Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Dark Side of the Priestess with Alayna Williams & Rogue Oracle Giveaway

The Dark Side of the Priestess
by Alayna Williams

I use Tarot cards a good deal in my writing, to give me ideas about creating characters and develop plot points. Sometimes, I pick cards on purpose that catch my eye, but more often, I deal them out at random. I let my imagination roam over the pictures to generate situations and connections.

One of the cards I used frequently in writing the ORACLE books is the Priestess. The Priestess sits on a throne, surrounded my the moon and shrouded in white robes. The black and white pillars to her right and left hands represent good (mercy) and evil (severity). She's about goddesses, mystery, intuition, and the subtle power of the moon.

In my stories, the Priestess represents a secret order of women, Delphi's Daughters. They are the descendents of the Oracle of Delphi. The title of Pythia, the leader of the oracles, is handed down through generations of women, all oracles with their own unique talent for foreseeing the future. Delphi’s Daughters are a secret organization, nudging world events and gathering information through vast networks of helpers. Their behavior is sometimes sinister, sometimes pure, but always secretive. No one but the Pythia herself knows how the puzzle of world events fits together, and her priestesses are often left in the dark, guessing at her motives.

Tara Sheridan, estranged from Delphi's Daughters, uses Tarot cards to solve crimes. Her relationship with the Pythia is contentious. She often feels the Pythia's hand in her cases, interfering, moving people around like chess pieces. Whenever Tara draws the Priestess card, I wanted her to see both the light and shadow sides of the card.

Interpreted in the upright position, the Priestess is the card of secret, supernatural power. She represents all the psychic talents Delphi's Daughters: cartomancy, astrology, pyromancy, geomancy...she is mistress of all the hidden arts. Used for light, as represented by the white pillar, they can be a force for immense good in the world. The Priestess can reveal secrets by the moon's light and teach magic to the initiated.

But the Priestess can also be a force for evil, twisted by her own power and shadows. Reversed, the Priestess represents keeping secrets and abusing power. She can lean too close to the black pillar of severity, becoming ruthless. She can forget the compassion of her intuitive teachings, amassing power for its own sake.

Tara questions these things about Delphi's Daughters. She sees that they are a force for good, sheltering the weak and seeming to work toward mankind greater good. But she also sees their shadow side...the ruthlessness, the ends justifying the means. She knows the brutal tests that Oracles must endure, has seen the Pythia kill in a cold, calculating fashion.

Not only will Tara need to fight to solve her current case - a spy killer who's selling nuclear secrets on the international black market - but she will also need to look over her shoulder. The Priestess can be her greatest ally or most devious enemy, putting Tara and those she loves in harm's way, seeking to sacrifice them all in the service of a larger goal.

Alayna Williams has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses. Like the Pythia in Dark Oracle, she's been known to belly dance. Unlike the Pythia she'd never consider herself a professional

Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.
More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here:

Laura/ Alayna’s blogs and

She’s a proud member of Word Whores.

She’s at Facebook, and Fangs, Fur, and Fey.

And Twitter...@Laura_Bickle

Sparky the fire salamander from EMBERS and SPARKS has his own Twitter account, @SparkySalamandr

Want to win a copy of Rogue Oracle?

Leave a comment on this post with your email address

Contest Open Internationally

+2 Entries for Joining Alyana/Laura at Facebook

+2 Entries for Following Alayna on Twitter

+2 entries for being a GFC Follower of Bewitching Book Tours

+2 entries for Liking Bewitching Book Tours on Facebook

Winner TBA Next Wednesday

Visit Alayna at her virtual book tour stops- check the schedule here:


Mary said...

I've had a tarot deck for years but never got good at reading the crads. I find it fascinating when others can though. The book sounds like a fun read and I would love to win it.

Ina said...

thanks so much for the post today - I don't know a lot about Tarot cards and it was really interesting to read about it :)
wish you all the best, Ina

inale87 at gmx dot at

SandyG265 said...

I used to have a deck but never really did anything with them.

sgiden at

Bethany C. said...

This is such a stunning cover, and very different from the last one, but all I can think of when I see it is 'I wish my hair looked like that all the time...and I was that skinny.'

sent Laura a friend request on fb from bethany cardone +2
follow laura on twitter bcardoo79 +2


Alayna Williams said...

@Mary...OMG. Your avatar! I'm a huuuge Forever Knight fan. Geraint Wyn Davies is performing at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival...I saw him a couple of years ago, and he was fantastic!

Ina, thanks so much for your good wishes! :-)

Sandy, I know a lot of people who have decks that gather dust. One of my friends found her old deck when she moved and started playing with it again. It works for some, but I enjoy using it most for story prompts.

Bethany...I had the EXACT same reaction! I have no idea what it would take to get my hair to grow that long, but I'm determined to try. Though...I think there's no way I'll ever be that skinny, so I've given up! :-D

Anonymous said...

