The Cauldron is Moved!

The spirit of the Writing Cauldron has been thoroughly transferred. What you will find here is the remains of its previous life, a vessel in which has served its purpose and completed its mission. The vessel will remain, but henceforth, please continue towards Fables Den for more storytelling and crafting goodies…

I swear I have waaaaaaaaaaaay too many blogs. I had eight or twelve at one point, each of them a different creative outlet, a different slice or angle of me as a writer. Over the years some joined hands. Some moved in together. Some ceased to exist with a puff out of sheer embarrassment (I think it was when I kept a tumblr blog that was essentially a collection of pictures of hot guys…..khem khem!! Let’s move on lest those memories return!!!)

But yeah, thank you so much for your interest, guys!! Even though I’ve always been so half-assed and half-serious when I say I will regularly update. I still really appreciate your presence. It makes me feel like I was reaching somebody, and I was being found/discovered–seen.

Here are the two regular blogs that I will be updating. Fables Den, and my poetry blog, Somewhere Nowhere in My Kingdom.

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Hello Writing Cauldron Followers

Hey there! I hope 2017 has been treating you well thus far.

I have an announcement to make. First of all, though, I would like to thank you for visiting. I’m afraid I haven’t done much in delivering regular content. My promises to create more is sandwiched by long periods of hiatuses. Unfortunately I didn’t devote as much heart as I wanted to to The Writing Cauldron.

Writing is an important part of me, and I think for the last couple of years, I’ve been dancing with its shades, experimenting with its colours, looking for my place on the vast spectrum. It’s intersected with many other of my creative outlets, and though it seemed that those outlets were each positioned apart but adjacent to each other–they are slowly converging and finding their way home into each other’s embrace.

Getting to the point. I am merging The Writing Cauldron with Fables Den!

Fables Den started out as strictly a tarot blog, with occasional insights about spirituality and inner knowing. If you’ve been hanging for the duration of this blog’s existence, you probably have caught glimpses of my tarot passions through reposts and other internet portals. Tarot cards can be used to gain psychospiritual insight, and it can also be used to unlock creative potential as well as develop a story.

Perhaps you are slightly skeptical about a deck of tarot cards. All kinds of questionable associations seem to arise when you read that word. But hey, I understand. It’s a bit awkward if you are reading this and you think tarot readers are turbaned scammers that announce you’ve got a family curse, and intends to charge a fee to remove it! Sadly, there are people out there that abuse tarot for unethical gains and emotional manipulation. Let me tell you though, tarot is anything but.

What is tarot? A Quick Introduction

It’s okay if you’re not into the cosmic, spiritual or even the “psychic” aspect of tarot. If you are a writer and you’re into literature, I am pretty sure you will be into the literature of tarot. Archetypes. Symbolism. Jung. Hero’s journey. Mythic structure. I think you can relate to those words, right? Tarot encompasses all of those aspects of literature. A deck of 78 cards is meant to symbolically and figuratively represent the spectrum of human experience. And you’re telling me that you have never once used it for storytelling.

Tarot tells stories. About ourselves. About people. And the last time that I checked, stories are about people (characters).

Stories–that’s really why I am merging kingdoms. I just can’t seem to comprehend why I have a separate blog for writing. Fables Den and The Writing Cauldron are meant to be together, like long-lost siblings, or twins. I believe in the motif of a story. The creative and technical aspects of crafting a story. The psychospiritual aspect of understanding the intricate connects of stories that are woven into our lives, by us (the writer and hero of our stories) and by others (co-authors and other main characters of our stories). I also just really like literature, metaphors, symbolism, imagination, creativity…all that jazz. So of course! It doesn’t make sense to have two blogs that are more or less the same thing.

In a way, consciously, I am still not sure how everything fits together. But I know everything is connected by Story, and I know that everything belongs in Fables Den.

