Did You Know…About the Succubus and Incubus Demons?

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The succubus and incubus come from Medieval Christian demonology that do their evil work by seducing their victims. The succubus is the female counterpart, and males account for the incubus.

The myth has some basic variations, like how the succubi and incubi are two different demons. Incubi impregnate women with demon seed while succubi impregnates itself using a human male. Others say these beings are the same within a shape-shifting demon, which must collect semen from a male before shifting and using it to impregnates another woman. Less regularly, these creatures use intercourse to possess their victim directly, typically while the person sleeps.

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(Photo Credit (c) Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard’s Nightmare)

It’s difficult to pin down a specific physical description for succubi and incubi since they have shapeshifting qualities, but some ancient tales portray them as hideously deformed creatures that were small and stooped. They crawled instead of walking with their raptor feet, fargoyle faces, and clawed fingers.

Now, modern depictions of succubus specifically, summons the image of a voluptuous woman with flawless skin and smooth curves in skimpy leather outfits that flaunt their bodies. You know, all the telltale signs that they’re sexy demons. Many modern succubi also commonly have bat wings, barbed tails, curled horns, and glowing eyes like their satanic patronage.

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(Photo Credit (c) Elena Samko cosplay Succubus).

In other cultures and religions, sex remains a part of the demon’s mythology. Arabic cultures depict them as jinns, but there are also non-sexual variations where the demon pins the person to a bed and strangles or suffocates the victim in some way.

Often, succubi and incubi don’t care who they hurt in the midst of obtaining their goal, like attacking their victims’ significant other for catching them in the act, an Old Hag in Newfoundland, Canada, suffocates her victims in their sleep with her ancient, hideous bulk, and Ephialtes, from Greek mythology, leaps on its prey like a great frog.

Their personalities have also shifted over time. The original succubi and incubi were nasty, sneaky, controlling, and malicious, opposing the current trend of oozing intense charisma and seductive power that can tantalize the opposite sex. Despite being sex-crazed, the ancient version didn’t care about pleasing men, and like the modern versions, they often used sex to please themselves, to pervert the virtuous, to gain their life energy, or to produce children.

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(Photo Credit (c) Igor Igorevich)

Jewish and Kabbalah mysticism showcases Lilith as their prime example of a succubus, transformed after leaving the Garden of Eden and sleeping with the archangel Samael. Originally, Lilith was a Sumerian goddess of fertility, but later became associated with dark demons. The Greek version, Iamia, was beautiful and turned into a monster by Hera.

Merlin, from Arthurian legend, is portrayed as a cambion, or the child of an incubus and a royal woman or nun. And half-human children are common in Japanese manga.

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(Photo Credit (c) Devil May Cry Corrupted Vergil).

In one story from 2012, a young man describes a succubus taking form as an imaginary friend from childhood, Lucy, who told the boy as he grew that she would teach him some new, exciting things when he reached puberty. The young man grew obsessed with this invisible character, concerning his parents and sending him to a number of psychologists. At sixteen, Lucy encouraged him to date real women and coached him through his sexual encounters. She stuck around for years until the young man fell in love with and married a real woman.

Historically, sex-demons, especially female sex-demons, can be found in a lot of cultures, like the yakshini in India, the qarinha in Arabia, the deer woman in Native America, the mogwai in China, and the Lamia in Greece.

These legends spread wide as an explanation for sleep paralysis, hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. It also helped explain sexual taboos and the “devil made me do it” excuse for unwanted pregnancies, incest, and nocturnal secretions. They’ve also been linked to schizophrenia.

Got a favorite succubu/incubi story or myth? Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

 

Sources:

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Incubus_and_succubus_myths

https://www.ranker.com/list/scary-stories-about-succubi/cheryl-adams-richkoff?page=3

https://mythology.net/demons/succubus/

 

 

Character Interview with Kalib Ganesh

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Hey, y’all. Ready to meet a newish character from my Broken World series, Kalib Ganesh, Assetato agent.

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Alisha: Thank you for coming to meet with me today, Kalib. I know you’re busy, and I appreciate your time.

Kalib: It’s no problem, sweets. I take any chance I can to fraternize with pretty ladies.

