Archive for April, 2013

Spotlight Week Book Review: Shadow and Bone

This month’s Spotlight Week features the SHADOW & BONE, Book 1 of the Grisha Trilogy by YA Author Leigh Bardugo.

 

shadow and bone

 

 

SHADOW & BONE, BOOK 1 OF THE GRISHA TRILOGY

368 pages, Hardcover

Genre: YA Ages 12 and up

Published on June 5, 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

ISBN-10: 0805094598

ISBN-13: 978-0805094596

 

First Line:

Standing on the edge of a crowded road, I looked down onto the rolling fields and abandoned farms of the Tula Valley and got my first glimpse of the Shadow Fold.

 

Synopsis:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

 

My Review:

Author Leigh Bardugo has managed to create the entirely new genre of Tsarpunk by setting her high fantasy story in a Russian-esque country (instead of the usual medieval English setting).

The world-building in SHADOW & BONE is amazing. Leigh has come up with a unique magical system with her use of the Grisha— warrior magicians who can manipulate tides, winds, steel and even flesh. I love how Leigh stays true to her roots as a make-up artist, with her inclusion of a “flesh tailor”—a special kind of Grisha who can enhance the beauty of anyone, even an aging and vain queen.

The characters in this story are easy to love. Alina is a strong-willed and impulsive protagonist, whose lonely heart only desires to be loved. She is most at home with her best friend Mal, whose good looks and warrior skills can easily make any girl swoon. It was great fun to witness their relationship change from best friends, to barely friends to maybe more than friends.

But they aren’t the only characters who make the story more enjoyable. The Darkling is an enigma. He is a grisha who has the ability to control darkness. More importantly, he is a subtle villain whose motives don’t become clear until the very end. His sometimes charming nature overwhelms the mysteries surrounding him, and it’s easy to see why even the usually guarded Alina is drawn to him.

Alina is a sun-summoner, the only one in the land who has the ability to manipulate light. Together, she and Darkling are two halves of the perfect whole. But when Alina discovers the Darkling’s true intentions, her moral compass points her the other way—in a direction far from the Darkling’s grasp.

The plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways. Most of the scenes are filled with intrigue and secrets, while the rest are filled with action. Leigh Bardugo delivers the story in a language that is both simple and poetic. I found myself so immersed in the story that I managed to finish it in two and a half hours.

SHADOW & BONE is an enchanting and compelling read. It’s become one of my favorite fantasy stories and I’m eagerly looking forward to its sequel SIEGE & STORM.

 

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Come back this Wednesday for the second part of the Spotlight Week, where we feature an interview with SHADOW & BONE Author Leigh Bardugo.

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Tarot Giveaway Winner and Birthday Break

Congratulations to the winners of Tarot Zamm’s Tarot Reading Giveaway:

Jodie, Cassie and Laura!

 

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On another note, today is my birthday so I’m taking a break from writing and work.

To celebrate another year of getting older (though not necessarily wiser), I thought I would amuse you with some interesting (and completely useless trivia) about April 26 (all information from Wikipedia).

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Image from sodahead.com

Celebrations:

April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day. Established in 2000, this day is to “raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life.”

April 26 is the Catholic Feast Day of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

April 26 is also National Pretzel Day

 

 

Famous Folks Born on April 26

121 – Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (d. 180)

570 – Muhammad, Muslim prophet, founder of Islam d. 632)

1785 – John James Audubon, French-American naturalist and illustrator (d. 1851)

1910 – Tomoyuki Tanaka, Japanese movie producer (d. 1997)

1917 – I.M. Pei, Chinese architect

1834 – Charles Farrar Browne, American writer (d. 1867)

1889 – Anita Loos, American writer (d. 1981)

1898 – Vicente Aleixandre, Spanish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1984)

1912 – A. E. van Vogt, Canadian writer (d. 2000)

1916 – Morris West, Australian writer (d. 1999)

 

 

Historical April 26 Events

1564 – Playwright William Shakespeare was baptized in Stratford-upon-AvonWarwickshireEngland

1607 – English colonists make landfall at Cape HenryVirginia.

1803 – Thousands of meteor fragments fall from the skies of L’Aigle, France; the event convinces European science that meteors exist.

1945 – World War II: Filipino troops of the 66th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Commonwealth Army, USAFIP-NL and the American troops of the 33rd and 37th Infantry Division, United States Army was liberated in Baguio City and they fought against the Japanese forces under by General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

1981 – Dr. Michael R. Harrison of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center performs the world’s first human open fetal surgery.

1989 – The deadliest tornado in world history strikes Central Bangladesh, killing upwards of 1,300, injuring 12,000, and leaving as many as 80,000 homeless.

 

Finally, Happy Birthday to the following celebrities born today:

carol burnett1

Carol Burnett

 

 

channing tatum

Channing Tatum

 

 

debra wilson

Debra Wilson

 

 

Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito

 

 

jet li

Jet Li

 

 

joan chen

Joan Chen

 

 

john isner1

John Isner

 

 

jordana brewster

Jordana Brewster

 

 

kevin james

Kevin James

 

 

mckenzie westmore

McKenzie Westmore

 

 

stana katic

Stana Katic

 

 

tom welling1

Tom Welling

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Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Daisy Carter

TWN WWW 300

 

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Daisy Carter, author of that fun blog Fresh as a Daisy.

