2018 ~ The Year of the Dog!

Greetings & Happy New Year! My first blog post of 2018…

This year got off to an exciting start with The Fortune Teller hitting the USA Today Bestseller list at the beginning of the month. Thank you to all my readers for making this happen. It was thrilling news.

I’ve been in hermit mode these past few months, busy working on my next story. I also have my hands full with our new puppy named Jolly. She’s an adorable sweetheart who came home with us right after the new year.

2018 is the Year of the Dog and now I’ve got a dog, so it’s a real dog year for me. Here I am trying to sneak a selfie with her.

I look forward to sharing more book news soon. Cheers to ’18!


Fall Book Events for The Fortune Teller

Greetings all! I have a few remaining author events on the calendar this year for my latest novel, The Fortune Teller. If you’re in the neighborhood please come & join me. Here are the date & times with event links below.

October 19 – El Segundo Library w/books provided by Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, Reading & signing of The Fortune Teller 7-8pm

October 21 –  Soroptimists of Capistrano Bay Authors Brunch, El Niguel Country Club in Laguna Niguel, joined by authors Michelle Gable & Abbi Waxman.

October 26 – Pages Bookstore, Reading & discussion of The Fortune Teller, 7pm

November 24-26 – Loscon 44, 2 Panels – details to come


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? 






Goodreads Giveaway of THE MEMORY PAINTER ~ Signed Hardcover

This month The Memory Painter is having a Goodreads Giveaway, ending 9/25.

Enter for a chance to win a signed hardcover of Gwendolyn’s debut novel, a reincarnation thriller spanning 6 continents and 10,000 years back to the Great Pyramid.
“The guy-meets-girl story as you’ve never heard it before…” Refinery 29

Click here to enter, good luck!

The Memory Painter, a reincarnation thriller

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!

My Upcoming Talk with Wine, Women and Words & Book Giveaway!

The podcast Wine, Women and Words has selected The Fortune Teller as their book of the month for August! I’ll be joining hosts Diana Tierney & Michele Leivas with a glass of wine in hand on August 31st at 8pm PST to talk about the book.

In the meantime they are hosting a giveaway throughout the month. Enter for a chance to win a signed copy of The Fortune Teller and The Memory Painter!

International Tarot Day Blog Hop ~ Six of Cups








Hello! Welcome everyone stopping by my website for the first time for the International Tarot Day Blog Hop.

The card I was given for this hop is the Six of Cups, which I thought was the perfect card to draw. The Six of Cups represents childhood, memories of past, nostalgia and innocence.

I first discovered Tarot at a young age, and while writing my latest novel, The Fortune Teller, which is a thriller revolving around the world’s first Tarot cards, I had a lot of wonderful moments of recollection.

One of the best parts of having the book out in the world has been connecting with the Tarot community. So when I heard a group of Tarot enthusiasts was celebrating International Tarot Day on 7/8 in honor of the 78 cards, of course I wanted to join in the fun. I painted Six of Cups in watercolor as a whimsical swirl of memories.

Six of Cups, Tarot card in watercolor by Gwendolyn Womack, author of The Fortune Teller

If you’d like to take a look at some of my other Tarot paintings please visit my Tarot art page. And to read an excerpt of The Fortune Teller click here for the opening chapter.

Thanks for stopping by! Please visit Jennifer’s blog at for the next card, the Seven of Cups. 


July LA Book Events for The Fortune Teller

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and are interested in catching a discussion about The Fortune Teller I’ll be in three places the weekend of 7/14-7/16. (A complete bookish weekend!) This will be the last of my events during the summer. Please come & join me if you’re in the area:

Friday July 14 – Book discussion & Tarot Salon at Mystical Joy in Redondo Beach, 7pm.

Saturday July 15 – Book signing 1-4pm (drop by any time) at Indigo Alliance in Pasadena

Sunday July 16 – Ladies, Lunch & Literacy Smart Summer Reads Author Event, 3-5pm – This is a 6-author event held at a house in Manhattan Beach. It’s going to be fun! (Tickets required)

Also many thanks to my readers for putting The Fortune Teller on the LA Times Bestseller list last week, which was a wonderful surprise. Thank you!

