Fortune-Telling

by JT Ellison

My husband and I just celebrated our 15/18th anniversary. Why the two dates? We married on the 3rd anniversary of our first kiss. Which was one day after we met. We didn’t waste a lot of time falling in love, we sort of did it immediately. Honestly, he could have suggested that we run off to Bora Bora and get married a week later, and I’d have said, “Just hang on a moment, dear, while I grab my favorite bikini.”

As it happens, my sweetly practical husband wanted to wait until we graduated from grad school to get married. A wise, sage man he is – the allure of knowing our lives were already intertwined, that we would work and love together for years to come, was a heady aphrodisiac. Not that I’m competitive or anything, but the desire to impress him drove me to new heights with my schoolwork—not to mention my full time job—and it was a good couple of years.

We were heavy into the political scene at the time—it looked like he was going to be the candidate and I would be the campaign manager. This was a shock to our professors, who thought I’d make a decent candidate myself, until they tried filming me giving a speech and the wheels came off the wagon. Me and Public Speaking were not a marriage made in heaven.

Me and Randy? We are.

So there’s a place we always go to celebrate, and a bartender who’s a friend, and when we all raised out glasses to toast, she said,” Did you ever imagine you’d be where you are today when you got married?”

Which was hysterical, because Randy and I had just had that talk a few hours before.

The short answer is: “No.” The long answer is, “Um, no way.”

Now, Randy runs his own market research firm. That wasn’t a huge surprise, because he’s damn good at public opinion polling, and a natural leader, so I always pushed for him to get out from under the man and run his own shop. He’s been at it for a couple of years now, and it’s a lot of fun. A lot of work, but he loves it.

Me, an international author? Now, that’s a surprise. If you’ve been here from the beginning at Murderati, you’ve been able to track my career from its inception, literally. So you know I’m not kidding when I say this has rather fallen in my lap, and I’m doing my best to manage the ramifications. Two books a year is fun, but stressful, and I’m so committed to making each book better than the last that I sometimes lose the forest for the trees. But things are good, and we’re both doing what we love.

If I’d had any inkling that all this was going to happen, would that change the way I feel about it? Absolutely. I’m a huge fan of letting life unfold, of climbing the mountain, not appearing at the pinnacle. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We’re at a completely blissful moment in our lives. All is well work wise. We love and respect each other. We have our parents. We have a roof over our heads and money set aside for later and the freedom to travel. We are blessed.

So when I had an opportunity to have a reading done on my future, I balked.

You see, the new book involves the occult. And through the media promotion, I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting a V.I.P.—Very Important Pagan—in the Nashville community. I interviewed a few Wiccans for the book, and did a ridiculous amount of research into their ways, and the ways of the Pagans, the Stregheria, Goths… hell, even Buddhists. Through all of that, I’ve seen many ways of predicting the future, learning the future, and altering the future.

And that, more than anything, frightens me.

I don’t want to know the future. I love that sense of uncertainty that permeates my life. Will the book do well? I don’t know. Could I ask one of my friends to look into the matter and tell me, or give me a spell or a blessing to alter its course? Yes, I could, but I’d never do it. I’m such a firm believer in what happens, happens for a reason, that the idea of actually knowing what’s going to go down freaks me out of a bit. Good, bad or indifferent, my life is unfolding in ways I could never expect. I don’t want to mess with that.

Now, all that said, I do believe in signs. Like the crazy fortune cookie I had once that said “The best advice comes from a child,” just a few days before Lee Child became my ITW mentor. Or the fact that lately, I’ve been besieged by grasshoppers. They land on me when I’m outside, they show up on my deck, I even had one in my cart at Target the other day. If I were a practicing Pagan, I would assume (and be utterly delighted) that I’d been chosen by the Goddess and that she was speaking to me – in this case, the Goddess Aurora, who asked Zeus to grant immortality to her lover, but neglected to ask for youth as well, and since Zeus was a right old bastard with a sick sense of humor, he granted her wish. Her lover, Tithonus, Prince of Troy, was made immortal, but continued to age. She finally turned him into a grasshopper.

The Gods and Goddesses love to send signs. They may appear in person, or as something else. They carry a message, or a blessing, or simply want to check on things. I like that.

