Monday, April 06, 2009

Guest - Devon Ellington

Good morning everyone! Today we have a terrific author visiting us - Devon Ellington. Devon's subject is one we haven't had on Star-Crossed Romance before and it's one I find utterly fascinating. But first, here's a little about her.

Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. She writes the paranormal Jain Lazarus Adventures, released by FireDrakes Weyr. HEX BREAKER is currently available; OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK is set to release soon.. She’s written for the Llewellyn calendars and almanacs for fourteen years as Cerridwen Iris Shea on a variety of metaphysical topics.

Visit the Jain Lazarus website: for excerpts, purchase details, and two free stories,

and visit Devon’s blog on the writing life

Ink in My Coffee: For more tarot information, visit

Oh, make sure you read all the way to Lynda Again section to see how you can qualify to win a special giveaway from Devon.


Create a Tarot Reading for Your Character

Perhaps you’ve got a character in your book who either gets or gives a tarot reading. Contrary to popular ignorance, a true tarot reading is not “fortune telling”. It’s a genuine psychological tool and can reveal a great deal about both plot and character in your work. But how do you create a credible reading in the book?

Step One: Research. Tarot is a life-long journey; you’re probably on deadline. At least do a bit of genuine research and avoid the ignorant cliché of using the Death card for physical Death (unless your point is that the reader is a fraud or the murderer). You’ll lose readers. There are plenty of lousy tarot books out there, but the good ones include Gail Fairfield’s CHOICE-CENTERED TAROT and almost anything by Rachel Pollock. Metaphysical shops often have readers on staff – ask if you can talk to one of them, or, better yet, take a tarot workshop at the store. The same card can have a vastly different meaning depending upon where it appears in the spread and what cards are around it. Decide if you will use reversed cards in the reading or not, and which interpretation of reversals you want to use (opposite, block, delay, etc.)

Step Two: Decide the purpose of the reading. What do you want the reading to reveal? Does it foreshadow something that happens in the book? Or does it contradict something that happens? Is any misinterpretation involved in the reading, and how does that affect the next chapters in the book? Formulate a simple question that the querent (person getting the reading) asks in the book. As in a genuine reading, the question must be active, direct, and simple. No complex or compound sentences; no “and”, “but”, “however” or other such qualifiers.

Step Three: Decide which deck to use. There are hundreds of different decks. Meanings are not hard and fast (refer to Step One), and the artwork has a great deal to do with the meaning. Choose what you believe supports your book best. You don’t have to mention the deck by name in the book; if you do, check on the copyright and/or trademark rules relevant to the mention.

Step Four: Decide on the spread. Will you use a Celtic Cross spread, a Yes/No spread, a Body/Mind/Spirit spread, or one of the hundreds of others? Again, do the research and know the purpose of the reading.

Step Five: Normal readings start in the first position and work to the final position. For the purposes of your fictional reading, start in the final position – the “possible outcome” slot. Chose that card. And work your way backwards. Now, actually read the cards forward, look at the connective interpretations and placements, and adjust as necessary.

If you’re stuck in your actual writing, or you want to see what would come up if your character simply had a reading, of course you can focus on the character and the character’s question and just throw the cards or on a question you, as the writer, have in relation to the book. However, if you want it to fit the plot and drive the plot, it needs a more structure. Adding a legitimate reading to a book can add another level of depth and either shore up or contrast plot points in the book.


Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington
A Jain Lazarus Adventure.

Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.

$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing:

Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures:

by Devon Ellington
A Jain Lazarus Adventure

Detective Wyatt East finds himself the primary suspect when hex breaker Jain Lazarus disappears after their romantic weekend in Vermont. In spite of the suspicions, Jain's boss, Maitland Stiles, hires Wyatt to track her down, forcing him to face aspects of his own painful past and revealing more about hers.

Saddled with two rebellious runaway paranormal teens, he's embroiled in a shapeshifter pack disagreement, and must learn to work with both a caustic dragon and a cantankerous mermaid to not only find Jain, but help her help an old friend who's in over his head. Wyatt learns he is not without psychic abilities of his own, although he prefers old-fashioned detective work.

Coming in late Spring of 2009 from FireDrakes Weyr Publishing (

Visit the Jain Lazarus site:


- Lynda Again,

Devon has graciously offered a signed CD version of HEX BREAKER to one lucky reader who leaves a comment before Friday, April 10 so make sure you leave your name in your comment and check back to see if you've won. Good luck!

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Becky said...

That was very interesting about creat a Tarot Reading for your Character. I knew that Tarot Reading was not a "fortune telling", but didn't realize that it could be use to help with the creating of a character.

Devon Ellington said...

I use tarot readings for all sorts of reasons while I'm writing -- I use it to help me if I'm stuck, or if I want to explore a character more deeply. Or, if an actual reading is relevant to the plot and the characters, I create one for the context of the novel.

Tarot is a vital part of my life with a wide variety of possibilities. It gets old to read the same incorrect, overused cliches.

Beth Caudill said...

I have to say, I'm not convinced about how well tarot works but I try to be open about a few things. I do like some of the artwork on the decks. I'm into fantasy and space art and some of the decks are beautiful.

mindy said...

this sounds just wonderful thanks

Devon Ellington said...

Beth, the art is gorgeous, and I find that the artwork has a great deal to do with meaning.