Tarot in Culture ~ An Interview with Emily E. Auger

Today in celebration of Canada Day I’m thrilled to welcome Emily E. Auger to my website. Emily is a Tarot scholar from Canada and the editor of the 2-volume book Tarot in Culture, the most ambitious compilation on the subject since Stuart Kaplan’s Encyclopedia of Tarot. Tarot in Culture is a collection of papers by Tarot experts delving into every aspect of the subject, not only about the history of Tarot but about Tarot in art. Volume One centers around history and Volume Two focuses on the literary and artistic aspects.

My novel, The Fortune Teller, is a fantastical take on Tarot and the story is purely fiction. But I thought my readers might be interested to hear more about the nonfiction side of Tarot from an academic and scholar’s perspective. Fortunately for us, Emily agreed to share with us her thoughts.

Welcome Emily!

Tarot in Culture is just an incredible wealth of information. I’m curious what first got you interested in researching Tarot cards? And what was the inspiration to embark on such a massive endeavor as Tarot in Culture?

I don’t remember when I first became aware of Tarot, but my interest was piqued when I received two decks from different people as unexpected gifts, one about ten years after the other. Other people have given me decks since then, but those were the first. I didn’t really consider Tarot as a viable thesis or dissertation topic, but after I started teaching I became intrigued by re-envisioned Tarot as an art form. Subsequently, my research and writing about Tarot evolved fairly closely with my studies of popular genres and I presented many of my ideas in papers at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association conference and others. I started the Tarot/Divination area at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association conference around the same time that Tarot and Other Meditation Decks was published. Many, though not all, of the contributors to Tarot in Culture first presented their work at the PCA/ACA conference, so I tend to consider the contributors themselves as the inspiration for the anthology.

Looking at your books before Tarot in Culture, I see that previously you researched Inuit Art and also studied shamanism. You mention in the CV on your website that your first study in Tarot for your book Tarot and Other Meditation Decks originally stemmed from your interest in shamanism. I found that connection fascinating. Could you elaborate on that a bit more?

Prior to Euroamerican-contact, the Inuit in the Canadian Arctic carved these extraordinary ivory miniatures of animals, birds, and people that may have served shamanistic purposes. Tarot is a relatively modern portable art form that many people now use in modernized shamanistic or spiritual practices, in spite of its frequent identification as a “collectable.” I wouldn’t call Tarot readers shamans, but in their professional form, both may offer future-telling performances that, ideally, are in the best interests of community members.

Mary K. Greer’s Tarot timeline in the back of Volume 1 is just incredible to read through and track all the books and materials that have come out through the years.  My jaw dropped when she mentioned at the end she has a collection of 1,200 decks and 900 books. Do you remember what books and/or decks first made an impact for you?

 My favorite deck and the deck that has had the greatest impact on me is the Rider-Waite Tarot, starting with a 1961 Merrimack edition. After Tarot and Other Meditation Decks was published, a close friend gave me a Rider-Waite-style World’s Tiniest Tarot Card Set. A few years ago, I started working on a revised edition of a long paper by Nancy-Lou Patterson, a former professor at the University of Waterloo, about Charles Williams’s novel The Greater Trumps (1932). Her family gave me part of her Tarot collection, including a miniature Albano-Waite Tarot, as well as the standard U.S. Games version. I keep the U.S. Games deck in a gold bag Mary Greer gave me when she participated in the Tarot area of the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association conference.

My Tarot library was quite small up until about 1980 or so. After that I started reading and sometimes buying books on the subject. I don’t really remember any particular order of discovery or acquisition, but there are quite a few authors on my Tarot bookshelves: Mary Greer, Rachel Pollack, Paul Huson, Robert Place, Richard Kaczinsky, Marcus Katz, and more. Stuart Kaplan’s four volume Encyclopedia of Tarot (1978–2005), which includes an extraordinary number of illustrations and many fabulous essays about the history of Tarot, has been an invaluable resource over the years, and I couldn’t have done without A Wicked Pack of Cards: Origins of the Occult Tarot (1996) by Michael Dummett, Ronald Decker, and Thierry Depaulis and A History of the Occult Tarot, 1870–1970 (2002) by Dummett and Decker.

What was the most interesting thing, perhaps even an eye-opener, that you learned about Tarot while working on Tarot in Culture?

