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Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals, Chapter 8 The Star (part 2) or “Have you ever noticed how much I say ‘um’? YOU WILL TODAY.”

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I’ve just spent three days working on the longest video in the history of long videos. Like, “pointless story about how much I love fall on a foodie blog” long. So, so long. If you don’t watch it, that’s cool. You’ll only miss me getting frustrated to boring visuals.

I’m also going to include (because I’m like this), a short scene from the first draft of Baby Makes Three, in which Penny gives herself a three card Lenormand reading. I actually did the reading for Penny and as a result, it made sense in the text. Because it’s a real reading and not just someone picking out the cards that describe what they think is happening (but isn’t really happening) in their story.

Well, let’s get into what is so far the most perplexing and frustrating chapter of this book so far.

I walked through my tiny apartment and into my bedroom.

We’ve never been in her bedroom, so a description of it would be perfect here. If, you know, you wanted to include one.

No? Okay, moving on then.

Zani lays back on her bed and thinks about “everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours.” But she doesn’t, really, because all she actually thinks about is the limp, pointless love triangle and not the girl in the Lambo who attacked her with magical wind.

I really liked Mac and something kept drawing me to him, but I also really liked Jackson–and there was something about him, too, something beyond the killer smile and sparkly eyes.

Is there? Because your author didn’t bother showing us any of that.

I guess I liked them both, and that had never happened before.

I’m glad she cleared up that she a) likes them both and b) has very little experience with such a situation, as we haven’t picked up those subtle clues yet.

I might have simply let things go along for a while if the situation wasn’t so complicated.

I ran a search on the word “complicated” and according to my Kindle, it’s only in here six times. But that can’t be right. It’s been used at least four hundred times so far to describe what is basically a really simple and not-dramatic thing going on in her life. She isn’t about to walk down the aisle torn in two by her love for another. She kissed a dude and went to see the other dude’s band. Shit doesn’t get complicated until we’re in an end-of-Mrs.-Doubtfire-two-dinners-at-once scenario.

Zindi does point out that working together and Mac and Jackson being friends is what complicates the matter, and fair enough, it does, a little. But only one dude seems totally chill with that, and it’s not the dude who gets so emotionally wrapped up in his relationships that he can’t have a one-night stand without his heart getting irreparably shattered. So…maybe your choice on this one isn’t that complicated?

Just in case Sarem hasn’t driven the point home hard enough, she includes the text of one of her favorite Christopher Poindexter poems.

Oh, you haven’t heard of Christopher Poindexter? Author of Lavender and Naked Human? Well, he’s an Instagram poet who writes stream-of-consciousness stuff.

You know
Like when you write what you feel
with random line breaks
To make it a poem
When you could just
write
the

 

sentence.

He’s an Instagram sensation who’s thanked in the acknowledgments section, with the disclaimer that Sarem has never met him. So…does she have permission to reproduce one of his poems wholesale in her novel?

The poem (which I can reproduce under terms of fair use), is:

“is it possible to love more than one person at a time?”
i asked, staring grievously at
the bottom of my glass.

“of course,” she replied,
“just not with the same intensity.
they don’t tell you that because
it scares them shitless.

love is an energy thing.”

So, okay, e. e. cummings, hit me with that sweet, sweet lower case alphabet.

But I’m not here to make fun of poetry. I can do that in my spare time, for pleasure. Levar Zurton thinks about how she isn’t in love with either guy yet, but she could be.

The truth was, I wasn’t looking or a boyfriend or even a date, so I’m not sure how I ended up with two. Regardless, I was where I was. I just needed to figure out what I was actually doing.

Your author needs to figure out how to create and sustain interesting conflict. Because “heroine walks blankly through life having things just happen to her through no action or decision-making of her own” ain’t one.

I made sure when I bought my bedside table that it was pretty oversized and large enough to lay my cards out.

That’s a pretty god damn big table, because as you’ll see in the video, whatever rando spread Sarem made up to stick in the book and look mhahjhikhal is huge. She opens her drawer and notes she has several different sets of cards she’s organized by the situations they cover. Which people do, that’s a normal thing. Then she shuffles them and cuts them into three piles.

To get a proper reading you must make sure your mind is clear and focused only on what you are trying to read about. If anything else creeps into your mind it will throw off the answers, or the answers won’t make sense, or you will even get wrong answers.

Or maybe the thing that does creep into your mind is the thing that you’re supposed to be asking about. You know, like, for example…

For a split second another issue flashed through my mind: It dawned on me I should really be worried much more about the strange girl who I encountered at the mall and what that was about.

Yes! You absolutely should be more worried about that! For one thing, she physically attacked you. Getting physically attacked in a mall parking garage isn’t something that just sometimes golly gee happens to you. That’s a major event. If you’re going to do a reading on anything, do a reading on that. That is exactly why it crept into your head at this moment.

As much as I knew I should be trying to figure out who she was and what she wanted–and why that whole encounter had occurred in the first place–I just wasn’t as concerned with her at the moment as I was with my love life.

“As much as I knew I should be writing about my heroine finding out who the girl who attacked her in a parking garage was and what she wanted–and why I threw in that random encounter with no follow through in the first place–I just wasn’t as concerned with that as I was with writing out my adolescent fantasies about two boys fighting over me.”

