Friday, December 31, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man seems perfect for New Years Eve, when the old year dies and the new year is born. It's a Major Arcana card, so it carries extra weight for a character. Better yet, it represents a period of intense withdrawal from the every-day world, when the character undergoes an ordeal that leads her to re-evaluate her life, emerging with more insight and wisdom than before.

I've always thought this ordeal should be voluntary--but I changed my mind after seeing The Fighter. Dicky is forced to undergo a withdrawal from the world, and the subsequent re-evaluation seems to work for him.

This card conjures up the mythology of Odin--the Norse deity who hung from the branches of Yggdrasil, the world tree, to learn the secrets of the Runes. Take a look at this post, which gives a Pagan perspective of  Odin's story and how it relates to this card.

Whatever a character's religion or mythos, the ordeal represented by The Hanged Man may leave her shaken or even shattered--but it will leave her stronger too.

Christian Bale as Dicky in The Fighter

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Patting Myself on the Back

I've been writing my ass off these past two days! I've worked on Not So Safe, a new Craig and David story, plus a new fantasy-mystery. (More on that later.)

I wanted to work only on Not So Safe--at least until I finished the first draft. But that turned out to be counter-productive. Words flow more easily for me when I allow myself to jump around.

Any thoughts on that? What works for you?

Free Read: Like a Sparrow Through the Heart

M / M romance fans, take note. I found this free story via Goodreads and left a review:

Like a Sparrow Through the HeartLike a Sparrow Through the Heart by Aggy Bird

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fun, snarky and often hilarious story. Talon (the shape-shifting griffin with anger-management issues) and Flit (the shape-shifting sparrow-therapist) make for an absorbing couple, and Aggy Bird's world will suck you right in.

But one caveat: there's a lot of casual violence in this story. Talon starts off as a bully, and though he arguably improves--well, read it for yourself and see.

View all my reviews

You can find the story here on Aggie Bird's LiveJournal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

To all who celebrate: Merry Christmas!

Although Chanukah is my winter holiday, many of my family members celebrate Christmas, so I get both holidays. (Life is good)

Wishing everyone who celebrates a warm and wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What was I thinking?

In addition to the two challenges I mentioned in this post, I also signed up for a challenge called 100 books in 2011. I'm not sure if the any of the challenges are allowed to overlap. I may be aiming for 136 books in 2011! That will keep my Kindle busy . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Need to learn more about your characters?

The Mother of All Character Questionnaires is designed for roleplayers, but I'm betting writers will find it useful to! (And not just fantasy writers, mind. There's something here for everyone.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two Reading Challenges for 2011

Georgette Heyer
I've committed to two separate reading challenges this year. The first one is on GoodreadsM/M Romance group (which is an 18 and over group due to some explicit content.) The challenge is to read 26 M/M books, each with a hero whose first or last name starts with a separate letter of the alphabet. For example, I'm going to read one of Josh Lanyon's Adrien English books for the letter 'A.'

The second challenge is courtesy of the Books are a Girl's Best Friend blog: it's a challenge to be "captivated" by Georgette Heyer by reading ten of her books. (You can find this challenge on Goodreads as well, in the Georgette Heyer Fans group.)

I have a love-hate relationship with Georgette Heyer, the woman who more-or-less created the Regency romance. (She had a little help from Jane Austen.) I love her books, but I could live without her antisemitism. (Her most blatant offense, as far as I know, is that horrific chapter in The Grand Sophy. And yes, I'd feel this way even if I weren't Jewish.) But when she's not talking about Jews I adore her.

So that's 36 books to complete my two challenges. I'm starting to line up the M/M books already; it will be harder to choose ten Georgette Heyer books, because I've read so many. But I'm sure I can find ten more that are new to me.

So here's to at least thirty-six enjoyable reads in 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moriah Jovan on Self Publishing

Great article on one author's experience--and she started self-publishing before we had all the options we do now. Check it out here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Snowflake Method

If you don't want to write by the seat of your pants, but you're not an outline-freak, this method may be the way to go . . .

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dumped and Dangerous

Author: J. Rosemary Moss (originally published under my pen name: Shoshana M. Moshe)
Pairing: pre-poly (Jonathan/Melinda/Kevin)
Warning: Non-consensual adult spanking
Summary: Kevin learns that not everyone will tolerate a drunken tirade . . .

Creative Commons License
Dumped and Dangerous by J. Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The link to Dumped and Dangerous will take you to my Sassy Romance blog, due to some adult material.