Welcome, Daisy !

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

1 Daisy Carter

 

Daisy Carter

Well, I don’t make a living at it yet, but I’m trying to turn writing into a day job.  I’m also proud to be a mom, so most of my day is all about my kiddo – cooking, cleaning, darning socks, building pillow forts and having indoor snowball fights…you know, the usual.  I have a lot of hobbies that don’t really look like they belong on the same list: knitting, parasailing, and road-tripping are just a few.

I’ve written mostly contemporary YA, but my current WIP is contemporary MG, and I have an Urban Fantasy YA in the works.  I adore picture books and would love to write one someday, but it’s not in my skill set (yet – I’m working on it).

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my drafting (and rewriting) at my local Panera Bread. The ladies in there know me – and my order – because I frequent them so often.  But I do the rest of it at home.  I plan, make line edits, revisions guides, and plot maps at home.

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Daisy’s Panera desk

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

I got my “desk” at K-Mart when I was 18.  I was moving into my first place right out of high school and needed a kitchen table.  Best $80 I ever spent, and that included the chairs!  My family is in transition right now, so my work area is a corner of the office-slash-dining room-slash-playroom.

I hung the cork board and desk calendar first thing because I like to see where I’m going and what I’m creating.

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Daisy’s writing calendar

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

I can’t stand having ANYTHING on my desk other than what I’m working with that day.  I don’t really need anything to work other than my computer most days, although I do usually have a notebook and pen nearby.  Right now, I’m working with these.

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Daisy’s workspace at home

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

Call me a minimalist.  What I love most is a clean work surface.  My walls, on the other hand…I really love having inspiration hanging around.  And I adore my cork board.  I’ve heard some writers use a digital cork board for notecards and such.  I can’t imagine it.  I like having a tactile, visual map of my work.  I use my corkboard for everything, and I tend to plan my writing goals out each week so I know what to work on each day.

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Daisy’s corkboard

I’ve also started a writing log, which has helped me tremendously.  I open it first thing, jot down the date and time, and check to see what I worked on last and any notes I made about what to work on next.  It’s a great reminder of where I’ve been and where I need to go now.

 

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

At Panera, I rotate between water, Dr. Pepper, and Chai lattes depending on my mood and the weather.  Usually, it’s Dr. Pepper.

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Daisy’s drink of choice at Panera

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

Favorite author?!?! That’s like choosing a favorite organ; I need them all to function!  If held at gunpoint, I’d probably choose Harper Lee.  Or Judy Blume.  Or Mo Willems.  Or Jandy Nelson.  Or Ruta Sepetys.  Or…yeah, I’d be dead by now.

My writing inspirations are definitely Judy Blume, Ann M. Martin, and Mildred Wirt Benson (you may know her as the original Carolyn Keene).  I read Superfudge, the Baby-Sitters Club series, and Nancy Drews around the clock as a kid.  If not for these ladies, I wouldn’t have grown up with characters in my head.  And if it weren’t for my mom, who read to me every single night of my childhood, I probably wouldn’t have become such an avid reader in the first place.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

On writing days I get to Panera after dropping the kiddo at school.  The ladies say hi, swipe my rewards card and hand me a cup, and I snag my favorite table (a corner with an electric outlet).  I fill up my cup (Dr. Pepper today), and settle in.  I make sure my wi-fi is off, silence my phone, and open my writing log.  After I’ve entered today’s date and time, I check the notes I made to myself last time.  Then, I open my documents and get to writing.  At 1:22, I pack up my stuff and hit the road.  Sometimes, I get up for refills…and bathroom breaks.

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Daisy’s current writing inspiration

3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I do try to write everyday, but I’m only gauranteed two writing days a week.  On those days, I write at least five hours.  Other days, I might get an hour or two in first thing in the a.m..  My “worst” writing distraction is my kiddo, but I don’t consider that a bad thing.  Kiddo comes before writing on my list of priorities.

 

4. Why do you write?

The same reason I breathe – I have to in order to survive.  And, you know, I love it!

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

Don’t give up.  If this is what you’re meant to do, if you’re itching to tell a story, if your characters wake you up in the middle of the night to say, “I’m druuuuuuuuunk!  Let’s TP my crush then get cheeseburgers!” – wait, is that just the dysfunctional teenager in my head? – then don’t give up.

Also, don’t compare yourself or your work to anyone else’s.  You are unique, so your journey will be, too.  It’s okay if it takes you two years to write first draft.  So what if the woman next to you at a conference wrote a book in a month, sold it in a week, and signed a six figure deal?  Just because your path doesn’t look like that doesn’t mean you’re not going to be successful.

 

 

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Thanks Daisy, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Earth Day

Before I move on to today’s topic, I’d like to encourage you all to join my  Tarot Reading Giveaway

If you’ve ever been interested in getting a Tarot Reading, but haven’t had the time or opportunity to try, here’s your chance.