Alisha: Oh, you flirt. I’m happily married.

Kalib: Innocent fun is nothing to feel shame over. I will not keep you from your questions. <He gestured with a handroll for me to go ahead.>

Alisha: Good. I feel better focusing on you rather than me. So, first question: What’s in your fridge right now?

Kalib: At home, most of what haunts my frivolously empty kitchen is alcohol and coffee, so a half-empty carton of milk and a few bottles of wine? No blood or other gore like movies tend to depict. Unless the house keeper stashed some away on there.

Alisha: Coffee and wine. I get on board with that.

Kalib: I am a man of excellent taste.

Alisha: What is your most marked characteristic?

Kalib: Why, my charisma, of course. I can charm my way into or out of nearly any situation, especially when sexual prowess is at stake, sweets. I have quite the collection of undergarments.

Alisha: Good to know. Not one of my questions though.

Kalib: It felt like a fitting answer to me.

Alisha: I’m sure. What was your life like before you became a vampire?

Kalib: I was the son of a politician, anointed into the Order of the Star in India. We lived well and worked hard. We were proud of where we came from and what we worked toward.

Alisha: It’s nice to have conviction. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?

Kalib: As I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate if I told you about this young thing I found in northern India just after my transformation, I would have to say Hoggenakal Falls in South India. It’s breathtaking and invigorated with power.

Alisha: I have found water and earth in such force has enormous emotional effects. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Kalib: A good bottle of wine, pale legs and blonde hair spread across my sheets…

Alisha: Speaking of pale and blonde, tell me what’s going on there between you and Maddy?

Kalib: A gentleman does not kiss and tell about a lady.

Alisha: You have done nothing but.

Kalib: Vague details that do not pinpoint anyone. I can paint quite the picture without offense.

Alisha: If you say so. Do you believe in love at first sight?

Kalib: Absolutely, but it rarely lasts longer than a couple of days at most. At least, in my experience.

Alisha: What is your weapon of choice and do not make any phallic references is you please.

Kalib: I am a fan of the sword, and I have dabbled quite a bit in throwing stars, but I prefer my powers of persuasion. <Smoke lifted off of him, sweet and dirty all at once.> It’s quite a helpful tool.

Alisha: That’s one I haven’t seen before. How does it work?

Kalib: I must simply want something badly enough, and I make it mine.

Alisha: I hope you don’t take that power lightly. What is your favorite proverb?

Kalib: “It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”

Alisha: I like that. Last one, when did you last make a promise?

Kalib: Mere months ago, to a woman who deserves much more than I can promise, but I offer nothing more than I can deliver.

Alisha: Back to those cryptic details, huh?

Kalib: I believe you are out of questions, sweets.

Alisha: That I am and time. Thank you again for taking a couple of minutes to sit and talk with me today, or it might be better to say flirt with me, but I’m sure that’s nothing personal.

Kalib: Oh, no. Not at all.

Well, everyone, that is Kalib, he’s made a few cameos in a few stories so far, and I can’t wait for you all to keep learning more about him with me.

 

Want to see him in action? Take a look at LOVING RED, THE MARK OF THE PHOENIX, and LITTLE RED & THE SURLY BEAR, coming this June!

Breaking Down Satire: Antithesis and Anticlimax

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First, allow me a disclaimer by saying that although these words have some similarities, they’re really not connected all that much. I clumped them together because I wanted to and for no other real reason.

Let’s start with Antithesis, which can be defined as a person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else. It is often used to emphasize an idea through the perceived analogy and draw the attentions of readers.

Here are some examples:

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Muhammad Ali

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“HAMLET: To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them?” William Shakespeare

And one I use in class every semester:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” Charles Dickens.

Each of these quotes is meant to highlight something specific about the topic in which they focus. Space travel indicates monumental progress for mankind, even if only a few men got to step foot on the moon. Boxing is a mix of peaceful floating—or dodging—and aggressive stinging—punching. We have to put aside petty differences and act like a family, even if dysfunctional, or the constant fighting will ruin us all. Life is struggle and death is peace, but if we choose peace, we choose nothingness. And turmoil amongst the French Revolution, accentuating the division and confusion of the people in that era.

