Returning to Tarot

It’s what started this blog, and it’s back again.

Some of my oldest readers (readers? friends? who/what are you anyway?) will remember an attempt I made when I first started this blog to make a tarot deck based on characters from my novels. It… was alright-ish? But it didn’t pan out. The symbolism was wonky and forced and the sheer amount of time it took to do watercolor cards – I hate painting, as it turns out – made it, in the end, not really worth it to me.

And then I did the Five Realms Oracle.

More than anything, that proved to me that I do have a better handle on symbolism than I think I do, and that I have the patience and persistence necessary to complete a long-term, involved project like that. The tricky bit with that deck now is trying to put together a guidebook for it, and for that I’ve been testing it all over the place in different types of readings… but it’s hard to make an oracle deck from scratch. I can use the runes as a guide, obviously, but my views on the runes are changing a bit, and don’t really fit the cards anymore. I might take them off on the final versions. Still, trying to figure out how the symbolism fits into situations is a lot more difficult than I imagined starting out, even with a basic knowledge of the meanings already in place.

Tarot is different. Tarot is familiar. Tarot isn’t easy, per se, but it interacts and weaves into itself in known and predictable ways. The specific imagery can be twisted and shaped but the archetypal meanings stay roughly the same. Death is always change and rebirth. Strength is always endurance and boundaries. The Fool, as it turns out, was what I was missing the meaning of when I first tried to create the Five Realms Tarot (or the Revenant Tarot, I can’t remember which) a few years ago. I didn’t have a good enough scope of the whole story and the players in it. Who was powerful, who was learning. And part of what made the original set of symbolism so off was that I picked the wrong Fool.

Esper Ravenwood is the Fool. He’s the protagonist. He’s the one who goes on an epic journey, and whose journey gets reflected and faceted over and over again throughout his five and a half hundred years, and even after that. He is both catalyst and solution. He is the Fool that walks through the twenty-one doors, being changed by and in turn changing the people that he meets behind them. He’s walked through doors nobody was ever meant to come back through and done it anyway.

The other cards I lacked a decent understanding of? Death, Temperance, Judgement, and the Lovers. Which ties directly into what happened last April. I think I’ve finally walked through enough doors myself to do the Tarot justice. (Heh. Justice.) Watch me change my mind at the end of the Major Arcana. 😛

So… I think I might have another go at the Five Realms Tarot, now that I know who the Fool was. Funny enough, I wrote his Tales in first person. Read into that what you will.


Aside: Quick Localisations of Four Rune Poems

Read as: Ej likes playing with metaphors and wanted to make sense of some funky translations. This may or may not have been my life for the past few days.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional linguist. I just play with words.


“Fé vældr frænda róge;
føðesk ulfr í skóge.”

“Wealth is a source of discord among kin;
the wolf grows up in the forest.”

My understanding:
Knowing your own worth can be controversial;
Those who don’t lose themselves in others.


“Úr er af illu jarne;
opt løypr ræinn á hjarne.”

“Slag comes from bad iron;
The Reindeer races over frozen snow.”

My understanding:
Burning yourself out accomplishes nothing good;
Go steady and you will not fall.


“Þurs vældr kvinna kvillu,
kátr værðr fár af illu.”

“Giant causes anguish to women;
misfortune makes few men cheerful.”

My understanding:
Don’t belittle what others go through;
Nobody enjoys being in pain.


“Óss er flæstra færða
for; en skalpr er sværða.”

“Estuary is the way of most journeys;
but a scabbard is of swords.”

My understanding:
A meandering tale will get you far;
Sharp words stay in you.

All poems and translations were referenced from

Also this experiment was inspired by the work of Jackson Crawford, in particular the “Cowboy Hávamál.” Someday I will do the whole Elder Futhark. Probably.

Five Realms Oracle Unboxing

The excitement is palpable. At least for me, given that I can, in fact, palp the deck. Forgive my not-wording there. My proof copy of the Five Realms Oracle showed up today and I had to make a video even though the light was fast approaching unfilmable territory. I AM SO STOKED. GUYS. I MADE A THING. Yes, the amount of caps lock in this description is completely necessary, trust me.

