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September 2012

Spooky Tales Vol. 1 Call for Submissions

Spooky Tales Vol. 1 call for submissions! Write you spookiest short stories (1,000-7,000 words), making sure to include the following 5 words in your tale: rust, tooth, ghost, whippersnapper and cope. Submit your story to synerjay@atlanticbb.net by October 10, 2012 midnight EST. I and my novel writing group will judge the stories for inclusion in Spooky Tales Vol. 1, set to be published on Kindle via KDP the week of the 21st (just in time for Halloween!). Spooky Tales will be edited by me, Janet Boyer, a multi-, traditionally-published author...but you get Kindle author credit (so if you've written other titles, this collection will show up on your author page at Amazon.com). Let the submissions begin (and feel free to pass this around to your writer friends and writing groups)!

Comparative Tarot Deck

I'm selling the out-of-print Comparative Tarot deck (Valerie Sim-Behi) that was published by Lo Scarabeo in 2002. 

The deck was never used nor shuffled; it's in perfect condition. Comes in the original box with LWB.

Cost: $95.00 in the contiguous U.S. Internationally, PayPal an additional $30 for shipping and handling. 

Below is an image of the Comparative Tarot:

Comp tarot


Victorian Romantic Tarot (English OOP)

I'm selling the original, English language Victorian Romantic Tarot published by Magic Realist Press in 2006.

This book and deck are in mint condition. There is no box.

Cost: $225 shipped in the contiguous U.S. Internationally, PayPal an additional $30 for shipping and handling to synerjay@atlanticbb.net.

Below is a picture of the book and deck:

Vic rom


Touchstone Tarot Limited Edition by Kat Black

I'm selling a rare, out-of-print, signed and numbered Touchstone Tarot Limited Edition with a bag made by Kat's Mom, Fran. The black velvet bag has a Touchstone Tarot by Kat Black label sewn on the inside of the bag. 

The deck is signed by Kat, No. 48/500. Deck and bag are in mint condition.

Cost is $250.00 shipped anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Internationally, send an additional $30 to synerjay@atlanticbb.net. 

Below are pictures of the deck and bag:

Touchstone LE 400
Touchstone LE 400 2


Lazy Ass

I regret to say that I'm a lazy ass. I bet you are, too.

Lazy Donkey
Don't talk out your ass.

Considering my creative output, you may find that hard to believe.

Let me explain: when I was in Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago, I almost bought a book titled Now Write! Mysteries by Sherry Ellis. Packed with writing exercises, this book looked fantastic for anyone wanting to up their fiction writing game.

I carried the book with me. Placed it on the table in the cafe where my son was reading. Kept coming back to it, debating.

Finally, I decided not to get the book.

It was then that I had an epiphany about my first book, Back in Time Tarot (and a recent "review" of it on Amazon.com).

I'll get to that in a minute.

It could be argued that I'm just too busy with my non-fiction writing--eBooks, blogging, a deck companion book--to tackle the rigors of fiction writing exercises. After all, even though I have two novels mapped out (one that a publisher offered me a contract for)--and several short story ideas--full-out fiction writing is just not on my agenda for the next few months.

Being a first-born perfectionistic over-achiever, I call it being a lazy ass. (Ha!)

So, back to the "review" on Amazon.

Here's what Jeffri Harre wrote:

I stumbled across Janet Boyer's Back in Time method during a web search. It sounded like the Theological Reflection process used in Sewanee's Education for Ministry program. What I read on her web site confirmed the similarity, so I ordered the book.

The book does not really expand on the method of using the Back in Time method. In fact, all you really need to know about using it is on Ms. Boyer's web site. The bulk of the book is collection of examples of the method done by a wide variety of well-known Tarot practitioners. If you enjoy that kind of reading, go ahead and order the book. If you just want to use the method, go to the web site.