I promised myself to do a reading on her when I was done with this. (For what it’s worth, I did–and I came up with nothing. The cards made no sense, which told me that someone had gone to great lengths for me to not get a reading on the situation at all. Short of calling my mom and telling her what was going on–which I wasn’t going to do because she’d insist I come straight home–there wasn’t anything I could do about it. So I pushed the whole incident–and the girl–out of my mind and decided not to worry about it till it came up again.)

That’s what you should do, too, reader! Stop worrying about all that plot I set up and got bored with and don’t want to write anymore! I wish one of the three (imaginary) editors who worked on this would have just said, “Look, if you don’t want to write the magick girl plotline? You can take the majik out and just leave the regular magic show in.” Of course, they might have done, if they actually existed. But clearly, the mahjik had to stay, because it makes Livia so much more interesting and special.

The POV-skewed parenthetical there gives us the perfect example of a scene written ass backwards. Actually, the last chapter, even. Let’s Jenga some things around and see if we can’t make a more interesting sequence of events that follow to logical conclusions and don’t require Sarem to back-burner the romance at all:

  • The shopping and rubbing elbows with Vegas royalty happens off screen. Sorry, Carrot Top.
  • Everything at the bar can go down exactly as written (if she wants it to remain that badly written), but she gets her first glimpse of Lambo girl in the bar.
  • When she leaves the bar, that’s when Lambo girl attacks her.
  • Lindy goes home and does a reading about the girl, but winds up getting all these dead ends and realizes that the girl is somehow shielding herself from view.
  • Zandar goes, oh well, this is obviously going to require more than just a tarot reading, might as well check on this other thing.

That’s really all it would have taken to keep the paranormal plot without shoving it aside. But it was more interesting and magical, I guess, to give us the tarot reading about the guys (which also could have been way more interesting, and if you brave the long-ass video, you’ll find out why).

My mother taught me that everyone has guides–spirit guides who are incorporeal beings and are assigned to us before we ae born. They help nudge and guide us through life.

Really? Is that what your guides do? They guide you? I appreciate you pointing that out, because I would never have gotten it if you hadn’t. PS., is it possible that your guides were trying to tell you not to focus on dudes and focus instead on the fact that you’ve got a weirdo sneak-attack witch after you, and that’s why she just popped into your head? Imagine that.

We all have guides, not just people like me (though mine are probably just more like me).

Mine are just a little more, you know, special? Because I’m just a little bit more interesting and mysterious than everyone else?

You’ve probably noticed yours before and just not known who they were.

Oh, please, Lani Sarem, educate us on who are spirit guides are, since none of us are quite as mystical and majikkkkkkkkal enough to know anything about it. I shouldn’t be so pissed off at how condescending this passage is, considering it’s the first time this has been anything like a handbook, as per the title.

Your guides are the little voices that tell you to “slow down” or “buy bread” or “take notice of the cute guy in line in front of you”-all of those are direct communication from your guides or higher self.

No. Those are direct communication from your brain and your memory and your eyes. A guide’s message is more like when, for no reason at all, you decide on a whim to take a different way to work and then the highway overpass collapses on your normal route and everyone dies. Apologies to those of you who don’t believe a bunch of new age hooey, but I’m just saying. If you’re going to include new age hooey in your book in a condescending way, maybe don’t simplify it all down to shit like, “I saw a cute guy, my spirit guides must have been telling me to look at him.”

Thi is why a lot of people think of their guides as guardian angels, cause they are in a way, guardian angels with great advice.

This is the kind of crushed-velvet pagan bullshit I loathe. “You believe this, but I believe this, so let me explain why what you believe is really my belief masquerading as something more quaint and simple and not as enlightened as what I believe.” No. Shut up. Let people believe what they want to believe. Angels, fairies, spirit guides, power animals, all that shit is different, even if it doesn’t fit into what you believe. Not everything has to be about you.

Sorry, I have lots of these types of rants in me. I’m sure you’re shocked at my strong opinions since I rarely express those.

Many people dismiss their voices–also called “intuition”–because what they hear is not always pleasant or what they want to hear. Do not mistake your ego for your intuition, however. Following your gut instinct is also a manner in which guides try to direct you.

Me, wearing tie-dye and headphones, looking awesome, but also pissed off.
“The filename Jenny eye roll.jpg is already in use”

This is some advice Lani Sarem needed to take from her heroine. Oh, but I’m sure it was definitely her spirit guides and not her ego directing her to scam her way onto the bestseller lists.

This is the part where I split off into video land. I do apologize for the length and I know some of you are going to be disappointed that I don’t go over this in text because you read these at work or whatever. Mea culpa.

HOWEVER. Allow me to include this section in which she shamelessly plagiarizes a card meaning, word for word:

The fool doesn’t mean you’re stupid or even silly, but rather it is the card of infinite possibilities. The most traditional version of this card has a young person starting out on a journey. The bag he is carrying on his staff indicates that he has all he needs so that he can do or be anything he wants, he has only to stop and unpack. He is on his way to a brand new beginning.

But the Fool carries a little “bark” of warning, as well. He’s depicted as being so busy being happy and excited that he doesn’t notice that there is a huge cliff coming up and his dog is barking at him trying to get his attention. In other words, while it’s wonderful to be entralled with all around you and excited by all life has to offer, you still need to watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool.

Though I haven’t been able to find the original source of the plagiarized material, this is a card meaning that’s reproduced on dozens of tarot websites, which leads me to believe it was probably written by Robin Wood, who is often plagiarized on tarot and new age websites.