Much like paradox, antithesis relies on juxtaposition to emphasize key qualities that are similar amongst the opposition. The parallel structure of antithesis sharpens the meaning that comes with specific combinations, as the repetition makes the contrast clarifies the intended message, which is not to say that it must ALWAYS be parallel, but it aids in the overall understanding. In fact, antithesis seems to be built around the “or” construction.

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To sum up, we use antithesis for several purposes: to present a stark difference between two options, to express the magnitude of range, to express strong emotions, to create a conflicting relationship between two ideas, and to accentuate the features of one thing by placing in opposition to another.

I don’t think I’ve ever used it purposefully or not, but I’m sure going to be more aware of the option as I draft.

Now, anticlimax creates a disappointing end or conclusion to an exciting or impressive series of events. It often does not meet the expectations that the narrative has built, and the error occurs because the solution to a problem is so trivial or comes without the protagonist using any of their skills, like using a deus ex machina. Essentially, the anticlimax is not nearly as good or brilliant as the rest of the movie. This is not a plot twist but an obvious ending, an unrelated ending, or one that leaves the reader hanging.

Here is examples of an anticlimactic ending from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:

“I spread out my fingers, and the dark berries glisten in the sun. I give Peeta’s hand one last squeeze as a signal, as a good-bye, and we begin counting. “One.” Maybe I’m wrong. “Two.” Maybe they don’t care if we both die. “Three!” It’s too late to change my mind. I lift my hand to my mouth, taking one last look at the world. The berries have just passed my lips when the trumpets begin to blare.”

What an excellent example of deus ex machina, although we see Katniss use her skilled logic to understand that either way, she’s defeated the system by not allowing a single winner. She probes us for an emotional ending. No survivors means usurping the hope it’s meant to create for the people via the lack of a real war, but two survivors provides too much hope and more drama for the society and the capitol. This, of course, was done on purpose to create a cliffhanger that sets up the rest of the trilogy.

Another example is the ending of Signs in which touching water kills the aliens that came to take over Earth. For the fate of the world, this seems like such a simple solution that garners a bit of a flat response because no real intervention was needed; however, for the characters of focus in the narrative, this has been set up nicely, and therefore, has a satisfying ending for them.

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Also, anticlimax can be used as a figure of speech when it appears somewhere else in the story. These are statements that gradually descend in order of importance, arranging a series of words, phrases, or clauses in order of decreasing importance. For example, he lost his family, his car, and his cell phone. Typically, we like to accentuate importance by putting the most important at the end of a sentence for effect, but here, we begin with the emotional impact—his family—something that he cannot replace, and we leave with an object of little value that is easily replaceable, his cell phone. Although, I’m sure a great many young adults would argue its lack of importance if they could. Overall, this creates a humorous effect and produces great surprise, but readers may see it as an error unless the author intentionally meant to produce ridiculousness.

Here are a few more examples of anticlimactic figures of speech:

“In moments of crisis, I size up the situation in a flash, set my teeth, contract my muscles, take a firm grip on myself, and without tremor, always do the wrong thing.” George Bernard Shaw

“He has seen the ravages of war, he has known natural catastrophes, he has been to singles bars.” Woody Allen.

The buildup and the payoff here do not correlate well, but they do create humorous and unreliable characters.

This one is a tool I use loosely—more so in THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR when I’ve utilized a dues ex machina, but the character planned it. Does that make any sense? In the BLOOD PHOENIX saga, I also tend to have anticlimactic fights between Ria and Gene that always devolves into her and my coffee obsession.

 

Are you familiar with these rhetorical tools? Do you utilize them in your writing? Tell me how in the comments below!

 

 

Sources:

http://www.literarydevices.com/antithesis/

https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms/antithesis

https://literaryterms.net/antithesis/

 

http://www.literarydevices.com/anticlimax/

https://literarydevices.net/anti-climax/

https://www.quora.com/What-exactly-is-the-difference-between-the-climax-and-anti-climax-of-any-movie

 

Obnoxious Character Planning: INFERNO Character Personality Types

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So, I’ve been on a planning kick lately, showing the intimate details of how I prepare myself for a big project, like a book. I’m going to be honest, the way I prep myself changes each time, and this go around, I might have gone a little crazy with notes and etc.