Friday, December 3, 2010

No Writing For Me!

Not a single word so far today--too busy working and preparing for a Shabbat dinner/Chanukah party with my family tonight.

Sigh . . . but at least I have a good excuse!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

D20 Source Article: Longsword vs. Rapier

Gamers and writers-of-stories-with-sword-fights: check out this article, complete with a YouTube video.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: The Hermit

Yes, this is the card made famous by the inside of the Led Zeppelin IV album. I've strayed from the Universal Waite Tarot deck because that album is where I first encountered the Hermit--and where I first encountered the Tarot.

The Hermit is the ninth card of the Major Arcana, falling between (in most decks) Strength and the Wheel of Fortune. So say your character has just had a traumatic experience that helped him discover his inner strength. He's still not ready for the ups and downs of the Wheel, or for the rest of the torture--er, conflict--you have in store for him. He'll need to seek out the Hermit's advice first.

The Hermit himself seems like the Obi Wan type, doesn't he? But he doesn't need to be that obvious. To me, this card represents any secondary character who is detached enough from your main guy to give him sound advice--advice your main guy will probably ignore, but that's another issue.

In Not So Safe, for example, Scott Edmund will perform this service for Zev. Scott is a ruthless bastard, not an enlightened Jedi! He just happens to have a soft spot for Zev, whom he views as a little brother. And since he's not immediately involved in Zev's drama, he has a better idea of Zev's situation than Zev himself.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I thought this would be a good time to say thank you, Arkhamites, for reading and following this blog! I wish everyone who's celebrating a marvelous holiday.

I'm visiting my folks, getting ready for a vegetarian Thanksgiving. We're waiting for tons of family to show up, and we've just turned on the parade. I'm watching with half an eye while I hold out for football tonight. (Go Jets!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Six of Cups

Ever met people who miss the way Thanksgiving "used to be?" They're thinking back to a time when relatives who have passed on were still alive, or back before a divorce complicated the holiday, or back when there didn't seem to be so much pressure to bring everyone together.

To me, this card represents that nostalgia taken to an extreme. It's a longing for some time in the past that we've idealized and, well, idolized. Of course, we were never as deleriously happy "back then" as we think we were. We've just forgotten the bad stuff.

A character with this card as his guiding principle is fixated on the past. He can't move forward because he wants things to be the way they used to be. Maybe he's can't let go of a failed romance--we could have a stalker here--or maybe he's an athlete who can't face the fact that he's too old to compete. Whatever the specifics, this character is all about looking back.

Failure--but not disaster

I'm officially facing facts. I won't be finishing 50,000 words of Not So Safe by midnight next Tuesday. I've failed yet another NaNoWriMo.

But I'm ok with that. I think I'm going to have a solid first draft by the time I'm done, so I'm not going to castigate myself if I finish it in December instead of November.

Meanwhile, I've had a productive week. I've read two Josh Lanyon books--yeah, I'm hooked on his M/M mysteries--and Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I've revised my outline and character list for Not So Safe and added about three more chapters. So I can live with my failure. No kvetching about from me!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Starting in the middle . . .

Scott Adams' Dilbert speaks to the business world rather than the world of creative writing, but this comic makes a great point for writers regardless. Don't start your story at the beginning!

Ok, ok. James Michener was an exception. He could start from the very beginning, much like 'the man who could not summarize' and make it fascinating. But book after book on writing advises us to start in the middle of the story, where the action is.

I'm taking this advice to heart. I promise that when I write a romance, I won't spend six chapters telling readers about my hero's childhood. I'll jump right to the moment the future love of his life pulls him over for speeding.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Book Review: Man Oh Man, Writing M/M for Cash and Kinks by Josh Lanyon

My Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Book Blurb:

It can be more than just a dream...

To write the kind of stories that you love to read - that's what you really want. If only you knew how to get started. Help from someone who knows...

What you need is professional advice, help from someone who's been there, who can support you through the creative process, with the goal of writing for publication. What you need is Man, Oh Man

So, why this book? Why not one of the other "How to Write..." titles? Because everything in Man, Oh Man is geared to the M/M market and the M/M writer, to you and the genre that you love, whether you're an aspiring writer or you're already published. Lambda Award finalist Josh Lanyon takes you step-by-step through the writing process: from how to find fresh ideas and strong hooks, to how to submit your carefully edited manuscript. With help from the genre's top publishers, editors, reviewers, and writers-- experts in the field of M/M and gay romantic fiction--Lanyon offers insight and experience in everything from creating believable masculine characters to writing erotic and emotionally gratifying M/M sex scenes.