This is the site I went to for card printing, in case you also would like to make a deck:

As promised, here’s the link to my Facebook Author page so that you can check out all the wonderful artwork (and temporary card meanings):

Let me know what you think, and I’ll see you soon!


A glass to take the edge off,
The spear at your throat,
The fangs of a wolf, his claws.

A sharp focus, time is still,
Claws on your spine,
Giants bellow in your blood.

A strike of lightning,
Hammer crashes down,
The barberry pierces red.

A wolf bites, the edge consumes,
Pain focuses the mind,
The wounds will heal.


A rough and ragged rune poem by me.

I’ll have to analyze this later. It just wanted to get out of my head as soon as possible.


November Not-Blues

Hello friends!

No aim for this one, just updating. November tends to be the month where I get bogged with all sorts of stuff I wasn’t expecting, as well as some stuff that I was. I suspect this has something to do with Hagalaz and Nauthiz sharing this month. I figured I need to take a post to reconnect a little. Been feeling kinda distant lately as a result of all the stuff I’m doing and preparing for.

NaNoWriMo has been my main focus the past few days, and surprisingly enough I’m actually beating my dad for word count. Which to me is hilarious given that he’s a full-time author and I just do it because I’ve got a world that wants to be read. I have a feeling he’ll get few thousand words in edgewise over the weekend, because I’ll be doing stuff where I can’t write for long periods of time like I’m used to, but for now I’m winning. (I’m a competitive person. I get it from my Other dad.) The world that has bloomed out of a couple day’s worth of splatting words onto paper is giving me all of the “proud mother” feels, which is rather disconcerting but you know what? My fictional children are amazing people. Fox-butt is a cutie. Legion is still my favorite, though he is a bit of a creepy bastard.

Weirdly enough, now that the summer is more or less vanished at this point and my seasonal grossness is over with, I’m finally back on some kind of schedule, and most of that is actually because of the writing. Apparently, having long-term projects is good for me, and after the job I had for the first part of the year, I desperately needed some kind of cycle to latch onto. The creative cycle is a good one. (I imagined Odin on a motorcycle just now and almost snorted coffee out my nose. Thanks, Gramps!) It’s been a quiet, peaceful, relaxing couple of days, and I am so grateful for that. There are a lot of people who can’t just decide to sit down and write a book, and the fact that I can is something that I try not to take for granted. It’s my way of honoring my friends, my skill, and the talent that my family/Family handed down to me. My stories have, on the surface anyway, very little to do with what I write about on this blog, though some of you might catch the little hints here and there. It’s what I do besides draw, and it’s something I never thought I’d end up doing at all, let alone be on my third year of NaNo and have six books already published. Holy magic beans, Batman!

That said, Hagalaz despises too much peace, and I do have A Thing coming up this weekend. The capitalization is rather apt in this case actually. I feel like I’m going to be put through a trial. My nerd friends and I decided a few months ago to plan a startup for a Pathfinder group in their town, but having seen the dearth of faces that showed up to our trial run a few weeks back, as well as the actual location of this thing, I’m getting the suspicion that this is a project doomed for failure. Of course, that’s not going to stop the single extrovert in the group from trying anyway, and dragging the rest of us along with him. Val actually agrees with me. Loki’s being cagey about it but he doesn’t like this guy trying to run it at all and I tend to trust his judgement too. Heck, even Frey keeps saying(politely) that my time and energy would be better used elsewhere, and my friends’ probably would too. Still, we’re going to try again on Saturday and hope for the best. I don’t mean to be the dark cloud over this particular party but there’s a season for everything, and this is not it. Finals(or midterms? Idk) are coming up for the people still in school(who are, oddly enough, the target audience for the group) and they’re going to be tired and stressed thinking about that, Thanksgiving is coming up so people probably won’t be wanting to make commitments that they’ll have to bail on to be with family, and anyone doing NaNo and school will want the weekends to be able to sit down, get homework done, and then write the SNOT out of their stories! ‘Tis the season for trimming back obstacles, reflection, contemplation, and solitude. If we’re going to do this thing, we really ought to wait until spring, or early summer, when the kids will be out of school and looking for things to do so they don’t get bored. *sigh* Ranting, ranting, ranting. Sorry about that.

