Re-Launching LOVING RED and 99cent Sale!

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It’s the year of rebranding for me. I’ve begun re-working my website since I purchased my own logo last year, but it’s still only half complete. So, in 2019, I plan to finish that website, streamline my press website, and to rebrand my books.

And that’s my mission today. Book rebrand number one.

This is Loving Red, the first book in my Loving Red Saga, and since it’s a paranormal romance/urban fantasy, I figured Valentine’s Day was a great time to re-launch and put it on sale. I’m closing in on the end of the second installment, Little Red and the Surly Bear, which is the prequel to the first novel in preparation for the third and last in the saga, Loving Them Both.

I have all three covers for the series, so what better time to share them all with you.

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Little Red and the Surly Bear

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The Official Back Blurb:

Tall, blonde, and charming, a new adventure has blown into Miami.

When Sergeant Severins Bouvier’s wolf senses bring him to a tiny accountants’ office, he unknowingly steps in the middle of a manhunt.

Kaia doesn’t trust Sev, but she’ll have to rely on him once a rogue group of creatures catches her scent.

Now, they’re on the run together, and chasing after her ex is the only way of ending this nightmare.

If you like the dark and sexy plots of the Dark Hunters and paranormal twists of the Anita Blake Series, you’ll love the Loving Red Saga.

Buy Loving Red to start this sweetly sadistic affair today.

 

If you follow the rest of my Broken World series—which will be aptly renamed The Blood Phoenix Saga, you’ll see these storylines intersect with Ria’s world, as they’ll both come together at the end of each series.

Her books are getting new covers this year, too, when the fourth of five books will be released.

If you haven’t already gotten your hands on Loving Red, get it now for 99 cents. It includes a free ten-chapter short featuring Ria’s best friend, Ari, and a two-chapter sneak peek of the new prequel.

Let me know what you think of the new covers in the comments below.

 

In the meantime, here’s a new excerpt from Loving Red—Chapter Twenty-Four:

Following Kaia strained Severins’ calm, but her scent clearly marked his way along side the vampire’s Jag. After five hours on the go, they stopped at the North Carolina state border. The Jag seemed out of place in front of the doublewide trailer and monstrous trees.

Severins met Kaia at her car door in his camouflaged pants, offering her assistance out of the car, and she meowed playfully at him before taking in the space.

“Something feels different about this place,” she said, voice soft but spreading across the grounds like an earthquake.

“It’s protected. That’s what you feel.”

A short, frail-looking male swung open his front door and appeared on the square wooden porch. His skin marbled like the bark of an old oak with tints of green. Long and wide eyes assessed Severins and Kaia before his gaze slashed to Kaia’s vampire friend, Kalib. The performance was rather dramatic.

“You said one—a single, human female. Human. That is not human.” The dryad’s twig-finger pointed to Severins with further flair.

“We were lacking in our information. The wolf is no harm to you.”

“No harm. No harm!” His hair sprouted green and miniature ivy fell around his ears. “At best, he’ll piss on my plants. At worst.” The small man’s voice squabbled high and fluttered through the leaves above. “At worst!

Kalib rolled his eyes, and Severins shook his head. Kaia, however, seem entranced with the dryad’s tirade.

“Eilon. Fucking wood nymphs. Eilon.”

“Oh no, sir. You can stay in your pretty little metal box for that.” Eilon slammed his door again in a giant huff.

Kaia jerked and came back to the small clearing. Her eyes took on a darker green in these woods. “He did not like either of you very much.”

“Tree-folk aren’t group friendly unless there’s a ceremony or an orgy, although they’re practically the same thing to them.” Kalib pulled two long swords from behind his seat—long enough they shouldn’t have fit back there. He strapped them into holsters hidden beneath his loose cotton shirt. “I’ll take first watch.”

“Dryad’s don’t like wolves too much—territorial and all that. Piss in the wrong part of the woods once, and it’s like you killed their elder.”

“Did you tinkle on one of his plants?”

Severins snorted in delight at hearing the word tinkle come out of her mouth. “No, I’m house-trained, beautiful.”

Her giggle lightened up the small dark place, dancing along the trees as though they responded to her presence. She certainly possessed some tie to the magickal world. It explained why she attracted so much paranormal attention—his included.

Kalib hollered through the door at the little man, and Severins leaned Kaia against the side of the sports car.

“Before we go in there with that dry, old lump, give me a kiss.” He leaned into her, moving in seventy-percent of the way and leaving her the other thirty to come to him, but her hands dipped across his chest and stomach as she examined his different tattoos. Her touch stirred his raw need for her.

After a few seconds, she lifted and closed the gap between them.

Opening to him, her responses changed, shifting since their kiss in Wayne’s truck. He took advantage, pressing her closer and stealing her breath.

She drew back with a smile. “I think I’m beginning to like this lifestyle.”

Her nails scraped down his flanks, and he fought his own arousal. Severins pressed into her before backing away, slinging a shirt on to cover himself before following her inside.

The dryad jumped into the room from the kitchen, waving at them. “No, no, no. Shoes off!” Eilon skidded to a stop with his hands out.

“You. Before you enter here, you will make my pledge.”

The ends of Eilon’s knobby fingers grew sharp, and Severins surrendered. “What kind of pledge are we talking about?”

“You repeat after me. I pledge not to piss on any of Eilon Broaddock’s indoor plants.” The little man paused and snapped at him. “Repeat it.”

“I pledge not to piss on any of Eilon Broaddock’s indoor plants.”

“I pledge not to scratch, bite, or chew on any of Elion Broaddock’s precious house items.”

“I promise not to destroy your home. I may be a wolf, but I am also a gentleman.”