Would love to win
2 + alyana/laura on facebook (added)
2+ liked bewitching book tours on facebook.
michelle grayce

Robin K said...

I find the Tarot information fascinating but have never used them.

+2 Joining Alyana/Laura at Facebook
+2 Following Alayna on Twitter
+2 GFC Follower of Bewitching Book
+2 Liking Bewitching Bookon Facebook

robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

Raonaid Luckwell said...

I use to have the regular White Tarot cards. Friend took me to Waldensbooks because my mother would have freaked had she known I bought it. Sadly I had loaned it to that same friend and never got it back.

I never bought my second deck until after I married, and that was the dragon tarot. I had been waiting to find it since well I conspire with dragons. LOL. I still have them. Every year on New years eve I pull a card to see what it predicts for the new year, but I'm a novice in the cards.

I also have Pheonix Cards. Those are quite neat but mainly works only on past lives.

Already follow Laura on Facebook +2
Follow her on Twitter (and Sparky) +2

Raonaid (at) gmail (dot) com

KAK said...

The up or down of the Major Arcana players can really take a girl's investigations on a whole different track ... especially if the cards have gone radioactive.

~waves glowing green Chernobyl deck~

Anne said...

Why do you write under two different names? I've only read Sparks and Embers, so I can't really compare the two series (have Dark Oracle on my TBR list), but they both seem to be UF. Most of the other authors using pen names seem to try to be writing in different genres.

+2 Like B.B.T. on Facebook

Karen said...

This is cool! I hope to read it soon~

+2 Following Fangstatic Books via GFC


Alayna Williams said...

Thanks for the follow, Michelle! Thanks for stopping by.

Hi, Robin K! The cards are a lot of fun, but they take a long time to learn.

Raonaid, hello! You and I probably got our first decks from the same Waldenbooks in P-burg! ;-)

How do you like the Phoenix cards? I've been eyeing those for awhile, and have put them on my wish list.

KAK! Good to see you. :-) And watch that glowing can fry eggs with those things.

Hi, Anne! Thanks so much for picking up EMBERS and SPARKS!

Good question on the pseudonyms. The answer is...EMBERS came out last April, and DARK ORACLE came out in June. My publisher thought it would be less confusing for readers to have me to use a pseudonym, so that folks weren't expecting Sparky to make an appearance in DARK ORACLE. was the publisher's decision. But it's a lot of fun having a secret identity.

Thanks, Karen! I hope you enjoy it. :-)

Sheena Gossett said...

Looks like a fantastic read. So cool you get your inspiration from different things than most writers.

Danielle Monsch said...

It's funny, the first time I ever saw Alayna she was sitting on a throne just like on the card, bading those who approach to kneel before her, lest they arouse her wrath.

After that it was good times had by all.

booklover0226 said...

This sounds great; I look forward in reading Rogue Oracle.

+2 Entries for Joining Alyana/Laura at Facebook (Tracey D)

+2 Entries for Following Alayna on Twitter (@bl0226)

+2 entries for being a GFC Follower of Bewitching Book Tours (booklover0226)

+2 entries for Liking Bewitching Book Tours on Facebook (Tracey D)

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Estella said...

Looking forward to reading your books!

Jessica said...

I've become very interested in tarot lately. I don't know much about them, but I like the idea that they represent. I find it to be very interesting! I even bought my own Tarot deck. Was hard to find a classic one at first because there were sooo many different varieties.

Can't wait to read Rogue Oracle either! Having trouble finding it at my bookstores now, seems a lot of Tuesday releases aren't in yet. Odd.


Alayna Williams said...

Hi, Sheena! I love digging up new things to write about. Inspiration is where you find it. Lately, that's been in Tarot cards. When my cat's not sitting on them, that is! ;-)

Danielle...lmao. Was that when we were drinking at the bar at the convention? :-D

Tracey D, thanks so much! I just followed you, looking forward to getting to know you. :-)

Thanks so much for stopping by, Estella!

Alayna Williams said...

Hi, Jessica!

Thanks so much for checking out ROGUE ORACLE! :-) I know that Amazon and have it now...but I've had the flu this week and haven't trotted down to the bookstore yet to pet the books in person. ;-)

The Tarot is a lot of fun as a story building tool. I'm a visual person, and it really helps me to flesh out the plot and characters. Plus, the Major Aracana have that whole built-in Hero's Journey in sequence.

I learned on the Hanson-Roberts deck. It has the symbolism of Rider-Waite, but has a fairytale quality about it. I usually suggest that one to folks who want to try it out.

Giada M said...

Thank you for the interesting post! I'm looking forward to read Rogue Oracle. Thank you for this chance! :D

Giada M.

fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com

Alayna Williams said...

Hi, Giada! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy it. :-)

Moirae(thefates) book reviews said...