Aside from that, everything is going surprisingly well, now that I’ve gotten my head out of the summer fog. I actually had myself a proud moment yesterday: I walked into a busy fast-food place that I’d never been to before and managed not to panic and run away. It was a good moment! Of course, I had to giggle when I realized that the mantra keeping me from turning into a non-functioning pile of goop all over Brandon was the phrase, “Van Helsing doesn’t panic.” Apparently that character was good for me. I’ll make a post about stories and mantras another day, though, because Bran and I had a discussion about it afterward. Also, a post about why people don’t (usually) remember their past lives, and what happens when they do. Good ideas, good ideas!

Alright, back into Redgate with me. I’ve got another 5,000 words to write today and it’s going to be a dramatic chapter. Let’s do it.

(I’m not even sorry. XD It’s been a good week.)

Also, Val’s birthday is tomorrow(don’t ask how old he is. It’s a high enough number that he’s probably forgotten at this point). I should do something for him before I have to go deal with people.

Newest Project: All’s Well in Asgard

Hello, friends!

It’s July! Loki’s month, and also Camp NaNoWriMo, which I am taking part in for the first time ever. I’m currently 15,000 words into All’s Well in Asgard, which is an idea that’s been blobbing around in my head since Odin suggested something like it to me back in October of last year, while I was still in the dorms. I decided a couple days before the start of July that I needed something to keep my hands busy while I waited for my proof copy of the Revenant paperback to show up – which it did today, I’m excited – and… well I didn’t expect to be a quarter of the way through it before July even started. Heck, I wasn’t planning on starting another book until November! So I’ve got a bit of a head start in Camp, but I’ll probably need it by the time everything’s sussed out. But for camp, I needed a working cover, so that I didn’t just have the synopsis and excerpt sitting there all lonely-like. So in honor of July For Loki, this is the cover:

AWiA Cover

I think He approves. He does feature prominently in the book, and is the first god the main character actually has contact with. The first goddess he sees is Sigyn, so I’m sure you can imagine where that particular scene takes place. My page on the Camp NaNo site is here, under the name OddBard, but since I’m not entirely sure if you can actually view my stuff if you’re not a member, here’s the synopsis and excerpt:


Roger Earlson is generally a normal guy. Yes, he grows his hair out like a viking, has a few anger issues, and works a day job that starts at 4 in the morning, but he’s otherwise average. Until, of course, the Norns decide to slap him with some cruel and unusual punishment, and he suddenly – and for no reason apparent to him – attracts the attention of Odin, Frey, and Loki, chief gods of the three old Nordic pantheons. Is he going mad? Is he becoming a shaman? Is he just drawing conclusions based on the wrong set of data? Or is all this a holdover from a long-past life? Whatever’s going on down here, though, Roger is sure of one thing: all’s well in Asgard.

The concept has been described as “American Gods” meets “Sherlock” in the middle of nowhere, Colorado. In practice it’s more like the red-shirted crewman got beamed into Midgard and the Enterprise left him there. He’s okay, but nobody expects any world-saving from him.


“The old ways are coming back. The old gods are coming back with them. I suspect some old folk are out recruiting new shamans and priests right now, more than they have in years, because nobody could or would answer the call for fear of persecution. If you’re one of them, you should feel honored,” Adam said.

“Adam…” Roger said, “I’m a physicist, not a shaman.”

“And I’m a spirit-worker, not a physicist,” Adam said with a grin, “My grandfather is a medicine man. I know this field better than you, don’t you think?”

Roger sighed, one last time, and looked at his hands. After a moment of deliberating, he shook his head slowly.

“I can’t be. My family is French-Canadian, what the hell would Norse gods want with me?” He asked.

“Your last name is Earlson, Earlson,” Adam said, “That’s about as Nordic as it gets.”

He was silent for a long few minutes, thinking his own thoughts. Adam wondered briefly if he was still breathing before Roger looked up, a plea in his eyes.

“What do I do?” He asked, quietly, “What can I do?”