So yeah, I am moving The Writing Cauldron to Fables Den in the ensuing weeks. It will definitely take time to move all the content over, as I need to figure out how to do the backup/input and output thingy again. I’ve moved blogs and merged blogs before, but it was a long time ago.

Meanwhile, it will be great if you check out Fables Den and what I already have there!

For writing specifically, check out the Tarot Writing tab. It will soon be called The Writing Cauldron. It’ll be a Writing Cauldron brewing creativity and imagination in the Den of Fables.

Basically, I’ll be pumping out pretty out the same old same old stuff. Observations or analysis on a good story opening (generally stories I like in the genre I like). You’ll also be getting a lot of goodies on how to use tarot to aid your creative process. I am also starting to post many things on increasing productivity and how to organize your life with fun metahpors.

Alright, I think that’s it. I’ve announced my intentions, attempted to convince you of the wonders and practical uses of tarot cards, and shared with you a piece of myself that I hope you’ll resonate with.

Thank you so much for your interest and follow! It means the world to me.

xo

Kim

Opening Paragraphs: Case Study #7: The Martian by Andy Weir

I’m pretty much fucked.

That’s my considered opinion.

Fucked.

Six days into what should be the greatest month of my life, and its’ turned into a nightmare.

I don’t even know who’ll read this. I guess someone will find it eventually. Maybe a hundred years from now.

For the record…I didn’t die on Sol 6. Certainly the rest of the crew thought I did, and I can’t blame them. Maybe there’ll be a day of national mourning for me, and my Wikipedia page will say, “Mark Watney is the only human being to have died on Mars.

And it’ll be right, probably. ‘Cause I’ll surely die here. Just not on Sol 6 when everyone thinks I did.

Let’s see…where do I begin?

Observations

Right off the bat, I know that the main character is named Mark Watney and he is placed in a detrimental situation in which he has to try to survive alone on Mars. Ooooo, conflict–who doesn’t love a man vs. nature survival narrative? In which the protagonist attempts to outsmart and outmaneuver the harsh Martian environment? The voice is conversational, fast-paced and action-packed since the story is presented through Watney’s log entries. It’s a cool personal verbalized diary +a hilarious first-person narrative.

Analysis

So Mark Watney has a great sense of humour, especially when he is trapped in intense situations that threaten his life. His sense of humour not only reflects his optimism but also his resilience. It’s a positive trait that allows him to have a coping system that drives him forward in a lighthearted manner during the most heavy-hearted times, and also makes him more human. What this does is that it gets the readers to root for him–and I think it also allows him to be more vulnerable and relatable during difficult emotional moments. It instills an incredible hope within us readers–and not to mention it renders him extremely likable. (I know some writers are not fond of the dropping of F bombs, but for me, I think the occasional swear words make a character more approachable. And sometimes it’s just a fun punch-line that can spice up the narrative.)

Hook

From the first page onward we (readers) are on his side, and we have a clear goal together: survive Mars and go home to Earth. It’s a simple, powerful story hook because it is the most basic human instinct that connects us together: to live. And being stranded on Mars is the most extreme case of alienation there is–wanting to see Watney rescued–wanting to feel what he feels when he turns–I think in a way this really tugs at our heartstrings because no matter how thick and complicated our own stories are, we, deep down inside, harbour a profound compassion for other human beings and we want more than anything to connect–to witness homecoming story of incredible human resilience and connection in which Watney gets to live and go back to Earth.

Needless to say, SOLD!

Opening Paragraphs: Case Study #6: City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

The Save Venice fund-raiser began as these things do, with Bellinis, with tiny toast points topped with squid pate, and with swaying musicians playing the greatest hits of Italian opera beneath a fresco by Tiepolo. Sequined women and tuxedo-clad men stepped out of teak vaporetti onto the private dock at Ca’ Rezzonico, where, it was hoped, strong drink and the thought of beautiful palazzi sinking into the sands below would lift wallets as easily as a child pickpocket in the Piazza San Marco.

