Out of the Broomcloset and Into the Cauldron

About a year and a half ago, I received a deck of oracle cards as a wedding gift. I had been hiding from my spirituality for years, as my most recent attempt at spiritual belonging had landed me in a Christian cult that told me my photograph of me kissing my boyfriend was pornographic. Ah my freshman year of college. Such fun. My initial reaction to this deck was horror, as I was properly programmed throughout my upbringing to react appropriately to anything considered “Satan worship”. But then I got curious, because college did good things for me after the whole cult nightmare, and my journey to witchcraft began.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset I have always loved the dark and mysterious. I grew up watching Agatha Christie mysteries with my mom, who somehow – despite her love of murder mysteries – hates anything she calls creepy. I remember finding a bat sleeping on our front porch when I was in elementary school and desperately wanting to keep it even though I knew I couldn’t and my mom couldn’t look at it without shuddering. I remember being fascinated by trick or treating, despite Halloween being “evil” and trick or treating dangerous. My favorite episodes of shows were the creepiest ones, I loved the Nancy Drews that dealt with anything supernatural, and I was curious about so many things I wasn’t supposed to think about (sex being the main one but that’s a whole different blogpost).

I am an assimilation of all of the facets of my spirituality. And I have fought tooth and nail to get myself here. Shortly before the gift of an oracle deck – and after the sexually repressed cult – I had gone through the process of becoming Catholic, and I remain Catholic, despite rarely feeling at home in a Catholic church once the priest starts talking.  I constantly search for a place to belong, somewhere that combines the grove of trees where the Wiccans do their rituals and the echoing cathedrals where the Eucharist is given and received. I want to assimilate the awe I feel in a candlelit cathedral in St. Petersburg with the sense of belonging I feel in a snowy forest, and find my spiritual home.

05A12BD9-EDAE-4207-BF1C-18A2E84858BE.JPGThis Halloween was so special to me because, even though I wanted to do a Samhain ritual and completely ran out of time, I recognized it in a way I’ve always felt but never known. I’ve always loved Halloween and this year I celebrated it as a witch and a mother who hopes her son sees it for the freedom it brings and not the fear the Church sees. I want him to grow up knowing that Halloween is the one day a year anyone can be whoever they want to be, to not be afraid of the darkness but respect it, and to have so much fun and acknowledge different ways of thinking. This Samhain was healing to me because I recognized it as Samhain. I carved my own pumpkin for the first time, I decorated my home to celebrate, and I dressed up just to go outside.

Every day doesn’t feel as liberating as Samhain did. But my little rituals, my daily tarot drawing, my counterclockwise tea stirring, my love of crystals, my slow unfolding for other witches, heal me daily of the fears that were instilled in me from such a young age. Witchcraft is a craft of women, for women (not that men are not welcome), and I have never before encountered a religion that does such a revolutionary thing. It is healing to my soul, every single day.

I am lonely a lot. But I have slowly found people who feel the same as I do, who ache for that sense of belonging and cannot seem to find it in places others can. This blog is a manifestation of the desires of a few of those people and I am so grateful for it.

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Ten Underrated #Bookstagrammers You Should Be Following

Despite all the trouble with Instagram (I know, I know, the algorithm), it is still an ever growing platform for practically anything under the stars.

Listed here (in no particular order!), specifically, are ten #bookstragrammers that we think are totally underrated. Each one, a delightfully wonderful human who just happens to also be a book lover.

scythandpen. Dark, moody, and multi-faceted. Basically a total #permamood.

librovert. An eclectic reader, who isn’t afraid to show it, with current fall vibes that got me like whoa.

@stephaniebookish

abelleinabookshop. Contemporary with a bit of class. Soft, cozy with a side of vintage. Her colors pages of A Novel Companion are the absolute best I have ever seen.

stephaniebookish. I’ll be honest with you, Stephanie’s Instastories give me life, but so does her casual feed and her bright spirit.

kmbooks24. Bright, colorful, and absolutely beautiful flat-lays. Like an eternal Spring if we’re going to be poetic about it.