For example, this is from Aeclectic Tarot:

At #0 (or, in some decks, #22, the last card as much as the first of the Majors) the Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. The bag on the staff indicates that he has all he needs to do or be anything he wants, he has only to stop and unpack. He is on his way to a brand new beginning.

But the card carries a little bark of warning as well. While it’s wonderful to be enthralled with all around you, excited by all life has to offer, you still need to watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool.

And then this, from 78 Nights of Tarot:

Basic Tarot Meaning: At #0 (or, in some decks, #22, the last card as much as the first of the Majors) the Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. The bag on the staff indicates that he has all he needs to do or be anything he wants, he has only to stop and unpack. He is on his way to a brand new beginning.

But the card carries a little bark of warning as well. While it’s wonderful to be enthralled with all around you, excited by all life has to offer, you still need to watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool.

And I could copy/paste more examples, but if you google, “little bark of warning tarot” you’ll be stunned. It’s something that happens a lot with new age and pagan sites. Something someone read in a book makes it onto their website as though they wrote it themselves. Just because it happens a lot, though, doesn’t mean that it’s totally cool to do it, and putting it in a published book just feels extra skeezy to me.

So, add “plagiarism” to your Jealous Haters Book Club bingo card.

Anyway, here’s “Wonderwall”:

 

There are captions on the video, but depending on how early you’re tuning into this after I’ve posted it, the hand-transcribed captions might not yet be available. I promise they’re just going through timing.

I’m going to split the chapter here because, with the video and all of that, it’s quite labor intensive. However, let me share what it looks like when you do a card reading for a character and write about it, rather than plan a card reading to fit the simplest definitions possible for your plot. This is from Penny’s version of Baby Makes Three, and as I noted in the beginning, it’s still the very first draft, so don’t go, “Oh my god, Jenny, you’re such a horrible writer. Because everyone is a horrible writer on a first draft.

I sighed and rolled over and reached for the box of Lenormand cards I’d left on the shelf beneath our coffee table. I had a minute before Ian got home, so I could do a quick three-card spread. It wasn’t that he’d forbidden me from doing readings for us, but it seemed to make him a little uncomfortable.
Ouija boards, though…those, he’d outright forbidden on account of The Exorcist. I went along with it because he seemed so genuinely spooked.
I shuffled the cards and held my breath, concentrating on the issue that consumed my mind most these days. Then I turned them over one at a time. The Ship. Not so bad. And made a ton of sense, considering the fact that we were about to take a trip. Then came The Lady, the center card. Obviously, that was me. I studied the image of the woman, dreamily looking up from her book. Then I turned over the next card.
The Snake.
The beautifully rendered serpent taunted me. I was supposed to look out for betrayal somehow, but I was the center freaking card. Was I the one betraying me? My eyes darted frantically over the cards. Was the ship about our upcoming trip? Would something bad happen there? Or did it represent the fact that we’d moved here? The Lady was occupied with her thoughts and her book…did that mean college was getting in the way of our starting a family? God, I hoped that wasn’t the case because I wasn’t sure I would be willing to give it up.
So, what was I supposed to do? Tell Ian, “Sorry, we can’t go to your nephew’s wedding because this cardboard snake might attack our hypothetical future baby?” As respectful as we tried to be of each other’s beliefs, there was no way he would accept that. And I couldn’t see a link between my fertility and college unless it was the physical stress of being exhausted all the time.

What Penny just described was a reading I did for her when I’d first set out to write the book, and I still had a little . The reason this worked so well was that I did the spread for my heroine to refine her journey. I didn’t tailor the spread to my heroine and her journey. And that’s all that tarot or Lenormand is about. Refining your journey, figuring out the parts you can’t see in the stuff you’ve already got figured out.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can incorporate cartomancy in your writing, author Sierra Godfrey has created a tarot spread based on The Hero’s Journey, and it’s available at her blog. There’s also a link that post to a longer post about tarot and writing.

Next week, we’ll take on Delia and a rumble with an unworthy fat girl at a lemonade stand.

62 Comments

  1. Sara L.
    Sara L.

    Well this was fascinating. I’ve never been into Tarot, but a friend of mine in college was, and I can see the appeal. I’m kind of interested in the whole “Do a reading for a major character” idea, because I can see where that would be an excellent way to get the creative juices flowing, and possibly lead to making more interesting choices in terms of plot or character development. Kind of like a random number generator but for ideas rather than, well, numbers.

    Oh, and “Laaaaaaaamb-ert! The sheepish lion! Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaambert!” I’m always there for Lambert. I will be singing that song all day tomorrow.

    November 17, 2017
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  2. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “Let’s Jenga some things around and see if we can’t make a more interesting sequence of events that follow to logical conclusions and don’t require Sarem to back-burner the romance at all”
    Yes, Jenny, but your way would have created some dramatic TENSION. She does the reading on Parking Lot Lady, gets nothing, decides to read on the two guys, but thoughts of Parking Lot Lady keep creeping into her mind, worrying her… Now we want to know what happens next.
    And we must never focus on what happens next, because it distracts us from Zenni Eyewear. Even her own ploit mustn’t distract us from how charming she is, as she farts rainbows and burps unicorns.

    November 18, 2017
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  3. Wright
    Wright

    Loved the video! I’ve recently gotten into tarot myself so not only was it fun to watch you take down a bad book, I also learned a lot!

    I’m wondering, what do you think of tarot readings in other books? First time I read a tarot-themed book was The Raven Boys, right around the time I bought my deck, and I’m still not sure how accurate it was. As with HBfM, it felt tailored to the characters as opposed to refining the characters.

