The Power to Write the Words

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Just as I said I was going to in my last blog post, I sat down at my desk this past Sunday and started writing in my fantasy novel “Unbroken Flames.” During the past few years, whenever I’d sit down to write, I’d feel all nervous and restless, as I doubted my own abilities as a writer. I didn’t know if I still had “it” anymore and when I’d start writing, I couldn’t remember what tense I usually wrote in or what my writing “style” even was.

Fortunately, that nervousness didn’t exist this past Sunday and for the first time in many years, I was able to put on music and just start typing out whatever was in my brain. The ability to listen to music and write was something I’d lost and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was because I can’t concentrate on my work writing if I listen to music. Writing for pleasure is different though and I was finally able to let the music help inspire me and move my fingers across the keys.

I only wrote a few pages but those few pages were the start of something important and they represent a shift in my life. I’ve finally managed to close the doors on certain chapters of my life and restore my eternal hope for the future. Those feelings flowed into the main character of “Unbroken Flames” as I realized that she needed to transform just as I have these past few years.

I may not be able to rewrite what’s happened in my life, but I can rewrite what’s going to happen in hers and perhaps as I write the future I want for her, it will create the future I seek as well. That may sound absurd, but I know better than to underestimate the power of the written word…

It’s in the cards – My Tarot Card Reading in Salem, MA

Crow Haven Corner – image courtesy of Salem.org


I was nearing the end of my energy during my most recent visit to Salem, MA, when I was overcome with a sudden feeling that I needed to get a reading done. That probably doesn’t sound surprising given how many psychics, clairvoyants, mediums, and tarot readers there are in Salem, but I’d felt no such compulsion during my first visit there in 2013.

By the time I felt the “need” to get a reading done, I’d been walking around Salem for hours and had explored many shops, streets, and landmarks. I was walking through one particular store when the urge hit me, but when I looked at the poster of available readers, I didn’t get the right vibe. I went back through a couple other shops I’d visited earlier, but again, I didn’t get the vibe I was looking for. Feeling somewhat defeated, I remember standing in the middle of Essex Street for a bit, trying to figure out what to do. It finally came to me when I remembered something that happened very early in my visit that day.

As I’d wandered the streets early that morning, a woman in a witch costume came up to me and handed me a postcard size flyer about Crow Haven Corner, which was right across the street from where I was at the time. I tucked the little flyer in my messenger bag and didn’t think much of it until I found myself standing in Essex Street, needing a reading and feeling lost. That was when I pulled the flyer back out, looked at it, and knew that’s where I was supposed to go. As my last name means “Crow’s beak” it seemed appropriate to go to Crow Haven Corner.

With Crow Haven Corner in my sights, I walked the short distance down Essex Street to the three story, barn-shaped house with black siding and a sign over the door displaying the name. I ascended the steep, narrow steps into the house and found myself in a little shop. The interior of the house was painted dark colors but I didn’t have a problem with that because it matched the persona of the exterior. I made my way to the back of the house and that’s where I discovered all the tarot readers, palm readers, mediums, and clairvoyants were sitting.

Faced with all the readers sitting at their little round tables, I was immediately drawn to one in particular with red hair and I was glad to see she was currently available. I asked the girl at the register if I could purchase a reading. I didn’t specify which reader I wanted but I was quite pleased when she sat me down at the red haired woman’s table. She introduced herself as Christy, I told her my name, and I instantly received the positive vibe I’d been looking for. We started the reading and everything she said to me was spot-on!

I have never received a tarot card reading before, but I had played around with a few different decks in the past. I have books on how to understand tarot cards and I’ve flipped through them reading about the different spreads and what cards mean. Nonetheless, I didn’t really know how to translate what came up, but Christy sure did! She gave me lots of great advice from what the cards were telling her, she picked up on my energy, and knew details about some of my departed loved ones. I tried really hard to commit everything she told me to memory and while I’m sure I’ve forgotten too much, I remember enough to move forward in my life.

Having that tarot reading done was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I’ve been feeling so lost and unfocused lately and I just wanted a little guidance to get me back on my path. The reading by Christy gave me everything I was looking for. She told me a bit of promising news about my love life, but I won’t be sharing that here. 😉 Some of the key points I remember her telling me and that I will share though were that I’m my own worst critic, I need to focus my energy better, I need to market myself and my gifts more, and that I need to WRITE!

Christy asked if there was a particular writing project I keep putting off and I said yes. She told me I needed to start working on that again and just write it. Don’t go back and edit it, don’t over-think it, don’t get down on myself, just start writing and keep writing until it’s done. She said that book has a story that I needed to share and that it would be published within three years. The book she spoke of was of course, Unbroken Flames, because the story is so close to my heart that I’m afraid to tell it. However, fear has never brought me anything positive so I’m going to shove it aside and bring that book to the forefront instead. To that end, I’ve joined NaNoWriMo in an attempt to encourage myself to finish that dang book! I won’t count anything I’ve already written toward my word count, but that whole concept seems like the perfect way to just write like the wind!

