the pace at which things occur. Embracing that and acting in synchronicity with the energies of my environment and those around me will cause things to happen with greater ease, with less effort and strain, with more positive outcomes. Sometimes I must bide my time and follow the path through the darkness, knowing it is not unending, knowing that the sun will return, just as the moon swells and fades, just as the tides surge and recede, just as the heart beats in my chest.

Accepting the natural order of life, working and moving in harmony with it instead of straining uselessly against it. Waiting for the chance to come around, that optimal moment, and recognizing it when it arrives, grasping the opportunity with both hands and making the most of it. This is what Fortuna is for me, this is what I see in the Wheel. It is a reminder to attune myself to nature, to ground myself back to the earth, to remember that we inevitably return to the earth from which we came.

This blogpost is part of the Tarot Rebels' Alternative Tarot Blog Hop. Click the link below to see the full list of participant blogs and content for this month's Wheel of Fortune theme.

31 October 2016 9 comments

Remain Nameless

(This blogpost is part of the Tarot Rebels' Alternative Tarot Blog Hop. This month's theme is "The Thirteenth Card." Click the icon for a full list of participating blogs and their related content.)

Call me when you need me,
Call me anything you want.
~Florence + The Machine, "Remain Nameless"

Most readers who've been following me for a while know who my writing mascot was.
A Blue Heeler and Australian Shepherd cross, he came into my life thirteen years ago as a bright-eyed two-month-old pup in a year when, fortuitously, my soul path card was The Fool. We parted ways earlier this past summer when his tumors finally got the best of him. My soul path card this year -- XIII.

The original Tarot de Marseille called this card L'Arcane sans nom, -- the Arcane with no name. Later iterations included the label LA MORT, yet naming the thing doesn't give us power over it. Or does it?

In the archetypes, XIII is a point of transition, where the focal point of the major arcana shifts from the individual path to the grander spiritual path where everything is bigger than the body, beyond the parameters of the individual, extending into higher awareness, the spiritual journey, the oneness of the individual with the universe as a whole, as a small piece of a grand tableau.

I like to think my friend, who walked with me a little while, has moved on to the next stage of their journey. And for all that we give one another names, whether we name our children or our animal friends, we can never know truly another's name. Names have power. Names influence how we perceive a thing, be it a concept, object, or individual. Names give us power. If we can identify and label a thing, it loses so much of its mystery, and thus its influence over us. Ignorance, after all, isn't a strength.

Is XIII about mortality or death of another kind? Either way, can we diffuse the power it has over us? Why do we grieve what ceases physically? The corporeal form doesn't truly identify us, only houses the essence of who we are. Energy cannot be destroyed, only transmuted. Thus XIII isn't a literal mortality but a figurative one. Slay the things that rule you, it says. Kill what holds sway over your soul, constrains your path. Separate the gross from the divine. Set yourself free.

We mourn the things we lose from our lives, even when they aren't fellow souls. Our jobs, our homes, our relationships. Change is painful, for some reason. It places us at the whims of the unknown, in the currents of chaos. In a visceral sense, it represents an increased risk, and for the earlier, more primal humans, such upheaval could spell disaster and doom. Yet for modern humans, this no longer holds truth.
In the same vein, freeing ourselves from the structures holding us captive is equally disruptive. Social expectations, cultural convention, archetypal roles, presumptive labels and stereotypes. These are the true characters in need of slaying, depicted in later iterations of L'Arcane sans nom. The king, the pope, the woman, the child.  Overriding our programming takes strong will, determination, and perseverance.

Whether there's a skeleton with a scythe staring back at you from XIII, or the imagery of transition takes on another form, the message is the same. Let go of what no longer serves you. Clean out your closet; let go of the dead things, the pieces of the past, to which you cling.

Does all this give new meaning to the loss of my mascot? Not really. My friend has ascended and moved on. He is with me in spirit, as are the others who I hold close to my heart though they no longer walk with me. The synchronicity of what this year means for me personally has helped me come to terms with his departure, though. L'Arcane sans nom holds new and more personable meaning for me now.

The cards hold meanings unique to each of us, within the context of our experiences, our perspectives, and our mindsets. How far we've come, where we are, the path we walk, and where we're heading. I don't imagine XIII will hold the same colorful meaning in a few years' time, for only a year ago it certainly didn't have the connotation it does now. For where I now stand, this is what the landscape looks like for me. Once I have accepted the pain of change and moved forward, the scenery will alter, and even looking back won't offer the same view as I have in this moment.

29 October 2016 0 comments


Is 2016 over yet?
It isn't!?.... Fine then.

I know I'm not alone in saying it, but it's been an extremely rough year. For all of us. I've struggled to find creative energy and inspiration for the greater part of this year. I've shown up, and I've been writing, but it's all been of a non-fiction nature. Tarot studies, shadow work. I haven't shirked my daily spreads, and sitting down to do that each morning, and the associated writing, is admittedly a huge part of what's kept me going long enough for the juices to start flowing again. The trigger point that tipped me back into writing earlier last week was an album that Aleks shared on Facebook -- the soundtrack from a video game, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst. Never mind that the character on the game cover looks suspiciously like a muse of mine, from a futuristic spec-fic I've been toying with, which will likely be my next-year project.
Image link takes you to the full soundtrack on Youtube.
The music in this game reminds me of Bladerunner, which of course makes me think of the Blue District, and lyche. So the urge to return to Black's rewrite has settled back upon my shoulders. Just in time for... a week's respite from the day job before the warzone of the holiday shopping season begins in earnest.