Indulge yourself and your dreams...

My Review:

Solid advice from Josh Lanyon, complete with insights from other authors and editors. I'll be reading this one again!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm not giving up!

According to my stats on NaNoWriMo, at the rate I'm going I won't be finished with my novel until December 31st. But I'm not giving in!

Here's the good news: I like my story, even if I'm not as far along as I hoped. And even if I'm writing a sort of bare-bones, dialogue-centric version that will need some layering on the next edit.

So I'm hanging in there. Here's to 41,000 more words by the end of the month!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Writing music

I love listening to El Cuarteto de Nos, a brilliant and very tongue-in-cheek band from Uruguay, while I'm writing. This song, Ya no sé qué hacer conmigo, is one of my favorites. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Seven of Cups

I've always seen this card as holding special meaning for writers: it's a card of imagination, showing all the different stories a writer can conjure up. But sometimes conjuring up stories is easier than buckling down, choosing one to write, and completing the project.

That's one advantage I've found with NaNoWriMo--participating is forcing me to work consistently on one story this month. I may be behind in my wordcount, but at least I'm not hopping from idea to idea.

And that's the lesson of this card, I think. It's one thing to dream up stories, but another to focus on one and convey it in the real world. I've always been better at the former than the latter!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NaNo Word Count Update

I'm behind on my word count: I just reached 6,052. But so far I'm happy with Not So Safe. So I'm turning in for the night, but I'll be back tomorrow to post the next part. I'll also return to my 'Creative Draw of the Day.'

Meanwhile, I hope your NaNo-ing is going well! Are you making your daily word count goals? Feel free to share your triumphs or kvetch about your failures!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bradbury on Writing

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

~Ray Bradbury

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Not So Safe, Part Two

Title: Not So Safe
Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Gay; Poly)
Warnings: Adult language and situations
Feedback: Welcome!
Summary: Zev learns that his crush on his straight boss isn't as safe as he thought . . .

Creative Commons License
Not So Safe by J. Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Marc didn’t say much as he drove us to Ralph and Karen’s. Funny, he was usually talkative in the mornings. But he was probably dying from shock and embarrassment. I tried to think of a way to set him at ease, but then I decided that I didn’t want to. My head was spinning; his should be too.

Not that I was angry, exactly, but--I didn’t know what I was. I’d worked for Marc and shared his house for two and a half years. I’d had a harmless crush on him the whole time. Now I didn't know where I stood.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Not So Safe, Part One

Title: Not So Safe
Author:  J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Gay; Poly)
Warnings: Adult language and situations
Feedback: Welcome!
Summary: Zev learns that his crush on his straight boss isn't as safe as he thought . . .

Creative Commons License
Not So Safe by J. Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


I had my jacket on and my hand on the doorknob, but I still turned around one last time. “Are you sure you want to be alone tonight?”

Marc, my boss and house-mate, rolled his eyes from his spot on the couch. He was ensconced there with his feet up on the coffee table and a bottle of Guinness in his hand, watching the Yanks on the ridiculously large flat screen we had mounted on the wall. “Get out of here, Zev. Go enjoy your date.”

“But I can cancel--”

“Go. Ross is waiting outside, right?” He was wearing a tired, exasperated smile, but those hazel eyes of his were warm and there was no hint of judgment in his voice. He might look and act like the stereotypical straight guy he was, but he’d never given me a hard time about being gay.

I nodded. “Yeah. Ok. Call me if you need anything.”


I sighed. Marc can be such a martyr.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo is off and running!

Good luck to everyone!

I have a thousand words of Not So Safe so far--once I have a full chapter I'll post it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My NaNoWriMo outline is half way there . . .

Half way done and far more elaborate than I had intended. I have roughly half of Not So Safe mapped out now; I'm still puzzling over some plot points of the second half. But I have more than enough to get started at midnight!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Five of Wands

From a writing point of view, I love this card. It's got something every story needs: conflict! Conflicts that result from fiery tempers, no less. (Wands represent the element Fire, which represent our passions and energy and ambition. All the stuff that good conflict is made of.)

On the other hand, some people look at this card and see stylized conflict--maybe a practice fight, or a pretend fight, or even some kind of dance rather than a real battle. Ok, I can see that. Perhaps this is a group of teenagers horsing around. Or a bunch of brothers who enjoy harmless brawling. But that's not much help when it comes to writing a story, so I prefer to interpret this as a real fight. (Though I'll admit it's probably not a deadly one.)