    November 18, 2017
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  4. Excellent video! I’ve been looking forward to this analysis for a while now.

    It’s really surprising to me (yeah, I know, it shouldn’t be) how little Lani knows about tarot. Like, I thought she was going to get really nerdy about it. Considering that card-reading is such a big part of Zade’s personality, to the point that all the chapters are theme-named after them, you’d think that maybe misunderstood fortune-telling would lead to conflict, or, I don’t know, have some impact on the plot, like, at all.

    Also, I think that the Devil card may have been a remnant from an earlier draft (yeah, I know, I’m implying there were multiple drafts) and was meant to represent Zeb, who is described as “evil-looking” in chapter 5. I mean, we know that Zade/Laaaaani has a tendency to hastily assigning meaning to cards based on superficial resemblances.

    Or I might be reading too far into all of this. I’ve been known to do so.

    November 18, 2017
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Maybe the only magic she could imagine was fortune-telling and wishful thinking? I have a feeling she’s not into fantasy either, which would explain why there’s so little trace of it. I mean, apparently she likes sitcom witches but that’s the extent of it. Tarot might’ve been one of the few things that she very loosely researched for the sake of shoving it into the one chapter where it’s vaguely relevant since she copypasted that definition for the Fool. If so, that’s kind of ironic, since that means she only liked it nominally more than the subplot involving witch girl. She also had some friends that knew tarot right? Maybe that’s the other reason.

      November 18, 2017
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    • Athena
      Athena

      I have a strong feeling that the only reason Tarot is in here is a.) cool, new age magic that doesn’t step on too many conservative toes anymore, and b.) is synonymous with Zani’s self-described g-word “soul”, or c.) there’s a lot of them so they make “cool” chapter names. And there’s always d.) all of the above.

      Honestly, I’m betting the Devil and Death cards are only in the reading so Zani can do the whole, “They don’t have to mean that,” speel and sound so much more enlightened than someone who knows absolutely nothing about Tarot. A classic case of forcing situations for the main character to drop some learning just so they can appear smart. Since she was making the whole reading up more than likely, there’s no other reason to put those cards in and risk twisting conservative knickers. Once you throw the Devil into something, some people start clutching their metaphorical pearls.

      Since I know spoilers, this reading really could have been warning her about something and the character was made to ignore that to build tension. But that implies competence of the author, and since I doubt Zero ever thinks back at this reading and go, “Well shit,” we never get the humbling that would be required for this setup to work.

      November 18, 2017
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    • Jamoche
      Jamoche

      Since this started life as a movie script, the chapters are afterthoughts. She can’t do anything as boring as just number them, hence the tarot.

      November 19, 2017
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  5. Oh, also, I googled more Christopher Poindexter poetry awhile back, and it it makes me irrationally angry. It’s engineered to be shared on Tumblr/Pintrest. And I have never in my life felt the urge to describe someone as a “softboy,” but holy shit, I think that the word may have been invented specifically for him. Literally everything he writes is about some nonspecific “her” who Isn’t Like Other Girls and literally exists to improve his softboy existence. Seriously, though, it reads like a parody of itself:

    “How I truly think,

    though it may sound

    entirely crazy,

    that you are an

    architect stolen

    from heaven sent down

    with grace to build

    something wonderful

    inside me”

    I know that people are allowed to like things, and if it brings someone joy, then more power to them. But it’s just objectively awful.

    November 18, 2017
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    • This sounds like the kind of stuff I’d see on MySpace accounts back in the day but without the sparkling gifs or horrible tiny white or neon font on a black background choice.

      November 18, 2017
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      • Jo
        Jo

        ahaha so true XD

        November 18, 2017
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    • Neurite
      Neurite

      Holy shit it literally says “you exist to build me up.” That’s pretty brazen. I’m sure he thinks it’s soo romantic, too.

      November 18, 2017
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    • Mike
      Mike

      I’ve never been able to get into this kind of ‘poetry’ because I find the weird line breaks to be really off putting. It just completely breaks the flow, and makes it sound like someone is. Talking like. This. In really. Awkward. Pauses. And that’s how I read it in my head, so I am just incapable of taking it seriously. It’s the William Shatner of poetry.

      November 18, 2017
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      • Dove
        Dove

        It’s the William Shatner of poetry.

        Yeah, the arbitrary stratification has no purpose besides jarring the reader with a staccato delivery IMHO.

        November 18, 2017
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    • Amy
      Amy

      Well, do remember that Zani is pretentious af. Even more, she doesn’t understand that when you say a quote, you don’t quote the entire thing poem/line, only the part that matters. When people quote “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening” they don’t quote the entire poem, they mostly quote “Miles to go before I sleep, Miles to go before I sleep” because that’s what the poem is about, and that’s all you need.

      By quoting the entire thing, Zani is just padding her book, and I don’t think she really understand what the poem is about if she cannot pinpoint the main line.

      November 18, 2017
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  6. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “literally exists to improve his softboy existence.”.
    You have just defined the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl. Laminated wants Zabar to have the point of a view of a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl, the problem being that Manic Pixie Dreamgirls don’t HAVE points of view. They exist entirely in the consciousness of guys who project all the desired qualities onto whatever blank screen will tolerate it.

    November 18, 2017
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  7. With the Spirit Guides thing, I’ve got a mental image of one of the animal spirits from Shaman King floating over Zaldot’s shoulder and facepalming as she ignores his advice.