But here’s a bit of my rationale. I’m working with a series. While I have limited myself to five books for Ria’s BLOOD PHOENIX saga, I do have a slew of other characters, books, and stories within this world, so I need to start keeping track of little things that will connect and manifest throughout.

Now, this is a little wild for planning purposes, but I thought it was so much fun to peg down each of my characters by personality type, so here’s my list:

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One of the interesting things I discovered from doing this is that Ria’s personality, although remaining the same amongst most of her previous lives, did change on a few. Even with reincarnation, culture and genetics played a role in how they behaved. Since Ria’s past lives impact Ria’s present quite dramatically, I hope can keep them separated enough to do them justice.

Another interesting note about personality types is that even with the same four-letter determinations, their personalities are not precisely the same. For instance, Ria, Mark, Colista, and Layla have the same categorization—INFP, but each of their descriptors are different: the Spunky Kid, the Lost Soul, the Waif, and the Nurturer, which comes not from the Myers-Briggs model but from the character archetypes of heroes, heroines, and villains, although honestly, none of these four are villains in the slightest.

But INFP clearly fits all four: poetic, kind, and altruistic people, always eager to help a good cause. They are the most idealistic, have strong personal values, seek order and peace, are creative, non-directive, and reserved with people.

Anyways, I could devolve into a rambling about personalities and the types of how each connects, but I’m not going to do that. I merely wanted to share how assigning base personality types helped me differentiate characters and keep them true to their original dispositions, even as they evolve as people.

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So, I want to know what kind of categorization, notes, and tools do you use to develop and/or maintain your characters? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Did You Know…About Snow White?

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Most know Snow White from the Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the nineteenth-century German fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm: a young, beautiful girl loses her mother. When her father remarries, the princess’s vain and wicked stepmother grows jealous of the sweet fairness of Snow White. There’s this crazy, magical mirror who reminds the aging queen that she is, indeed, aging. Eventually, the queen sends a hitman after the princess, she flees, is taken in by seven coal workers in the woods. They do the whole domestic thing until a witch comes and poisons her. No worries, Disney gives her a happy ending with the prince kissing her awake and whisking her off to the royal castle. The Grimm version makes the stepmother queen put on red-hot shoes and dance until she drops dead. Gives the story a bit more justified karma if you ask me.

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A lot of symbolism lies in the fairy tale, but interestingly enough, in 1994, Eckhard Sander, a German historian, uncovered a real woman who could have inspired the story: Margarete von Waldeck, a German countess who was forced to move to Burssels at sixteen by her stepmother, Katharina of Hatzfeld. There, the countess fell in love with a prince Phillip II who became king of several European countries, like Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, England, and Ireland—due to marriage. Margarete’s father and stepmother disapproved of their relationship because of its political inconvenience, and the young woman died at twenty-one, supposedly poisoned by Phillip II’s father, who also opposed to the romance.

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Still, the connections continue as the seven dwarfs seem to resemble the children employed by her father in his copper mines. Many of them died due to the poor conditions, but those who lived had stunted growth and malformed limbs from malnutrition and difficult physical labor.

And finally, the poisoned apple may have stemmed from German history as well, when an old man fed poisoned apples to children whom he thought were stealing his fruit.

However, another group of Bavarian scholars believe that Snow White was based on Maria Sophia von Erthal of Bavaria. The daughter of landowner, Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal and his wife, Baroness con Bettendorff. When her mother died, Sophia’s father married the Countess of Reichenstein, who hated her stepchildren and lived in a castle with a talking mirror, an acoustical toy manufactured in 1720.

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The dwarves in Maria’s storied also linked to a mine in Bieber set amongst the seven mountains, which had tunnels so small that only very short miners that wore bright hoods as the dwarfs were depicted over the years.

Additionally, the glass coffin connected to the glass industry of the region, and the poisoned apple associated with the nightshade plants that grow abundantly in Lohr.

Other fictional variations of the story show the queen committing cannibalism, eating Snow White’s lungs and liver, and could be a connection to old Slavic tales of witches eating human hearts. This connects to the later versions where the queen requests her huntsman to return with Snow White’s heart.

