Kassandra Discovers the Cursed Tarot Deck

Chapter 1

People never talked about him dying. Instead they got all weepy and switched subjects. As if avoiding the topic would somehow make everything smiles and sunshine. It didn’t. When someone disappeared, it’s like unraveling a sweater. Cut one strand, and the whole thing fell apart. 

Kassandra caught a glimpse of her tangled hair in the mirror of Mom’s dresser. She looked frayed and disconnected—a lump of useless yarn who once was a girl.

Shaking her head, she scrounged through the cluttered bottles of nail polish, searching for a wadded up bill. Mom had to be good for a ten or twenty. No way was she going to borrow from Auntie Jo. Not again. Just a couple of new killer tops would make her grungy jeans work. School started tomorrow and Kassandra dreaded it. Kids never talked to the new girl. Especially the one with a lousy wardrobe.

The dresser reeked of cigarette smoke. At least if she found some money, it’d be one less dollar Mom could spend on cancer sticks. Kassandra’s fingers brushed a scrap of paper. Snatching it, her fishnet glove snagged on a bottle, sending the nail polish tumbling to the carpet with a clunk. The top popped off and red liquid oozed onto the café au lait carpet.

She scrunched her face. So not how she planned it. Kassandra eyed the crinkled paper in one hand. A lousy receipt. 

Morning light shimmered off the puddle, already soaking into the carpet. Kassandra looped a blond curl over one ear and, yanking a handful of tissues from the box, dropped to the floor. Her bare knees brushed the carpet, the holes in her jeans from actual wear and tear and not fashionable rips. She so needed a new pair. 

“Kassandra?” Auntie Jo’s voice glided down the hallway. “You coming, sugar?” 

Kassandra’s heart kicked into high gear. She was supposed to be getting ready in her own room, not rummaging through Mom’s. “Sure, in a sec.”

The sticky bottle of nail polish went in the trash. Mom wouldn’t miss it. She had enough shades to create her own color chart at Home Depot. Kassandra dabbed at the spill with a wadded up tissue and then sat back to inspect the stain. The red blob was a stop sign smeared onto the carpet. Kassandra dumped a bottle of nail polish remover on the spot, sending up a wave of bitter fumes. The splotch, now pink, still drenched the carpet. She dragged over the throw rug by the bed and tossed it across the stain. Good enough.

Kassandra dashed down a hall lined with photos of unknown relatives and flew through her door just as Auntie Jo rounded the corner. The woman wore an Egyptian shawl draped over a wide body. Her skin was a rich brown with copper undertones. A purple scarf reigned in her tightly curled afro. 

“The morning is young and thy chariot shan’t wait forever.” Auntie Jo waved one arm as if she were some kind of royalty. 

It was another one of her past life kicks. This week must be the Queen of Sheba or Cleopatra. Auntie Jo was crazed for all things supernatural.

“I need to grab something.” Kassandra pointed a thumb over her shoulder. 

“Very well, I shall adjourn to the veranda.” Auntie Jo whipped a corner of the shawl over one hefty shoulder. Not actually anyone’s aunt, she and Mom met in Kindergarten and had been friends forever.

Kassandra’s room used to be Auntie Jo’s den. Shelves lined the walls, each jammed with books on the occult and literature. This stranded the bed in the center. Cardboard boxes, reminders of her life in Seattle, acted as a nightstand and a small table. An oversized trunk served as a combination dust trap and makeshift closet.

She plucked a chipped tea kettle off a shelf and shook it. It made a hefty chuh-chink sound. Still filled with change. Stuffing a hand inside, Kassandra felt around until the corner of a bill teased her fingertips. Only a five. Not going to cut it. Since Mom had trashed Kassandra’s whole wardrobe back in Seattle, she needed a new everything.

Upending the kettle, she watched a waterfall of silver and copper pour into her beat up crocheted purse. Kassandra stopped midway and tested the bag. It felt like an iron had been dropped in there. The purse sagged in the center where all the coins collected. Welcome to bag lady chic.