To put some more of the tarot reading insight into action, I’m going to spend the day writing, beading, and working on better ways to market myself. I know I have so many gifts to share with the world and if I can just stay focused, make a plan, and not get distracted, I know I can achieve all my dreams! After all, it’s in the cards…

Goddess of Fire?

Photo by Ed Merritt

Photo by Ed Merritt

I had no idea what I was going to blog about tonight. Thankfully, the fates intervened! Friends of mine posted a photo of a large bonfire on Facebook and said, “This one’s for JulieAnn, goddess of fire!” It was in reference to me barely helping tend a bonfire at their home last winter but marveling at its warmth and dancing flames. Goddess of Fire? I rather like the sound of that and if I was such a fiery creature, I’d certainly be warm! Have I mentioned how much I miss being warm? I really do…

I do consider myself a queen but a goddess might be pushing things a bit too far. Then again, aren’t all women goddesses? When they discover their own inner beauty and strength, doesn’t that make them feisty, undeniable sources of power? I’ve lost track of how many things I’ve read and seen that say a woman with confidence is considered highly attractive. I am confident in many aspects of myself but not quite all of them. I am always a work in progress and I’m okay with that. I do know that I’m the best I can be every day and am grateful for every dawn that gives me the opportunity to explore my full potential.

The whole goddess of fire idea coincides nicely with my recent resumption of writing in Unbroken Flames. The story revolves around a woman who wields fire but fears that her excessive emotions will make it impossible to control the flames should she ever fully unleash them. Fire wielders are easily turned to darkness and evil in her world and she refuses to risk such a fate upon herself. What she doesn’t realize is that it’s far more dangerous for her to suppress her emotions, withhold her magic and ignore her true self.

Unbroken Flames, its story and its characters are close to my heart and perhaps that’s why it’s taking me so long to write it. Revealing so much of my inner working and feelings, even in a fantasy story, is a daunting prospect. I shall take a lesson from my heroine Vihresa though by being true to myself and unleashing my goddess-of-fire-like magic.

A love affair with hot baths

Same space, different looks.

Same space, different looks.

I adore a nice, hot, lengthy bubble bath. They’re especially wonderful in the winter when soaking in hot water is about the only thing that thaws out my frozen toes. My fingers and toes get all pruney, I feel utterly relaxed, and I wish I could carry that warm, comfortable feeling around with me wherever I go.

I do believe in writing what I love and that’s why many of my female characters partake in baths. I have extensive experience enjoying baths so it makes perfect sense to write about it! Such descriptive scenes are also a great way to warm me up when I’m feeling cold as I recall the sensations of figuratively melting in the tub.

My goal tonight was to write the bath scene from Unbroken Flames that went along with the bathroom rendering I roughed out last week. In its current state, the bathing area resembles a dungeon but it helps me visualize the scene in my head and keep details consistent. I created a second version of the same space that’s much more modern, clean and non-dungeon like as a way of demonstrating my ability to see the potential in even the most dismal seeming areas.

I wrote out the part in the story leading up to the bath and that took me longer than expected so the bath scene will wait. It’s all forward progress though and I’m happiest when I’m writing in my fiction stories, creating characters people can identify with even when there’s magic involved. Magic or no, nothing beats the warming power of a great bubble bath!

What Can Be Built in a Day

There’s that expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and while that’s true, there’s still a lot that can be accomplished in one day! At least for a multi-tasker like myself.

The temperature today was in the single digits with a wind chill below zero as the snow cascaded down in tiny, icy snowballs all day long. I only went out long enough for Jazz to do her business and after that we’d snuggle up inside, her in her doggy sweater and me in multiple layers. Days like these I am extremely grateful I don’t have to drive to my job anymore. My job is comfortably in my home where my desk offers me a view of the plows going by every hour or so.

A storm outside is a perfect opportunity to be productive inside and that’s exactly what I did. I started working on designing my business cards so I can actually get my name out there when I physically visit places in New England. I still think they’re awful but like everything in life, they’re a work in progress…

My business cards are still a work in progress...

A drafted up card. Less than exciting!

When I’d take a break from that, I’d work on building a location I’m using in my fantasy novel, Unbroken Flames. Many areas in the book are based on places I’ve visited in New England, Amesbury, MA especially. There are so many intriguing parts to that town that I adore exploring and incorporating my love of the area seemed like a natural thing to do for my book.