Then again, I’m also working on a story about a grasshopper, so the non-believers could say I’m just finding them more often because they’re foremost in my mind…

I think that I prefer the former, for the research I’ve done into Aurora shows her as the Goddess of rebirth. Considering the tattoo on my ankle is two Chinese figures, strength and rebirth (which combines to be the Phoenix Rising) and I’ve reinvented myself to become an author, it’s not such a stretch that she’d be calling to me, now is it?

So my question for you today, folks, is this: If you could see into the future, would you? Do you want to know what’s coming down the pike, or would you rather sit back and let things unfold as they will? Have you ever had a reading done? I know our Pari is handy with the Tarot cards, and our Alex certainly treads through the otherworld with her novels, and I assume, her research. What about you?

ο»ΏWine of the Week: Sadly, one of the Australian vineyards that we frequent (namely, through a yummy wine called Marquis Philips McLaren Vale Shiraz ) is going out of buisness. They has a lot of wine that needs to be purchased. So here’s a link to the story, in the hopes that a benefactor may be found.

P.S. The wonderful folks at Exaclair, makers of Clairfontaine and Quo Vadis, the notebooks and planners I use (and will talk more about in 2 weeks) did me the honor of a feature in their Writer’s Project. Click here to take a look.

23 thoughts on “Fortune-Telling

  1. Laura Jane Thompson

    There have been weak points during my life when I might have welcomed a glimpse into the future, simply as a way of reassuring myself that better days were on the horizon.

    That said, I've always taken comfort in the mystery of life. It keeps me humble, for one thing, but it also helps me maintain a shred of that wide-eyed innocence of youth. Since I can't see the future (and wouldn't peek, given the opportunity) every blessing is a wonderful surprise, and I don't think I would trade that for anything.

    I've experienced many of the happy coincidences you describe in your blog post, JT, though of course in different forms. On each occasion, I have fun trying to decipher the "signs" I'm sent, without allowing myself to over-analyze too much. Fun topic!

  2. PK the Bookeemonster

    Congrats on the anniversary. I knew I was going to marry Steve before we had a date — which was a good thing because he took forever to kiss me but I figured, since we were going to be married, he'd have to kiss me eventually so I gave him time. How did I know? When we met, that night there was a voice in my head saying, "OMG, that's the man I'm going to marry." Trust me, I was a cynical 28 year old then. πŸ™‚
    Seeing the future? I'm definitely a "scream and leap" kind of person — no strategies involved. Last year, however, when I couldn't find a job for forever, I consulted with a nationally known psychic who couldn't really give me anything except a couple words which I have actually discovered, I think, were signposts for me. Otherwise, one of my good friends is an astrologist/spiritual guide who is a wonderfully earthy lady who I've seen twice professionally — pretty much confirming what I suspected of my personality. πŸ™‚
    There's going to be a lot of people gone at work today for the long weekend so this post will be a fun one to check in on throughout the day. As my friend Omi says, Namaste! (I think that's how it's spelled)

  3. Rebbie Macintyre

    Congrats on your anniversary, JT! And yes, I've been to a psychic reader, and yes, she was right in a number of things that "came to pass", as they say. πŸ™‚ But no, I would never do it again. I actually waited for, looked for and expected what she predicted. For two years, I did this, and in the end, I wondered: Did she really see into the future and predict the events? Or did I unconsciously set in motion the mental activity that made the events possible?
    Too freaky for me.

  4. Debbie

    Excellent interview-well written and interesting. As for the future…I'm not so interested in what it holds as I am in the mechanics of prediction. Where that ability comes from, what is it, how can you tell if it's real or a fraud?
    Love your and Randy's story. I've always expected that the biggest critisism of my novel, aside from the length, will be the pase and depth of the main characters relationship. Happy anniversary and congrats!

  5. Gayle Carline

    I love to hear when couples are happy to be coupled – I have that sense of contentment with my own dear hubby.

    As far as the future, I want to know the good parts, but not the bad, and it would all just color the way I lived my life, so I'm glad I don't know. Speaking of happy marriages, I stumbled about and made a lot of stupid mistakes in my youth – if I'd known the future, I'd have made different choices, but would I have ended up in the same (happy) place?

    The only psychic I've known visited our barn and read our horses. All the other horses wanted to talk about their daily lives and what they like to do and eat. When she came to my mare, the psychic turned to me and said, "The first thing she wants you to know is that she had a very hard time growing up because her mother was so cruel." Everyone else got I Like Carrots. I got Dickens.