@junereadsbooks

junereadsbooks. Just look at those baked goods, yeah? I love the simplicity and every day feel of her feed.

thebibliolife. A glorious (current) fall aesthetic, and an open honesty about her mental health.

abookishdragon. Low key want to just crawl into this feed.  There is something about the cool but cozy Earth tones, plus that greenery. THAT GREENERY gives me ALL the heart eyes.

There is such a variety of styles, that the best advice is YOU. DO. YOU. Seriously. Want to incorporate props props props? Go for it. Want to just talk about the book your currently reading? Perfect. Do it. Theme, no theme, filters, no filters, there is no right or wrong way to post. 

Bee’s Shelves: Spooky Edition

Fall has always felt like the perfect time to break out my classics, curl up by a fire, and read (even if the fire is slightly imaginary because I live in South Carolina, and it’s quite hot enough, thank you). Right around October, I pull all my spooky books out of closets, cabinets, and all the other away places I hid them after they terrified me last year. These are the books you hide from in the dark – until October and the witching hour. SO, if you’re looking for books to read surrounded by pumpkins, black cats, whistling winds, hot tea, and a graveyard (surprise), I hope some of these books scratch your spooky, ghostly itch. And if you’re anything like me, you’re also not ready for this spooky, bat season to be over. SO, hopefully this list will carry some of those feelings right into November, crisp apples, and rustling leaves.

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For the Classic Lover:

Dracula : This book contains the vampire OG, terrifying hundreds in Transylvania, Romania, and England before vampiric lore was even cool. This book is written uniquely in the form of letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, and psychological research, all following the adventures and horrors of the original prince of darkness. Bram Stoker’s writing style is intriguing, engaging, and nearly impossible to put down.

The Haunting of Hill House : I just finished this one myself, and it left me screaming. Shirley Jackson is a QUEEN. I believe this book can be best described as Crimson Peak meets The Yellow Wallpaper. THoHH follows the adventures of one Dr. Montague, his assistant Theodora, the house’s heir Luke, and an apparent outside, Eleanor. Dr. Montague enters Hill House hoping for psychic manifestations of the supernatural kind that he can research, record, and document. Each of his guests enter the house with secrets of their own, and it won’t be long until the house claims one of them for good. This book is beautifully written, horrifically entertaining, and carries its own weird, sudden twist. I particularly appreciated it because you never directly encounter anything ghostly or monstrous – it hides and grows in your own imagination. Five thousand stars from me, and EVERYONE should read it.

Wuthering Heights : If you’re looking for less horror, and more atmospheric spook, Wuthering Heights is for you. This book takes place out on the moors, covered in fog, rain, chilling temperatures, and drafty mansions. In short, the perfect atmosphere if you’re looking to feel chilled, but not terrified. In this book, the monsters are human and the horrors are relational. But this book is one of my favorites, and if you read it, I beg you to chat with me about it. Even if it’s just to rant about how much you hate all the characters.

Frankenstein : This list would be incomplete without Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. This horrifying tale stays with you and cautions the reader about the perils of fully realizing the height of your potential. If you’re looking for a bonus spook, read this book alongside The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This two pieces were written in response one to the other: one about how man becomes monster, the other about a monster becoming a man.

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For the Eerily Interested:

If you’re looking for books that will leave you with a shiver  but won’t follow you around stalking you for the rest of your life, I present the following for your consideration!

Coraline : This book is equal parts eerie and heart-warming. Coraline has just moved with her parents and discovers another world just like hers through the wall. Everything is the same: her mother, her father, her cat, and her home – except her Other Mother wants to sew buttons onto her eyes. Coraline’s story is about a little girl in a yellow raincoat who walks towards her fear and saves her life, and may the life of a little ghostly child. Sidekicked with her favorite black cat, which of course makes the story THAT much more wonderful.

