Posted in fantasy, Holidays, horror, movies, photography, Tarot, Vampires, writing

Prague in Winter

Ok, I’m still screwing around, not writing, but I had to share this. My Prague obsession is fully in place and getting a boost from this. Karen Mahoney of Baba Studio and Magic Realist Press in Prague, creators of the Bohemian Gothic Tarot, Victorian Romantic Tarot, Bohemian Cats Tarot, etc.,  posted this on their Facebook page, and I just had to share it with you guys. Karen thinks the videographer paid more attention to the Christmas market in Old Town than a native would have, but what do I care? I’m not a native, I’ll look at anything Prague-related.  Is it too early for Christmas-y stuff? Tough noogies. The final view out the window at the river is kind of what I envision Andrej, the MC in my vampire novel, seeing when he looks out his apartment window.

Posted in Tarot, writing

From Russia (and Czech Republic, and Finland) with love

I feel like I’ve pulled off something of a coup here. I managed to snag a much sought after deck of Tarot cards, published by Baba Studios (Magic Realist Press) in Prague: The Victorian Romantic – Russian!

The deck was so loved in English that it was being pirated in other countries, with bootleg editions being printed and sold by certain Russian dealers. To stem this tide, Magic Realist Press licensed an authorized version to be published in Russia, with all card titles and the accompanying little white book (LWB) in Russian as well. They were actually printed in Finland, and took a very circuitous route to Prague, through Russia (back and forth a couple of times… it got to be comical after awhile as Karen posted updates on its whereabouts). Most copies of the deck went to Russian authorized resellers, but MRP got approximately 250 copies to sell themselves, knowing we, their rabid fans, could not live without one. Karen Mahoney initially released them in a few small, timed batches on their Web site back in December, and again in January, and try as I might I was never quick enough to actually score one.

Enter Twitter.

I happened to be online a couple of weeks ago and refreshing my Twitter stream one morning at work when a tweet from Baba Studios went out announcing 20 more decks up for sale on their site. I didn’t think, didn’t hesitate, didn’t breathe, just popped over and logged in to my account there and just like in a fairytale, managed to buy one! I actually did it, I actually managed to get one in my cart and hit the “pay now” in some kind of record time. Seriously, in FOUR MINUTES they were all gone. For the people who got the announcement in the newsletter Karen sends out, it was already too late. There are copies now going for upwards of $300 on EBay, not including the three Karen is auctioning off to raise money for a new camera for her partner Alex to use in their business. So go Karen! Better you guys get the money for the decks (last I checked one of the auctions was at $152 with several days yet to go). Many of us had despaired of ever getting our hands on one of these decks. The resellers descend like vultures, scooping them up by the handfuls for face value then posting them on EBay almost instantly for something like a 500% mark-up. The retail price is €26, or $35US. So you can imagine how frantic some of us were to get our hands on one of these beauties at the retail price, rather than wait and have to mortgage our homes or sell our children for one later.


So, on to the cards. Oh sigh, so pretty. Since the titles are in Cyrillic, I had to go to Baba’s Web site to look up some of the cards. Some I was able divine (heh) by the illustrations, some I know from having seen the English versions, but a few were a mystery to me. One I did know, and one of the main reasons I wanted this Russian version, is this extra Emperor card. Karen was asked by the Russian publisher to create a more ‘traditional’ Emperor, as they felt the original Emperor in the VR deck would not resonate with the Russian audience. (in case there’s any question, the Emperor is the one on the right below, on the left is the Knight of Swords)

Emperor and K of Swords The borders aren’t actually pink, in case your monitor make it look like they are (which mine does, although they seemed to scan in ok, maybe it’s this program). I did try to adjust the color of the images a tad, the Emperor’s robe is a really rich red on the actual card.

Luckily, all the cards can be seen at the Victorian Romantic Web site, with the titles in English. I managed to figure out most of them, but a couple were surprises. It does follow the Waite-Smith conventions for the most part, although not slavishly. Karen’s humor and ingenuity have some interesting and lovely surprises.

VR Russian Knight of Pentacles Here’s the Knight of Pentacles. None of the suits are simple variants of Waite’s deck, they don’t simply depict the number emblems on the pip cards.

The Nine of Pentacles VR Russian Nine of Pentacles gives us the lady in her garden, but nary an actual pentacle in sight.

The Six of Swords shows us the boat on the water, but that’s as close as you get to the standard imagery.

VR Russian Six of Swords

My only regret with this deck is not being able to read the LWB, or have a book that explains what the source artwork is, unlike Kat Black’s Touchstone Tarot that lists all the artwork used in the deck. Karen did mention that maybe, just maybe, they will reprint the deck in English, as early as next year, but that’s NOT definite. There does seem to be still a great demand for this deck so I am still hopeful of a copy in English (although I think I’ve already got them all figured out after looking at the Web site to fill in the ones I couldn’t make out on my own). It was voted 2006 Deck of the Year on the Aeclectic Tarot site, but for whatever reason there were still a lot of us who missed out on it, and so many new people discovering it just now that I think they could easily do another healthy print run. I know I’ll be in line for a deck/book kit if they get around to it. (hint-hint, Karen!)