  6. Dudley Forster

    Congrats on the anniversary!

    I have a very hard time answering that question because I can’t escape the temporal paradox. By knowing your future you change it, therefore you cannot know your actual future. For example, if I know that in two weeks, I am going to be crossing a street and a teenager talking on a cell phone runs a red light and kills me, I’m not going to be on that street. Thus, changing my future and causing a ripple effect potentially changing everything. Temporal mechanics drives physicists and philosophers bat shit.

    Leaving the purely rational, let’s say I can know my future. Now I have a Lady and the Tiger problem. If I open the door to my future what will I find? In an extreme example, the Lady means I know I will win the lottery, all my kids will grow up very well balanced, all will be national merit scholars and go to Ivy League schools and my wife and I will live to eighty and die in our sleep on the same night. If it’s the Tiger, I learn that my wife will leave me, I become an alcoholic, I lose everything becoming homeless and my kids all turn out to be drug addicts. I am conservative about chance, so I probably would not open the door.

    I still wish I’d known to buy Microsoft stock at the initial offering.

  7. JT Ellison

    Bear with me today, kids, I have very limited Internet access…

    Laura, I'm definitely in touch with the idea of over-analyzing signs… I can do it with the best of them. But that's part of the fun, no?

    PK – Namaste! I love your description as a scream and leap type. That's me too, cliff jumping.

    Rebbie, I spent my freshman year 10 minutes from Cassadega, Florida, and never once went there. The one time I had my palm read it was so eerily right that I figured I should stay away. But that's it exactly, if you know, then you're suddenly guiding. Which is freaky.

    Debbie, there are certainly charlatans out there, but there are also people who truly have the gift of sight. It's pretty clear who's rel and who's fake. Instinct and common sense play a big role. If they feel wrong, they probably are.

    Gayle, you cracked me up… the Dickensian horse whisperer is classic. Randy always teases me because I put words in the cat's mouth, when he's sure all she's saying is "I have fur!"

    Dudley, the temporal paradox is exactly why I don't want to know the future. Look at the Diana Gabaldon books. They try to change the future and can't.

  8. Allison Davis

    When I was about ten years old, my grandmother took me to a tea shop in Vancouver BC (where she grew up) to have my tea leaves read. It was all sorts of ritual, the flowered tea pot, the matronly looking seer, the swirling of tea leaves at the end. She looked me straight in the eye, "Oh, this is rather good," she said, "you're a teacher, or at least that is your talent." She swirled and looked again. "And, you'lll never be rich, but you won't want for anything, and you'll always be loved."

    That is a damn good fortune and true enough these many years. Life is good, congrats on your anniversary.

  9. toni mcgee causey

    I know a lot of people know that I'm the kind of person who'll go read the end of a book first, who doesn't mind (and actively seeks out) spoilers for movies and TV shows, but I absolutely do not want to know the predictions for my life.

    For one thing, I don't want someone else influencing what I do and what I see–it's the Gemini in me that says, "Oh, yeah? You think so? Watch this, sucker." And that's never a good attitude. It's often a shoot-myself-in-the-foot attitude, but if someone is telling me what my life will be, I will end up doing just the opposite.

    Which leads to my second point: I don't believe that everything is fated to be what it's going to be. I believe that we have choices, that we can change who we are and where we're going. Now, I know there's a meta argument that those changes are fated, blah blah blah, but really, I believe we make our future, we're not chained to it.

  10. pari noskin taichert

    Great post today, JT. And HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to you and Randy.

    As to fortune telling, well, I don't believe that life is fated to be one particular way, that it's immutable and you're stuck with a future some perverse god (I'm thinking someone nasty like Zeus) wrote eons ago.

    Bah-humbug.

    I use predictive technologies (heh heh heh) such as Tarot or astrology merely to delve into my subconscious — or that of friends for whom I might do a reading — to see if something illuminating might come up. I do, on occasion, consult the UNIVERSE with some specific question — but I rarely believe the answer or change anything I'm doing to make it happen. I've just got this psychic-y bent and it squirts out from time to time <g>.

