Author: Willow Croft

July 2021: Tarot Cards for Writing Inspiration

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Welcome to Climate Change Summers! At least July’s going to cool off so that people here in the United States can set off fireworks and thereby terrify all kinds of wildlife and traumatize people’s pets. Ha! (Seriously, though, stay safe, and please don’t set the world on fire any more than it already is!) And, speaking of terror and trauma, here’s hoping this month’s tarot card reading is fiendishly inspiring to all you writers out there!

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Character(s): Page of Wands (Reversed). A young person who’s a thief, pickpocket, or part of some criminal enterprise. Smart and clever, and, of course, manipulative. This character’s motivations can be used to develop the plot, whether as an antihero to your main character, or a flawed character that finds themselves drawn into a situation where they risk getting in over their heads, or tempted by a downward spiral path that may prove difficult to extricate themselves from, until the stakes demand a price they aren’t willing, or able, to pay.

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Theme/Development: Ten of Swords. A fatal mistake. Severe misjudgment. Heart-wrenching loss. A terrible price has been paid. Capture, physical/emotional injury, torture, confinement, and the threat of death/execution occurs because of the character(s)’s actions. Cunning has only taken the character so far, and now the character may find themselves on the run.

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Setting: Six of Swords. Journey of exile or escape to a remote island, or other faraway location, possibly with an injured loved one, or to recuperate from their own injuries. Area could be populated by a previously unknown peoples, or the character could find themselves on their own.

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Conflict/Climax: Queen of Wands (Reversed). The character encounters an opportunity to make a new life; whether it’s in the location (and with the people) they took refuge in, or an opportunity to start over in a new location with the aid of a companion. Instead they are tempted by the opportunity to seek revenge for their loss, or for the trauma they endured at the hands of their persecutors. There might also be a conflict as money needed to start over in new lands, there is debt incurred with a doctor, healer, or other medical individual, or new family/community ties the character wants to support. And, as a result, the character risks being drawn back into the same cycle they had escaped.

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June 2021: Tarot Cards for Writing Inspiration

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June, already? Wasn’t it just…January? Anyway, if you’re missing the gloom and drear of winter, here’s this month’s “writer inspiration” tarot reading. While you’re hibernating in your dank cave, and instead of cursing the tweepy, tweety birds fluttering outside your window, you can work on your next macabre masterpiece!

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Character(s): Three of Rods. Character #1 has come up with a new business idea—one with great start-up potential—but they just need some financial backing. A professional partnership with an influential partner (Character #2) is formed, and fiscal support is provided. The backing/investment partner may seem to have have more business acumen and knowledge that they are willing to share with Character #2. The business “start-up” is launched after a period of negotiation and begins to show early signs of success.

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Setting: Six of Cups. The two partners are soon able to reap the rewards of the venture. Rapid business growth creates an environment of ultimate attainment and security. Posh hotels, luxury travel trips, fine dining, new cars, homes, and the like, are at characters’ disposal. The two characters may develop a romantic connection as well as a professional one.

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Theme/Development: The Moon. The rapid success of the business may be a little too perfect. Is there more to the success of the business than just a great start-up idea Character #1 had? The world that Character #1 now moves in seems like a dream from their former life; poverty, struggle, and, above all, loneliness. All that feels like it’s part of a distant, and painful, past the creator would rather forget. Every need of theirs is met, by Character #2. And they are never lonely. In fact, Character #1 is never alone. The two partners are always together. Their new lives together are like a dream come true, as improbable as it seems. And their luck seems to be holding, as the relationship grows between the two characters.

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Conflict/Climax: Six of Pentacles (Reversed)/King of Rods (Reversed). Character #1 wakes up one morning to find Character #2 gone from their bed. There’s an eviction notice posted outside the condo. The company’s offices are empty and shuttered. The bank accounts have been cleaned out. Alone, penniless, abandoned, Character #1 takes shelter in a nearby bar until they can figure out what to do. On the TV screen above the bar, Character #1 sees Character #2, getting onto a plane. The news reporter refers to Character #2 by a different name, but, even though the hair and clothes are different, Character #1 recognizes them. And recognizes the logo on the place just before the screen flips back to the news room. Character #1 has an idea of where Character #2 is going. And that they would find a way to follow: to confront Character #2, to get revenge, to make sure they won’t be left alone, ever again.

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May 2021: Tarot Cards for Writing Inspiration

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Ah, May. Springtime, chirping birds, blooming flowers, bright sunshine, and sweet, sweet love! Sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? If you’re still pining over the delightfully dismal days of winter, why not add a pinch of heartbreak and love-gone-wrong to your supernaturally spooky tales?