Adam sat back and smiled, nodding to himself. He pointed at the sandwich.

“First, you eat,” he said, “Otherwise you’ll be of no use to anyone, including yourself. Then, you sleep, then you start researching the Northmen, and what their priests were like. I don’t know anything about them, really, aside from a few names, but you can start there. See if you can find someone who answered their call and has more experience than you. There’s got to be someone.”

Roger nodded, closed his eyes for a moment, and blew out his breath. Adam tapped his shoulder, and when he looked up, pointed to the ceiling.

“One more thing. If in doubt, ask someone upstairs for help. If they’re trying to pull you along a path, the least they can do is lend a hand once in a while, right?”

Roger smiled, and nodded.

“Yeah I guess. I’ll be polite. But…how will I hear them?” he asked back.

Adam just gave him a look, and picked up his sandwich. Roger huffed a laugh.

“Right. They know where to find me,” he muttered.

And that’s that! So, until next time, have a good one, everybody. 😀 Happy July!
-EJ Lowell


Winterdream: Tales from Liserna, Book 3

Look at me derping this post out a day late. DX

Chapter 0
12th of Oak, 2015

This final chapter in the Tales from Liserna trilogy follows Eirnin, the black sheep of the Ravenwood family, as he falls out of Liserna and into the Red Desert, the southernmost reaches of Lazarus. It is in this strange new world that he will strive to create a name for himself, find his place in the workings of the Empire, and overcome years of internalized doubt and uncertainty regarding his own identity. Ride through the arid mountains and endless rolling sands of Hargaoah with Eirnin, and the band of strange, terrifying, sometimes hilarious misfits that sweep him into their midst, as they strike out on a path to change the world of Omnia.


Now available for Amazon Kindle.

A Turn for the Weird

*drags self in*
*props self up on chair*
*tired smile* ‘Sup?

Hello, friends, it’s been a weird month. Or two. I believe the last you heard from me – unless you follow my dream log blog – I was freaking out about a barn owl sometime in late April. Since then, things have taken a turn for the bizarre, and I’ve been sitting here for the past two weeks or so – maybe not that long, but it feels like it – trying to figure out how and what to tell you. May was certainly an adventure worthy of a novella.

Good news, first off, Winterdream is finally written, and is currently sitting in the annals of my computer waiting for my brain to melt sufficiently so that I can go back and edit it. I plan to do some of that this Sunday, since I have a little time off from The Day Job. It came out much better than I expected it to, if my first read-through was any indication, though it definitely needs polishing. I do consider it my best book so far, though, by a long shot.

Other than my shoulders being sore as a soggy seabird, there’s not really any bad news, so, here’s the weird. I’m going to have to ask you to suspend the skepticism here, because it’s been really spooky.

After the incident with the owl – which I’ve only seen once since, though I’m getting owl imagery appearing absolutely everywhere – I’ve had some shtuff happen. Most of it was Odin leading me around and into situations that were, for lack of better words, both enlightening and terrifying. I’ve gone berserk(don’t worry, nobody got hurt), bawled my eyes out, had strange dreams about hiking through Midgard with Loki that ended up having bearing on waking life, had one-too-many instances of near-perfectly timed lightning strikes in accordance with movement(correlation may not equal causation but I swear if I didn’t know any better I managed to split the sky in half with my hammer), and have basically been ganged up on by Loki, Odin and Frey, for reasons currently unknown to me.

I’ve been reality-checking myself for the entire month of May, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not actually crazy. Or if I am, it’s not much more than an average level of crazy for someone who is, say, an artist who has muses. Now, I’m coming at all of this weirdness – and wyrdness sometimes – from a devoutly spiritual, borderline religious perspective, and I accept that the gods have decided to be my guides for a while, and that such an idea sounds perfectly insane. I’m not sure what for, or why, or for how long, but overall they are actually helping. I haven’t had a migraine in weeks, which is not something I can often say. The “advice” they’ve given me – and by that I mean their little nudges have sent me to places I learn something from, usually websites – has actually helped my overall health level, both physically and emotionally. Aside from the occasional bout of overwhelming exhaustion, usually caused by me not heeding the warnings, I feel better than I have in years. So if I am crazy, the crazy is helping.