So a real fight it is--heck, I can't even tell who's on which side. I don't think there are sides--everyone's fighting with everyone else. I'm going to try to give just a little taste of that in my NaNo novel, Not So Safe. At one point in the story, when passions are running high and it seems that Zev's goal is out of reach, he'll be blowing up at the two people he wanted to avoid alienating: Marc and Sean.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good news for my NaNo novel!

I've got a whole bunch of days off in November! Perfect timing. Now if I can just finish a brief outline of Not So Safe before midnight on November 1st . . .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Still Procastrinating . . .

Ok, I haven't resurfaced yet. I've finished Josh Lanyon's first two 'Adrien English' mysteries on my Kindle, though, as well as another mystery of his called Fair Game. I loved all three, but Fair Game is my favorite so far--maybe because the romance is front and center, and everything gets tied up in one novel.

And the Adrien English series has a weakness: Adrien's not an officer of the law. How many times can he stumble into a murder mystery? Yeah, his romantic interest--the deeply closeted Jake--is an LAPD police detective. But he's not the one who keeps finding bodies.

Ok, ok. I don't mind suspending disbelief for these books. But if I ever attempt a mystery series, I'm going to make sure my viewpoint character has a reason to investigate murders!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nothing like a good mystery to help you procrastinate

I should  be working on my outline for Not So Safe, my NaNoWriMo novel, but instead I'm happily drowning in Josh Lanyon's Adrien English series. I intend to resurface tomorrow . . .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: The Star

This is a card of hope, optimism and guidance--and, I think, of inspiration. The eight pointed star represents goddesses like Inanna and Venus, but as far as I'm concerned, this card belongs to the muses.

So I think of this woman as a muse. I love how she's pouring fresh water into the pond, as if she's overflowing with ideas and insights.

I've always thought of myself as having plot bunnies rather than a muse. Plot bunnies seem less pretentious and easier going. But my character Zev is being so pushy about his story that I think he's acquiring muse-status for me. I hope he keeps inspiring me in November, when I stop taking notes and officially start Not So Safe. I want to claim a NaNoWriMo victory this year!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sanctuary, Part Three

Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Urban Fantasy; Roxburg Stories
Warnings: None
Characters: Dan Shapiro, Jase, Misha, Raz Talhami
Summary: A pair of remarkably intelligent cats need to find a safe home.

Creative Commons License
Sanctuary by J.Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Dan smiled as he put his beer on the coffee table and sank into his couch. Both cats were enjoying their new toys. Jase was carrying the little stuffed bunny around with him--and while attachment to a stuffed animal would be too undignified for his brother, at least Misha had forgotten himself long enough to chase a string and a small mouse toy.

But playtime was over as far as Dan was concerned. There was an afternoon ballgame coming on soon. He picked up his remote and found the Yankees channel. Then he picked up his beer and leaned back with his feet up on the table.

Sanctuary, Part Two

Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Urban Fantasy; Roxbury Stories
Warnings: None
Characters: Dan Shapiro, Jase, Misha, Raz Talhami
Summary: A pair of remarkably intelligent cats need to find a safe home.

Creative Commons License
Sanctuary by J.Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Dan woke up to the feel of a rough cat tongue tickling his ear, and then his morning stubble. That was followed by an insistent nudge to his chin.

He smiled--this had to be the friendly one. "Yeah, good morning," he said through a yawn. Then he opened his eyes and reached out to scratch the cat's head. "You're a little attention whore, huh? I didn't know Siamese were so sociable."

The cat kept nuzzling and licking in response, mewling now and then for emphasis as he cleaned Dan's face.

As far as Dan knew, the little guy had spent the night curled up against his shoulder. His brother, meanwhile, had started on the bedroom floor, but at some point he must have found the top of Dan's dresser more to his liking. Right now he looked like a king surveying his domain.

"Ok, ok," Dan said, pushing the friendly cat away from his face. "I'm awake. Let me get up and dressed and then we’ll find out who's responsible for you two."

Sanctuary, Part One

Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Urban Fantasy; Roxburg Stories
Warnings: None
Characters: Dan Shapiro, Jase, Misha, Raz Talhami
Summary: A pair of remarkably intelligent cats need to find a safe home.

Creative Commons License
Sanctuary by J.Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Raz pulled his car into an empty parking spot and squinted at the house across the street. There was just enough lamplight to make out the number through the rain.