Today I worked on one building in particular that rests along the banks of the Powwow River in Amesbury. I took a few pictures of it while I was watching the ducks swimming around in the frozen water. It struck me as the perfect hideout for my main character during a certain part of the story. I’ve never been inside that particular building but I can imagine what it’s like and modify it to suit the plot. The proximity to the water and waterfall provide great potential for all sorts of interesting adventures and I’ll make sure to take more pictures next time I go.

You can be quite sure that I’ll give credit to all the places in New England I use as backdrops for my book. What better way to put a place on a map than to weave some magic, heroism and adventure around it?

The inspiration for a setting in Unbroken Flames. A building near Powwow Falls, Amesbury, MA

The inspiration for a setting in Unbroken Flames. A building near Powwow Falls, Amesbury, MA

This is what I had done by the afternoon...

This is what I had done by the afternoon…

Looks better now but more work to be done!

Looks better now but more work to be done!

Unbroken Flames – Dracani rescue teaser

Vihresa followed the glow of the light as she made her way through the trees. As she stumbled over roots and got snagged by thorn bushes, she keenly missed Quilla’s ability to guide her safely even in utter darkness. The cowards that had taken her pup from her would pay dearly for their thievery.

The light grew in intensity telling Vihresa that she was getting closer to some sort of camp. She slowed her pace as the trees thinned out. When the trees opened up to reveal a large clearing in the forest, she ducked behind the closest tree as she examined the scene.

There were several large campfires burning throughout the clearing and the flicker of those flames danced across shadows of men and the metallic shine of cages. Vihresa took no notice of what the men looked like; her wide-eyed gaze was sweeping across all the cages. In each cage there were three to four dracani pups crammed in so tight some of them could barely move. Their beautiful eyes were filled with fear and sorrow and many of their wings were at such odd angles Vih was certain they must be broken. “Bastards,” she hissed as a trace of flames lit her hands.

A strong hand suddenly yanked Vihresa further back into the shadows of the trees and another hand over her mouth stopped her from crying out. “Relax, Vih, it’s me,” came the harsh whisper of Dvar’s voice.

Vihresa relaxed her body and the man released his hold. She whirled on him angrily. “You followed me?!” she demanded in an irate whisper. Seeing Aros standing loyally at Dvar’s side, the woman managed a brief smile at the handsome dracani beast. Aros’s large golden ears were perked up and his dark eyes focused on his master.

Dvar looked from Vih to Aros and back again in confusion. She was pissed at him for following her while visibly happy to see his dracani? Her lack of trust in humans was worse than he’d realized. “Vih, what do you think you’re going to do?”

Vih’s anger returned as her gaze shifted back to Dvar. “Rescue Quilla and the rest of those pups. I’d think that would be obvious.”

“By yourself?! There’s over thirty men in that camp, Vih!”

“They stole my pup, Dvar and they’re probably selling all of them to battle trainers! You expect me to just walk away?”

Dvar scowled. “No, I expect you to wait while I gather my friends from the city guard and-”

Vihresa clenched her hands into fists and stepped away from the man so swiftly he couldn’t stop her. Ignoring Dvar’s curse-filled demands that she come back, she strode out of the safety of the trees. The woman’s whole body suddenly lit with flames drawing the attention of most of the camp. “Release those dracani!” she demanded welcoming the burn of the fire through her very essence. She was answered with unimpressed laughter. Vih grinned evilly in pleasure. “You were warned.”

The men’s laughter turned to screams of terror as every fire in the camp exploded upward and outward catching clothes and skin on fire…

Unbroken Flames – what I’m working on now

Vihresa frowned. “I don’t like the idea of you being hurt.”

Dvar laughed. “It comes with my job, Vih.”

“That doesn’t make it okay!” she huffed exasperated.

Seeing her dismay, Dvar turned serious. “Listen, Vih, I’m fine. I’ve been doing this for most of my life. I’m better equipped to handle this kind of thing than you-”

“Why?! Because I’m a woman?” Fire sprung to her fingertips in her anger.

Dvar’s dark eyes widened slightly at the flames. “Calm down, Vihresa. You know I’m the last person to accuse you of being weak. I just think you’re being stubborn refusing my help.”

The fire faded from Vihresa’s grasp. She sighed and her defensive posture softened. “This isn’t your fight, Dvar.”

“Since when has that stopped you from involving me, Vih?” The man stepped closer to her and reached his hands out to grasp her upper arms. “What aren’t you telling me? Where is all this anger coming from?”

Vihresa pulled away from his touch. “It doesn’t matter, Dvar. I don’t want you getting hurt because of me so it’s best if you forget about me.”

“I can’t do that, Firefly.”

She felt tears in her eyes and it infuriated her. “Don’t call me that! You can’t just suddenly swoop in and be the hero now! It’s too late!”