    November 18, 2017
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    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      Ponchi and Conchi would have fun with her.

      November 18, 2017
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  8. Michael
    Michael

    “This is the kind of crushed-velvet pagan bullshit I loathe.”
    FREAKING
    THANK YOU

    I can’t stand this kinda thing. It’s like in The Secret where Rhonda Byrne says that you can call the Power of the Universe “God” if you like it.

    Seriously speaking, this is a genuine problem when it comes to discussing religious and cultural tolerance–if we only accept people’s differences by deciding that on some level they’re not different, then we aren’t tolerant, we’re in denial. Like only accepting one’s vegan son by deciding that deep down he’s secretly eating meat every day.
    …Actually that’s a terrible simile, but you get my point. If we have to deny that people are truly different from us in order to accept them, then we’re as far from accepting or tolerant as you can get.

    November 18, 2017
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  9. There should have been a love triangle between her, Carrot Top and Wayne Newton because I would totally READ THE HELL OUT OF THAT!

    November 18, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      With a soundtrack of vapid ’90s music: All Saints, Natalie Imbruglia, and Creed. And a happy ending, where Carrot Top and Newton go off together, leaving Zuleika in the lurch,
      BTW, where did you get your avatar?

      November 18, 2017
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      • My avatar is from the poster for Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (I am a contributor to a few horror movie blogs on wordpress and thought it appropriate). 😉

        November 18, 2017
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    • “Wow, Scott,” I said, “I guess it’s true what they say: You should be careful of who you call ugly in middle school!”

      He threw his marinara-stained shirt over his shoulder. “Maybe next time I shouldn’t try to eat spaghetti with chopsticks!” I laughed at his joke, which was funny because during our date, he had tried to eat spaghetti with chopsticks and ended up getting marinara sauce all over his shirt. However you felt about Carrot Top, you couldn’t deny that he really did deserve to win “comedian of the decade.”

      In the neon light of the Las Vegas Strip (which is the section of South Las Vegas Boulevard on which many of the most famous casinos and hotels are located), every lock of his hair looked delicious as a flaming-hot cheeto. His body was flaming-hot, too. Pectoral muscles bulged from his torso, hard and conspicuous as Sofia’s boob job. In the center of each was a nipple the size and shape of a strawberry-flavored tic-tac. I wonder if they taste like one, too? I found myself wondering, and I hoped he couldn’t see me blushing.

      “Think I should audition for ‘Thunder from Down Under?'” he asked, referring to the popular show where muscular Australian men dance for an audience of straight women and gay men.

      “But you already have your show at the Luxor!” I said, picturing the pyramidal, Egyptian-themed casino/resort.

      “It wouldn’t be much of a move. The Excalibur is practically next door!” I knew he was talking about the castle-themed Casino/Resort named after King Author’s legendary sword. I bit my lip, thinking about how in Medieval times, I would have been burned at the stake.

      “Well, I’d better get going,” he said. “I have a show in 10 minutes. Why don’t you come along?”

      I took a moment to just gaze into his blue eyes, noticing for the first time just how intense they were. For just a moment, I was tempted to watch his prop-based stand-up comedy routine again, even though I’d just seen it last week.

      “I can’t,” I said. “I’m supposed to go see Wayne perform over at the Tropicana.”

      “I guess one comedy routine is as good as another,” Carrot Top said, and I laughed because he had basically just called Wayne Newton’s musical performance a joke.

      We said goodbye, and I started walking towards the Tropicana hotel and casino.

      Just then, something weird happened. The strange girl I’d met in the mall parking lot was back, staring at me. In her hands was the marinara-stained shirt Carrot Top had discarded minutes before.

      “I see you’re still distracted by matters of the mortal world,” she said, her voice full of disgust.

      “What do you want from me?” I pleaded.

      “What I’ve always wanted. What you have always wanted. To see your power realized.” Then she began laughing hysterically. “If you cannot sever your ties to these inferior beings, I’ll have to sever them for you!”

      “No!” I shouted.

      She held the shirt above her head. “YES!” she cried, as a bolt of lightening hit Carrot Top’s shirt. With this, both she and the shirt vanished, and I was left feeling lost once more.

      I didn’t know what she had done, or why she had done it. I didn’t know when she’d be back.

      I felt my cell phone buzz in my pocket. Reflexively, I checked to see who was trying to get a hold of me. I sighed in relief when I saw it was from Wayne. In all the excitement, I’d almost forgotten that his show was about to start!

      I knew I should try to figure out what the strange girl had been talking about, but I had promised Wayne I’d be there. I guessed I’d have to figure that out later. Hopefully, she wouldn’t kill everyone I loved in the interim, but what’s a girl supposed to do?

      November 18, 2017
      |Reply
      • Regret
        Regret

        Better than the original even though you explained too many jokes, or was that intentional?

        November 21, 2017
        |Reply
      • CI-B
        CI-B

        “..every lock of his hair looked delicious as a flaming-hot cheeto.”

        I DIED LAUGHING.

        Thanks for this!

        November 21, 2017
        |Reply
      • Erin C
        Erin C

        Absolutely perfect!

        November 21, 2017
        |Reply
  10. Sheila the Wonderbink
    Sheila the Wonderbink

    I’m a little hazy on what “crushed-velvet pagan” actually means. Can somebody fill me in?

    This may inspire me to pick up my wee little Ryder-Waite-Smith deck and start doing readings for myself again. I’m still an amateur (I use Tarot For Life to help me with interpretation) but I’d like to learn more with practice.