Auntie Jo waited outside by the “chariot”—a ’73 blue Beetle. Kassandra tried to slip in, but her knees banged the glove box. The passenger seat was permanently ratcheted forward.  Once she managed to sit, a spring poked her butt. At least Kassandra was teeny. Auntie Jo, built Amazon tall, sported the weight of about three or four warrior maidens. She had to shoehorn herself in. 

Once inside, she eyed a picture stuck to the dash with yellow tape. Sun bleached and creased, the photo showed a young black man with a broad smile—her son Ronald. Auntie Jo kissed two fingers and touched the picture. Kassandra knew he’d died, but no one wanted to fill her in on the details. 

Auntie Jo cranked the ignition. “Oh blessed mother, let us find the gear.” Ka-Chunnng! She rammed the stick shift down and the chassis vibrated. The car bucked but finally dropped into first.

“Amen.” She backed the car down the driveway.

The Beetle traveled for a grand total of four minutes. Arroyo Grove was just a blip on the California coast. Kassandra shimmied out of the car in what passed for a downtown. A salty gust blasted a curl of hair right into her eyes. In Seattle, everything had been stillness and clouds. But Arroyo Grove sat right on the Pacific Ocean. Kassandra could hear the crash of the waves, even a mile in from the beach. 

Pulling the hair away, she trailed Auntie Jo. The trees along the sidewalk swayed, buffeted by the sea breeze. A tiny brown bird hopped from branch to branch, chirping at the wind. 

Kassandra escaped into the Psychic Mind bookstore. Smells competed for attention—scented candles, patchouli oil, cedar boxes. She browsed, biding time until they could swing by The Retro, the only place in Arroyo Grove with a decent collection of secondhand clothing.

Meandering through the book section, her fingers brushed titles like Teen Witch—nah, she wasn’t the broom type—A Handbook of Runic Magic—that was way too Germanand The Tantric Sex Guide—sadly, she had no one to get tantric with. A book of romantic poetry caught her eye. The table of contents contained mostly dribble, one step above Hallmark, but the second page listed a Keats poem. She yanked out her spiral notebook. Transcribing wasn’t stealing. Not technically. Besides, it was Keats. If he ever had a copyright, it expired a century ago.

She tossed her purse over one shoulder, but the weight of the coins swung it back. Thwack. It knocked into the bookcase, sending a display of oversized cards tumbling to the floor.

Kassandra knelt to gather up the mess of Tarot cards. She’d seen Auntie Jo use them all the time to predict the future for her clients. The whole deck lay face down, except for one card. She plucked it from the pile. The illustration showed a skeleton dancing with a scythe, one word printed on the bottom: Death. 

A coppery taste filled her mouth as if she were sucking on a penny. Hot breath tickled the hairs on the back of her neck. 

Then a voice whispered in her ear.

Kassandra.

De Chirico and his Fantastic Landscapes

I’ve spent the past few days scouring my art books in search one specific artist. I recalled seeing his fantastic landscapes that seemed so desolate, jet full of energy. In this world, Greco/Roman-styled buildings stood solitary with shadows that stretched all the way across the painting.  I wanted these to be the inspiration for the world of the Tarot. After quite a bit of time, I finally found what I was searching for: the art of Giorgio de Chirico.

Piazza d'Italia 
signed 'g. de Chirico' (lower left) 
oil on canvas 
11 7/8 x 15¾in. (30 x 40cm.) 
Painted circa 1956

Piazza d’Italia circa 1956. This painting is exactly what I picture a dreamscape to look like. On the surface it looks simple and straightforward, but then I start to wonder. What is that train doing in the background? Who are those two people talking?

Technically, de Chirico wasn’t a surrealist. He worked with some of the artists at that time, but he art was more symbolic and used dream imagery. This is what drew me to him.

La Torre Rosa 1913

La Torre Rosa 1913. This was painted during de Chirico’s stint in Paris. You can see the long shadows that characterized his work.