The Child Thief : This one is a little heftier, but still worth the read. This Peter Pan retelling follows the story of Peter, a red headed fairy child who sneaks into our world and steals children that others have forgotten, bringing them back to his world so they can fight in his child army against the pirates, the grown-ups, and the horrors of the forest. Unlike the classic child’s tale, this story is full of violence, betrayal, intrigue, and multiple children who become soldiers, horror wielders, and murderers in the name of Peter, their leader. Brom’s The Child Thief is Neverland reimagined, without any of the boundaries that keep us safe at night. And, it is also BRILLIANTLY illustrated.

The Bird Box : Another one that keeps the monsters invisible and your imagination horrifying. Bird Box tells the story of an apocalyptic world invaded by creatures that no one can look at – to look at a creature means certain, gruesome, self-inflicted death. The book follows the story of a mother and her children, and has a very “The Quiet Place” vibe (if you’ve seen that movie). Thoroughly enjoyable, edge of your seat, and absolutely impossible to put down.

 

For the Ones with the Limited Attention Span:

These are for the short story lovers, who want to be intrigued but can’t be bothered to commit to long-term scares. We see you, we appreciate you, we envy you because we all bit off way more than we could chew and now we’re terrified, and these authors are for you.

Edgar Allan Poe : Infamous for his spooky short stories, this gothic horror genius is still appreciated years after his time. An author of both short stories and poetry, he is most notable for his works A Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum, and Annabel Lee.

H.P. Lovecraft : I honestly believe Lovecraft may be the one true love of my life *shrug*. Don’t worry, boyfriend knows. He’s fine with it. Lovecraft rides the line between science fiction and sublime horror. He is known both for his Necromicon (it’s not real guys, but I thought it was for much too long) and his Dream Sequence. If you would like some direction, an excellent place to start is with The Call of Cthulu, The Dunwich Horror, The Rats in the Walls, and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

Flannery O’Connor : Though not commonly considered gothic horror, Flannery captures the sublime beautifully. These stories will leave you full of “muchness”, some that reaches beyond the ability to put into words. She’s another one we need to talk about. Some good stories to start are A Good Man is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, and The River.

 

Honorable Mentions: STEPHEN KING – because some authors are just too good to put into a category. If Stephen King wrote it, there’s a good chance it’s excellent food for this spooky, supernatural, superstitious season.

 

What did I miss? What NEEDS to be here? Let me know in the comments!

Do You NaNo?

With the start of November, it’s often hard to avoid the constant updates of NaNo participants- and as someone who has always wanted to join in (even signed up on the official site once) but never actually followed through, I thought getting some insight from someone who is a seasoned NaNoWriMo participant would be beneficial- not just for myself but for anyone who needs a bit of a boost from a fellow writer.  I asked Cara if she would be willing to share her own personal tips with us and she gladly accepted. Continue reading below to see what she had to say about the 30 day, 50k writing frenzy.


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Whether you’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo or your still on the fence, fear not I’m here to help! I’ve accumulated a few tip and trick that have helped me the last 6 years I’ve done NaNo and I’m ready to share the wealth. These tips are also good for writing in general, so even if you don’t participate, I hope you can find some value.

First things first. What is NaNoWriMo? (NaNo for short)

It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Averaging out to be 1,500 words a day.

What NaNo means to me:

For me nano is all about committing yourself to a goal/project and giving yourself this hard deadline. It’s very easy to get distracted writing, but when you have a whole communicate working on the same thing, at the same time, it really helps keep up the motivation.

Also, don’t stress if you can’t get to that 50K especially if it’s your first time ever writing a novel, or writing this much in a short period of time. The most important thing is to KEEP GOING. I hope the tips below can help you get that novel completed!  

