Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Tarot by Jim Miller

We're back with day six of the Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & BookHounds.My Guest Blogger today is Jim Miller a retired Canadian Army officer with over forty years service who is now writing full time. He has been writing all his life, as time permitted. And has sold a number of humour columns to local markets, but Mined Your Own Business is his first published novel. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces for over forty years, moving through the ranks from private to warrant officer and then taking his commission. He worked with the Canadian Rangers and retired as a Captain. Married to Bev, they have two children, Camille and Michael.

He has a BA in history and philosophy from University of Manitoba and an MA from Royal Roads University.
As of right now, Jim has a portfolio of manuscripts that includes a mystery series of four novels and two short stories and a series of outlines for another ten books, which are all about Rabbi. The books follow Rabbi as he moves up the ranks and describe his adventures as an amateur detective and professional troublemaker, at least that’s how his Sergeant Major sees him.

He also has a military farce manuscript and a romantic comedy novel that are complete but still being polished. One of Jim’s goals is to win the Leacock medal for humour. He now writes daily and intends to write a book a year. 

Remember to leave a comment with your contact information. Jim is giving away six eBook's of his new release Mined Your Own Business.

The Tarot

“Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.”                        Steven Wright

The above quote is probably the only tarot joke in existence. The whole concept of the tarot is not one that reeks of humour or frivolity. I believe it’s time for a change, which is why I am writing this blog. And despite all the bad press the Tarot has received, you can forget about disappearing into a cloud of smoke because you dared handle a tarot deck.

This blog is not designed to give you the basics, the history or even teach you how to read tarot cards. All that is available on the internet. I would like to suggest that the tarot can be of help to all writers. But it’s not a magic device or an instrument of Satan. And before you ask, the tarot will not make you happy, healthy, wealthy or find you the right man/woman/pet. 

The initial concept of predicting the future, back at the dawn of time, was to use a sheep’s entrails. That idea died a natural death because it was too messy for some, mostly the sheep. Crystal balls came next and they were a glassy handful to have to lug around on pilgrimages. Once paper had been invented and then stolen from the Chinese, the tarot deck was born.

 Around about the 15th century the tarot came into being mainly as a way of playing card games. Not content with poker, solitaire or bridge, the odd ones in society decided to use the tarot as a means of divining the future, answering unanswerable questions and for scaring the pants off unbelievers.

Tarot decks can be used by those of us who lodge somewhere in between the card game players and the fortune tellers. I use my decks to create options or potentialities. Somebody somewhere took a great deal of trouble to assign each card with a series of attributes, qualities and even matched them up with astrological signs. After all that work on their part why shouldn’t we at least take a look at them. But, prepare to get the pants scared off you. Something about the way they work, or don’t work can be astonishing.
Today there are over a thousand different kinds of tarot decks. You name it and someone has created a tarot deck. I have seven decks, one of them is a baseball tarot deck.

As writers we can employ the tarot in a safe and helpful manner. One very simple, but excellent method of getting the juices flowing is the one card reading. Pick the card and set it down where you can see it. Pick up a pen, a pencil, or start keyboarding. Describe the contents of the card, leaving nothing out and don’t stop at the first sentence. You know how it works, or if you’re like me, you don’t know how it works. You start writing and the next thing you know, you’ve got a grocery list of stuff and a dead end. Dang it! 

Okay, do it again. Pull another card. If after 78 times, (the number of cards in the deck) all you’ve come up are lists, maybe you shouldn’t be a writer. The object of exercise is to create a little story from the scene on the card.

Once that little story has been written, study it, because it’s here that the tarot will show it’s stuff. Something in that description will be pulled into your subconscious and mixed with all the other flotsam and jetsam of a life experienced to the fullest. Or not. Out of that evolves a nugget. It’s not an outline, but it could be. It may be a plot point, a story twist, a story starter, a story ender or even a road-block smasher that’ll get you back on track and writing. Once you’re deep into it, and the words are tumbling out onto the page, you’ll find yourself wondering where the hell those sentences came from? I no longer wonder, I just accept. 

Another method of combining the tarot and writing is to select a card each for your protagonist, antagonist and two or three other characters. By studying the cards based on how you already see the character you’ll begin noting details that pull more of that character out of you. You’ll have a head, or better yet, a computer full of ideas, descriptions, personalities, attitudes, likes and dislikes, and most valuable, an idea of how each character will react in a certain situation. Give it a try. I promise that by doing so the only cloud of smoke you’ll disappear into will be one created by your fingers frenzy-ing along the keyboard. 

And in case you have forgotten, writers are the descendants of those sheep’s entrails-prodders. Only instead of evisceration, we envision. We foretell of worlds and dreams. We populate them and bring them to life in a future or past or a ‘Never-was-never-will-be’ that we have chosen. But we do it with words. The tarot helps us. Besides, it saves on sheep, right? 

Out of nothing but our brain cells we create the truths and lies of our character’s lives for our readers. The tarot, a bunch of brightly coloured cards, greases those cells and jump starts our imagination. If you’re a total sceptic, the tarot is nothing more, or less than an idea-grinder. A harmless almost mnemonic tool. And if you aren’t then the tarot is…Magic. 

Happy Tarot-ing, Jim.

He found the body with his toes. Little did Private Donald “Rabbi” Hawkins know that an innocent little dip on company time would lead to a web of intrigue, a treasure map, more murder, proficiency with a bayonet, and the opportunity to solve a decade old crime. All while trying to stay out of trouble.

While in training with the army Rabbi Hawkins, neophyte sleuth, discovers the death of a fellow solider may be linked to a treasure map he was harbouring. The goal soon becomes to discover the nature of the treasure, and to evade those willing to kill to keep that secret buried.

Remember to leave a comment for Jim. You'll not only be entered to win a copy of Jim's new eBook Mined Your Own Business. Lorhainne Eckhart will be giving away three copies of her new release THE CHOICE, to three randomly drawn commenters at the end of the summer hop giveaway. Don't forget to leave your contact information when you leave a comment, so we know how to get a hold of you.

Visit the other blogs participating in this summer giveaway by clicking on the link I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & BookHounds.


  1. I found your post on the Tarot cards to be quite interesting and the blurb of Mined Your Own Business very intriguing. A definite addition to the TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway.


  2. Jim, You always entertain me. Loved the blog...enough to go out and find myself a deck of Tarot cards,

  3. Jim that was a great blog on Tarot use for writers. Karen C. thanks for leaving a comment, you'll receive an eBook copy of Jim Miller's new release, Mined Your Own Business. Jim will contact you directly and send you your free copy.