    November 18, 2017
    |Reply
    • AshleyShadowheart
      AshleyShadowheart

      Basically in Pagan/ Neo-Pagan circles there are snobbish elites that will try to tell you that everything you believe is either a) the exact same thing that they believe, just by a different name, b) Your Belief is Wrong and Mine is Right, or C) You are Quaint and Backwards and I shall Inform You!

      They’re the type of Pagans who say things like “All Gods and Goddesses are One/ A Manifestation of THE God and Goddess” (aka Hard Polytheists are WRONG), or “Christians stole EEEEEVERYTHING from US” (they may have plopped their holidays down near ours, but no, not really), and may state that the only magic you can and should perform is “White Magic.” The also tend to be heavy into the Witchy Aesthetic and if you don’t fit a certain set of parameters, you CAN’T be a Witch.

      #WavesfromtheChaosMagicClub

      November 23, 2017
      |Reply
  11. Maril
    Maril

    I don’t read tarot but I do read runes. And one thing I have noticed when I do readings for other people is that they have a nasty habit of trying to find a way to twist the meanings to mean whatever answer they were hoping for. And Zade is 100% doing exactly that. That very impulse is why it’s more difficult to do a reading for yourself than for other people, because when you do it for yourself it’s so easy to twist the meanings to how you want them. But as someone so ‘in tune’ with her ‘special guides’, and who has ‘real magick’ it’s frustrating that she would do that in this book.

    A real reader who genuinely wanted to make a ‘handbook’ within the framework of a story, probably should have talked about that very impulse and then discussed the negative possibilities too. But that wouldn’t have fed into Sarem’s fantasy, so can’t have that!

    November 18, 2017
    |Reply
  12. Amy
    Amy

    I’m so frustrated that the “villain” is treated like such an afterthought. At my work, I talk about annoying customers all the time. One time a customer got me so angry, I fumed for an entire week, and years later, I still think back on that jerk and get angry about it.

    But I didn’t get attacked, I was only disrespected. How can Zano be so cavalier about it, when she was literally thrown into a wall? She was threatened, physically harmed, and yet her attitude is, “welp, there’s nothing to do, so I won’t dwell upon it.” How can your love life be more important than, say, a psychopath who literally made an effort on your life?

    Also… Zani. Love? really? You barely know these two guys. It’s waaaaaaaaay too early to start talking about love when your biggest priorities is your job, your magick, and the girl who wants to kill you.

    November 18, 2017
    |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      Also, this whole “love” is so stupid too, like I know everyone already said it but Jackson is just such non-existance within this work. He was just a bit flirty and invited her to a concert that everyone else from work was going too, but otherwise, there is nothing there, and even Mac isn’t that bothered about this so this love life has no conflict for Zuza to ask cards about. There is none, zero, null. also she actually had spend more time with Mac and has more “scenes” and in common with him. Jackson as everyone else said, has only one thing of “having a nice smile”. THERE IS NO CONFLICT OR ANYTHING TO ASK ANY STARS OR MAGIC ABOUT.

      November 18, 2017
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Once again, I emphasize, Zazu has to rely on “magick” to tell her what to do because she doesn’t have any friends. This what girls do when they have problems with their love life, they call their friends! They talk to another woman! They don’t grab a magick 8-ball, shake it, and go, “Should I date Mac?”

        “Ask again Later…”

        which is literally how this damn scene played out.

        November 18, 2017
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          She’d be more interesting if she did use a magick 8-ball to make decisions! Kind of like Two-Face and his coin. XD

          November 18, 2017
          |Reply
          • Now I want to see a version of “No Country for Old Men” where Anton Chigurh decides people’s fate with a Magic 8-ball.

            November 18, 2017
    • Dove
      Dove

      Zani doesn’t even sound like she wants a relationship with either one in this chapter. She just wants to fool around a little, have some fun, finding out what dating is like, which is absolutely fine. She’s only being held back by the assumption that she should be in a relationship and the fact that Mac needs a gentle touch if he’s looking for more than she is. That’s what bothers me more.

      Lambo probably wasn’t even trying to kill her, since cartoon physics haven’t killed anyone in this book. It was just a super brief random shounen/shoujo fight.

      November 18, 2017
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        From this point of view, Jackson should have “won”, hands down. He obviously seems the more casual of the choices. He could have been her fun guy, her initiation into sex (cause I just know Zero’s a virgin, all the cliche earmarks are there) with no strings. Then when she was ready to emotionally commit to someone, she realized Jackson isn’t “the one” and naturally gravitates to Mac. The only problem with this is it sets up Mac as the loyal puppy dog guy who waits around for the girl to realize he’s her soulmate, which not only gives Mac very little agency but also propagates the dangerous friend zone trope. And of course, this would all hinge on Zero being able to know what she needs in her life at the moment, and that obviously is not her strong suit.

        Didn’t Lambo say she was testing Zero? Have I made that up?

        November 18, 2017
        |Reply
  13. Perlite
    Perlite

    I think Sarem is the only one less interested with the plot than we are at this point. Even the main “maahhhgikaall” focus plays second fiddle to the love triangle. But the love triangle itself is barely fleshed out and is already running on fumes. Most of the word count is just her hemming and hawing about what she should do about every little thing. At this point I’ve completely forgotten why she was in Vegas to begin with (Best friend’s wedding? Gondola ride? Got left for dead in the Mojave Desert and now is really pissed about a lost package? What?)