Giorgio de Chirico was born in Volos, a town in Greece on July 10, 1888. When his father died in 1905, the family moved to Munich. At the age of seventeen, de Chirico studied at the Academy of Fine Arts where he was introduced to the ideas of Nietzche. De Chirico also found inspiration in the European Symbolist artists like Franz Stuck and Carlos Schwabe. De Chirico loved their use of dream-like imagery. His earliest paintings used Symbolist ideas with his love of Greece and Italian antiquities. His paintings also represented his musings on the true nature of reality.

La Grande Torre 1919

La Grande Torre 1919. Again, this tower seems so simple on the surface, but the depth of the shadows draws me in. What lives inside that tower?

After settling in Florence, de Chirico traveled to Paris in 1911. There he met a number of avant-garde artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi. He also exhibited his work to the public. It was during this time (1911-15) that De Chirico created many of his most influential paintings such as “The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street” (1914). His paintings showed scenes with classical architecture where only a single lone figure or monument was present. Often long shadows hinted at other elements or figures just out of view. This creates an unsettling mood.

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street 1914

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street 1914. This is one of de Chirico’s most famous paintings. Notice the shadows of two figures just out of view. That creates an unsettling image for me as my mind desperately wonders who or what they are.

The Great War (World War I) forced de Chirico and his brother into the Italian Army in 1915. De Chirico was stationed in Ferrara, but soon had a nervous breakdown and recouped in a military hospital. In 1917, he met artist Carlo Carrà, who helped him create his style of “metaphysical painting” that emphasized the hidden significance of ordinary places and objects.

The Predictor 1919

The Predictor 1919. Landscapes weren’t the only subject de Chirico painted. He often included these mannequin creatures with oblong blank heads.

De Chirico and Carlo Carrà created a style known as Pittura Metafisica. This type of painting showed recognizable items, but displayed in an unusual manner. De Chirico created city squares with arcades and distant walls. The scenes were dominated by classical statues or his metaphysical mannequins, which were derived from tailor’s dummies. Sometimes, these figures were the only “human” presence in the painting.

Mystery

This painting of a mannequin draws me in, yet I cannot find the title or the year it was painted. I see de Chirico’s signature on the painting. I know that there were some paintings created by other artists with his signature and this might be one. However the cubist shape of this mannequin is compelling.

De Chirico developed this technique from his readings of of the German philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer and Otto Weininger. He became interested in Nietzche’s idea of the eternal return and the circularity of time. In this philosophy, true reality was always hidden behind the reality of appearances and visible only to the ‘clearsighted’ at enigmatic moments. De Chirico wanted to unmask reality and show the mystery that lay underneath.

Giorgio de Chirico (1898 - 1978. Grêce). Visite aux Bains mystérieux I, 1935

Visite aux Bains mystérieux I, 1935. This is perhaps the most surreal of de Chirico’s paintings. I wonder what happens inside that tiny building? Is it more than just a changing room?

What mystery lies beneath the surface of our reality? De Chirico sought to find it through his painting. His work encourages us to look deeper and see beyond the obvious. We are all seekers of the truth.

Tim Kane

Tarot Blog Tour Giveaway

TAROT word blog tour

When Kassandra Troy discovers an ancient tarot deck, her life takes a thrilling and frightening turn. She triggers The Magician card, and releases the mysterious and captivating Luke Rykell. He lifts Kassandra out of despair, dispelling the devastation she feels after her father’s death. But Luke has a dark secret. He wants the magical deck for himself. The only way Kassandra can save herself is to journey into the Tarot cards. But once inside, can she ever escape?

Irresistibly compelling and heart-wrenching, Tarot: The Magician is a superb fantasy tale that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

Download the ebook from Midnight Frost Books as well as AmazonBarnes and Noble and Smashwords. Not sure? Read a free sample here. Or click on the fancy schmancy button below.