There was something in every Tarot in Culture contribution that was new to me in some way, so it’s hard to single out one author or paper in that regard. However, I enjoyed much of the work associated with the card illustrations: collecting, organizing, and arranging. It was a bit like creating dual and multiple projection slide arrangements for an art history class. Art history classes are very demanding for both instructors and students in that they require active engagement by looking at and analyzing complex images, listening to the lecture or discussion about them, contributing to that discussion, and also writing notes. (Many instructors in different academic disciplines have added PowerPoint to their course delivery methods over the past two decades, but the content of those presentations is invariably illustrative or technical in nature.) Preparing Tarot images for the Tarot and Other Meditation Decks manuscript and again for Tarot in Culture enhanced the Tarot-based thinking-with-the-eyes experience that, like a few art history classes I’ve been in and a few that I’ve taught, certainly qualifies as “eye-opening.”

As well as writing books and publishing in journals, you also chair talks for Tarot & Other Methods of Divination at the Popular Culture  / American Culture Association conference, which sounds so interesting! Can you give us a snapshot of some of the discussions that happen there and specific topics you explore?

The topics of the presentations and the discussions vary a lot from year to year as there are usually both returning and new presenters. Generally, however, participants talk about their work and that of others, about locations of interest in the city where the conference is held, and their experience of the conference in general. Sometimes the participants are also diviners and, when the sessions are over, they do readings for each other—cards, palms, or whatever. Sometimes we have a film screening session. One year, a presenter volunteered to offer free card readings in the registration area for a couple of hours—a lot of people lined up to take advantage of her services. For the last several years, I have run a free lottery for donated divination-related books. A couple of years ago, I added a roundtable called “the Divination Review” to the area sessions. Anyone presenting a paper can be formally added to the list of contributors, but session attendees are also welcome to participate. Each person talks for a few minutes about a relevant book, deck, app, exhibitions, etc., preferably one that is fairly recent. It seems to be a useful and popular forum for pooling information about resources and materials of common interest.

One of the most memorable moments in the Tarot/Divination area of the PCA/ACA conference didn’t happen during the sessions. It took place the year that quite a few people came to find out more about submitting to the Tarot in Culture anthology. The papers were great, the discussions were insightful and interesting, and at one point many of the area participants were sitting together in the hotel lobby just talking and talking and talking. One of the hotel employees, came over to express his delight in seeing us all doing just that—talking. We looked around and suddenly realized that everyone else in the lobby was engaged with their electronic devices. That occasion sums up the best of the area.

Can you share your thoughts on where Tarot in culture might be headed in the future? Do you feel there is a new wave of interest happening in Tarot? And how do you think the internet is playing a part?

There has definitely has been a growth of interest in Tarot since about 1970, possibly related to the release of the U.S. Games edition of the Rider-Waite Tarot around that time. In my study of Tarot in film (Cartomancy and Tarot in Film 1940–2010, 2016), I found that the representations of Tarot have changed over the decades since then. There is a distinct trend away from the carnival-style cartomancer toward a more normalized character and from “spooky” to almost mundane card readings. Instead of outrageous costumes, heavy make-up, and darkened rooms, the cards are often laid by people wearing unremarkable clothing—seriously or for “fun”—for their friends or relatives and the card meanings are discussed in a conversational manner. It’s hard to co-relate that shift exactly with real-life practice, but I think it is generally indicative of changing attitudes. This normalization isn’t good or bad in itself, but Tarot and other divination systems do pose a certain danger to those who are too ready to forfeit responsibility for their own decisions to the lay of a few cards.

The internet, including Google and other search tools, Facebook, personal websites, business websites, etc., certainly makes information about Tarot and new decks, as well as cartomancers, more accessible. Unfortunately, the internet also opens up a certain potential for fraud and misleading advertising.

As an art form that contemporary artists working in a wide variety of mediums are engaged with, Tarot has a lot of potential to become even more familiar and its images even more recognizable than they are already. Tarot has also found its way into different university classroom contexts, primarily for creative writing exercises, although I believe a few short-lived courses on Tarot itself have been offered over the years at a variety of post-secondary institutions. Such projects are exciting but I think the real future of Tarot is in the realm of popular culture; that is, as a fortune-telling tool or oracle (every culture has them), and as an approach to meditation on time (past, present, and future) and matters of ultimate concern (love, health, and wealth).