    “You still need to watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool.” I guess I know a certain author who didn’t take her reading too seriously.

    November 18, 2017
    |Reply
    • Some two headed yao gui would really spice up the book.

      November 19, 2017
      |Reply
  14. Wait, why is Zardu Hesselfrau talking to her mother about that card? Did she call her to do the reading with her?
    Also, I loved that video!

    November 18, 2017
    |Reply
    • Basically, the scene is Zade doing her card reading, and then, as she turns over the Tower, the novel shifts into the weird third-person italics that Laaaaani uses whenever she wants to have a scene without Zade. It was obviously a remnant from the novel’s days as a screenplay, where such a transition would have worked marginally better.

      November 18, 2017
      |Reply
  15. Tania
    Tania
    • Oh, god. I don’t know why all of this surprises me, but she’s so shameless!

      November 18, 2017
      |Reply
  16. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    As someone who reads tarot, I would say this could indicate that Jackson will kill Lala.

    The Magician+The Devil+Love=the love is a lie. I guess this is obvious in the context of a heroine whose powers make men love her. Jackson’s pile indicates that he seems to be perfect, but the other cards say Jackson is an evil man wearing a mask. We see the marriage card, then wheel of fortune, then 8 of swords. If she marries Jackson, his true colors will start to come out. 8 of Swords imagery mirrors the Devil card (chains and bondage) so it seems she will feel trapped and helpless in a shitty abusive marriage. Lala will end up murdered.

    That other guy doesn’t look great, either.

    But then this is just my own personal interpretation.

    November 18, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Nah, that’s too interesting. Lani doesn’t have the ability, the talent, the creativity, or the balls to do that.

      If she does do that, five dollars says Mac saves Zabaoni at the last second, and nobody suffers any lasting effects from it.

      November 18, 2017
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        Not to give spoilers, but not only are there no lasting effects from the climax of the book, but Zani went to great pains to cut any and all tension out of it. We are straight up told by Zero that the events we are reading have already happened and we’re getting them after the fact. She is actually recounting people’s memories of the events.

        November 19, 2017
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          If zooa already reveals everything is going to be fine, then why bother reading? At least Stephenie– sorry, Stephanie Meyer had the balls to break Bella’s leg during the climax and kept it broken throughout.

          November 19, 2017
          |Reply
          • Athena
            Athena

            That’s my problem with some first person past tense narrators. The story has to be exciting because part of the tension is gone since already feels like we’re being told the story after the fact, which means we know the narrator survived. Lambert cuts the tension even more by having Zero dictate people’s memories to us of the time she’s supposed to be unconscious and at death’s door. This might have worked if it were a movie, but as a book, no. Funnily enough, the book gets marginally better without Zero in it.

            November 19, 2017
  17. Cris
    Cris

    _Your guides are the little voices that tell you to “slow down” or *”buy bread”*_

    Nah Zalami, that’s your stomach telling you to eat a sandwich.

    November 18, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Lani likes to take things that are not special and try to make it special and “magickal”. I find this especially annoying because it implies my intuition isn’t based off of years of experience, personal trauma or training… it’s because of maaaaaaagick…

      No, magick didn’t tell me to slow down, it was my mother who taught me how to drive, whose voice is in my head.
      No, magick isn’t telling me to buy bread, it’s as Cris said, my stomach who wants food and doesn’t want me to starve. There’s nothing mystical– sorry, mystikal about it. It’s just life. Are there guides out there also telling me to wipe my butt after pooping? Are there guides out there telling me to soak the dishes before washing them? No, because that’s called common sense and it’s nothing special.

      Stop padding the book with your pretentious bull, Lani!

      November 18, 2017
      |Reply
      • Cris
        Cris

        Honestly, I swear any random toddler has more interest and understanding of maagickk than Zani.

        November 19, 2017
        |Reply
  18. Ell
    Ell

    This reading is…so weird and so ridiculous. Thanks for the video, Jenny, I really love seeing more experienced readers at work! I know my own interpretation of the Devil card also includes like, temptation and seduction/ coercion so I’d really just interpret this reading as “don’t choose either, this is choice is a false promise, you are making terrible decisions”. I also actually flinched at the last three cards, that’s absolutely and definitely death of the querent.

    November 18, 2017
    |Reply
  19. AJ
    AJ

    The Tower, Death, and the World all right after another really is a ‘don’t start any long books’ kind of reading. Although it also is when my suspension of disbelief broke like a twig. Mac’s cards stretched it a little, but if it is a super great amazing relationship I suppose I could buy it.

    But those cards rarely in the same fricken reading, let alone just chilling together on the future/”answer” line (Or whatever that line is supposed to mean. This is why spreads are important Zani. Place is just as important as the card). Once I had Death and the Tower in the same reading, not even next to each other. And what followed was a year long nervous breakdown. Just one of those signifies some shit going down. You did /not/ need all three of them.

    Also despite what my rant probably suggests, I am not super well versed in tarot. I have been doing it for a while, but incredibly casually. I still need to look up definitions for some of the minor arcana. But I know enough to realize how ridiculous all this is.

    What I find funny is that even though her interpretations are shallow and she obviously picked out what cards she wanted, they have a better grasp on the story than she does.

    Also Jenny, if you ever need even more to do in your free time, I would totally watch a series on you just talking about tarot. That was a super fun video.

    November 19, 2017
    |Reply
    • Maril
      Maril

      “Also Jenny, if you ever need even more to do in your free time, I would totally watch a series on you just talking about tarot. That was a super fun video.”