Awesome giveaway, the book sounds interesting.


Jolene Allcock and Family said...

Thanks for the post and I feel more educated. I've never tried to read them or have them read, but have been fascinated with them in movies and books. This book sounds like a great read, thanks for the chance to win

+2 added Laura on facebook(requested)
+2 following on twitter(@jolenallcock)
+2 GFC follower of Bewitching Book Tours
+2 like Bewitching Book on Facebook


Barbara E. said...

I really enjoyed Embers and Sparks but I haven't had a chance to read the Oracle books yet. I don't know much about Tarot cards, except what I've heard hear and there in books. It sounds interesting, and an interesting idea to use them in writing.


Alayna Williams said...

Thanks, Moirae! I hope you like it. :-)

Hi, Jolene, and thanks for the adds on Twitter and FB!

The cards really aren't as mysterious as they look. I think their chief utility lies in what the pictures suggest to each person, and the unique interpretations that each person has...sort of like dream analysis. A cat in my dream may have some symbolic meaning, but it will mean slightly different things in your dreams versus mine. Mine, for instance, will usually mean that there's a cat standing on my chest, trying to wake me up for breakfast. ;-)

Hi, Barbara! Thanks for trying EMBERS and SPARKS. Like those books, there are also animals in these...the animal lover in me can't help it. The ORACLE books include a cranky tabby cat and a big friendly labrador. They're not magickal familiars like Sparky the fire salamander, though. ;-)

wanda f said...

I think the tarot is very interesting. I had a deck once but wasnt any good at reading the cards .Your book sounds great just went onto my must get list .

+2 Entries for Joining Alyana/Laura at Facebook

+2 Entries for Following Alayna on Twitter

+2 entries for being a GFC Follower of Bewitching Book Tours

+2 entries for Liking Bewitching Book Tours on Facebook

drakenfyre75 said...

I love the series from Laura, been trying to get my hands on the series from Alayna. I have my Dragon Tarot deck, but I have it packed away for safe keeping.

+2 for liking Laura/Alayna on fb [D Duffield]

+2 for liking BBT

lindseye said...

Looking forward to reading this book and getting to know Tara better.

linze_e at
+6 join Alayna/GFC/like BBT

Julie S said...

This sounds like an interesting book. I'd like to read it.


+2 Entries for Following Alayna on Twitter

+2 entries for being a GFC Follower of Bewitching Book Tours

+2 entries for Liking Bewitching Book Tours on Facebook

Alayna Williams said...

Hi, wanda f! Thanks so much for adding me to your must get list! :-)

Reading the cards takes time. I don't think I'll ever be a professional reader, but I find that I understand them more each time I use them. I almost always see something new each time I pick a card.

drakenfyre, hello! I'm so glad that you enjoyed EMBERS and SPARKS. :-)

I have the Dragon Tarot and Celtic Dragon...they are two of my favorites! You have excellent taste in cards. ;-)

Hi, lindseye! Thanks for stopping in!

Julie S, thanks for the follow! Hope you enjoy the book. :-)

Maria (pronounced Mariah) I blame my mother... said...

This series is new too me...but sounds very fasinating! The only knowledge I have of tarrot cards is from what I have read of them in books...and every author has a different take! Which keeps it interesting!

Thank you!

+2 for Joining Alyana/Laura at Facebook

+2 for Following Alayna on Twitter

+2 for being a GFC Follower of Bewitching Book Tours

+2 for Liking Bewitching Book Tours on Facebook

Tore said...

I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read your books.

avalonne83 said...

Great giveaway! I'd love to be entered.

Please count me in. Thanks.

avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

Alayna Williams said...

Hi, Maria! It's true...every reading and draw of the cards is different. I swear that my eye goes to something different each time. Thanks so much for the follows!

Hi, Tore! Thanks so much. :-)

avalonne83, thanks for coming by! BTW, your avatar looks like one of my feline overlords. :-)

Sherry said...

I had a tarot deck a couple of years ago and I was never very good with them. I've also had my fortune told with the cards and I find it very interesting.

Alayna Williams said...

Sherry, even though I've been puttering with cards since I was a teenager, I'd still rather have someone else read for me. I like hearing someone else's interpretation. ;-)

Meredith said...

I haven't read any books with tarot as a main plot feature. Thanks for the review!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Alayna Williams said...

Hi, Meredith! Thanks for stopping by!

heatwave16 said...

I just learned that a friend of mine actually reads tarot cards. I honestly had no idea, so I might get my first reading. :)

+2 Entries for Joining Alyana/Laura at Facebook - requested

+2 Following Alayna on Twitter - @heatwave316

+2 entries for being a GFC Follower of Bewitching Book

total = 6


Alayna Williams said...

Hi, heatwave! Thanks so much for the friend request.

Keep me posted...I'm curious to know how your reading turns out. :-)