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In another, Snow White is the villain and jealous of her biological mother. A version earlier than Grimm’s showed Snow White being sent out to collect flowers and being abandoned, both by the mother and a servant. Later, the story changed the villain to a stepmother to be more acceptable for children.

Other traditions outside of Europe create further variations, like Albania’s version showed Snow White living with forty dragons and a ring causing her slumber. However, the tale twists the initial conflict by having Snow White’s teacher urging her to murder the queen for her place of power. Others say her two jealous sisters try to kill her instead.

An epic Indian poem, “Padmavat,” depicts a stepmother queen asking her parrot who is the most beautiful with a disagreeable reply. The same happened in an Armenian story, where a mother asked the moon the same question, resulting in the plot to kill her daughter. And a Russian tale creates a similar story of Snow White but replaces the dwarfs with knights.

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Plenty of interpretations exist over the symbolism in the well-known tale: the seven-deadly sins and the seven dwarfs; the black, white, and red and their links to alchemy, Indian philosophy, and Egyptian culture; a metaphysical rebirth of Snow White’s reawakening; the poisoned apple links to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, and etc. I could write a post all its own about these.

Another time.

Want to see more twists to the classic tale and others? Check out AFTER THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, and read my version “She of Silken Scarves,” which mixes Snow White, Cinderella, and Mission Impossible with a slew of conspiracy theories.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/exploring-true-origins-snow-white-and-seven-dwarfs-004150

http://mythicspiral.blogspot.com/2012/07/snow-white-and-seven-dwarfs.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_White#Variations

Did You Know…About the Merfolk?

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Most are familiar with the Disney depiction of merfolk and Ariel’s struggle to find love on land, without her voice no less, a sanitized version of the Hans Christian Andersen’s tale where she does not have a happy ending, and spoiler, not only does she suffer with every step on land, she also dies a painful death.

This may be a reflection on mermaids’ association with misfortune and death, and the common merging of their mythology with that of sirens, luring sailors to their watery graves. But the mermen have also earned a severe reputation for summoning storms, sinking ships, and drowning sailors.

In any case, we see merfolk described as a half-human, half-fish hybrid creature, and we’ve had mythologies about these creatures for thousands of years, like Babylon’s Era and Oannes, the fish gods. Greek mythology tells of the god Triton, a messenger of the sea, and the Hindu and Candomblé still worship mer-goddesses.

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An interesting version from the Shetland Islands mixes the merfolk with selkies, telling of strikingly beautiful women whose appearance is a temporary effect of donning fish skin. And if they lose the skin, they will be stuck on land. In one tale, “The Mermaid Wife,” a man, Unst, walked along the beach, saw a group of merfolk dancing in the sand under the moonlight with skins strewn across the ground. Unst snatched one and concealed it. When he returned to that spot, he happened upon the fairest of the women, sad over the theft of her skin and her exile. Unst offered protection, married the damsel, and they produced several children. After some years, their children found the hidden skin and returned it to their mother. She hugged them goodbye and sped off towards the sea. Unst returned from a trip just in time to chase after her and witness her magnificent transformation. Before she disappeared under the water with her merfolk family, she called back her love to him, but that her first husband was her true love.

Also in Scotland, the Blue Men of the Minch, are a group of mermen, who have blue-tinted skin and gray beards. They challenge ship captains before sieging the ship. If a captain is quick witted, he may best the Blue Men and save his men. They’ve also been known to battle against the Vikings and their Norse king, which may coincide with when the Vikings landed, wearing blue, veiled clothes.

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The kappa from Japanese myth live in lakes, rivers, and on coasts, but they differ from the traditional merfolk by taking on a more child-like form with ape-like faces and tortoise shells on their backs. When they interact with humans, they, like the Blue Men of Minch, enjoy challenging humans to games of skill that come with a death penalty when lost. They also prefer to kill children or those silly enough to swim alone in secluded places; however, most prominently, they prefer fresh cucumbers, which might make a nice trade for one’s life.

