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Interview with Bakara Wintner ~ Author of WTF is Tarot?:…& How Do I Do It?

I’d like to introduce you all to Bakara Wintner, the tarot expert I consulted with for The Fortune Teller.

Bakara and I first connected several years ago through my agent, Brianne Johnson, at Writers House. During that time Bakara gave me some fantastic feedback during revisions of my first novel, The Memory Painter.  When I began writing The Fortune Teller, Bakara was now living in North Carolina, running her amazing new store Everyday Magic, and doing tarot readings full-time. (And here I was writing a tarot story! What are the chances?) So when Brianne suggested Bakara read the manuscript and get her feedback, I jumped at the idea. Bakara read one of the first drafts of The Fortune Teller early on and had some wonderful insights and suggestions.

Now Bakara has a book coming out, WTF is Tarot?:… & How do I do it?, on October 10th, and in celebration of her upcoming launch I wanted to introduce you all to Bakara and have her visit with us.

Hello Bakara & Welcome!

Gwen, thank you so much for asking me! I’m so excited about your newest book. I’m a proud longtime fan of your work.

Thank you! Congratulations on your upcoming book. I thought it’d be interesting for my readers to hear about your journey with tarot and get a peek into the life of an expert. What was your first experience with tarot cards and how did it lead to you becoming a tarot reader?

I first met the cards by chance. I was working in the publishing industry in New York City and going to therapy near my office. One morning before work I was in a session and my therapist told me she bought a deck for someone as a gift and asked if I would like to see it. As soon as she put the deck in my hands, I started to cry. Long story short, six months later I had quit my job to read tarot full time. It was a feeling of familiarity and recognition like I’d never experienced before.

If you were to tell someone, who is completely new to tarot, one thing about tarot cards, what would that be?

The most important thing I want newcomers to the tarot to know is that, while the prospect of learning the cards can be daunting, we already know these images and archetypes. Getting to know the tarot is not memorizing the meanings of seventy eight cards, it is identifying these energies and how they have already manifested in our lives. While it is an esoteric object, the tarot is a mirror of the human experience, and even someone approaching it for the first time is capable of grounding and humanizing these cards.

What is your favorite deck and why?

Well, at the risk of sounding totally cheesy, I am designing a tarot deck with a friend of mine who is an illustrator that is set to publish in October. I have yet to find a modern tarot deck that strips away superfluous imagery and lays bare each cards essential meaning, so eventually I decided to just make one. So, I’d say that one is my favorite haha. But for someone looking for a deck right now, The Rider Waite is one of the oldest and most universal tarot decks. Because it has survived the test of time and is so widely used, there are ample resources availble on this deck and its images specifically.

In less than a week your book will be out in the world! Can you tell us bit about WTF is Tarot?: …& How Do I Do It?) ?

WTF is Tarot? (…and how do I do it?) is my young blood approach to some very old magic. I’ve always believed that you do not need to learn the tarot because you already know it, and that familiarizing yourself with the cards is a matter of getting to know yourself better and deeper. So my approach on the cards in this book is helping people indentify moments in their life when they have been in the presence of a card’s energy. The time when you took a huge risk and didn’t know why you were doing it but only knew must – that’s The Fool. When you came to a crushing moment of clarity and asked “Wait, am I really still doing this shit again?” you were in the presence of the Wheel of Fortune. When you let go of a relationship with someone you loved but knew you needed to leave, you were leaning into Death. When you had an overwhelming feeling that you were exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you should be doing, you were embodying the energy of Judgement. When you’re messing with a guy who keeps jerking you around, you’re hanging out with the Son of Wands.

Are there any other tarot books or websites or resources you recommend for people interested in learning more about tarot?

My two favorite resources on the tarot are Rachel Pollack’s Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Way of the Tarot. Jodorowsky’s book focuses specifically on the Marseille Tarot, which is one of the oldest decks and a lot of the interpretation is specific to the imagery of those cards. However, I have found it to be universally useful. He has a section for each Major Arcana card that illustrates what each card would say if they could speak that is especially genius.

My novel, The Fortune Teller, delves into tarot and its history with some detail, but it also celebrates all forms of divination as tools to tap into inner-wisdom. Do you also use other tools as well or is tarot your main focus?

While tarot is my main focus, I incorporate several healing modalities into my practice to offer my clients a holistic experience when tarot alone is not enough. Crystals, aromatherapy, inner child rescue, body work, and sound healing are a few tools I use to supplement a reading. The tarot digs up an incredible amount of information, more than the cognitigive mind can grasp in a single sitting. If a client is feeling overwhelmed, or something comes up in a reading that needs immediate attention, I’ve found it useful to be trained in additional ways to help them.

I love the name of your store, Everyday Magic. I think it taps into that sense so many of us have to try and bring more magic into our lives. What gave you the idea for the store and what has been the most surprising thing you’ve found connecting daily with people who are looking to have that extra bit of magic in their lives?

When I was teaching tarot in Brooklyn, I hammered in the idea of Everyday Magic to my students. I don’t believe that magic is a rarefied phenomena, nor does it serve us to look at is as such. When I was coming up with the name for the store, it was actually one of my students who told me to name it Everyday Magic. I had been visiting North Carolina for years and knew I wanted to move there, and one time I was at dinner down here with some friends and saw an empty storefront across from me and decided in that moment that’s what I would do when I moved down here. It was nothing I’d ever considered before, but I knew the moment the thought came into my head that it was right. I’d been encouaging my clients to gather energetically meaningful, intentonal objects in order to make their homes a sacred space. Creating a shop where I could put all those objects in one space and offer it to my new community was an exciting prospect. The most surprising, and amazing part of operating Everyday Magic is seeing the most unexpected people come in and create deep connections to the wares we sell. We’ve had more people than I can count come in and buy their first-ever crystal, and then we see them again and again. Seeing how children intitively connect with the tarot decks and crystals in the shop has also been profound.