As you probably know, I'm a big fan of honest reviews placed on Amazon.com. So much a fan, that I'm a Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer there. I'm not sure why, in over 11 years of reviewing at Amazon, Jeffri chose to review my Back in Time Tarot as his 6th one. I applaud Jeffri for being brave enough to write a review under his own name (note the Real Name badge). That's awesome!

But...I suspect Jeffri's a lazy ass.

Lazy Butt
Say "no" to crack.

And, I think that's why some people don't "get" (or get) my BIT Tarot Method. In fact, about a year or so ago, I noticed at Goodreads that Back in Time Tarot received 2 stars from Diane Wilkes on May 25, 2011 (she's the former webmistress of Tarot Passages). No actual review, just a click for 2 stars.

Knowing her review reputation, I was curious why she didn't like my book. I sent her a polite message via Goodreads, asking why the 2 stars. (Hey, I'm a writer that values constructive criticism about the writing craft...I really wanted to know! And I can take it.).

She was nice, but acted befuddled. She said she didn't remember why she gave my book 2 stars just a few months prior. I replied back, nicely, "Did you read the entire book? Or try a few of the 100+ BIT Snapshot exercises?"

Another bewildered reply came in, one that didn't give me a straight answer. I asked her if she'd give my book another go, perhaps trying a few of the exercises. She sorta agreed to...and that was that. A few months later, I noticed that she inexplicably blocked me on Facebook.

Was she a lazy ass? Dunno. You'll have to ask her.

You see, my BIT Tarot Method actually requires people to work for their card associations. I don't coddle readers, nor do I force-feed them rote meanings that have been passed down and around ad infinitum

For individuals to benefit from the BIT Tarot Method--especially in terms of the point of the book, which is to create a solid cache of associations you won't easily forget because they're hard won via your own memories--they must be done. You know, practice. You can't just "look" at one or two or ten of the exercises and say "There's no value in this. It doesn't work."

No, you must sit down, come up with a memory, story, world event, and then break it down, pairing Tarot cards with each component. It's not for the faint of heart nor lazy of ass, to be sure.

Lazy Donkey Braying
Ass talkin'.

And, contrary to what Jeffri wrote, you won't get that at my website. In fact, the BIT Tarot Method is clearly laid out right on the Amazon product page. It's not a secret. The benefit isn't in knowing what the BIT Tarot Method is...the benefit lies in doing it. That's the point.

If Jeffri had actually used Amazon's Look Inside feature, he would have known exactly what he was getting. (Note: I just realized that his review is on the Kindle version of Back in Time Tarot. Well, he could have had a sample sent to his Kindle...or went on an actual computer to see what he was getting. Still, Kindling isn't the best way to "do" my book since you need to actually write down things to perform the BIT Tarot Method). 

But, even if he did go to my website--which he said he did (and complained that the information there is an actual substitute for my book)--he would have had everything spelled out for him on what he was in for.

I sympathize with the tired and overstimulated masses, I do. Hell, I don't even have a TV squawking at me 24/7 like most people and sometimes I feel overwhelmed!

But let's get something straight: if you want to be a good Tarot reader--or one that uses the cards for any type of spiritual therapy or psychological counseling as Jeffri seems to want to do--you have to know (gnostikos) the cards...and you do that by practicing them (praktikos).

That is, not by pondering the esoteric meanings you found in a dusty book, nor the list of keywords the newest Tarot kid on the block is barfing up on her blog. 

You learn the cards (well) by living them. 

You can't be an adept and a lazy ass. Choose one...or the other.

-- Janet, Amazon.com Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer. Author of Back in Time TarotTarot in Reverse and the Snowland Deck


A Tour Through the Tarot Course

Ace of Wands Cropped 400
Ace of Wands from the Snowland Deck (Art by Ron Boyer)
I'm teaching Part 2 of A Tour through the Tarot at Jim Harold's Paranormal Plus Club next Monday, September 17th at 10 PM EST. I'll be covering the Wands and the Swords using the images from the Snowland Deck.