The organizers were salivating, greeting a German fashion designer, an American hedge fund owner, and a dour British playwright. Models had been hired to improve the beauty quotient, since billionaires are not especially attractive up close.

Observations

There’s a prologue. Okay, calm down, Kim. It’s only 3 pages. (Don’t you just hate prologues that span the length of an entire chapter!?) Alright. Epic win…or epic fail!? First of all, there is a lot of Italian words that I don’t understand. This opening seems very depersonalized, as in like there is no focus on a character–not even people in general. It’s more about the fundraiser event and its visual particulars, and it’s mostly atmospheric. It kind of feels like the function itself is a mechanism, peopled by important social, political and artistic figures titles, where they gather so they can be enchanted into donating money. Yes, it feels very mechanical (not in a dull, lifeless way), and there is enough intrigue for me to keep going.

Analysis

The foreign Italian words immediately made me think of Venice–or the many stereotypical images of Italy: bridges, gondolas, European/historical buildings, sparkles of city lights. I think the words add to the overall atmospherics and picture. The depersonalized descriptions of human characters (such as Sequined women and tuxedo-clad men) put an emphasis on their class or status–or the appearance of these individuals and what they are here for. There is an air of superficiality: I’m getting the feeling that all the people that attend this function are simply there to show their face or to perform a role. You don’t know who these people are. It doesn’t matter because the organizers just want them to donate. It’s a friendly, extravagant facade in which people gathered to smile at each other.

Hook

I’m a highly character-oriented reader so usually a depersonalized opening will throw me off, but there is a sense of fluidity and mystery in the opening passage, as one image seems to flow into the next and the pacing is very smooth. We are just scratching the surface, and I feel like there is more to be unveiled. There is a secret buried under this lush and high class party. Later on in the prologue, a few people jump out of the window, seemingly having committed suicide. The depersonalized and detached tone remains: the distant voice teases you with a feather and promises you more mystery.

Needless to say I am sold, since I am several chapters in already. This is coming from a reader who has high resistance to prologues. Maybe I’m not as prologue-resistant as I would like to think I am.

Also, from the back cover I learned that this is potentially time-travelling narrative, I am noticing a few teasers already…who is Beethoven’s mysterious lover? Why was he yelling like a freak at one point at his patron’s family? What does Polly’s dream mean–is it prophetic? Promises, promises. They’re there for you to recognize, I think, and they’re not annoyingly overdone.

A quick update

I really wanted to dedicate more time to this blog, but most of the time I found myself gravitating to my tarot blog and poetry blog. I think I am only updating once or twice a year. For the people who subscribed to this blog, thank you for your interest–even though I haven’t been the most active. I will try to post more content. Analyzing a story is fun–I think I enjoy analyzing stories more than writing them. Well, that’s not true. I enjoy them equally, but I get a different kick.

I was just glancing at my tabs on the side of my blog. Under genre writing, all I have is “Erotica”. I swear that is not all I read, haha. I have actually never read erotic literature before (okay, that’s a lie, I read Fifty Shades of Grey just to see what the hype was all about. I even wrote an essay about it back in my university days examining the issues of gender in there–but anyhoo it didn’t count because I honestly hated the book.)

In the future, I want to mainly use this blog to explore the short stories I read + share my insights about creativity, productivity and story crafting. I think I may also be posting writing exercises. I’m an English tutor, so creating practice materials is kind of my thing, haha.

Anyways. Thank you for reading. And visiting this ghost of a blog, haha. *tumbleweed flies by*

Opening Paragraphs: Case Study #5: The Secrets of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst

I was not the first wolf to promise to be the guardian of the humans. That pledge was made many years ago in a time of great hunger, when a wolf named Indru met a tribe of starving humans. It was so long ago that wolves had just become wolf and humans were not yet quite human. The humans stood on two legs as they do now but had not yet lost their fur. They had not learned to control fire or build sturdy dens, and they had not learned to make throwing sticks that could kill beasts many times their own size. They were not nearly as good at surviving as were Indru and his pack.