  11. Laurel Newberry

    This is my first visit here and I'm so glad I followed the links from "Debutant Ball." πŸ™‚

    As yet unpublished (writing my fifth book in two years and pitching two next month) I am very interested in what the future holds. But as for getting sneak peeks? No thanks. I am all about the journey being every bit as valuable as the destination. If I found out today that none of my work would ever be published it would surely take some of the thrill out of writing it.
    No spoilers, no previews! Of course, the downside is that I don't even want to know how the book I'm writing ends until I get pretty much to the end.*sigh* Makes rewrites a major pain but that's just life.
    Fortune cookies are the sum total of acceptable prediction in my life, and I have to admit, sometimes they say just what I want to hear.
    Except for the one that said, Support Literacy – buy more fortune cookies." Should have said "Support Authors – Buy more Books."

  12. Grace

    Thanks for the fun post. As far as wanting to know the future, I love mystery, and prefer to remain unaware. I had my tea leaves read once – a promising future – I'm still waiting for the promise.

    Congrats on your anniversary and many happy more.

  13. Chuck

    Nice story JT, and congrats to you and Randy! You guys have really made it work–very happy for you. πŸ™‚

    My answer…hell no! Knowing the future would ruin everything. Maybe some stock info would be nice, or a few football scores, but otherwise I think it would be quite unmotivating. "Hey…I need to start on my newest manuscript tomorrow! No…wait…I completely forgot, I'm due to get hit by a truck next Wednesday. What's the point?"

    Like Laura Jane said, in my youth…maybe. Now, no way.

    Cannot wait to read the book!

  14. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Grrrrrreat blog, JT! And I'm totally with you – I don't want that reading. I want to be surprised. I'm thinking things will come out all right. I want the excitement of taking this roller-coaster ride.

  15. Cornelia Read

    JT, what a wonderful anniversary you two are celebrating. May it be one in a long and happy continuing string of years to come, in health and love and wonder for you both.

  16. Catherine

    I've had a couple of readings done over the years because I wonder whether they're going to say anything i don't expect. I haven't been surprised yet. I

    I do tend to view most sorts of forecasting as identifying the possibilities.

    I have a strong belief in free will. My experience is that as a result of a supposed bad thing that happened to me… a really cool never saw it coming path has opened up. I don't need to know the future I just need to trust my ability to live well.

    Congrats to both you and Randy, JT.

  17. Eika

    Fortune tellings and readings and such always seem to assume the future can't be changed. Me? I want it to change every day, so those'd be no use. (Besides, what if getting one that predicted a long life made me get careless and step in front of a bus?)

  18. JT Ellison

    Y'all, thank you so much for sharing your stories and congrats. I'm reading and commenting on my cell, so forgive me!

    Allison, that sounds like the most perfect fortune. Lovely.

    Toni, if anyone can change the future, it's you!

    Pari, I adore "predictive technologies". Thinking of it like that makes it much less scary to me.

    Laurel – welcome! Any friend of the debs is a friend of ours! No Spoilers, no previews – and more funding for authors!!! Amen!

    Grace, it's coming. You might have it already, considering your name…

    Chuck, isn't that funny – I was much more amenable in my youth than I am now. Age brings wisdom, perhaps?

    Stephen, it is a roller coaster, isn't it? And so, so much fun.

    Cornelia, thank you, so much, for the blessing. It means the world.

    Thanks, Rob! My crystal ball says your future is damn bright.

    Alafair, thank you – and a nod today – listened to some Gaga and thought of you.

    Catherine, I like the idea of identifying the possibilities. What a cool way to look at it!

    Eika, another one with a hugely bright future – you ARE making yours, every day. Well done!

    Allison, we like you too!!!

    Hope everyone being affected by the hurricanes are doing okay! xoxo

  19. Fran

    Happy Anniversary to you and Randy! May you have many, many more!

    Let's see, I have something like five tarot decks, goddess and fairy cards, and runes. I rarely read for myself, but I take them with me when I travel because others ask me to read. I've done it for, I dunno, thirty years now? Something like that.

    Do I believe that they predict the future? I have no idea. Whenever I read for someone new, I let them decide if it's serious or a game, and I'm cool with either. I enjoy it, and others seem to as well. I tend not to look much beyond that.

    Heh, should I bring them to B'Con and LCC? I could ask the cards, but the bigger factors are luggage space and my tendency to forget stuff. I don't think there's a deck on the planet that can accurately predict if I'll remember something!

  20. JT Ellison

    Hi Fran (hello, Internet…)

    Bring them to LCC – why not? Between you and Pari, we can have a fortune-telling night!

    Thanks again to everyone for commenting yesterday, and my deepest apologies for getting caught without the big I…

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