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Character(s): The Lovers. A whirlwind passion between two lovers. Underneath the transitory nature of their relationship lies a deeper connection between the two, and one that is not so easily put aside. It could be a mysterious secret from their past, or a self that they keep hidden from the rest of the world, that ties the two of them together. Whatever source that keeps bringing these two characters together, it seems to be full of portents, omens, and the will of some unknown fate(s), which they will have to discover, and face, together.

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Setting: Eight of Rods. Opening setting: a vacation locale of some sorts. Could be ski resort, a location outside their home country, a chateau, a vineyard resort, a thriving urban city with a dynamic nightlife. Think night and shadows and glamour and intrigue over a bright and sunny tropical vacation. Professional relocation to another country for one, or both, resulting in the passionate encounter between the two lovers. And/or a chance re-acquaintance after their romantic interlude, of which fate plays a part, i.e. drawing them into close geographical contact again by means that seem like pure chance, but which might be orchestrated by a higher power.

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Theme/Development: The High Priestess. Symbolic or actual force that brings these two together to fulfill their fate, and to achieve the outcome that this particular entity, deity, or elemental wants to have occur. Leader not of this world, with power not limited to the everyday world of humans. The deity is using these two individuals to further their own goals and visions for the world and its future evolutions/incarnations.

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Conflict/Climax: The Sun. Under the harsh light of the sun, their budding relationship suffers. They may even find themselves in a situation where they are in competition with each other in regards to career or in a professional setting. Romance is easy in a moonlit setting, but is it more than that behind their struggle to resist their continued attraction for one another? Secrets are revealed about who they really are—magical talents, supernatural abilities, otherworldly/other-dimension lace of origin—and they realize they have a shared connection above and beyond their whirlwind passion. They might even have a (adventurous) fate they need to fulfill by virtue of that connection. Or their relationship may have to move past a romantic one into one that is more strategic and will ensure that they are able to fulfill the roles fate has determined for the both of them. They may try to resist the roles that fate has assigned to them, even though their transformation, and that of their world, is inevitable.

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Real-Life Horror, or Why I Include Animals in my Horror Stories

*possible triggers*

I’ve worked in both animal rescue and wildlife rescue/rehabilitation in the past. But my connection to the animal world began from almost the time I was born. I was not even able to crawl yet, but I remember pulling myself across the carpet by grabbing handfuls of it, just to be closer to the family cats.

And, even though I loved horror from a young age, I found it difficult to see or read about animals being hurt even in movies or in books.
Charlotte’s Web, Watership Down, The Secret of NIMH, Black Beauty—these were all early influences on me as a child. And are, to this day.
But, as an adult, I at least had the agency and freedom to get involved in animal rescue causes, and work towards making things better for animals. Mostly this revolved around cleaning kennels and bringing cats and dogs to the local pet supply shop to increase their chances of being adopted. There were really good days, when so many animals found homes. Then there were the days where your heart would break into a million pieces because you knew that it was the animal’s last chance to get adopted. And there was nothing you could do at that point, because you and your fellow workers had houses maxed out to capacity and to budget capacity in taking in abandoned and unwanted animals and all you could do was hope that a better world awaited the animal as it went on its final journey. On those days, it was hard not to fall into the practice of being an animal hoarder.
Life in a hoarding situation is no fate for any animal. A quick death is better than a long, drawn-out one. I know, I witnessed a hoarding situation firsthand. I wrote one of the affidavits for the court case that transferred the cats out of the hoarding situation and over to the care of a no-kill cat shelter that had been set up to take the cats. I was there at the shelter the day the cats were being transferred. I saw the rivers of red that ran down the drain troughs as the cats were washed clean of feasting fleas and accumulated flea residue. I overheard the chatter from the Animal Services officers “There’s so many cats they’ve crawled up inside the walls,” and “We’ve had to punch holes in the walls to get the cats out” and on and on. I tried to hang in there, but I finally hit my limit and a colleague ordered me to go home.
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March 2021: Tarot Cards for Writing Inspiration

 

This month’s reading almost seems to pick up where the other left off and is almost similar, even though I used a completely different deck of Tarot Cards. Still, I hope you find this literary-style reading helpful as writing inspiration prompts!

 

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Character: King of Wands. A ruler who is trying to protect their kingdom from an invading force. Fire and destruction follows, and the ruler must decide whether to continue to fight a losing battle against the invaders or flee to safety. The enemy behind the attacks reveals itself to be more powerful and menacing then they can hope to defeat, and the ruler escapes with the kingdom’s remaining survivors by means of the kingdom’s fleet of ships.