Observations

This is the sequel to Hearst’ first book in The Wolf Chronicles: The Promise of the Wolves. Like the first book, Secrets of the Wolves begins with a prologue. The first person draws the readers in–for some reason I heard it like a voice-over at the beginning of a movie. It opens the narrative by situating the readers in the middle of it, linking the story to the ancient legends that have played a part and are still playing a part in the lives of the characters + creating a richly layered timeline in which past events are still influencing the present. It paints a picture of the beginning of wolf and mankind, contrasting what it was like during the ancient times and what is happening now. The humans are obviously more established, more evolved and much more knowledgeable than their prehistoric selves. At this juncture, what kind of relationship will they have with the wolves? Even if you haven’t read the first book, you can infer that the survival of both species depends upon how well their relationship develop as of now.

Analysis

Though not directly stated, the central conflict is already quite evident. If you keep on reading for a few chapters, you will learn that one of the major “plot goals” that the story promises to fulfill is that wolves and mankind must learn to live with each other. Therefore, this prologue is a great opening since it introduces the context for the current story so that effective plot goal can take place with great narrative pull. Like the first book, it also creates a sense of interconnectedness between the various space-time within the story world, enhancing the expressions of its theme that will gradually accumulate later on in the story (all creatures must live in balance, we are all connected, we all belong to nature and must work together, etc).

I thought about why a “voice-over film opening” is effective: “I was not the first wolf to promise to be the guardian of the humans.” I think it must be because that it is a statement that hints at the many undercurrents of the story that will take place. “I was not the first wolf.” So there were characters before you who were driven by the same desires and goals. Did they succeed? Did they fail? Are their victories or failures the reason why you have also made that pledge? Also, why did you make that promise? Why do you want to guard the humans? Why must the humans be guarded?

It’s loaded with interesting questions and before I knew it I was already in a narrative quicksand (in a good way), freefalling into the ancient wildness where humans still hunted and gathered and ran with the wolves…which brings me to my next section.

Hook

Curiosity. It’s a sequel, so the majority of the prologue is actually spent “reminding” you of what has taken place in the first book. I needed that because it’s been almost a year since I read the first novel, so that was a nice “previously on Wolf Chronicles” moment. Other than that, it is intriguing opening that called back my love for the first book–reorienting my mind so I am once again running alongside the wolves + softly washing over me with a wave of questions that melted me into the pages.

On a side note, the storytelling doesn’t have a lot of long-winded sentences. It’s action-packed and to the point–true to a wolf’s worldview since the story is told from Kaala, a young wolf from the Swift River pack.

On another side note, the story itself begins with an epic chase scene. How could I not continue!? Right after that, the stake was immediately introduced: make peace with the human within one year, or all of you wolves and humans can die. Already I am rooting for the main characters and rooting for the story. Already I want to see them succeed. I could only keep reading so I can find out what happens. How could I not keep reading!?

Once again, bravo to Dorothy Hearst. Her books never disappoint.

SNIK Poetry: A Valentine’s Special

I may think love destroys me
but it is love that sets me free.
Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom: Volume 2

Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom is back with another issue!

In Volume 2, you will find a collection of seven poems on the theme of love packed together with a visual punch. As usual, the poetry is presented with stunning photography to enhance the poetic message. It is short and sweet: browse through for a quick poetic speed-date, or take pause and enjoy a long period of contemplation.

Either way, please check it out!

Unfortunately, the magazine is not available for viewing on any cell-phone or tablet device. My current membership with Joomag is a free one, so I’m afraid I don’t have access to that particular functionality.

I hope you enjoy it and thank you so much for your support!

Live, laugh, and love deeply. ❤

Kim

P.S. Check out Vol. 1: “I dream, therefore I become.” 

Opening Paragraphs: Case Study #4: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.

Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air. His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room. Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up right against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness.

With another jolt, the room jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft.