In the artistic realm of Tarot, one of the wonderful things about Tarot cards is there are so many different stylistic and symbolic variations for basically the same set of 78 cards. What is your favorite deck from an esthetic standpoint? Also if you had to choose a single Tarot card to frame as a work of art, what card from which deck would it be?

My favorite deck is, of course, the Rider-Waite, but I also like The Book of Thoth Etteilla Tarot, the 1JJ Swiss Tarot, the William Blake Tarot of the Imagination, and quite a few others. I don’t really have a favorite card exactly, but there are cards that I am fascinated by, often because of the resonance created by their treatment in a film or book or in a new deck. I have an ongoing fascination with the treatment of the Strength card in different historical decks and the treatment of the Hanged Man in film. The Book of Thoth Moon card is forever linked in my mind with The Wolfman (2010) and the Magician card from the same deck creates a very gothic doppelganger effect. I like most Sun and Moon cards, especially those in Robert Place’s Facsimile Renaissance Woodcut Tarocchi. Whenever I see the Rider-Waite 10 of Swords I think of the readings in T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (1922) (thanks to Catherine Waitinas’s paper in Tarot in Culture) and in the films Lord of Illusions (1995) and A Walk on the Moon (1999). I also like the World card in older decks and the version described in Samuel Delany’s Nova (1968) (thanks to Brian Johnson’s discussion in Tarot in Culture). To me, the Tower card is Stephen King’s Dark Tower—I like both the Rider-Waite version and the Estensi Tarot version of that particular card.

As for framing a card as a work of art. … one card image enlarged and framed could easily dominate the atmosphere of a room, so I’d probably choose a card from a highly-stylized deck like Courtney Davis and Helena Paterson’s Celtic Tarot (1990), maybe Strength, or something that evokes a classic narrative, such as the King of Cups / The Fisher King from Anna-Marie Ferguson’s Legend The Arthurian Tarot (1995).

If I were going to go all out on a Tarot wall, I’d create four frames of Star, Moon, Sun, and World cards, enlarged slightly or perhaps not at all: one with the Facsimile Renaissance Woodcut Tarocchi, one with the Visconti-Sforza, one with a classic Marseilles, and one with the Rider-Waite. Other decks come to mind here, but I don’t know if I’d want to have them hanging up in my home.

And in closing, what are you working on now and do you have any plans for more studies of Tarot?

Over the past few years I’ve been working with Janet Brennan Croft (ed. Mythlore) on a multi-volume anthology of papers by Nancy-Lou Patterson on Inklings and Inklings-related authors. We released Ransoming the Waste Land: Papers on C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy, Chronicles of Narnia and Other Works, Volume I and II early in 2016 and Detecting Wimsey: Papers on Dorothy L. Sayers’s Detective Fiction a few months ago. The next volume, Divining Tarot: Papers on Charles Williams’s The Greater Trumps and Other Works, should be available later this year.

I have the call out for submissions to the “Tarot & Other Methods of Divination” area at next year’s PCA/ACA conference posted.  There is also a call out for papers for a divination-theme issue of Mythlore; if there is enough good material, I’ll be the guest-editor.

As for my own writing, I’m currently finishing one short paper and developing another, both about Tarot in specific literary works.

Thank you so much for the interview! For readers who are interested in learning more about Emily Auger and her work, please visit her website at and find links for all her books.

Biography. Emily E. Auger (PhD) is the author of several books, including Cartomancy and Tarot in Film 1940–2010 (Intellect 2016) and the companion A Filmography of Cartomancy and Tarot in Film 1940–2010 (Valleyhome Books 2016), Tech-Noir Film A Theory of the Development of Popular Genres (Intellect 2011), The Way of Inuit Art: Aesthetics and History In and Beyond the Arctic (McFarland 2005), and Tarot and Other Meditation Decks (McFarland 2004). She has published numerous papers in journals such as Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Mythlore, and others. Her “Arthurian Legend in Tarot” may be found in the multi-author anthology King Arthur in Popular Culture (McFarland 2002). She is also the editor of the two-volume multi-author anthology Tarot in Culture (2014) and co-editor with Janet Brennan Croft of a multi-volume anthology of papers by Nancy-Lou Patterson on Inklings and Inklings-related authors and their fiction, which includes a volume on Charles Williams, particularly his Tarot novel The Greater Trumps (forthcoming). She is the area chair for Tarot & Other Methods of Divination at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association conference.