So, that’s where I’m at. Muddling through a massive lake of spooky-foo without knowing precisely why. But, owls don’t scare me any more, people don’t scare me as much as they used to, and I am once again full of projects, but this time they’re actually getting done! So, yeah. If this post was a little long and a little on the bizarre side, well, that was May for me. 😀 I probably won’t post again until Winterdream is closer to being finished, so, until then, have a good one!

– EJ, the Hermit[?]

Why I Love Editing

That title will probably make some of you look at me with one of those, “Ej, you must be insane,” faces. But it’s true. I love editing.

Okay, wait, let me make a distinction. I like editing novels. Novels are wonderful and they tell stories. They’re works of art. On the other hand, academic papers. I hate editing them almost as much as I hate writing them. They’re usually boring, and so far I’ve never been able to tell a story with one. I suspect academic writing is an art style unto itself, but one in which I am not at all well versed. So. Moving on.

I didn’t start out as a writer. In fact I hated writing pretty much the entirety of elementary and middle school. I could stand reading, but my spelling had always been so horrendous I always got bad marks when I tried to do written responses. Bubbles were fine! I became a very good taker of bubble tests! No, I started out as a doodler. I’ve been drawing since I could pick up a crayon, and in Freshman year of high school I found out that I was a pretty good sculptor as well. The one project that I remember distinctly from that class was the one in which we were all taught how to sculpt a head. I, being a fantasy nerd, decided to sculpt an elf head rather than a human one, but the proportions were still roughly the same. It was a bit tedious at first, sketching profile and front views of some random head, but once we got to the actual slapping clay on an armature part, I was all kinds of happy. I was always a step or two ahead of the rest of the class too, which meant that I could spend more time with details, and I remember, as I took the careful steps to cut the elf’s face out of the raw lump of reddish clay, how it made my heart soar to see someone who had previously only existed in my mind come to life right in front of my eyes. Unfortunately, he ended up blowing up in the kiln, but, it happens. Thinking back on it, the face ended up resembling Legion a little bit, so, perhaps that was for the better.

My point here is that writing a novel is like sculpting a face. Planning it out is that awkward tedious bit where you sketch out what you want the rough features to look like. Some people – like my dad, for instance – are like Michelangelo, and just kinda skip that step because they can already see the story laid out in front of them. The first draft is like slapping the clay onto the armature and smoothing it out into roughly the shape of the face. Some details might pop out now, some basic structures, like the brow ridge or the base of the nose, but it’s nowhere near finished. Editing is like scraping off unneeded layers of clay to find the shape of the face, and sometimes adding in things like eyes and ears and hair. When you step back and read it through after a month, it’s like watching those figures in your head come to life. Firing the sculpture would be like the process of getting it ready for the public eye, be it submitting it to a publisher or formatting it for epub like I do. Some people paint their sculptures, and that of course would be the cover and title page art, and any other art in the actually book. Maybe even the blurb on the back cover if you’re so inclined.

But that’s why I love editing. Realizing that my characters have taken on a life inside the pages of my creation, that I hadn’t intended at the start of the story, that’s the most intense feeling ever… short of seeing a physical, 3-D representation of them, be that an actor or a sculpture.

And with that, I bid you all adieu. Have a good one!
-EJ the Hermit Sculptor

Heartnet: Tales from Liserna, Book 2

Chapter 0
20th of Ash, 2015

Sive Ravenwood has many talents. Herbalism, divination, and spellcraft, for instance. She’s also a berserker, and when she starts having visions of hurting her younger brother, she realizes she has to do something before her inner beast takes things too far. However, when she steps back into Omnia for the first time in over a year, the last thing she expects would be to run into the mysterious Mairin Heartnet, and she finds herself caught between a Wolf, a Chimera, and a Painter in a a race against a killer’s whims. Can Sive learn the secret of her own strength in time, or will she bring ruin to the people she’s trying to protect? If you enjoy puzzles, werewolves, fishing, magic, and perhaps a hint of romance, traveling with Sive and Mairin will be an adventure indeed.


Now available for Amazon Kindle.