Tarot Zamm is giving away 3 One Question Tarot Reading valued at $24 each.

What is a One Question Tarot Reading?

The One-Question TAROT Reading is brief, straight to the point and ideal if you want a quick answer.

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Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day was founded by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, after he had seen the effects of a large oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. Together with Congressman Pete McCloskey, Senator Nelson coordinated a “national teach-in on the environment.” On April 22nd, 1970, millions of Americans from coast to coast held organized rallies and protests against environmental deterioration. Shortly after this successful show of support for the environment, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was crated and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were passed.

I thought I’d celebrate Earth Day by reminding you all to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose.

Here are some interesting ways people have found to repurpose or reuse old items:

2 - lightbulb candles

 Lightbulb into candles, from the Recycled Light Company

3 - bike wheel clock

Bicycle Clock, from Pixelthis on Etsy

4 - TV aquarium

TV into aquarium, from toxel.com

vespa chair modified

Vespa motorcycle into chair, from belybel.com

1 - drums made out of barrels

wine barrels to drum set, from Econesting.com

Here are other links to recycling/upcycling/repurposing ideas:

http://twistedsifter.com/2012/06/creative-ways-to-repurpose-reuse-and-upcycle-old-things/

 http://www.boredpanda.com/creative-reuse-upcycling-repurposing-ideas/

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A FREE TAROT READING GIVEAWAY

Last Monday I featured an interview with beloved cousin and amazing Tarot Reader Zamm.

Today, she’s giving away something quite awesome: A FREE Tarot Reading!

If you’ve ever been interested in getting a Tarot Reading, but haven’t had the time or opportunity to try, here’s your chance.

Tarot Zamm is giving away 3 One Question Tarot Reading valued at $24 each.

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What is a One Question Tarot Reading?

 

According to Zamm:

The One-Question TAROT Reading is brief, straight to the point and ideal if you want a quick answer.

Sometimes, you encounter a situation that overwhelms you with all those clutter in your head, leaving you lost and unable to proceed. This situation can be compared to facing a blank wall or crossroads, or getting lost in a forest thick with trees and filled with those echoing noises – that you fail to see the dirt road just a short distance from you. Which way to go? Why can’t I see things clearly? Am I missing something here? Why can’t I see what other people see? Where is this leading to? What’s going to happen next? These are just some of the many types of question you can ask.

The One-Question TAROT Reading can cover issues about life, career, finance, relationships, love and/or studies. It uses three cards to see the influences of your issue in question and will suggest the best possible path to take to make the most of your situation.

The One-Question TAROT Reading is sent to you by email (Email TAROT Reading).

How do you win this amazing prize? Well, by doing any one or all of the following on Rafflecopter. The more points you rack up, the higher your chances of winning!

Contest will run until April 25, 2013

 

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Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Cheryl Schull

TWN WWW 300

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Cheryl Schull, author of that fun blog Chasing a Miracle!

Welcome, Cheryl!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

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Cheryl Schull

I am a mother.  That is I guess the simplest form of who I am and what I do.  My days are currently filled with tantrums, Garfield the movie, and as much inspiration as I can muster for myself!

I am however excited to share that I have just become a student of social science – how I came to be on that journey is a long story, which I hope one day to write a novel about – but for the moment I know inside that it is a calling from God and that one day I will be working within schools counseling young minds into having healthy minds and bodies.

I haven’t always been a writer; in fact in school I hated it.  But in 2009 I came to the point in my life where I had to begin venting my emotions so I began blogging.  I wrote each and every day for 365 days and before I knew it, I had developed a new skill.  Perhaps it was a hidden gift that just needed time and dedication to come about, who knows.  All I know is that I couldn’t have lived that year without my blog and even today I would struggle without it.  I write about everyday topics and questions.  Thoughts that run through our minds but we never have time to truly explore them; things that I am passionate about, and things that I have on my mind.

I also love to write emotions.  My sister calls me her Hallmark wordsmith – I have this unique talent for making people cry through my words… Not in a bad way though! Just in the way that those huggies and hallmark ads make you cry.  I am able to write emotions in such a way that express our deepest, and sometimes most hidden emotions…. I think I have made every female in my life cry through one gift or another!

 

 On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

You are going to laugh at this, but most of my best writing is done in the dark.  And 5 days a week – in the car!  I am an early bird, I get up at 3am, get dressed and head to the gym where I sit in my car for an hour and write on my iPhone.  I then come home and post it to my blog.  Saturday and Sunday mornings I rise at 2.30am and sit in the dark and write at my desk – it is an awesome desk FYI!

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

I made my desk – well ok, my husband did.  We don’t have a huge house so it is in the corner of the lounge room, I used two cheapy desks to hold up a piece of MDF… It looks SHOCKING! But it is big and awesome.  The desk allows me to look out into the lounge room and supervise my daughter as she plays while still giving me space to put all my shiz… you know, books ill never read, a filing cabinet that is so unorganized that if I died no one would find anything!

my desk modifiedCheryl’s workspace

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

The MOST important things to me on my desk are my little pieces of happy.  A photo frame containing a ‘silly’ letter my husband wrote to me when we first started dating, my Swarovski crystals my husband has bought me over the years my photos of my family, and my daily gratitude diary.  They all bring me happiness and remind me that I am loved.