  1. Plan.
    • Take the time to think about what you want your story to be about. Maybe do a rough outline if you like. For me I’m a panters (fly by the seat of my pants/make it up as I go), I usually only have a rough idea of what I want to happen. Maybe big picture events, an ending, whatever, but that’s pretty much it.
    • If you do want to learn more about detailed outlining, I highly recommend checking out Katytastic on YouTube, she has a great layout for plot structure. But my one warning on this, don’t let it distract you from actually writing. Plotting can be a great way to procrastinate and with only 30 days your time is precious.  
  2. Work in short bursts.
    • I use an app called Focus Keeper (it’s free!) it lets you work in 25 minute burst, with a 5 minute break in between. Getting up and walking around or getting a snack is a great way to not get bored or over worked.
  3. Make a routine.
    • Now this one can be hard, but having a time a day set aside for writing can help in building a habit. Pick a time of day that you know you work best. For me it’s mornings, so I try and set a side 25 minutes at least to write.
  4. Do it even if you don’t want to.
    • That sounds kind of lame, but it’s true. I know sometimes I look at my laptop and think ‘nope it’s not happening today’ but then I make myself write for 25 minutes and if after 25 minutes I’m still not feeling it, I stop. But more often it’s the starting that’s hard and if you can get past that, you can do great.
  5. DON’T EDIT AS YOU GO.
    • I put this one in all caps because I think it’s probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard. It can be really tempting to go back and reread and fix and make everything pretty as you write your rough draft, but that can be the death of a novel. Now, sure some people do this and it works great for them, but I think in most case, especially if you are a new writer, it will keep you from progressing.
    • Just keep going, everyday keep writing and working towards the end. It might suck, actually, it will probably suck. That’s okay!! That’s what editing is for, but it’s really hard to edit a novel, when you have no novel. The editing brain can also kill the writing brain, at least for me it does, I can keep a much better flow if I don’t keep stopping to edit.
  6. Turn off grammar and spell check errors. 
    • Now this is more of a personal thing I learned. When I type fast, I have a lot of errors and it’s very tempting to go back and fix them as I write, but it takes me out of that creative headspace. So, I turn the checker off and just write. I fix all the errors when I go onto editing. This might not be for everyone, but it been a huge help to me.
  7. Leave the writing day with more to write.
    • I’ve heard Pierce Brown talk about this and it’s a great tip. What this means is, when you stop your writing for the day, stop in the middle of a scene or when you still feel like you know exactly what’s going to happen next. I usually leave myself a few notes like: KISSING, SOMEONE DIES, EVERYONE GOES TO A PARTY. Basically, quick notes to remind me what was happening next and that way I don’t spend the first 25 minutes of writing time the next day, trying to get back into the story.
  8. Don’t get stuck on a scene.
    • My rough drafts are riddled with notes to my future self, such as: MAKE THIS LESS BAD. ADD SOMETHING. It may seem lazy and it sucks for future me, but it helps in writing a first draft, especially if you are a pantser like me and haven’t plotted the whole novel. Sometimes the answer won’t come to me until later in the novel and I can add those scenes in editing.
  9. Don’t worry about the 50K.
    • The more important thing is to write. Maybe your rough draft caps at 35k, sure that’s probably not long enough for a finished novel, but you’ve got something to work with and that’s great.
  10. Find online friends who are also writing.
    • This is a great way to stay motivated. Be a cheerleader for your fellow writers and they will cheer you on right back.
  11. Take a day off if you need to.
    • I know I said to write every day, but if you really need it, take a break. Taking a break can be a great way to get the ideas flowing in your head. Sometimes a little breathing room can go a long way.
  12. The end is worth the journey.
    • When you write those last words on your brand new novel, there is nothing better. The hard work and stress finally pays off. So, write that novel for the world to see or write it for yourself just to prove that you can. Write the story that only you can tell, the one with the characters who won’t get out of your head.
  13. Let it breath.
    • This is some after advice, for when that novel is done. Let it sit for at least a week, a month is better if you can. That way when you come back to it, you’ll have a bit of distance to see more clearly.

I hope these tips help you on your NaNo journey and I hope you have a great time creating a new story. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Want to be my writing buddy? Come join me on nanowrimo.org my username is: CaraFoshizzle

If you also like pictures of pretty books, you can follow me on Instagram. Instagram.com/carafoshizzle