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Phaedra Patrick Has Her Fortune Told

Author Phaedra Patrick is next up to have Norbert (of The Reluctant Fortune-Teller–to be released in March) read her cards. Phaedra is the author of two enchanting, happy novels: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper and Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone.

Phaedra’s husband had some old musician cards. She shuffled them in her home in a beautiful village in England, and emailed her “horseshoe spread” to Norbert, along with a comment and her question:

“Getting the three twos in a row was a bit spooky! My question is – I’d love to see The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper made into a film on the big screen. Will this ever happen?”

Norbert read the list of cards as follows:

2 hearts
2 spades
2 clubs
8 clubs
J diamonds
7 diamonds
Q hearts

Here is his reading for Phaedra:

You are right to notice the pattern of the three two’s! This indicates a lot going on, and “it”—whatever “it” is—comes all of a sudden.

You have the four suits evenly distributed, which shows things going on equally in all sectors of your life at the same time.

Let’s take the cards in order, from left to right.

Two of Hearts shows good news is coming. Something new is on its way; some kind of adventure.

Two of Spades, however, shows a bit of a delay for something that you wish would come very soon. Remain your kind and calm self, knowing that what you want looks favorable.

Two of Clubs is a social invitation that turns out to be more beneficial to you than you would have thought.

It seems that in regards to your question, social connection and relationships with people will figure in strongly in the positive resolution—that is, getting your first novel to the silver screen.

Right next to that social invitation you have the Eight of Clubs, the most favorable card for business. There is an opportunity. When it comes, be sure to consider all sides, of course. Note the surrounding cards for guidance here.

Next to this business opportunity, we have the Jack of Diamonds. I am going to use my intuition here and say that this card, which usually represents a young person at the crossroads, actually represents the book, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, itself.

Following this, we have the Seven of Diamonds: relationships are deepening, and it’s relationships that are emphasized most of all, right now.

Last but not least, Phaedra, we have the “querent card,” or the card that represents you: The Queen of Hearts, a good-hearted and generous woman.

My overall impression is that relationships both social and business are key here. The things you want come to you, will come through these precious relationships. Accept social invitations, especially those that your intuition bids you to. While the cards this time are not giving us a definite “yes” or “no” at this time, they are showing favorable conditions, and they are saying that a great deal of good things are coming to you, all at once, and that you are in an excellent position to receive what you ask for.

In the meantime, let’s ask readers: do you have any suggestions on who should play the part of Arthur Pepper, if he comes to the big screen?

Mary Kubica Has Her Fortune Told

Today Norbert, the main character of the soon-to-be released novel, The Reluctant Fortune-Teller, will be reading the cards for New York Times Bestselling author, Mary Kubica. Mary shuffled her cards in her home in the suburbs of Chicago, and sent us the seven cards she drew, along with her question for the fortune-teller.

Ok, my question for Norbert is this:

All of my novels have been set in Chicago.  Though I once thought Chicago would be the setting for all of my books, I’m considering changing it up for the next manuscript and moving the story somewhere else (perhaps some wonderful spot that would require a research trip!).  What should I do, Norbert?  Stay in Chicago or give another location a try?

 

The 7 cards I picked were (from left to right):

Jack of Clubs

Queen of Spades

10 of Diamonds

5 of Hearts

Jack of Spades

10 of Spades

2 of Spades

Here is Norbert’s assessment of Mary Kubica’s query:

The question you pose is an interesting one, Mary!

 First of all, I see a preponderance of black cards—five out of seven. This indicates that it will be most important to always maintain a positive mental attitude. The next thing I notice is all the face cards! My! Are these people in your day-to-day life, or characters in your next novel, I wonder?

Let’s see….

 The Jack of Clubs is a person with hidden depths and undeveloped potential; this could be a child or an adult. Could be either gender, but I have a feeling this one is male.

 Next, the Queen of Spades represents a perceptive and talented woman. I feel that this card is you, yourself.

 Now, the Ten of Diamonds is an extremely favorable card. It says, “Your project gains traction. Whatever you have been focusing on is ready to take off now!” This is a very good card for an author!

 The Five of Hearts can show a separation of loved ones; the important thing to know here is that you are safe, and ultimately, it all turns out well. Perhaps, in view of your question, this might mean you could travel for research and be away from family for a short time.

 Then you have the Jack of Spades—again, could be either gender, but I think this one is female: a younger version of you. So, could it be that you would be separated for a brief period from this young person in order to do your travel research?

 Next, you have the Ten of Spades, and this does show research and beginning a new work. Traditionally, it stands for new beginnings, learning and growing.

 Last of all you have the Two of Spades, which indicates a short delay, and that it may be hard to wait for what you want. While waiting, the cards always advise doing a small, random act of kindness, as it makes the time go faster, and is always good karma.

 Mary, it does look like you will be travelling to do research for a book that will really take off!