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The silly letter

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I mostly love my desk because it is my desk.  I created it, I live at it and I change it the way only I love it.  So many times in my life I have worked in offices that wont allow you to have a little happy space – and I think it is very important to be surrounded by the things you love – to have constant reminders of who you are and what you love about life. I don’t have any favorite items really, unless of course you count my Mac – I LOVE LOVE LOVE my mac…

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

 COFFEE! Good gosh I couldn’t write without a strong black coffee.  I drink a 6 cup pot every morning…

 mecoffee mod

Cheryl needs her coffee!

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

To be absolutely honest with you I don’t have a favorite author.  I like to read a variety of things, mystery fictions and non fiction works really get my heart inspired.  To be honest I was inspired to write by my brother in law.  Not famous, not a writer – just someone who saw I had a talent and needed an outlet.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

As mentioned above, my writing rituals are in the dark early hours of the morning… on a weekday I wake, I head to the gym sit in my car and write.   I do a workout then return to my desk and write until my daughter wakes – I set her up in front of the tv [she likes to watch garfeild in the morning] and we are both content for an hour or so.  By that stage its 8am and I have already had 5 hours to myself!  And if your wondering how I cope being awake from 3am, I nap from 11-2pm!

3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I do write everyday, it cures me from my sadness and over thinking.  I like to write for at least an hour – on the weekends its more like 3-4 hours.  I  get distracted SO easily – stuff distracts me, online I often end up looking at one thing and hopping to another then another then forgetting what I was actually doing in the first place. HA!

4. Why do you write?

I write to be mentally healthy and to inspire others.  I know from personal experience that happiness isn’t something that some people are born with.  That sometimes situations in life consume us so much that we need someone else to tell us that they know how we feel and that things will work out.  That miracles can happen to the most simplest of us.  I write because I know what it is like to have to focus daily on being positive and if I can help just one lost soul out there through my own personal experiences, I know that I have lived my life just as God planned it.

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

I think my tip would be – write it as you feel it, when you feel it.  Whereever you are stop what you are doing and write it – if you are feeling it.  So many times I have been driving and had to pull over to write what I needed to express.  As for words of wisdom – I have a whole section on my blog – take a look HERE.

And my favorite quote of all time “Hope knows the sun has risen even when the clouds cover every ray of light…”

 

 

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Thanks, Cheryl, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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Interview with a Tarot Reader

I first mentioned her on my blog when I wrote about the Past Life Reading she gave me. I featured her for my Z post in the 2011 A-Z Blogging challenge, and even wrote a tribute for her on her birthday.

Zamm is my cousin, and a professional tarot card reader. She’s one of the most talented (and fascinating) people I know, and today I get to introduce her to you.

Now, without further delay, I present an interview with Tarot Zamm.

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zamm1

 Tarot Reader Zamm

1. Tell us about yourself. What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies and interests, hidden talents?

I’m blessed with three great kids and a loving and supportive partner. I have an insatiable hunger for learning – through my daily interactions with people and the wisdom shared by great minds through their books, audios and videos.

I am an intuitive life coach with a mission of helping people find harmony of mind and spirit. I also read the TAROT and sense the energies of people. I’m also able to connect with my spirit guides at a very personal level.

I love to sing, read, watch documentaries, paint (which I haven’t done in years but hopefully I can do again in the near future). I love to watch Bones, Castle, Game of Thrones, Buffy, Angel, Star Trek, etc.

I’d love to think my hidden talent is in cooking, who I am kidding! 😀 I would love to learn how to properly cook which is a far cry from just coming up with something, with whatever ingredients are available.

 

2. You are a professional tarot card reader. What sort of services do you provide to clients?

Well, the TAROT is a very versatile tool. If you’re into exploring your spirituality and are asking the deeper questions in life, then I can probably help you with that. We can explore your past life, enlighten you about your twin flame, try to ease your pain in losing a loved one through understanding and acceptance, help you deal with a haunting, help you discover more about yourself (present life), bring out that creative spark in you and address the topics of interests (love life, finances, success, projects, etc) – all though the wisdom of the TAROT.

 

3. What was your career before you became a tarot reader? What made you decide to become a professional tarot reader?

I have over 20 years of work experience in marketing, business development, training, account management and business ownership, in financial services, banking, marketing and advertising, real-estate, the arts, and government service. My employment and self-employment brought me to countries like Turkey, Iran, the UAE and New Zealand.

Becoming a TAROT Reader was never my intention, until a series of events including health concerns “pushed” me to accept this calling. I’ve always wanted to help people, that’s why I’ve always been in the service industry (in the secular world). But now, I serve people as their guide in finding the most important answers that could help them see things differently and move forward. And as an Intuitive Life Coach, I help them uncover the answers that are already within them, and equip them with tools that support positive outcomes from the changes they are undergoing.