You can sign up for Jim's Plus Club at http://JimHarold.net/ When you do so, you'll not only be able to be live in the webinar with me next Monday, but also access Part 1 of my class...and all the other courses and goodies at Jim's members-only club (including Parts 3 of 4 of A Tour Through the Tarot coming up in October and November).

There will be a Q&A section at the end, too, so if you have any questions, you'll be able to ask me...and hear my response right through your computer or headset!

We had a lot of fun in Part 1 (The Major Arcana), and I'm really excited about covering the masculine suits of the Tarot. Hope you can join me, Jim and the rest of the class!

-- Janet, Amazon.com Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer. Author of Back in Time TarotTarot in Reverse and the Snowland Deck


Ghosts and Spirits Tarot

Why are we fascinated with ghosts and spirits? If they aren’t real, then why do they persist in our consciousness? Ghost stories and tales of the supernatural can be found around the world and many cultures still propitiate spirits as part of their belief system. The possibility that somehow our essence continues even when our bodies do not is a compelling idea.” – Lisa Hunt, from the companion book to the Ghosts & Spirits Tarot

 

Ghosts Cover 300Theoretically, I should love this deck—references to The Fall of the House of Usher, A Christmas Carol, Macbeth, Day of the Dead…even Jack Frost, a Snow Ghost and a frosty Wild Hunt—but the execution leaves me cold (and not in a good, or intended, way). 
 
I’ve had the Ghost & Spirits Tarot for months, but as with any deck I don’t like at first sight, I’ve given it a chance to grow on me (and sometimes, such decks do…the Gaian Tarot, for example). Unfortunately, after contemplating its imagery on and off—and attempting several readings—its ghastly cards now repulse me even more than at first blush. 
 
From the horrid Snow Ghost gracing the deck’s cover (what a bad choice—she looks like she’s stone-cold drunk with that red nose!) to dripping spirits with gaping maws, there’s not much attractive among these cards.
 
Intricate detailing on twisted roots, luminous swirls and “hidden” faces edge out the central figure of most cards, and this hyper-focus on framing and long shot views dilute the potential power of each image. 
 
As with Lisa Hunt’s past decks, 80% of the figures are pasty, sleepy-eyed Germanics with the token Kris Waldherr look-a-like thrown in (2 of Wands) and several Orientals. Where is the skin-tone variety? The sense of “in action” tableaus rather than the frozen poses? I loved that her last deck, the Fairy Tale Tarot, seemed to take more artistic chances (more realism and bold colors)—so this deck’s dreary tone and hues are a particular disappointment to me. 
 
Ghosts Bonus 3I feel there’s way too many skeletal figures (and skeletons) in this deck. What, no spirit in the afterlife dare be Rubenesque? Why not? And, since when are ghosts or spirits mostly the (literally) bare bones of leftover humanity—rather than their “essence” that Hunt claims to want to capture? 
 
The Aces are surprisingly busy, not reflecting the singular possibility that they often hold. However, I love the Ace of Swords card—a figure contending with a poltergeist throwing items like a basket of apples, books, a broom, wide-brimmed hat, flasks, umbrella, kitchen items, hair brush and so on—but the energy feels more like a 7 of Cups card rather than an Ace. 
 
And, truth be told, several of the cards feel like their were titled as an afterthought (“I want to create this painting—what card title can I force it into?”). Some don’t even seem to fit the deck or are incomplete (e.g. Judgement). The art feels homogenized, lacking contrast in color or texture. In fact, many of the images look as if water was dripped on the canvas, and a brush downward stroked for a “leaky” effect.
 
I love cards that tell a story, but the 75% of images in the Ghosts & Spirits Tarot don’t seem to say anything but “tormented”, “haunted” and “soulless”. How can that fare well as a good reading deck? It’s impossible to put a positive spin on most of these cards; it feels like a deck stacked with 9 of Swords imagery (the “nightmare” card).
 