The Ningyo, also from Japanese myth, have varying human characteristics, making them more monstrous and uglier with a deformed fish face, human torso, and long, bony fingers with sharp claws. These versions of the mermaids have a bonus: consuming their flesh grants immortality, but this comes with great risk as the Ningyo can place powerful curses on the humans who try to trap or wound them, linked with entire towns being swallowed by earthquakes and tsunamis.

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In Norway and the Orkney Islands, they have myths of the Finfolkaheem, or Finfolk, which may be one of the least traditional versions, considered sorcerous shapeshifters. They do maintain negative relationships with humans, often abducting them as spouses or making them servants because if Finfolk marry one another, the Finwife will lose her mystical charm and age increases her ugliness in seven-year increments until she becomes a hag, which is why they prefer to abduct human males as their mates. The best way to escape their entrapments is by tossing a silver coin away from oneself, as they have an affinity for the precious metal.

The earliest rendition of a mermaid-like entity came from ancient Syria and their goddess, Atargatis, who watched over the general well-being of her people and their fertility. Human above the waist and fish below, she was obviously associated with water and had the biggest, most stunning temple, which featured a pond full of sacred fish.

A common thread amongst these myths create an intriguing paradox: the beauty and the beast trapped within the same creature. Some are victims, others are predators, but all manifest magic that affects the humans they interact with. Most commonly to the humanity’s demise.

 

Sources:

https://www.wired.com/2014/10/fantastically-wrong-strange-murderous-sometimes-sexy-history-mermaid/

https://www.livescience.com/39882-mermaid.html

http://mentalfloss.com/article/75471/9-mermaid-legends-around-world

Plotting INFERNO: the Transition from Pantser to Plotter

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So, if you’ve had a chance to peek at my writing journal, you’ll know that I’ve recently invested more time on plotting elements of my novels and stories via plot embryos, the hero’s journey, and the three-act structure.

I have been a long-time pantser doing little planning other than major scenes that I knew I wanted somewhere relative to each other in a general arc, which is basically saying that I bullshitted my way through most of my writing.

Well, the last novel I wrote, THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR, flowed out of me so much faster with a general guide for each of my chapters. I also developed them with a chart and the five-idea method from Rachael Stephen.

This worked so well that I implemented the plot embryos for my shorter works to gauge a general structure.

Then the year ended, and it was time to start my new BLOOD PHOENIX novel, INFERNO. And man, the embryo was a nice start, but I needed more to power through as many words as I really wanted to get through this year (~112,000 words), so I tried my hand at a three-act structure, and here’s what I came up with.

 

How I plotted BLOOD PHOENIX: INFERNO (some spoilers but no biggies).

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Here is where I used the traditional Harmon’s Plot Embryo, below is a comparison of the  my use of the tool. The blue bits are major spoilers.

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After I let that marinate for a little while, I created a list of all the plot points I could think of for each act, not worrying about an order. Like this:

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This is when I used the three-act structure in a stricter sense, putting those on my list into the act where they belong. At the bottom, I had notes that came from looking at the story arc again and again.

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Finally, I made the project its own notebook, listing each act’s plot points down the side before shifting them into appropriate chapters with other details to help me not get stuck between, which is where I typically struggle the most with writer’s block.

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So far, this method has allowed me to hammer out 16,000 words last month and another 4,000 this last week with the #100daychallenge or #100dayproject.

But this little book I’ve slapped together has some extras that help me remember character motivations, keep secondary threads going, plan out the past to understand how it affects the present, and after the halfway mark, I’ve started gathering notes for a Broken World guide after requests from readers to explain all of the connections and cross-overs and research that builds the series.

And that’s the process I’ve been using. I’ve found quite a spike in my productivity since I started plotting more and writing more consistently.

I hope you’ve found this helpful, and if you have any suggestions for plotting or writing research, leave them in the comments below so that I can add them to my list!

Also, join me on Instagram or my personal page as I document my journey writing 500 words a day for 100 days!

Breaking Down Satire: Paradox

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Paradox is a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.

This is the definition I offer my students when we begin the satirical analysis paper—aka my favorite assignment to teach. And here are some of my favorite examples to help:

-“I can resist anything but temptation.” Oscar Wilde

-The more you try to impress others, the less they’ll be impressed.