 

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Tarot Zamm’s office/shop

4.How did you learn to read tarot cards? How and when did you discover you had this particular ability?

I learned from watching my mother. She was using ordinary playing cards, which has the same meaning for the TAROT’s court and minor arcana cards. The Major Arcana, which were not represented in the ordinary playing cards, were easy to learn because it tells us the story of the FOOL’s journey to enlightenment.

I discovered I connected well with the cards, starting with the ordinary playing cards, when I would read for friends and family and I would later find out that the reading turned out to be as how I saw them through the cards. I use to have headaches after those readings because I was so young (in my teens).  Then when I had my own business, I would occasionally guide some of my colleagues (again with the ordinary cards) after which they would thank me for helping them discover options they thought would never work, but actually did.

The TAROT, having the major arcana, is obviously richer in symbolisms and opens more doors to many existing possibilities for each of us. It’s up to us to build the bridge.

 

5. How do tarot cards work exactly? How do they give a person guidance and advice?

This is how I always explain it to my clients before I start their reading:

“When you consult the cards in a TAROT Reading, it will always show you your most probable possibility. Having said that, there are limitless possibilities for each of us out there. However, no matter how small decisions you make, often, it may seem like you are being lead to a certain path.  When you consult the cards, that is the path that you see. It serves like a   road map.  If you like what you see, then proceed.

If you don’t like what you see, then you’ve been empowered by knowing. You can change      it, enhance it or avoid it. What you decide to do with the knowledge you’ve gained from a TAROT Reading is entirely up to you. Nothing is set in stone.

You have to remember that you already possess the most powerful giftyour FREE WILL. The cards, the stars or whatever it is we choose to use is merely a tool. You already  have this immense power within you. Everything else is mere suggestion.”

 

6. You have many clients all over the world, and they consult you via Skype, or over the phone. How are you able to read their energies, even when you’re thousands of miles apart?

I have never ever thought that distance or lack of physical contact would affect a reading. I guess I’m blessed with being able to tune into one’s energy as soon as I hear a person’s voice.  The voice is like a tuning fork which gives me each person’s unique frequency.  This frequency connects with the cards when I touch them showing me a visual story board of what’s happening to my clients. It’s very intuitive as there is no time to think, the story just unfolds and I have to tell it as I see it.

waiting room

Tarot Zamm’s office/shop

 

7. What has been your biggest challenge with regards to your abilities? How have you overcome this challenge?

I have always been very blessed with the clients that find their way to me with regard to trusting my ability to effectively  relay their messages. They’ve always expressed gratitude and confirmation of how empowered, clear and hopeful they’ve become after a reading through their feedback and continuous patronage.

The biggest challenge lies within me. I maybe very spiritual but I’m still human and in being human I am prone to doubt how effective I am in guiding and helping people.

I occasionally need to remind myself that I can only show my client the path,  it will be up to him/her to decide whether or not to take it.  It  is not unusual when what is being presented in a  reading is not exactly what the client wants to hear. In  situations like this, the challenge for me is in having faith that my client will choose the right path for him/herself and learn from the consequences of his/her decisions.

This is still a work in progress.

 

8. Do you consider your ability a gift? How do you help people with this gift?

Of course for the most part, it is a gift.  The ability to paint a picture, through the TAROT, of the different outcomes that await a client gives them a better understanding of their current situation and the commitment required to build the bridge towards getting there.

However being able to sense the energies around a client can on rare occasions leave me drained and with a terrible migraine.  I accept this as an occupational hazard 😀

 

9. Could you share some memorable experiences you had because of this talent?

Well recently, I have a very important client and he came to me for guidance with regard to applying for his dream post. From the very first session we had I knew he would get it, but I was very honest with the challenges, I saw, he would face.  Every significant development he would come to me and ask for guidance,  and the cards would reveal important personalities and influences at play, which he took to heart and made sure he prepared for. After a few months of waiting, he came back to me with the great news that he got his dream job. He was very thankful and pleased. And so was I for him.

 

office

Tarot Zamm’s office/shop

1o. How do your clients find you? Where is your office  located? Where can they reach you online?

I’m quite uncomfortable answering this question so can I just redirect you to some of their feedback?  http://intuitivetarotreader.com/what-clients-say/

My office is located within Wellington CBD, otherwise they can visit my websites:

For TAROT Readings: intuitivetarotreader.com

For Intuitive Life Coaching: zammtopia.com

They can also follow me through Facebook and Twitter: /zammtopia and /tarotzamm.

 

11. What’s a typical day like for a tarot card reader? What’s your usual schedule?

At the moment a typical day for me is divided into studying, readings, coaching, writing and running my business.  I’m completing my PostGrad Diploma in Business and Diploma in Professional Coaching so I spend about 3 to 4  hours a day studying. I spend about 3 to 4 hours a day Reading and Coaching, then I divide the remaining time writing, researching and doing the administrative part of my business.

 

12. You have a natural talent for tarot reading, but is it possible to learn how to read tarot cards? How would one go about learning this skill?