Ghosts Bonus 1There’s one “bonus” card in the deck, which Hunt says she included “for questions that require deeper reflection”. In actuality, she painted two contenders for the 4 of Swords card and asked her Facebook fans which one they liked most. Since they both got a good amount of votes, U.S. Games Systems decided to include them both in the deck—but instead of two 4 of Swords cards, the “bonus” card is thrown in with no title. (Which is yet another reason I have to wonder if, for this deck, she just painted what she wanted and then surmised: “Hmmm. What card should I shoehorn this one into?) 
 
I mean, The Moon card doesn’t even feature a Moon—or any water, tides, femininity...theme associated with this powerful card. Instead, it’s painted in all warm hues with a decidedly earthy feel (60% gnarly tree roots and a narrow stone path). 
 
A 59-paged booklet accompanies this deck, featuring mythological or symbolic considerations and divinatory meaning. One basic 5-card layout is included, a Realm of the Spirits that’s merely Past, Present, Future, Joys and Fears—but good luck on deriving meaning for the “What lifts your spirits?” position based on the cards in this deck. Suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles, with the Court Cards following the Page, Knight, Queen and King designation. The card backing depicts three, white cartoon-like swirling ghosts—and image that not only doesn’t jive with the aesthetic of the rest of the deck, but is also non-reversible (but close). 
 
Ghosts Bonus 2So much could have been done with the subject matter—so many freakin’ cool possibilities—but alas, just washed out, ghastly images that leaves me feeling that the Ghost & Spirits Deck is “the nightmare deck”…stacked mostly with variations on the 9 of Swords theme.
 
And let me be clear: I am NOT against “dark” Tarot decks nor find them lacking benefit. In fact, the majority of such decks on the market are not only attractive and evocative, but also darn good reading decks (e.g. Deviant Moon TarotZombie TarotDark Grimoire Tarot,Tarot of the Vampyres, etc.). 
 
But “dark” doesn’t have to equate to depressing, morbid, bland or ugly which, I’m afraid, describes this deck rather aptly. 
 
To see 18 more images from this deck, click here.
 
-- Janet

 


Deck Creators Inserting Their Faces in Tarot Cards

I've noticed that two female deck creators have inserted their images/faces into the decks they've made. Below is Ellen Dugan in the 9 of Pentacles of her Witches Tarot and Joanna Powell Colbert in the 9 of Earth from her Gaian Tarot (both Tarot decks published by Llewellyn).

9 Pents Dugan
Ellen Dugan's face as the 9 of Pentacles in the Witches Tarot (cgi manipulation by Mark Evans)
9 Pents Joanna
Joanna Powell Colbert, artist/creator of the Gaian Tarot (painted replica of a photo...I think)

The 9 of Coins/Earth/Pentacles is a card suggesting "I'm an accomplished, well-to-do woman".

At her Goodreads author blog, Ellen Dugan (co-creator of The Witches Tarot) notes that she "talked my husband and adult kids into each posing for a card too".

I'm curious: how do you feel about deck creators/artists inserting themselves (and their family) into their cards? Does their reconizability affect your ability to project universal archetypes or themes in any way...or does the personal touch enhance relevant associations?

In our own Snowland Tarot, our son, Noah, posed for our Calling card (the equivalent of the Judgement card). My artist husband, Ron, wanted the snow angel to be a young woman--but when I saw the poses with Noah in the mock blue robe, I thought his expression captured the import of the card perfectly...convincing Ron to do my bidding paint Noah, instead.

Calling 400
Calling, Snowland Tarot's version of Judgement

 For our 10 of Cups card--the happy family--we plan on putting our images, as well as our cats...and maybe even Grandma.

Would love to hear what you think of this practice, and how it affects your ability to read with a Tarot deck...or if it influences your purchasing decision at all.