-“It’s weird not to be weird.” John Lennon

-You must be cruel to be kind.

-It was the beginning of the end.

-“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

-“What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw

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These are all used for situational or rhetorical effect to reconcile a hidden or unexpected truth with the reader. We also often refer to them as dichotomies, where a sharp contrast is required to create drama, cause conflict, or add depth to a character or situation. Think:

-There can be no pleasure without pain.

-You can only hate someone you’ve once loved.

More complexly, let’s look at Mr. Darcy, whom I love to compare my character Gene to. Mr. Darcy holds several opposing characteristics: he’s arrogant but bashful, tactless but generous, proud but broken.

Okay, that last one may not exactly be opposing, but they’re close enough for my tastes, as that’s something inherently infused in Gene’s personality. He’s so highly strung because he’s sensitive, and he’s had to learn to hide it in order to protect himself.

Another paradox presents itself in most of my stories, especially the longer ones, and more honed in on Ria’s story in the BLOOD PHOENIX saga, and that’s:

Good people must accept that, sometimes, they will have to do bad things to bad people to protect the ones they love.

For her entire story arc, Ria fights to be what she deems as a good guy, struggles to keep her humanity because she doesn’t want to become like any of those corrupt women in charge. But she slowly learns that she must act like them to defeat them and is willing to sacrifice her humanity to keep other, innocent people safe.

But so long as she continues to struggle with the decisions she makes and whether or not she’s done the right thing, she’ll stay on camped across that good line.

You may be asking yourself, how is this satire? Well, it’s subtle. Paradox and dichotomies help us focus on our satirical intent and gives us new ways to exaggerate or understand or otherwise highlight our main message and its parts.

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What paradoxes are you a fan of? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

Quarterly Update: Reviewing Q1 and Planning Q2

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Hello, lovelies!

So, I’m trying something new. Well, mostly new. I’ve tried a quarterly review before and found them less than helpful, but I knew I needed to review the last three months in order to make all of that shit I’ve tracked mean something.

If you’d like to see my process more fully, watch me plan here:

 

Here’s my simplified attempt:

-What I overestimated

-What I underestimated

-My vision

-My current pain points

It was easy for me to break these categories down. I’ve always overestimated what I can accomplish, most notably my ability to multitask. This is a cycle I go through again and again. As an undergrad, I learned that multi-tasking isn’t actually a thing. We can only focus on one thing at a time in truth, so having Bob’s Burgers or Bones playing in the background is not just noise. It’s distracting me from getting my shit done.

I also learned that I’ve underestimated my ability to write and write consistently. This year, one of my main goals is to write every day. You know, minus a day or two given life happens. First, it was two-hundred-and-fifty words a day, which was hard for the first month. Come month two, my average increased daily. For March, I doubled it to five-hundred words a day. And guess what, the last two months made that rather easy. Most of the time, I reached six-hundred words or more. And man, did I learn something about practice and doing something every day consistently. Creativity became much easier to tap into with regular use.

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Next, I wanted to compare my current vision for my life and business with my vision at the beginning of the year, which was to grow my business, publish more, and improve my environment at home. This is where my word for April came from: realign. The major note within this is to simplify. Creativity always meant big and elaborate projects to me, but the more I’ve tried to accomplish this, the more I fell flat on my face. In recent years, I’ve noticed that the simpler a project, the better it came out because I could focus on the important bits rather than juggling all of these ideas at once. I plan to remember and implement this for the next quarter—and year. Actually, this helped quite a bit with my last project through Transmundane Press, and it meant a successful and fully-funded Kickstarter campaign!

Here’s hoping it brings me continued success.

These categories created my current pain points, which center on money, time, and focus. Honestly, the biggest pain point was taxes. Boy, do I loathe them, but I hope the struggle this year will mean that next year will be easier. Overall, these points generated my next quarter’s goals: research marketing and advertising to start small and expand, limiting distractions, power blocking—which changed my weeks when it came to posting blogs for the press—and keeping a balance sheet as the year goes rather than fumbling at the end of year for my taxes.

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Pretty simple, again, my overarching vision for this year and my life.