As you consider destinations, I have to suggest my own beautiful New York State, a land of green, rolling hills, winding roads, farms and forests. Or did you have the tropics in mind?

 Readers, what do you think about Norbert’s reading?

And do you have suggestions for the location of Mary Kubica’s next novel?

 

The Fortune-Teller Is In: Reading for Benjamin Ludwig

The Reluctant Fortune-Teller’s main character, Norbert Zelenka, is a kindly, retired man who has trouble making ends meet, when three strong-willed seniors stage an intervention at his little white bungalow. They insist that he solve his financial woes by becoming a fortune-teller—just try it for the tourist season, they say. Their lakeside town, Gibbons Corner, N.Y., needs a card reader, and Norbert has been observing people all his life. The forceful ladies, known as “Carlotta’s Club,” will show him the ropes, and his story goes from there.

I hope you will enjoy reading about Norbert’s transformation as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

In a conversation with Benjamin Ludwig, the author of Ginny Moon, Ben suggested that Norbert might read his cards!

Please check out Norbert’s predictions, and tell us what you think!

Benjamin Ludwig shuffled his cards in New Hampshire and sent off a list of his seven cards to Norbert in the fictional town of Gibbons Corner, New York. The question he concentrated on as he shuffled was this: “Should I keep writing full-time, or write while I teach at a university?”

Below, you will find Norbert’s answer.

You have drawn the Eight of Diamonds, Two of Spades, Two of Clubs, Five of Hearts, Three of Diamonds, Two of Diamonds, and the Jack of Hearts.

You have a gift that is at the center of your question. This is your gift for writing; it may also be your gift for teaching. I see a minor delay here, in the Two of Spades, just a bit of momentary discomfort before a decision is made.

Be on the lookout for a social invitation, as shown by the Two of Clubs. This social gathering will bring you an opportunity that you might not expect.

The Five of Hearts shows a possible rift between friends or else a separation from loved ones, but have no worries there. Everything is unfolding for the best.

I see here a legal contract in the Three of Diamonds. It may be a teaching contract or a book contract. Whatever it is, it will be very good for you. Other people trust you quite naturally, because you are sincere.

Your spread ends on a very happy note, with the Jack of Hearts, signifying good times, celebration, and a fun spirit.

In regards to your question: really, you cannot go wrong. With these two options, both aligning with your heart, you will be fulfilled with either one. I would suggest you go with combining writing with teaching. It will give you the balance, the contrast, that will feed you both as a writer and a teacher.

How did Norbert do, on his first virtual reading?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Am Learning about Revision from My Agent and Editors

  1. I try to keep a light heart: Revision can be an expanding part of the creative process. With the right editorial people, revision can bring out the best in a story.

 

  1. I slow my roll: I’m not gonna lie: seeing lots of “suggestions for improvement” on my work inspires many (ahem) feelings. I now read those suggestions, put them away, do other things, and come back to the work in 24 hours, rather than respond immediately. Considered overnight, most suggestions have turned out to be spot-on, but I couldn’t see that at first glance. The suggestions that still don’t seem right simply become points for discussion.

 

  1. I read differently now. I can’t read anything without seeing where tighter editing might have improved a work—not only my own, but everyone’s!

 

  1. True confession: despite having a master’s degree in English and reading voraciously for decades, I did not know that every scene in a novel is supposed to move the story forward. I really did not ever grasp that fact! After working on revisions for my first novel, where I was asked “What’s the point?” about a couple of scenes, I learned that “It’s funny!” is not enough justification for a scene to exist. This has been a game changer for me! Now, when I edit my own work before sending it in, I ruthlessly slash every scene that does not advance the story. Or, if I love the scene too much to cut it, I add what that scene needs to make it an integral part of the story.

 

  1. I am grateful for everyone who takes the time to study what I have written and make suggestions which I may or may not follow. Every writer wants to be carefully read.

 

Please share your thoughts on writing and revision here!

 

 

Starting a New Novel: A Metaphor

The 1980’s family is in the car, looking forward to their road trip. They’ve taken a couple of road trips before and the kids are dying to get going. But the driver—let’s call him “Dad”—is sitting up front fiddling endlessly with his roadmap.

The kids squirm. It’s getting hot in the car. “Can we just go already?” they whine.

Dad, the killjoy, won’t go until he’s selected all his routes, circled all his exits, and considered all the most interesting stopping places along the way. He knows the kids’ cry “Can we just go already?” will turn into “Aren’t we there yet?” before he gets to the first highway exit.

That’s just kids, he’s thinking. Wherever they are, they want to get to the next place. Dad is deliberate and steady. He’s not turning the key in the ignition until he’s thought it all out. Sure, there will be surprises and adventures he hasn’t pre-planned, but he’s not going to get his family lost. He’s not going to waste precious time on this trip.