"That's 783 Chestnut," he announced. "Ok, you two. That's the one you want. Just wait on the porch."

The two Siamese cats stared at him as they huddled together in the passenger seat. One made a frightened, questioning noise in its throat that sounded damn close to the gurgling of a human baby.

Raz narrowed his eyes, unimpressed. "We've been through this. I can‘t look after you.”

The other cat made a sort of hopeful half-purring noise that begged to differ.

Creative Draw of the Day: Eight of Swords

This trapped, bound and blindfolded figure strikes me as female, but gender-bending is perfectly acceptable in the Tarot. For story purposes, the character represented by this card can be either a man or a woman.

Swords represent the element Air, which in turn represents the mind and intelligence. This character may be caught in the web of a cunning villain--or this character may be suffering from mental illness. A serious addiction is also a possibility.

In fact, I think addiction is my favorite option, story-wise. This woman can free herself by using the swords to cut through the binding, but the swords will likely cut her as well. Recovery from an addiction can be equally possible--but equally painful and difficult.

I have one story, in play-form, that deals with addiction. It's called Searching and Fearless; it was my Script Frenzy project. After NaNoWriMo, it may be time for me to revise it and put it in prose form . . .

Thursday, October 21, 2010

May her memory be a blessing . . .

Jessica, my good friend and writing buddy, passed away from cancer today. She was only twenty-five. I will always miss her.

The Arkham Cafe, Part Two

Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Character Exploration
Warnings: None
Feedback: Welcome!
Summary: The Arkham Cafe is a place for all my characters--no matter what story, series or genre they're from--to hang out. In this part, Ross Edmund from Roxburg stories runs into Zev Moscowitz from my upcoming NaNo novel, Not So Safe.

Creative Commons License
The Arkham Cafe by J. Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Zev leaned back in his chair, puzzled. His quip about the Sopranos seemed to have struck a chord. Maybe Ross really was from a Mafioso family. Or the WASP equivalent of one, anyone.

“So what’s your story?” Ross asked, interrupting his thoughts.

“What makes you think I have one?”

Ross shrugged. “Nothing--I’m just hopeful. Misery loves company and all that.”

Zev considered that. “Fair enough. Ok, this is a little schmaltzy, but it’s the best I can do. How does unrequited love strike you?”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Two of Swords

"Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them."
~Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars

Ah, as you might have noticed, I failed to draw a card yesterday. My apologies! I was occuppied with a new RPG (role-playing game) system that my group was trying out for the first time. More on that later--I think it has some bearing on creating characters.

Meanwhile, here's my draw for today: the Two of Swords. The traditional interpretation of this card suggests stalemate--a person trying to make a decision, but flustered and confused and unable to view all her (or his) options.

I don't agree. To begin with, I don't think the blindfold means this figure is flustered or confused. I think she put it on deliberately, just as Luke (with Obi Wan's help) put on the blinding helmet in Star Wars for light saber practice--letting go of his conscious control in order to allow the Force to work through him. Likewise, I think this figure has blindfolded herself so that she can better follow her gut and intuition.

I'm not even sure she's trying to make a choice--those two swords seem well balanced. In fact, balance-rather-than-choosing will be a theme of my NaNo novel, Not So Safe. The goal of my main character, Zev, is to convince Marc that he doesn't have to choose between Zev and Sean. They can both have a relatinship with him, without any pesky jealousy.

How well this will work out for Zev remains to be seen, but that's the direction he's going. And I think he's got enough chutzpah and determination to make a polyamorous relationship work . . .

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Seven of Pentacles

Hmmm. Is this character just tired after a long day of work? Or is he bored and looking for a new challenge?

Either way, he's good at what he does: look at those pentacles blooming and overspilling. But success isn't everything; not if he's outgrown this work.

On the other hand, if I use this card for a contemporary story--well, in this economy, it'd be a rash character who left a good, successful career in order to seek out a new challenge. And pentacle-types are generally more level-headed than that.

But even a pentacle-type can break out of his level-headed shell once and a while, right? It might be fun to see what happens when a cautious character finally takes a big risk . . .

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Knight of Cups

This card belongs to the hopeless romantic. In fact, I think this knight is more interested in a chilvarous, dreamy, romantic ideal than in any flesh-and-blood lover. And he's definitely the type to put his calling--or quest--before everything else. Family and loved ones will always come second.

At an extreme, this knight may adore romance, but be asexual in practice. (For some people, sex and romance don't need to intertwine.)