The list was helpful, but it spurred a letter-like list of notes to myself to reflect on why these things happened and real advice to keep me on track. If you can’t read my handwriting, it pretty much says what I have here with a little stronger language aimed at myself. Aka, do better damn it.

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So, here’s my next ninety days’ goals and project plans. I’ve had to include a “leftovers” section due to my procrastination issues, but with the semester ending, and two other projects ending along with it, I should be able to tackle these before the summer.

 

What are your goals this quarter? Did you get everything you wanted done last quarter? Tell me about them in the comments below!

Playing Matchmaker: a Maddy Mini

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In celebration of my upcoming novella, Little Red and the Surly Bear, I thought I’d explore a scene from the story from one of my supporting character’s point of view.

Enjoy!

 

Maddy pinched her son, swatting him out of the way as he pulled a fresh onion ring from the top of a patron’s plate. “You quit that before I serve you up to our customers instead.”

Theo grumbled and rolled his eyes, so she swatted him again.

A deep smoke-laced coffee scent inched through the kitchen window, narrowing Maddy’s eyes on the curls as Kalib walked to the table where Kaia sat. And neither of them told her they were coming? Oh no, sweets. That is not how she ran her social life or safehouses, and that vampire knew as much.

When she finished the fried catfish plate and served it to her customer at the bar, she detoured and slipped into the empty seat at their table. “Two of my favorite people show up at my place, and nobody warns me first. You’d better be planning me a surprise party, or I’m going to be offended.”

“Surprise.” Kalib smiled without fang, warmth and intimacy bled into it like a promise to make it up to her.

He’d better.

Maddy turned to Kaia, knowing her humanity and newness to paranormal persuasiveness, she didn’t hold it against her. Much.

“I sent you a message before I left.” Kaia’s green eyes blinked at her as is if to amplify her innocence.

A short shuffle with her phone, and there it was, just as her friend said, a heads-up text. Maybe Kaia was more of a match for this group than she thought. “Well, apparently you did. So, I’ll forgive you. You, on the other hand, are in the dog house.”

Maddy pointed at him to accentuate her point.

He played his part, dramatic in shock. “If this is what I get for surprising a friend, I will have to choose better friends, maus.”

Maybe he played that part too well, anxiety fluttered under her ribs for a heartbeat before she pushed it away. They’d been friends a long time. More than on a few occasions.

It carried her back to the kitchen.

Dev slipped in through the back—the real reason Kalib was at their establishment. Should have figured.

Her brother leaned in to give her a kiss on the cheek before tagging Javier for a brief chat.

Maddy shook it off, digging into her work: tasting, seasoning, stirring, scooping. Managing the pub’s kitchen and trying to ignore the guilt of having pushed Kalib away those centuries ago. Before she knew the kind of man he was. Before she’d had Theo.

She needed a fresh air break. Or maybe a cigarette and a glass of bourbon.

Hitting a lull in the line, Maddy did just that, sneaking off as Kalib grabbed her brother’s attention. As much as she brush him off, the concrete feeling of his attention caressed her spine.

The backdoor sealed the noise and stew of scents inside, and Maddy finally found some relief. She fished out the pack of cigarettes she kept for times like this from behind the dumpster and pulled the acrid smoke into her lungs with relish before the backdoor opened again, and Kalib stepped out.

“Tsk, tsk, maus. Do you not know how quickly those death sticks will kill you?” Unceremoniously close, he slipped the cigarette from her fingers and took his own drag, the smoke pluming thicker and darker on his exhale.

Sweeter.

Kalib leaned her back against the brick via proxy as he returned her nicotine. His proximity stirring old feelings with the new ones.

The temptation to draw him closer strangled her. Too close to mating season.

She glanced at the door between heartbeats.

“Afraid of being caught by your pious brother?”

That pulled a snort out of her. “My brother? Pious? I think you’ve had something a little heavier than tobacco.”

Those elegant fingers stopped her short, drawing her hair from her face and tucking it behind her ear.

Sanity said to push him away, but his smoke slipped into her mouth before he kissed her—intense like the first time but not fueled by the same childish neediness.

Still she could not control her ragged breath when he pulled back.

“Consider this my apology for showing up unannounced and playing matchmaker. The romantic in me can’t seem to help myself.”