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Setting: Four of Coins. The kingdom had long been a place of prosperity and peace, and the ruler and the other royal officials had gotten complacent. The castle stronghold was rarely secured against any hostile forces. The wealth of the royal family and the kingdom had come from trade, as it controlled a deep-water port, and from agricultural goods and the kingdom’s local fishing industry. Thanks to the trade coming in and out of the port, the city had become a center of culture and knowledge, and the kingdom’s first university was in the stages of being built. These factors made this idyllic kingdom a prime target for invasion.

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Conflict/Climax: Nine of Swords/Death. The ruler is plagued with guilt over the destruction of the kingdom. Many of the kingdom’s inhabitants faced torture and death at the hands of the invading party, who sought mainly to plunder the kingdom’s riches. The king falls into a state of depression and becomes ill on the voyage to a religious/spiritual sanctuary where the royal court hopes to take refuge. When they arrive, the ailing ruler is carried into the refuge. The sanctuary’s healer is summoned to treat the ruler, but the ruler dies shortly after their arrival.

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Theme/Development: The Chariot. The ruler’s consort sends out a scouting party on a ship to report on the presence of the invaders. When the scouting party returns, they reveal the identity of the invaders and the state of the pillaged kingdom. The royal consort vows revenge, and swears an oath to rebuild the kingdom. When the royal officials object, the consort seizes the opportunity to rise to power, and claims the title of ruler and military leader. The consort begins to enlist the support of the kingdom’s allies to reclaim the kingdom, and prepares to go to war.

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WIHM: Using Tarot Cards for Writing Inspiration

I often draw cards from one of my tarot decks for inspiration, and then assign and interpret them based on potential storylines and characters.

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I’m sharing my February reading with you all. Perhaps you’ll find your own literary inspiration through my interpretations of the cards! [Feel free to build on any of these prompt ideas associated with the card(s) below.]

 

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Character: Queen of Cups/Queen of Pentacles

Woman in her maturity, community/nation’s leader, possesses both academic and artistic/cultural knowledge and refinement as well as intuitive-based wisdom and insight in line with the nation’s spiritual belief system. Born into money inherited from one of the old trading families, she is philanthropic in nature by contrast. For this character, family is everything and the community/nation she leads is an extension of that family, which is under her protective wing and guidance. She has done much to revitalize the local economy and community after many years of cultural expropriation, tourism, and colonialism, and has established a history center to house cultural artifacts looted from the island, which are now being returned from museums and collections around the world. Many sacrifices made via this person’s dedication to her people and her family; giving, nurturing, caring are characteristics of this person.

 

 

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Setting: Six of Swords

An island/maritime nation that has undergone a revolution and has recently liberated itself from the control of other nations. It is now at peace, and is undergoing the process of rebuilding not only society, but restoring the island to its former state after most of its natural resources have been stripped and the ecosystem contaminated with toxic chemicals. This sometime-in-the-future world is still in transition between the old consumerist world, and a fledging world based more on unity and balance and cooperation/respect for all lifeforms.

 

 

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Conflict: Ten of Swords

Leader’s authority challenged by a party of  “old money” traditionalists, discovery of a new, valuable mineral during the island’s restoration process, greed, war, coup, outside nations attempting to seize control of the island. (Some things never change.) Madness in island’s inhabitants caused by long-term exposure to contaminated environment and water. Still dependent on trade goods from other nations while the island is being restored. Sudden impact of climate change: devastation caused by hurricanes, flooding, tsunami. Loss of family members, community supporters to tragic events beyond main character’s control. Remaining community point fingers of blame. Superstitions reawakened, and real-life monsters can also be awakened as the island is restored/changed. Wrath, bloodshed, death, and destruction widespread. Fleeing the island; journey, relocation, exile for main character/characters caused by the conflict.

 

 

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Theme/Development: The Lone (Wo)Man

Liberation of self. Awakening into power; spiritually, culturally, politically. Trusting one’s instincts. Making hard decisions. Staring into “the abyss”. At a crossroads with one’s own beliefs with the situation at hand. Loss. Pain. Forced to act out of self-preservation. Exploring said selfishness as a tool of growth and personal development, and as a means of building one’s personal strength. The character finding, and maintaining, one’s true self; one’s core of being. Guidance from the natural world (plants, animals, trees), or even monsters/supernatural beings over that of other people. Connecting to the primal source of all things, instead of superficial elements. Defining what is really essential for a new world. Once this new sort of power is obtained, it spawns growth into a darker being; a new sort of monster; a leader of monsters and the primal. Rebirth into something new and unexpected after a period of isolation, solitude and reflection.

 

 

Willow Croft’s bio and social media links:

“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog.

Author Blog: https://willowcroft.blog

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16978140.Willow_Croft

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Willow-Croft/e/B073MM241D