So this character will win lots of points with his love interest in the beginning of the relationship; he has all the right instincts as far as romantic dates and gifts go. But long term--well, if his lover is ok playing second fiddle to his dreams and ideals, things will go well. But who wants things to go well? In a good story, a whole lot of things will go wrong first . . .

If you're self-publishing . . .

Take a look at the advice in this article, about the ABCs of e-books.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Seven of Swords

Confession: I love this card. Yeah, the character it portrays is a thief--but what's a story without a rogue?

I call this the 'Neal Caffrey Card,' in honor of the most charming con artist known to television (although Remington Steele is a close second). For those of you who aren't familiar with White Collar--shame on you! Remedy this immediately.

We're dealing with a smart, cunning rogue here à la Neal; swords represent mental prowess, after all. And, like Neal, this isn't a violent criminal. In fact, I love this blurb from Isabel Radow Kliegman in Tarot and the Tree of Life

The prankster . . . has come up with a creative solution to an embattled situation: it will be hard for the enemy to attack with five of their seven swords gone. With a little luck, they'll fight among themselves over who shall wield the remaining two.

I have only one issue with this card: how do I create a charming rogue who doesn't owe too much to Neal? I'll just have to remind myself that Neal has his predecessors too.

Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey in White Collar

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Nine of Swords

I can't decide if the character in this card is male or female. Either way, it's someone experiencing nightmares, insomnia, depression and despair.

Cheerful card, huh?

As Isabel Radow Kliegman points out in Tarot and the Tree of Life,  the quilt on the bed features red roses and zodiac signs. Meanwhile, the bed  itself looks as narrow and hard as a coffin.

Really cheerful card, huh?

Perhaps the zodiac signs are there to remind us that everyone experiences despair at some point--it doesn't matter what sign you're born under. And the red roses? They're often associated with desire. I don't think, in this case, they represent only romantic desire. I think they represent an overwhelming desire for anything we can't have. The figure might be despairing because a friend is desperately ill--or because they're worried sick for a child. Or maybe the figure is facing his or her own mortality.

Once again, I'm not sure which character this card will end up representing for me. And, once again, it reminds me that I can't shelter my characters from pain. I'm not a big fan of angst--a little bit goes a long, long way. But if I try to avoid it altogether, my characters will be the poorer for it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Three of Swords

Confession: I didn't draw this card at random. It just exemplifies how I feel today. A beloved pet died this morning and I'm grieving her.

Some interpret this card to represent three separate sorrows that stab the heart. I don't think that's the case, and I've never been a believer in the idea that bad news comes in threes.

To me, this is a card of mental anguish. (Swords represent the element Air, which represents our minds. Hence I don't think there's any physical pain involved in this card.) That anguish is brought about, most likely, by loss--but the cause might also be betrayal or heartache.

I'm not sure how to weave this into one of my stories yet. But it reminds me that sometimes the stakes need to be high--each of my characters, at some point in their lives, have to face genuine anguish. The worst thing I can do as an author is protect them.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Four of Cups

A young man--it could be a woman if you squint--is sitting cross-legged under a tree, calling to mind the Buddha under the Bodhi tree. He has three cups in front of him, and is contemplating a fourth held out by some sort of angelic hand. He seems  to be giving serious thought to the offer.

Is he hesitant and confused, not knowing whether to accept the gift? Is he trying to choose between all four cups? Or has he learned to be patient, waiting for just the right cup?

I'm not sure, but this is a card of someone who turns inward for answers-and a card of someone who has some mastery over his emotions. (Cups represent the element of water, which in turn represents the emotions.) He's not going to act on his emotions--not immediately, anyway.

I think I'll use this card to represent Sean Valencia from Not So Safe. Sean is rather shy and cautious, and he's definitely the contemplative type. He's almost the polar opposite of Zev . . .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Nine of Pentacles

To me, this card represents an independent woman who is complete in herself and happy living on her own. She's unapologetically wealthy, with a rich gown and a fancy manor in the background. She also has a garden that's bursting with grapes and pentacles. Two animals are keeping her company; a snail at her feet and a hooded falcon on her hand. 

She exemplifes the suit of pentacles: she's wealthy, earthy and successful. She's also either reasonably cautious or over-controlling, depending on how you feel about her keeping the hooded falcom. I suppose she's being responsible--falcons can be dangerous, but she's made sure hers is restrained. But you can argue that a falcon belongs free in the wild, not in captivity.