Definitely, the TAROT can be learned, just like anything else. In fact, I have created the TAROT Wellington Meet-up where I  teach and facilitate TAROT learning to those who are interested for FREE, this is my way of giving back. It also gives me a sense of purpose to help and connect people to the TAROT not just when they need advice but in their daily lives.  They do find the TAROT as an empowering tool.

As in any form of learning, time and commitment is required. And if you have passion for it, then that will take you a very long distance.

couch

13. What advice would you give folks who are interested in the tarot, but are hesitant/afraid to try it?

We have a tendency to be afraid of things personally unbeknownst to us. Hearing scary stories pertaining to the occult and the TAROT being the devil’s tool don’t help either.

We have to set one thing clear here, the TAROT is a tool. As with any kind of tool, it needs to be learned, practiced, and used only with good intentions. Let’s compare it to a fork. We use the fork to eat, but in the wrong hands it can be a deadly weapon. However, we can’t quite use the TAROT as a deadly weapon in that manner, but it can significantly influence your way perspective and beliefs.

My advice, if you want to learn the TAROT, you need an open mind. You cannot be judgmental either.  If a person is pessimistic and fearful by nature, I would advise against you learning or using the TAROT.  But if you are naturally positive and benevolent, then you would be surprise with the wonders the TAROT can reveal to you in learning it.

 

14. What other projects are you currently working on? Aside from being a tarot card reader, what other services do you provide?

Well as I mentioned earlier I’m also  an Intuitive Life Coach.  Through coaching I  help people in their transitions and desired transformation. I  introduce new tools that  enhance thinking and decision making.

In reading the TAROT  I show you the path to your destination.  In Coaching I help you build the infrastructure needed to arrive at your destination.

In reading the TAROT  I’m like your GPS system, showing you the direction. In Coaching we’re in the same car, you drive and I help you navigate.

Together we plan the trip to find a better, not necessarily easier, road, but one that would definitely make you an excellent driver – as you get closer to your destination.

 

15. Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?

Thanks for your time reading this interview, I hope you learned a thing or two that may be useful to you.

As a parting reminder life is short so try to make the most of it by being responsible for your own happiness and success. Have faith in yourself and your ability to achieve.  Many blessing to you all!

 

office 3

Tarot Zamm’s office/shop

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Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Zamm!

Tune in this Friday, April 19,2013  for a TAROT GIVEAWAY!

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How I Revise My Manuscripts

I opted to miss the A-Z Blogging Challenge this month so I could focus on rewriting my novel. URTH was the first novel I’d written since I got serious about trying to get published. I wrote it 3 years ago, edited it, queried it, then set it aside when I realized I should probably move on and write a completely different story.

Last month, I re-read URTH in its entirety, after 2 whole years of letting it marinate. It’s amazing how much one’s perspective changes over time.

I’ve learned a lot more about writing in the past two years, and set URTH aside long enough to gain distance from it and view it with editorial eyes.

I had edited URTH 8 times and thought it was publishable and query-ready. Boy was I wrong. My novel was rich with details.  TOO rich, in fact. There were too many subplots, and too many characters with names. My main characters jumped from one setting to another, overcoming problem after problem.

I made the usual mistakes first time writers make: I had so many ideas when I first started and I tried to stuff it all in one book.

I re-read URTH again. But this time I took notes, keeping the following questions in mind:

CHARACTER

  1. Which characters are important to the story and which characters can I do without?
  2. Do my characters show their strengths as well as their flaws?
  3. Do their characteristics show clearly through their actions and dialogues?
  4. Are my main characters active in their decision-making, or do they passively let things happen to them?
  5. Are my characters sympathetic, relatable or likeable?

 

CONFLICT

  1. Does my story have both internal and external conflict?
  2. Are these conflicts tackled clearly in every scene, pushing the story forward?

 

PLOT

  1. How do I simplify this (convoluted and complicated) plot? Can I restructure this story to make it flow better?
  2. What plot points or subplots are most important?
  3. What scenes can I cut from the story?

 

SETTING

  1. What story settings do I find most interesting or intriguing?
  2. Are these settings relevant to the story?
  3. Do these settings show enough world-building to make the story more believable?

POV

  1. Did I choose the correct POV?
  2. Do I shift POV’s midway through a scene?

 

THEME

  1. Is my story too preachy?
  2. Does my story have an overarching theme?
  3. Does this theme help tell a good story, or does it get in the way?

 

After making notes, I went to work on a new story outline.  I removed unnecessary characters, subplots, and scenes, leaving the ones that actually work in moving the story forward.

I rearranged scenes to create a smoother, simpler flow and made a schedule so I could work on at least 2-3 scenes a day this month. I try and push myself to finish more  whenever I can.

I mostly write for my own enjoyment, but I also write with the intent of getting published and someday being able to share my work. So I keep my future readers in mind as I write.

Since I’m writing a Middle Grade novel, I try to avoid too many flashbacks. I make sure the events are described chronologically, as they are happening, to keep my younger readers in the moment. I also avoid using complex words, when simpler ones will help tell the story better.

My aim is to finish 90% of my rewrites this month. Wish me luck!