Is there anything else you’d like to share before signing off?

To everyone who feels nervous, or afraid, or daunted by the prospect of magic, please don’t be. It belongs to all of us, and the tarot is just one way of accessing this energy and integrating it into your life. It will change everything, it will open your eyes and your heart which can sometimes be difficult, but receiving my tarot deck is the single best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Bakara, thank you so much! I hope to visit you in Durham some day. For anyone wanting to connect with Bakara, you can find her on Instagram at @bakaraw

Here the website to her gorgeous store Everyday Magic.

And here is the link to preorder WTF is Tarot?: … And How Do I Do It? 






The Kaleidoscope Express September Signup! A Giveaway Drawing for Subscribers

This month I’ll be randomly drawing a name from my list of newsletter subscribers and sending the winner a dreamstone and several tarot card prints I painted, which were all inspired by my latest book The Fortune Teller.

Signup for The Kaleidoscope Express here or on the right banner of my website and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win. I send out my newsletter every few months with updates about my books and writing journey.

These drawings are my way of saying thank you. Here is a picture below of the dreamstone and cards. And above is a photo I took of one of my kaleidoscopes, something that I collect, hence my newsletter name. The winner will get an email from me in October. Good luck!

The Fortune Teller Launch Party

Yesterday was the launch of The Fortune Teller & I’m thrilled to have the book out into the world. Thank you for all the good wishes online and for everyone who came to the party & to Book Soup for hosting. It was a wonderful day. Here are a few pictures to share the evening.

Love the Wonder Woman poster looking down on the store!

I was tickled to pull into the lot and find this sign. A first.

Here is Jennifer from Book Soup – many thanks to her and the Book Soup team for being such wonderful hosts.

We put these balloons by the front door. Love that smiling Sun!

A view through the window on the street and then inside while I’m reading the first few pages of the book.

The book cookies were a hit & they did look like cards.

Here I am signing a book and wearing a bright yellow Tarot t-shirt with The Fool on the front. I couldn’t resist that t-shirt. In Tarot, The Fool marks the beginning of a journey and yesterday was definitely a beginning.

And here is Vanina, the wonderful tarot reader from The Green Man store in Hollywood who came to give everyone a reading. I had the chance to sit with her at the end of the night and she read my cards. If you’re in LA go see Vanina at The Green Man!

Cheers & many thanks! I hope you enjoy The Fortune Teller.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books: The Fortune Teller ARC Giveaway!

Saturday 4/22 I’ll be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books doing a signing for The Memory Painter and a giveaway of advance reader copies for The Fortune Teller

I’ll be at the RWA Los Angeles Chapter Booth #937 from 12-2pm and then the SoCal Mystery Writers of America Booth from 4-5pm. Stop by and say hi and grab an advance reader copy. 

If you aren’t in the LA area but would still like a peek at an early copy of The Fortune Teller, there are a few Goodreads Giveaways that will be happening between now and June 6. Picador is holding one this week for 10 advance reader copies. The giveaway ends 4/15. Click here to enter.

Behind the book: Writing Tools – Using Pinterest

Inspiration Boards for The Memory Painter and The Fortune Teller

I wanted to share my experiences using Pinterest, because I love it so much. There are a million ways to use Pinterest. I use it as a visual inspiration board as well as for research while I’m writing a novel. I started doing it with The Memory Painter several years ago to find images that inspired me and it became a valuable writing tool.

When I began working on The Fortune Teller, I used Pinterest even more because I started a board right away at the beginning stages of creating the story. I would plug in search words like “tarot,” “divination,” and “ancient oracles,” for example and get a ton of images to sort through. Anything that struck me in a powerful way I would save to the board. I also found some great websites and resources on ancient maps and libraries, as well as historical pictures for some of the lifetimes I was writing, particularly with the Romani. The wonderful thing too is when you’re all done you can look back at your board and see your writing journey. It’s like a personal visual scrapbook you can share.

Here’s my journey on Pinterest while writing The Fortune Teller.

One other neat feature that I accidentally stumbled on is you can create secret boards! So I’ve got one for the next book I’m writing that already has 104 pins. Now whenever I start researching a story I’ll create a Pinterest board right away. It’s like my official greenlight to get going. I look forward to sharing that board too in the future.

So if you’re a writer and you’ve stumbled on this post and are looking for some added inspiration I do recommend trying Pinterest out.

Hello 2017! And so the journey begins…

January 1 – The First Day in the new year, and so the journey begins.

In June my next novel, The Fortune Teller, is coming and before then I’m going to try and paint my own tarot deck in watercolor as a fun project. Sharing the first card here, The Fool, which marks the beginning of a journey in tarot. The Fool sets out without a path, with no expectations and an open heart.

Wishing you all full hearts in 2017 every step of the way. 

My next novel! The Fortune Teller ~ Coming in 2017

I’m thrilled to be announcing the publication of my next novel, The Fortune Teller. The book will be coming out with Picador USA next year in June.

Here is the announcement in Publishers Marketplace:

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Like The Memory Painter, the story is a romantic thriller that travels through history. A brief description:

While on assignment in Switzerland, an ancient manuscripts appraiser discovers a mysterious memoir written by a seer in the time of Cleopatra. As she begins to translate the story, she finds herself embroiled in a race to find the world’s first tarot deck.

To see more about the story, you can look at my Pinterest board I have created. I use Pinterest while I’m writing to find images that inspire me.

I’m so excited for this next book and look forward to sharing news as it comes!