Or perhaps the falcon is symbolic. Maybe she's restrained as a person, putting her energy and passion primarily into her garden.

At any event, she's another reminder to me to pay attention to my female characters--especially a female character who's comfortable in her own skin and thrilled to keep her relationship status on Facebook set to "single."

The Arkham Cafe, Part One

Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Character Exploration
Warnings: None
Feedback: Welcome!
Summary: The Arkham Cafe is a place for all my characters--no matter what story, series or genre they're from--to hang out. (See this post.) In this part, Ross Edmund from my Roxbury stories runs into Zev Moscowitz from my upcoming NaNo novel, Not So Safe.

Creative Commons License
The Arkham Cafe by J. Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Ross unbuttoned his coat as he ducked into the café. He assumed it was new, as he had never laid eyes on it before--but nestled between the pharmacy and the Verizon store, it was easy to miss. Either way, though, he’d be able to sit down and figure out what the hell to do about his family.

He paused on the threshold and glanced around. It was an eclectic crowd; some people appeared to be in old fashioned, costume-like clothes, even though Halloween was another three weeks away. Others were wearing short sleeves and shorts, as if it were still summer.

Ross shrugged and looked around for a place to sit. There were no empty tables, so he walked up to a man who was sitting on his own. The guy looked safe enough: no costume, and his clothes were appropriate for the weather. As a bonus, he was about Ross’s age: late twenties or so.

“Are you saving this seat?” Ross asked.

The guy glanced up from his menu and smiled. “Not at all. Sit down.”

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: Six of Swords

I've seen many different interpretations of this card--including one that casts the ferryman as Charon, and the seated figure and child as the newly dead crossing the River Styx. Death, in the Tarot, is symbolic rather than literal; at least in a regular reading. But if the card represents a fictional character, as it does here, all bets are off.

But I've never seen this as a death card, symbolic or otherwise. To me that huddled figure--it's impossible to know if it's male or female--has taken the child and fled from a terrible situation (see the troubled waters on the right side of the boat) to a place of at least temporary safety (see the smooth waters on the left side of the boat and the peaceful, if gray, island in the distance).

The suit of Swords represents the element Air, and therefore the mind and the ability to discriminate between a good situation and a bad one. That huddled figure is not willing to remain the victim of some awful circumstance. So to me, this is a positive card--even if the journey is painful and frightening.

I don't know how to fit this card into one of my stories yet. But that's ok--I'm willing to let it rest until the right character steps forward to claim it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Under Construction: The Arkham Cafe

I read an excellent post today on the Sticky Notes Stories blog. The author takes a new character and plunks them down into a 'cafe' with her established characters, regardless of whether they're from the same story or even the same story world.

I love this idea! Has anyone else tried it? I've never allowed characters from different stories to hang out in a cafe and chat (or fight or debate or argue or flirt or . . . well, you get the idea.)

In honor of this brilliant notion, I'm going to open the Arkham Cafe on this blog, hopefully by Sunday. (Yeah, even if I opened up a cafe in real life I'd name it after the Arkham Asylum.) I'll allow characters from different stories to hang out and interact, and hopefully I'll get to know all of them better in the process.

Creative Draw of the Day: Two of Pentacles

I think I've found the card for Marc Jaffe, one of the characters for my NaNoWriMo. No, Marc doesn't wear a funny hat--he sticks with business casual wear. But this card exemplifies his state of mind as Not So Safe begins.

Marc is very much in line with the suit of Pentacles: he's down to earth, he has a good head for figures and he's a financial wizard. But, like the juggler in this card, he's off balance. He has been since his wife died three years ago.

I would usually interpret this card to indicate a problem juggling finances and debt, but I don't think that's the case for Marc. His finances are fine. True, he's a bit disorganized in his professional life, but that's why he has Zev as his administrative assistant. So Marc has a different problem.

Marc has never come to terms with his bisexuality; that storm-tossed sea behind the juggler matches his emotional turmoil when it comes to Zev. (Water in the Tarot is connected to our emotions.) He has an excellent working relationship and friendship with the man, but he's never taken the next step. He's left Zev to assume that he's thoroughly heterosexual.

But once Sean, Marc's ex-lover, enters the picture, Marc finds he can't put on a show anymore. That leads to all sorts of complications with both Zev and Sean.

The Two of Pentacles is a hard place to be. The card has promise--that green string surrounding the two coins is a symbol of infinity, a powerful symbol in the Tarot denoting holiness and eternity. If Marc can come to terms with his dualities, and his love for both Zev and Sean, he just might have a shot at finding happiness again.