Snail Sample Button

Tarot Book Trailer

I worked for over two months drawing and coloring the panels you see in this trailer. I wanted it to be as special as the book. However, I was daunted by the music. I’m no musician. However, if it were silent, or had canned music, that would undermine all the hard work I put into the animation. Bradley Coy came to my rescue. For the full story on how the theme for the book trailer was created, read A Theme Song for an ebook.

Book Reviews

Don’t trust me. Here are readers who have read and commented on the book.

“I especially enjoyed Kassandra’s journey through the cards as she tries to solve the problems she’s faced with and find her way out. And the ending gives me hope for a sequel (or a series?)” by Tara at Dividing by Zero

Giveaway Details

By helping me promote Tarot: The Magician, you some gifts. This time around, I’m giving away the Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore and Aly Fell. It looks wickedly cool. I’m quite temped to order a second for myself.

steampunk-standout

 

You’ll also get some cash to spend. I’ll email you an Amazon gift card so you can buy your own swag.

15-gift-card-amazon

Click this LINK or anywhere on the image below to take you to enter the giveaway. You can also enter via Facebook. Hurry, this event ends Friday, June 20th!

Blog Tour PROMO

Tarot Book Release Giveaway

Love. Death. Betrayal.

It’s All in the Cards.

Tarot Cover Art 72

 

When Kassandra Troy discovers an ancient tarot deck, her life takes a thrilling and frightening turn. She triggers The Magician card, and releases the mysterious and captivating Luke Rykell. He lifts Kassandra out of despair, dispelling the devastation she feels after her father’s death. But Luke has a dark secret. He wants the magical deck for himself. The only way Kassandra can save herself is to journey into the Tarot cards. But once inside, can she ever escape?

Irresistibly compelling and heart-wrenching, Tarot: The Magician is a superb fantasy tale that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

Download the ebook from Midnight Frost Books as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Not sure? Read a free sample here. Or click on the fancy schmancy button below.

Snail Sample Button

Tarot Book Trailer

I worked for over two months drawing and coloring the panels you see in this trailer. I wanted it to be as special as the book. However, I was daunted by the music. I’m no musician. However, if it were silent, or had canned music, that would undermine all the hard work I put into the animation. Bradley Coy came to my rescue. For the full story on how the theme for the book trailer was created, read A Theme Song for an ebook.

Giveaway Details

Here’s the deal. You help me promote Tarot: The Magician and you get the goodies (at least one of you will). You will win the fabulously creepy Zombie Tarot and a very adorable stuffed snail. Why a snail you ask? Although it seems random, the snail plays a big part in the book. Watch the Tarot book trailer to see how.

zombie tarot

Click anywhere on the image below to take you to enter the giveaway. Hurry, the event ends Saturday, June 7th!

tarot giveaway2

Tarot: The Magician Book Release

This is it. My first fiction novel is here! I have been waiting for this moment since I was seventeen and first stepped into Susan Vreeland’s writing class. By the way, that’s like geologic history right there. Perhaps a millennia ago in the strata of Tim Kane.

Tarot Magician

A taste of the Tarot: Book Trailer

It’s available to download from Amazon and Midnight Frost Books. It will arrive at OmniLit and other venues very quickly and Barnes and Noble via Smashwords a few weeks later.

Book Blurb

When Kassandra Troy discovers an ancient tarot deck, her life takes a thrilling and frightening turn. She triggers The Magician card, and releases the mysterious and captivating Luke Rykell. He lifts Kassandra out of despair, dispelling the devastation she feels after her father’s death. But Luke has a dark secret. He wants the magical deck for himself. The only way Kassandra can save herself is to journey into the Tarot cards. But once inside, can she ever escape?

Irresistibly compelling and heart-wrenching, Tarot: The Magician is a superb fantasy tale that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

 Book Release Giveaway

The Tarot Book Release giveaway starts Saturday, May 31st. I will be giving away a deck of the Zombie Tarot cards along with an adorable stuffed snail (in honor of Monstro the Snail that appears in the book). I will also premiere the Tarot book trailer, complete with original score by Bradley Coy.

zombie tarot

Looking forward an exciting week.

Tim Kane