-- Janet, Amazon.com Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer. Author of Back in Time TarotTarot in Reverse and the Snowland Deck


The Price of Remaining Silent

Mannequin Not Seeing 400When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.


When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

-- Martin Niemoller

Barnes and Noble, Leave My Books the Hell ALONE

Yesterday, I went on an "adventure" with Ron and Noah (that's what Noah calls them, anyway!)

Despite getting heaps of books for free as a reviewer, I spend a great deal of coin on books via Amazon and, when I'm in the vicinity, local brick-and-mortar bookstores (sadly, none are close).

Bn morgantownSo we were at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Morgantown, West Virginia, right? Now, when we go there, we usually spend about 2 hours or more there...and $100-$200 (hey, everyone has to have a vice!)

Noah spent probably 40 minutes selecting a guide to France (his newest interest). I spent about 40 minutes collecting various books (at least $100 worth). I asked them up front if I can keep my stash there (who wants to lug around tons of books while browsing?) and they kindly allowed me to.

Another 20 minutes goes by, and I add more to the stash. They just smile as I reach over and place more on the towering stack (well, the female clerks do).

We then commence to the cafe to look over/read about a dozen more books we want to get, erstwhile drinking Starbucks Mocha Coconut iced coffee and noshing on Candy Bar Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. After about 20 minutes, and winnowing down our choices, we go to check out.

I ask for my stack, please.

The young female clerk's eyes go wide. She stammers..."We...put them away."

Blood pressure goes from 120/70 to ballistic.

"What?!"

A bald-headed, faux-hipster 50-something jerk of an associate begins laughing (he was conversing with two other employees at the end of the row of registers). They were looking horrified (not sure if it was at him...or me).

I ask loudly, "This is funny to you?"

Amz rulesI then exclaim, "This...this is why I am a loyal Amazon fan. Why I use a Kindle. Why I spend most of my money there." (In fact--and I didn't mention this because I didn't want to deflate the import of my diatribe--it's also one reason why I ePublish exclusively through Kindle.)

The young clerk checking me out apologizes profusely. I'm just shaking my head, trying not to lose it.

One of the other associates, a cool guy I had the pleasure of chatting with earlier about Transcendalist Spirituality, Marxist economics and "everyone's right to a public defense--it's a constitutional thing" (he just got his JD and was waiting to pass the bar), comes up to me with a book and bookmark I had picked out. 

"Are you psychic?" I couldn't believe it! (Hey, I'm a New Ager...I tend to look for far-out synchronicities...so sue me). 

"No", he replied sheepishly. "We're trying to remember what we put away and get them back for you." (Did I mention I'm pretty fearsome, even when I don't try to be?)

I told hm not to bother. Really.

What irks me is that I was almost out the door when I remembered one of the major things I wanted to get at BN: a French kit so Mr. Noah could learn le français. 

So I had to go back, find it and buy it. 

Once in the car, I started to remember all the books I had on my stack...

Grrrr.

One of them was the coolest Sherlock Holmes Casebook thing that I wanted to get Noah for his birthday. 

Le sigh. Arguably the worst rub? I walked out of there $170 poorer... ::face palm::

This isn't the first time I had a bad experience with that over-the-hill hipster douchebag, either. And, the Greensburg, Pennsylvania Barnes and Noble isn't without blemish: I remember when there were lines for Harry Potter releases and a 40-something male associate was rude to everyone and positively hostile

This is one reason I didn't feel sorry when Borders closed (they had some real idiots, too), nor do I feel bad that most chain bookstores are (hopefully?) hurting: they don't GET customer service. They thought they all had us in the (book)bag, free to treat us bibliophiles like shit.

Well, dumbasses, Amazon.com--and the eBook and indie revolution--has shown you otherwise.

May your rotting corporate corpse be littered with deckle-edged toilet paper wiped on Jonathan Franzen's self-important ass.

 -- Janet, Amazon.com Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer. Author of Back in Time TarotTarot in Reverse and the Snowland Deck