The great thing about tarot is that it opens options -- anything in the reading you like you can make happen through definitive action. If something negative comes up, you've been given the information IN ADVANCE, so now you can take action to change it. It's not written in stone, it's not what HAS to happen -- it's the possibilities of a path, and with decisions made from the information your subconscious mind has now spread in front of you, you can take ACTION for a different outcome, should you choose.

Katherine C. Teel said...

Hi, Devon. This is Kathy Teel from your Freelance Writers and Editors group. I don't do Tarot myself, so I would never have known how complex it is, or how many significant questions have to be answered. Since I might well have characters who find Tarot to be important in their lives, I sure appreciate your guidance on which questions to ask and how to weave Tarot into a plot. This was very interesting and valuable. Thanks!


Joyce Anthony said...

I never thought about using a Tarot reading, but it is an option now. I'm not a big romance reader, but I think I'd enjoy ones with a paranormal bend to them-I'll check out your work, Devon!

Valerie K said...

Fascinating article. I would not have thought of working backwards from the final card in creating a reading, but it makes so much sense.

Do you have a favorite spread to use when the writer is stuck? :)

Val K

Lyncee said...

I also use tarot cards in several ways with my writing. I have a couple of decks. But one I just the art on and often just use the picture alone as direction....yes, I know every reader that glances at this will have shivers, sorry. But often the art inspires more than the actually meaning. But then again, I'm a highly visual person.


Devon Ellington said...

Mindy, Kathy, Joyce,thanks for stopping by. Glad you found the ideas useful.

Valerie, I use all sorts of decks when I'm stuck. I like the Celtic Dragon, the Shapeshifter (very good for stuckness), Robin Wood, Shining Woman, Mythic, and Daughters of the Moon.

For life readings, for myself, I often use the Celtic Dragon, Robin Wood, Medieval Scapini or Halloween Tarot. I also use Medicine Cards and Runes quite a bit, and, for instance, if I'm working with Scandinavian myths, I'll use the Norse Tarot, etc.

Lyncee, yes, the art is very powerful. Sometimes, if you just let the art speak and let go of the usual meaning of the card, you can move deeper into the question and the answer!

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Devon,

I just visited your site after seeing you here. Love your article. I've taken an on-line course a few years ago: Using Tarot to Create Characters, so the idea is not new to me. And actually, I love my cards. Always have, it seems. Just yesterday, I lit up some incense and laid out a Celtic cross just because I needed some quiet reflective time, which the DH could not understand.

My absolute favorite deck is the Morgan-Greer. I also have the Bohemiam Gothic (which I use at night). I would love to get the Favole decks. The artwork is haunting. I have a Rider-Waite, but for some reason am not as drawn to it.

Your post has reignited my interest in using Tarot for creative purposes. I can't use my M-G deck for writing purposes. Hmmmm, I might just have to go shopping for one that calls to me as a writer!!

Julie Robinson said...


I checked out the cerridwenscottage. I saw April 09's calendar up but the last entry was from a while back. Looks interesting, though, and I love the "pages" that the writing is on.

I also went back to your Ink in my Coffee and ended up getting your 3 writing help pamphlets. I love that title about using the SIX senses to write! It's so true. Many writers may not realize that when they get into their story, they are actually using that intuitive sense to create.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Lady Roxi said...

Love to have this.



Michelle Miles said...

I'm late stopping by and my apologies. I couldn't get here yesterday.

I found tarot readers incredibly fascinating. Not sure if I could write one myself, but this is great information here. :) Thanks for sharing!

Oh, and I already have my copy of Hex Breaker but you probably already have a winner. :)

Devon Ellington said...

Julie, thanks for stopping by and glad you like the books. I have decks that only read me; I have decks that only read other people; I have decks that do some of both; and I have decks that seem to strictly support the writing. Yeah, Morgan-Greer is nice -- I haven't used it in awhile. I'll have to take a look at it again.

Ruth, Lady Roxi, and Michelle -- thanks for stopping by!

Julie Robinson said...

Devon. I never thought about using different decks for different purposes. May I ask which deck calls to you as a writer and why?

Kytaira said...

I find Tarot readings intriguing but haven't ever had one. I remember reading once something about the deck of cards identifies with the primary user of the deck. So Devon couldn't swap decks with Lynda and expect them to work as usual. Any thoughts on that?

BTW - Lynda - love your name!

lynda98662 at yahoo dot com

Lynda K. Scott said...

Thanks to Devon for a fascinating take on tarot and writing. And thanks to all our readers for leaving a comment. Devon will be here a little later to select a winner for her giveaway so keep watch for her announcement :-D

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend.


Julie Robinson said...


It is true that you shouldn't swap decks. I don't let anyone else touch my Morgan-Greer. Well, I did let my son shuffle when I was doing a reading for him several times. But that is it. And NO ONE touches my 'night deck.'

But it is interesting to know what deck works for a writer as far as creating stories goes. There are so many decks out there that the different qualities resonate with different people. In fact, if any one wants to look at a list of decks available, you can go to this link to see them:

So Beth, you may find something you like there. Devon, I like your explanation to Beth.


Skylar Masey said...

I have a friend who also reads tarot cards and was fascinated to see how a writer could use the desks to create characters and plots.


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