What techniques do you use when revising your manuscripts? Do you have any revising tips or tricks to share?

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TWN WWW 300

 

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Michael Di Gesu, author of that informative and fun blog Writing Art and Design.

Welcome, Michael!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

michael di gesu 1

Blogger Michael Di Gesu

I am a former fashion model from NYC and I currently live in Chicago. After leaving the fashion industry ten or so years ago, I dived back into the arts. I studied art and have my BFA in Illustration and Interior Design. I re-established myself as an Interior Designer nine years ago and when the economy tanked in 2009, I decided to write and illustrate a novel to keep me busy. I wrote my first MG fantasy novel in three months. The illustrations and cover took another few months… then the editing began. Little did I know then that four years later I am still on re-writes for this novel. For some odd reason I can’t let it go.

I enjoy writing in different genres. Fantasy of any kind is my favorite, but my second novel is a edgy YA contemporary, and I am currently writing a Film Noir novella set in 1940’s Chicago.

As for hobbies, I enjoy anything artistic: drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, baking, remodeling houses, landscape designing, gardening, etc. I am into all of it. As for hidden talents, well, most people are floored by my ability at the wide range of my talents. But these are generally not hidden, but discovered as they get to know me better.

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

My first novel was written in my newly remodeled kitchen, at the dining table. After living through six months of construction and DRAMA,  I wanted to really enjoy the space. Four years later, I now write in my fantastic new office, which I created by splitting my oversized living room. Condo living space is limited, but it can be reconfigured if you know how. This new space is amazing. Flooded with light all morning and afternoon it is the perfect place to work and write.

office

Michael’s office

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk is a Biedermeier reproduction drawing table/desk, given to me by my first clients in Chicago nine-years ago. They had seen it in a showroom while we were shopping for their original pieces and insisted on buying it for me as my bonus. THOSE were the days.

desk

Michael’s desk      

The arrangement needed to be functional as a drawing table too, so I kept the surface simple only placing a Christmas cactus, handcrafted teapot, lucite pencil/pen box, a small note pad, Harry potter stationary and feathered quill, and a mock copy of my first novel. These items are easy to remove when I need to illustrate or create a floor plan for a client.

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

Actually all the pieces are important to me. Since I am THE Harry Potter fan, the quill and stationery from Wizarding World are very special. The teapot is a signed one of kind piece, and it is so whimsical. The cactus dictates where it wants to live and will only bloom in the south/east corner window. So there she sits. Originally when this space was part of the living room the cactus was on a plant stand. And the lucite pen holder, not only holds my writing and drawing instruments, but also homes two beautiful bookmarks, signed by author friends. Each one hand created. So they mean a lot to me. Actually my whole work space is carefully designed with all my favorite things placed in points of honor.

I must have all my drawing supplies around me to work, but for writing all I need is my favorite mug of coffee, my computer table, and laptop. I write on my day bed.

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I love the light. I have four windows that face southeast. So I have natural light to work in all morning and afternoon. Plus the entrance into the space has a large sliding glass French door. Light streams in through the arch from the living room window whether the door is open or closed. As I had mentioned before, the teapot, quill, HP stationary, and my book. I use my computer … ALL THE TIME!

tv stand
 

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. Plus the occasional cappuccino.

 living room

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I have two authors who are my favorite and have inspired me. First and most importantly, JK Rowling. Harry Potter brought my love for reading fantasy back into my life. Once I discovered Rowling, I quickly found Terry Brooks while waiting for Rowling’s next book to come out. Rowling has the monopoly on creating amazing character chemistry, but Brooks has the high fantasy imagery and world building which I always try to have in all of my stories. So I learned so much from both of them.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

Sort of … Since I work on various projects until around 2 AM, I usually start my day a bit later, around 7:30. After I snap on the coffee maker, I go into my wonderful office and flip open my laptop. I start my day blogging. After a few hours of connecting to my buddies and leaving comments, I am ready to face my writing challenges. Like so many, I constantly check emails as I edit or write. At two in the afternoon, I usually begin my design work. Make phone calls, sketch out designs or sometimes even do an illustration. My client meetings usually run after three, so if I happen to have one, I generally prepare for it in the early afternoon and leave my home by two. I return back to my writing usually when I get back from the gym around eleven and work until I drop … LOL.

 couch

 

3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

 I don’t write every day, BUT I am always editing. I spend at least four hours a day working on something that pertains to my stories. My distractions? Two main ones: Blogging and working out at the gym/exercise. I need to keep moving.I feel it’s important to have a life outside of writing. For my first two years I was obsessed with writing and had gained over fifty pounds. It took me the next two to lose that plus another thirty. I never felt better and my writing is much stronger.

 doorway

4. Why do you write?

I write because it’s part of my heart and soul. It has become my FAVORITE creative outlet. For most of my life it was drawing and painting, but for the rest of my life, it will be writing.