Observations

The novel opens with the protagonist’s predicament in an unfamiliar situation. No name, no context, no explanation. There is a strong sense of disorientation and confusion, as the protagonist does not seem to have a will of his own. He is completely and utterly passive in this opening scene as he is trapped inside a metal elevator of some kind that rises with a jerk upward. As readers, we don’t know what is happening, we don’t know why he is there, and we don’t know what is going to happen next.

Analysis

There is no additional information given about the character’s identity or what on earth is happening in that scene. “He began his new life standing up” implies that the protagonist himself lacks both the knowledge of his present situation and memory of his past. The act of standing up requires some conscious physical control, and we can deduce that rather than knowledge, he probably lacks the memory to recall where he is. If his eyes are still adjusting to the darkness, we can assume that prior to his predicament, he came from a place that has some kind of light source–which is paradoxical since the elevator appears to be going up. Was he underground? Not much is clear at this point.

Hook 

This story’s hook is an example of in medias res–beginning in the middle of an action or a situation. The total lack of information creates a powerful desire to investigate–to know more about the story and find out what’s going on. This strongly propelled me to continue reading. It also made me curious about the character’s potential memory loss. I have really ambiguous feelings towards memory-losses; I think it can be a powerful story device when the trope is done well, but it can also be easily overdone and lackluster. I have yet to find out which one is true. Having that said, this story opening has successfully sparked the desire to read on. All in all it’s a pretty great hook.

(Extras: So I didn’t finish the book. Since Maze Runner is one of the most popular books in the YA genre, I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t continue because I found the narrative annoying…pretty much every single action or story event that takes place is accompanied by a description of the protagonist’s personal/emotional state. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that the protagonist is confused or scared or angry. And nothing much happens in the first 40 pages, and my interest waned considerably. Maybe the movie will be better, but I doubt it.)

REPOST: The Tarot Writing Series: Introduction [Part One]

This is a repost. The Tarot Writing Series will be an ongoing series detailing the many uses of tarot in the context of writing and storycrafting. To see the original post, click here. For more tarot-writing goodies and tarot-writing exercises, please visit and follow my tarot blog, Fables Den. 🙂

Before we begin…

This is the first part of the Tarot Writing Series: Introduction. In this post, you will find out more about the ways in which tarot can be used for storytelling and crafting. If you’re interested in gaining more understanding on the tarot and tarot system, please visit “What is Tarot? A Quick Introduction” for more information. For tarot writing exercises and further resources for study, please visit The Tarot Writing Series: Introduction [Part Two].

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Each tarot card is a story…

If you look at the individual tarot cards, you will probably see that each tarot card has its own dynamic, its own setting, and its own characters depicted. You will see that each tarot card contains a “story” to be told, and each card is like scene in a novel or a movie. For example, the sixteenth card in the Major Arcana, The Tower, represents the total destruction or shift of a paradigm. The tower on the card is struck and destroyed by lightning, while the residents of the tower flail their arms helplessly as they fall out after this traumatic event. This destruction or shift of paradigm can be one’s sense of self, one’s way of living, or one’s perception of the world. It can also be something else entirely depending on other factors, such as the question you have asked, or if you are grouping it with other tarot cards or not.

The process of this sudden and total shift represented by The Tower usually accompanies a spectrum of negative emotions, or downright trauma. An example of a “Tower” moment will be when Oedipus’ learns of his true identity. As he finds out that he has accidentally murdered his father and married his mother, his reality is deeply shaken and shattered by this shocking discovery. Another example will be when Luke Skywalker discovers that Darth Vader is actually his father. When Luke learns that the figure of darkness he has been struggling to overcome is actually the man who brought him into this universe, his identity as a Jedi is challenged by this unexpected blood tie. The Tower can also represent a moment that is more literal and physical, such as the sacking of Troy with the wooden horse. As City of Troy is literally and physically attacked and conquered by the Greek army, its inhabitants experience both fear and panic as their sense of safety, home, and way of living is thwarted by the Greeks’ military advances.