Although to the kids, it feels like that’s all he is doing: wasting time with the boring map. They want to see stuff. They want to feel the wind in their hair. They want to take snap shots and have a good time. Sitting in the driveway, waiting for the fun, makes them want to slap each other.

Mom is alternately telling the kids to be quiet and let Dad concentrate, and then suggesting to Dad that maybe he has enough of the mapping done to get started. It is getting hot in the car.

I’ve been beginning this new novel for too long. That’s how it feels.

For my first novel, I used exercises from The 90-Day Novel, by Alan Watt, to plan it out. I also took an online novel writing course offered by Faber Academy in the U.K.

For my second novel, I used techniques from The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, by Donald Maass.

For my third novel, I am using methods from Story Genius, by Lisa Cron, and continue to refer to the other books listed above.

Maybe getting started on the writing of this, my third novel would have happened sooner if I’d stuck to methods I’d already learned, but I wanted to learn new things.

I have a huge pile of index cards for scenes and characters. I’m finishing up an outline which, like rules, is made to be broken. I’ve charted my plot points, but maybe I don’t have all the plot points I need yet, I worry insecurely. I’ve done a bit of research, but need to do more. I’m sort of ready. Not totally ready.

But hey. They do say, No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.

There does come a point when it’s time to fold up the map and turn the key in the ignition. That point comes today. We’re on our road trip.

The kids holler and cheer out the window.

Research for The Reluctant Fortune-Teller

 

As I was writing the first draft of The Reluctant Fortune-Teller (whose original title was How to Tell Fortunes with Cards), I thought I should go and get my fortune told. Research, you know.

When I was in my teens and twenties, I used to do this all the time. I won’t say it was all baloney, because it just wasn’t. While I did have many experiences of paying good money to hear pure nonsense, there’s no denying that there were also several times I was actually deeply impressed and knew that something I could not understand or explain was going on.

That was very cool.

Looking back, my impression is that there were a couple of straight-up scam artists, but the majority were trying to tune into their psychic energy and deliver a real reading.

Mrs. McKee was a neighbor in a little rural town I lived in. She read cards in her front room while her unemployed husband and teenagers sprawled before a blaring TV in the living room. She claimed that she’d been taught to read cards by an old Gypsy, and that this gift can only be passed down from a gifted clairvoyant to one, single, solitary person, and she was that chosen person. She said that one day in the future, when she was very old, she would pass it down to one person, too. There was nothing remarkable going on with Mrs. McKee, however. She was a sizer-upper of people, and a very good one. She just advised people using good old fashioned common sense.

There were others I consulted later on, in the 80’s, including a woman called Marge who lived in an apartment full of cats. She actually was able to tell me very specific things about people in my life—facts that I did not know at the time to be true, and only later learned were true indeed. I went into my first reading with her without my wedding ring, thinking I’d fool her by asking when I would get married. She dismissed the question easily. “You’re already married. You’ve already got your Sagittarius.” My husband is, in fact, a Sagittarius. Odds were one in twelve she’d guess that on the first try.

I stopped seeking out oracles as I developed more confidence in my ability to create my own future (or at least, some aspects of it). I only decided to try one more time, decades later, while I was writing Norbert’s story. I thought I should remind myself what it feels like to be the customer—or the “querent”—as Norbert would say. And I thought I should objectively observe the work of the fortune-teller.

I reserved 20 minutes with a “psychic” called Sue, who works at a local restaurant. She was seated in the back, behind some folding screens. She told me she was clairaudient, meaning that spirits spoke to her. She said, “Whoever shows up, shows up. I can’t request specific spirits. So we’ll see who comes forward for you.”

Fortune-tellers must be high tech now, because she asked me to state my full name clearly and slowly while she looked down and held her hand to her ear. I didn’t need ESP to guess that someone in another location was listening to me state my name, and was Googling me. Sue asked me to be silent for a moment while the spirits came forward to talk to her. After a couple of moments, she told me seventeen things, none of them true. All misses, and no hits. I wrote it all down.

She asked if I had any questions.

I went for it. “Actually,” I said, “I am writing a book.”

“Oh, really,” said Sue. “The spirits are nodding their heads. This book will be published. It will be very successful.”

“Oh, that’s very encouraging!” I said, hoping it was true. Maybe, I thought, she is a real psychic after all!

“What is your book about?” asked Sue.

“Well, uh, funnily enough… well, it’s about a man who has trouble making ends meet, so he becomes a fortune teller—even though he doesn’t believe in it—just to be able to pay his bills, you know…” I trailed off.

Sue’s expression had changed from a dreamy self-assurance to panic and watchfulness.

I felt I was being rude, so I broke off that line of thought, and instead asked her questions about her experience with spirits, just to let her regain her balance. Her expression went back to misty smugness again. She really was an interesting woman.

I’d done my research. I thanked Sue, and I crossed her palm with silver.