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

The most important tip I can ever give to a writer is to WRITE from your heart and soul. It needs to be REAL, HONEST, and PASSIONATE, because only then will it be believable. As for a favorite quote, I tweaked this one (“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”) a bit and use my version as the header of my blog … “Creativity is a terrible thing to waste…”

 

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Thanks, Michael, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

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March 30, 2013 (42nd  CBW-LA meetup): Blogging Workshop with Arlee Bird

On the 30th of March, 2013, I had the immense pleasure of meeting in person awesome blogger and A-Z Blogfest founder Arlee Bird.

Arlee and I became bloggy buddies, thanks to his famous A-Z blogfest. I had no idea that Arlee lived in L.A.  Luckily, I found out about this fact, thanks to my fellow CBW-LA officer Alana (also a prolific blogger), who had interviewed Arlee for her local newspaper article.

I asked Alana to invite Arlee to do a workshop for CBW-LA, and Arlee kindly agreed.

Arlee’s workshop focused on how blogging builds author platform. Lee began the workshop by introducing himself, and talking about his origins both as a writer and a blogger.

arlee bird the writer

 

Blogger and A-Z Blogfest Founder Arlee Bird

His parents were professional jugglers, and soon he and sister became part of the act. His family spent their summer vacations touring and performing in front of crowds.  Lee developed his love for stories through the many intriguing folks he and his family met, thanks to juggling.

juggling jackson modified

 

The Juggling Jacksons, Arlee, his parents and his sister

When Lee decided he would try out blogging, he decided on the title Tossing It Out, as a reference not only to his roots as a professional juggler, but also as a reference to his love for juggling words.

During the workshop, Lee encouraged us to think about why we write—whether it be for fun, for self-expression, or for publication. He said that our answers will also define why we blog.

Lee answered the following questions during the course of his workshop:

What Is A Blog?

Why Blog?

What Is Platform?

How Can Blogging Help Establish Platform?

Is Blogging Enough?

Are the “Internet Time Sucks” Enough?

How Do I Start My Blog?

So I’ve Got a Blog–Now What?

arlee bird and cbwla

Blogger and A-Z Blogfest Founder Arlee Bird speaking to CBW-LA members

Lee defined author platform as:

Ÿ  Who you are

Ÿ  What you can do

Ÿ  Where you can be found

Ÿ  Who your audience or customer base is

Ÿ  What you have done

 

Through blogging, we are able to establish our author platform by:           

Ÿ  Building relationships

Ÿ  Displaying our abilities

Ÿ  Sharing our news

Ÿ  Creating a community via our interaction with other bloggers

Ÿ  Establishing credibility

Ÿ  And building our SEO skills

 

Lee discussed other social media venues where we can expand our following/author platform such as Twitter, Facebook, Triberr and Google Plus.

Lee also spoke about What Not to Do when blogging, such as tell people too much about our lives, get into fights, or leave comments on other people’s blogs that we might later regret.

In the second part of the workshop, Lee talked about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. He explained what the challenge was, and how he had come up with the idea.

arlee bird why i began tossing it out

 

Lee explained the benefits of joining the A-Z Blogging challenge. Not only was the challenge fun, it would also encourage discipline and creativity, since we would have to write up posts matching a specific letter for each day. The A-Z challenge would also help us network and get noticed, which would help our author platform.

Lee cited several of our bloggy friends as prime examples of the A-Z’s success:

Damyanti used the A-Z as a spring board for her works of fiction and later published her entries in an ebook entitled A-Z Stories of Life and Death.

damyanti book modified

Blogger Doris Plaster, inspired by her A-Z posts also published Home Sweet Nursing Home: An A-Z Collection of 50 Word Stories on Aging and Healthcare.

home sweet nursing home by doris plaster

We mentioned how Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh’s army of thousands of bloggers help him promote his Cassastar Series, and support him on his many challenges. (We also discussed theories on how Alex is able to balance blogging, writing, performing in a band, working and attending to his family, citing being an alien or a wizard as possibilities. :) )

 

Mini Alex and CassaStorm modified

 

Lee patiently answered a lot of questions on blogging and social media. He ended the workshop by encouraging the attendees to go home and start a blog tonight.

Thanks to his workshop, many of our members were inspired to begin their own blogs and join the A-Z:

Lucy Ravitch http://www.kidsmathteacher.blogspot.com/
Chontali Kirk chontalikirk.blogspot.com
Michael Cahill http://nouveauscarecrow.wordpress.com/
Kate Conrad http://katloveswriting.blogspot.com/
Christina Romero http://amamhc.blogspot.com/

 

And of course, our members who already had blogs, discovered ways to gain more followers and make more connections online.

Samantha Combs www.samanthacombswrites.blogpost.com
Alana Garrigues http://writercize.blogspot.com/
Jennifer Carson http://jennifercarson0423.wordpress.com/

 

Our big thanks to Arlee Bird for coming out and speaking to CBW-LA

If you’d like to know more about Arlee, check out his many blogs:

http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/        Tossing It Out

http://wrotebyrote.blogspot.com/         Wrote By Rote

http://afarawayview.blogspot.com/       A Faraway View

http://psalmsunday.blogspot.com/         A Few Words

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/         The Blogging from A to Z Challenge Blog

 

 

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