I will say the cardstock is much thinner than I had anticipated. It’s not the thick sturdy stock used in the Bohemian Gothic, so I am a little afraid of damaging the cards. Gentle shuffling seems to be called for here. They would certainly look lovely framed, if I decide not to use it to read with, but I have to be touching my decks all the time. The lamination seems good, but they bend so easily I would recommend extra care when using them.

So stand by if it gets reprinted in English, these babies will go like hotcakes!

Posted in Tarot, Vampires, writing

Bohemian Gothic in the House!

It’s here! My beloved Bohemian Gothic, second edition, all pewtery-gilt-edged and everything!

My son happened to be home working on installing a new water pump in his car, but was in the backyard, when the mail came yesterday. However, old eagle-ears heard someone in the driveway making noise, clanking tools and such which he had left strewn all over while in the process of his mechanic work. So he did the first thing that came to mind – grabbed a machete and headed for the front of the house, expecting to find someone helping themselves to his tools. Imagine our poor letter-carrier’s surprise to see a crazed, machete-weilding lad come flying up from the back of the house. She was afraid a vicious attack dog was on its way, but my son assured her there is no dog, only him.  What can I say? It’s a tough neighborhood. Luckily the misunderstanding didn’t last long, and the goods were signed for in due course and I was able to arrive home to enjoy my new decks (I got two, ‘cause, yanno, just in case…) rather than have to get him a lawyer for manslaughter. :::sigh:::

So I bored him nearly to tears oohing and aaaahhhing over the cards, making him listen as I carefully explained the importance of the occasion, and how he was now observing the only legacy I was likely to leave him when I croak. He was dutifully appreciative, admiring the beauty of the cards and the momentousness of the moment. His other option would have been to ignore me and risk being cut out of the will (should I ever get around to actually making out a will).

My precioussssss… Naturally I had to take it for a spin after spending the first hour of its life in its new home being petted and ogled. I decided a nice three-card draw was good for a ‘get-acquainted’ session, and here are the lovely, lovey cards I drew:


Queen of Cups Knight of Cups  Six of Cups

Can’t you feel the love? Queen of Cups, the embodiment of love and emotion, water of water, all wrapped up in loving and being loved. My deck and I really love eachother.

Knight of Cups – fire of water. Ahh, more love. Lots of charisma and charm, passion. He’ll make things happen, but on a bad day will leave and let someone else do the heavy lifting.

Six of Cups – childlike bliss. Oh boy is that me right now. You should have been me walking around in my driveway, pestering my son while he was trying to finish the water pump: “Here, look at this one! Look at this, see isn’t this cool? Wait, look at this one!”

All the cards are online at Bohemian Gothic. I think the gilt-edged ones may be sold out, but the standard edition is available. The new style of box they’re in is perfection, with a hinged lid and solid enough to stand up to being hauled around creation with me.

Was there ever such a lovely day?

I won’t be abandoning my luscious vampire decks, indeed they have a new cousin as many of the characters in this new BoGo deck are now more overtly vampiric themselves.

This is also my first post using Windows Live Writer, so I’m eager to see it live and check out how well it worked. Inserting pictures is eminently simpler in this program. How come nobody ever told me about this before? If you haven’t heard of it either, e-mail me and I’ll try to fill you in, or you can go to Windows Live Writer Overview to check it out.

Posted in Tarot

BoGo Rev. 2

Oh my GAWD, the new Bohemian Gothic Tarot, second edition is now open for pre-orders, and I have duly put in my order!

If you order through Baba Store, you will receive this special silver/pewter gilded-edged deck as their thank you for ordering directly from them. It sounded like they printed a fair number of them, Karen didn’t seem concerned that they would run out of them before anyone who wants one has a chance to get one. They are limiting orders to four copies per order right now.

SQUEEEEEEEE!!!! They don’t ship until August, but this time I’m not missing it. I love this deck, it’s so beautiful. And I love how the images go right to the edge, no huge borders. The image fills the card, except for the small border with the card title at the bottom. All the cards can be viewed at the Bohemian Gothic Web site, but as of this writing the pre-order button is still not turned on. Follow the first link above to go directly to the Baba Store to order if you’re interested. I had to get two, I’m terrified that something dreadful will happen to one of them. There will also be limited edition bags for the cards later, which you can add to the pre-order later with no extra shipping charges. From what I can gather, those will be an extra charge, they are not included with the cards, but will have a ‘limited edition’ tag. If you’ve seen Karen and Alex’s work, you know how beautiful they will be.

There’s also one ‘extra’ card, which you can see at the Web site. I think I’ll frame them, have one at home and bring one to work. :::sigh::: Anticipation…