As dark and traumatic as The Tower may seem, however, the lesson of the Tower is actually about reconstruction and rejuvenation. Sometimes, old values and knowledge have to be torn down in order for us to build something new, something better. They need to be challenged, shaken, remodeled and redefined in order for us to transform and improve. This is why the seventeenth card, The Star–a card about resting, healing and being hopeful–ensues.

How can tarot be used for writing? 

Because tarot is so rich in meaning, filled with symbolic images, archetypes, and room for imagination and interpretation–it is indeed the perfect tool for writing, storycrafting, and character building. While stories and characters are fictional, the stories we create often fall within the spectrum of human experience that the tarot is able to capture. The motivation or purpose behind any tarot reading or any act of divination is to know, to gain more insight, to understand, and to search for meaning–just like the motivation or purpose behind any attempt to build a story, a character, or a world is to know, to gain more insight, to understand, and to search for meaning–in the story we are attempting to create.

Because of this, tarot is able to capture, clarify, and inspire the writing and crafting process. Each tarot card holds a story, and a tarot deck contains an abundance of stories that have yet to be told.

What are some of the things you can use tarot for when writing?

There are many uses and exercises you can do with a tarot deck, here are a few examples:

  • Performing daily-draws and using tarot as prompt
  • Brainstorming and establishing the major events that are going to occur in your novel
  • Developing and taming your plot bunnies (Nanowrimo, anyone?)
  • Adding spontaneity to your story by pulling tarot cards and introducing plot ninjas!
  • Exploring and building a character (e.g. figuring out a character’s innermost fears, a character’s strengths, flaws, and attitudes)
  • Exploring the relationships and dynamics between multiple characters
  • Exploring the relationships and dynamics between characters and setting/environment
  • Exploring cultural attitudes, and/or socio-political dynamics when world-building
  • Understanding who you are as a writer
  • Understanding your relationship with your work as a writer
  • Understanding the “bigger picture” or the purpose of your novel and what it means to you
  • Exploring the reasons for your writer’s block and “unblocking” them!

The list can literally go on forever–there are so many creative ways to utilize a tarot deck to give your writing process a boost.

To close…

In this post, we have explored the connections between tarot and storytelling, and the various ways in which tarot can be used as a helpful tool during the process of writing and story crafting. In the next post, you will receive a series of tarot writing exercises that will help you get started on your tarot writing journey. Click this link for part two: The Tarot Writing Series: Introduction [Part Two]

First issue of magazine “I dream, therefore I become” now available!! :D

I know I haven’t updated for a long time…but I’ve got a few short fiction deconstruction studies coming up. So stay tuned. But meanwhile…

The first issue of my magazine, Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom, is now available via Joomag!!

Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom

Click here for the first issue!! Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom Vol. 1: I dream, therefore I become. 

Unfortunately, due to my lack of technical expertise, I can’t figure out how to embed a magazine viewer onto this blog post…so for now, a visually unexciting link is provided…)

And if you follow my other blogs, I’m sorry for the repetitive announcement. But I am quite compelled to broadcast it across my online empire. Indulge my self-indulgence, if you don’t mind.

This first issue was not planned; it was a spontaneous occurrence, a convergence of creative energy and artistic momentum, born purely out of experimental fancy. I’ve always wanted something “of my own”, and this is it.

At the moment, it is a collection of seven poems on the theme of dreaming. I would like to dedicate this issue to all of my subscribers and followers. Thank you for sticking with me all these years. Thank you for commenting and liking my poetry. It’s one click for you but it means the whole world to me. Thank you for making me feel “seen”. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that somebody out there, somewhere, might just be reading the words I wrote.

So. Without further ado, here is the first issue of Somewhere Nowhere In My Kingdom, totally out of the blue!

And in case you missed the link, here is it once again!! 🙂

http://www.joomag.com/en/newsstand/somewhere-nowhere-in-my-kingdom-quoti-dream-therefore-i-becomequot/0818986001407734709

Love,

Kim