      Seconded. I would watch the hell out of that.

      November 19, 2017
      |Reply
      • Cris
        Cris

        Me three. It was really interesting.

        November 19, 2017
        |Reply
        • Sunniegreen
          Sunniegreen

          Four.

          Plus a series about wicca or witchery or whatever. I dabble but I’ve never found a resource I really like, and well thought out but not obnoxious people are hard to find in that arena.

          November 20, 2017
          |Reply
      • Janine
        Janine

        THIRD-ED

        December 11, 2017
        |Reply
    • Crystal M
      Crystal M

      I once got the Tower and Death right next to each other. The next day, I was laid off my job. What followed was a deep depression and suicidal urges because I felt there was no hope for a better future. I went to the hospital four times in a period of six months for various things like a hurt leg and pneumonia. That was the worst six months of my life and I’m shocked that I survived.

      So yes, the Tower+Death is a huge deal.

      November 25, 2017
      |Reply
  20. mydogspa
    mydogspa

    Ah, I understood very little of the video. But let me point out the frustration you felt was probably the same that I got when the 50SOG helicopter scenes were discussed (To ELJ, Grey was a helicopter pilot. To all her readers Grey was a pilot. And maybe to you, he was a pilot. To a pilot, he was no pilot!)

    November 20, 2017
    |Reply
  21. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    Love love love the video! I’d watch you do more tarot videos. The pauses in it when the tape and hope failed made it more authentic. If you do another one, no more drinking for me while I watch it. I almost did a spit take on my iPad when you started talking about how Zade would literally die. I wish!

    November 23, 2017
    |Reply
  22. Eli Byron
    Eli Byron

    Okay but I wanna talk about this spread for a minute!

    See, I’m not seeing literal death. To me, this bizarre-ass spread becomes a lot more coherent when read in light of the fact that she’s literally living a lie right now.

    So okay yeah, her mom’s great but she felt stifled, took off on her own, maybe didn’t think things through in her excitement, so far so good. Where is she now? In a literal stage magic show, yes, but ALSO surrounding herself with deception. She’s lying to everyone around her, and she’s going to have to keep this lie up. To me, the Devil card could indicate being “trapped” by these lies, and her freedom being restricted more and more as they compound. At the same time she clearly wants to be free and open and trusting and emotional and make personal connections (Lovers) – but, I mean, while keeping a major secret, one which (it’s implied) could have disastrous consequences, not just for her but for others, if revealed. So she’s really playing with fire here. She’s built this careful cage for herself where she really has to watch what she says and does and not let anyone know too much about her, but she’s bound and determined to behave like it isn’t there.

    Then there’s the little side note about the two guys (and btw if this is all she wanted answered why not just do her two weird piles? Why the rest of it? Maybe her guides thought she needed to do a full whatever spread and she should really be paying more attention to the non-hot guy parts of it? Anyway), and it’s pretty straightforward. Jackson is fun and sexy and you’ll have a good time but it’s not really a solid life choice long-term, and Mac is your dreams-come-true white picket fence forever guy, got it. But then there’s that eight of swords, that note of discord, and why? Well…

    If you put yourself into a situation where you have to keep a dangerous secret but then go around obsessing over which boy you like instead, the obvious outcome is disaster. The Tower itself indicates that everything she’s built around her in her new life is going to come crashing down; the fact that it’s then followed by Death makes me think it isn’t going to be as simple as “welp I fucked up, gotta go home to mom again.” That’s no longer an option. Your life as you know it has ended. So I suspect the disaster somehow endangers her family or the magical world as a whole (which would also explain why the very first card referred to her mother, to keep that family connection at the forefront.)

    Ending with the World seems cautiously optimistic, though. Whatever disaster is looming, nothing is going to be the same afterwards, but the world still turns. You can rebuild, create a new life from scratch. In this context it feels satisfyingly like an older, sadder, wiser version of the Fool.

    And hey, look back at that Mac pile, wouldn’t it be great to have that guy by your side after everything comes crashing down? Yeah, but. Now we come back to that one card. You say self-imposed isolation, I see crushing guilt, but either way she is LYING to this man she’s considering starting a relationship with, and I don’t think she’s even stopped to wonder if that’s going to be a problem. I feel like that card is a pretty clear warning that YES, it IS, and if she wants that happily-ever-after with him she needs to make some hard decisions BEFORE the choice is taken away from her, otherwise he’s going to feel justifiably lied to and betrayed.

    So yeah, it feels like a major, MAJOR disaster that destroys her neat little Vegas life and also endangers or estranges her from (or both) the greater magical community is in the offing, and there’s not much she can do to prevent that at this point (other than, y’know, giving up and going home now.) But she does have the chance to mitigate it by forming a true bond with the love of her life so she’s not building her new world alone, but only if she chooses to remove the barrier she’s put between them.

    …honestly, I’d probably read a book that focused on that as the major conflict, lol.

    November 27, 2017
    |Reply
  23. Janine
    Janine

    Jenny, love you and love your blog, so I wanted to be sure to let you know a little visual/auditory issue I’m having with the video — I need cc’s for most things I watch and I’m so happy you’re one of the few bloggers who does them. But the yellow on green (green on yellow?!) is actually impossible for me to read :(. This might not be your final version so I wanted to let you know in case you’re still tweaking — I hope so cuz I’ve been reading tarot for 18 years and I would love to experience your rant <3

    December 11, 2017
    |Reply

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