Describing my NaNo Novel

Here's how I described Not So Safe (and my MC Zev) in the NaNoWriMo forums:


Zev is my viewpoint character; he's the one driving the story. He's got a single minded crush on Marc, his painfully straight boss. Left to himself, Zev has no work ethic, but he has turned himself into a model employee to please the man. Marc is his perfect fantasy: a nice, successful Jewish guy who knows how to keep Zev in line--hell, if there were any way to make this crush a reality, even Zev's parents would be thrilled.

Finding out that Marc isn't as painfully straight as he thought changes everything. So does the fact that Marc has become re-entangled with Sean, a lover from back in high school. But Zev is undaunted, and sees no reason why he can't share Marc with Sean.

Zev is an optimist. He's also determined, proactive and good at getting his way. But sharing Marc with Sean may be more complicated than he realizes. If polyamorous bliss awaits the three men, it's a long way off . . .


I'm happy with this description and I'm happy with Zev. He's damn pushy, though! He's insisting on narrating this story. That feels right to me--but I know a lot of romance readers don't like the first-person point of view. (Sigh.)

Meanwhile, I have to spend some time fleshing out Marc. And at least Sean--formerly known as 'high school fling' has a name! He's Sean Valencia; half Irish-American, half Columbian. He's a succesful therapist of some sort, but I have to figure out the details.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Moliere on writing

No 'Creative Draw of the Day' today--my apologies, but I'm just too close to crashing for the night. Instead, here's a writing quote I saw this afternoon:

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.”


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Creaitve Draw of the Day: Eight of Wands

I love this card. Eight wands flying through the air--either about to collide with something, or about to ground themselves. Either way, it's good news; perhaps a character will be slammed by the creative spark wands provide. Or maybe her seemingly out-there ideas will finally come down to earth.

Ok, ok. It's not always good news. A character can be slammed by someone's explosive temper--wands represent the element fire, after all. Or she can be slammed by a flash of insight that forces her to confront some unsavory truth.

In fact, I think I'll take that last option with this card, and apply it to Ross Edmund. He can experience a shocking revelation about his family . . .

Red Bull Theater NYC: Open submissions for 10 minute plays

I thought I'd pass this along. Here's the blurb from Red Bull's promotional e-mail:

Red Bull Theater seeks new 10-minute plays for our spring short play reading day.
New plays of no more than 10 pages, written in heightened language, in verse, with classic themes, adaptations of classics, or that otherwise fit our mission and history are welcome.
Click here for more information and guidelines for submission.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Creative Draw of the Day: The Chariot

Although I've never seen any book on the Tarot mention this, I believe this card is based on Plato's chariot allegory, found in the dialogue Phaedrus. Plato describes a charioteer who is trying to control two horses. One horse is a well behaved white steed, the other a troublesome, stubborn black steed. The charioteer represents the intellect and reason of our souls, the white horse represents the best of our passions, while the black horse represents the dark, dangerous aspects of our passions. The allegory ends up explaining how a soul incarnates.

I like to connect this card to the Jewish teaching of the good impulse (the yetzer ha-tov) and the evil impulse (the yetzer ha-ra). We all have both--and we all need both. The good impulse is our moral compass and moral sensitivity; the evil impulse is our ambition, willpower and chutzpah. The evil impulse is dangerous--if we don't strenuously regulate it, we become monsters. But without it, we'd never have the gumption to accomplish anything.

An old Star Trek episode--The Enemy Within--illustrates this. Kirk is split into two people, one exemplifying his yetzer ha-tov, and the other exemplifying his yetzer ha-ra. His 'good' side is benevolent and compassionate, but incable of making a decision or leading effectively. His 'evil' side is proactive and determined but a thorough bastard. See Sum of His Parts by David Holzel for a more detailed analysis of the episode and its (accidental?) relationship to the teaching of the good and evil impulse. (A nice Jewish boy like Shatner must have made the connection, right?)

The lesson I'm going to take from this card is to examine my characters and see how well each balances the two impulses. They'll be more intriguing, I suppose, if they haven't got the balance right . . .

But that's my take on The Chariot. As I said above, I've never seen a book that links it to Plato's chariot allegory. I've never seen a book that links it to the Jewish teaching of the good impulse and evil impulse either--although some have said essentially the same thing without mentioning the yetzer ha-tov and yetzer h-ra. But I'd like to hear other interpretations. What's your take on the card?