“Repeat as I said.” Eilon’s sharp fingers extended further.

Severins sighed. Threatening a wolf with wood wasn’t the fae’s smartest move, but he repeated the pledge instead of provoking his host further. The restraint took enormous effort because the little drama queen was asking for it.

Eilon stepped back and nodded, handing him a towel and returning to his kitchen. “And wolf will not sully Miss Red.”

“You’re venturing outside your jurisdiction, there, Oak Broad Oak.”

The vines of his hair tangled and retreated to a brilliant golden brown. “My stuffed radish. You have your own red, and you’re not to touch Miss Red if yours turns you down. She’s my bed guest, and I will not have her sullied.”

Eilon disappeared into the kitchen, and Severins’ spine whipped straight. Kaia’s face reddened, and she covered her mouth with her hand. “I like him.”

Around the corner again carrying an oversized serving tray filled with a tiny tea set, Eilon resembled a normal guy who smiled like an ornery adolescent. “You, on the other hand, Miss Red and I could share our bed with.”

Severins’ muscles convulsed as he reached for her, but she smiled at him and shook her head. “Sorry, Eilon. It’s going to be a no.”

His slender shoulders shrugged before he walked into the living room, where he set the serving tray on a peculiar and thorny coffee table. In fact, the house defined eccentric. Knick-knacks filled the shelves and displays—many of them were ceramic gnomes and girls in red hoods. At first glance, the rooms seemed to be covered in retro ivy wallpaper, but the place erupted with chirping after Eilon set the drinks. Ivy grew across the walls and vaulted ceilings.

Severins cleaned his feet with the towel the dryad supplied, and Kaia tip-toed to a small white flower, which opened to her from within the leaves. She could have been one of the Swedish fae her grandmother told her stories about. The joy in her stirred the rest of the ivy, presenting her with small, white and yellow flowers, furthering her elation. Turning her brilliance on him, the magick of his world grew more beautiful.

***

Each of those flowers fluttered open, and an elegant fragrance greeted her. Eilon’s place filled her with wonder. She’d met a few strong and strange creatures, but he was something else—the magick in him derived from more than the mere strength to persevere, it connected to the earth in a way she’d always wanted to be. And yet, the way Sev looked at her, maybe he felt it, too, as a wolf.

Venturing into the room as Sev wiped his feet, she found the seat opposite of Eilon on a wide, leather couch, which seemed at odds with the rest of the decor. Eilon, however, fit the place perfectly. The sharp corners of his smile reminded Kaia of the young men who whistled at her at the university when she visited her cousin or friends for coffee. His beauty had more symmetry than was natural, eyes still wider in this form than the average human’s.

He crossed his ankles and watched Sev sit beside her. “Let’s get through with these hostly duties of mine. Hot beverage? I made hot-lemon tea and local honey.”

“Yes, please.”

The young man poured three cups, taking honey in his own before receding in a wide-armed leather chair. “Well, the bathroom is beyond the kitchen. And since Red doesn’t want to share my bed, you both will share what’s here. Questions? Reconsiderations?”

The deep fantasies in Eilon’s gaze as he posed the question tickled her. “Don’t make me put on my mean-face.”

The tea was sour like hot lemon water, and it desperately needed honey. Sev grimaced as he sipped his own and returned the cup to its saucer. “So, are you a part of the Assetato or a contractor?”

“I have many connections.” Drinking his tea with flair made Eilon seem far more delicate than she believed him to be. “This connection is the repayment of a favor.”

“Do any of your connections hinder you from educating a human about our world?”

Kaia sat straighter, setting the cup and saucer down to keep from spilling it. Grown used to the deeply seated secrecy that came with the other, she wanted to prove herself worthy of the knowledge.

Eilon regarded them both for so agonizingly long that Kaia gave up hope of his saying anything positive when he said, “Not so strictly that I cannot provide her with an introductory lesson. How’s your memory?”

“Sharp but not perfect.”

“Mmm.” He nodded and reached into the small, brightly colored glass and brass tree beside him and pulled a vial hidden away as a flower. Uncorking it, he tapped a drop of pink liquid into her tea. It puffed and bubbled and returned to normal. “That will help you.”

Lifting the cup and saucer in apprehension, Kaia could detect no difference in her drink, and Sev leaned in to smell it before nodding his go ahead. The tea had a nice balance of sweet and sour, but bitterness tainted the aftertaste.

“Be sure to finish that before we’re through or it won’t be so effective.” Eilon stood with his own tea and sipped as he paced along side the curio-cabinets encasing a diverse ceramic gnome collection. He tutted. “Where to begin?”

After another sip of his tea, an idea struck him. “Ah. Let’s begin with this. Zombies do not exist. We have thirteen main species: fae, vampires, dragons, mers, angels, gods, bears, canines, felines, humans, elementals, birds, and equines. Variations happen as a matter of time and preference. But I suppose what’s most important is knowing the majority of mythological creatures that have stories are real. Yes! We are all real but not precisely in the way we are written.”

His hand shot into the air with exclamation. Kaia sipped her tea again, and his stories began. All creatures took on a human form after puberty—although some fae were human-sized to start with—like Eilon himself, they did not always look the same. The more abnormal or larger creatures have grown endangered as the human populace expands because they had fewer places to hide, like the centaurs and dragons. But many of the creatures’ numbers remain small because of the wars between the bosex and the vampires. For thousands of years, they battled each other almost naturally—a family feud, but the first war ended and a second began when the Assetato took hold of a large number of allies and struck against the vampires in the late twelfth century. But the Celampresians had traitors allied against their own, and old ties broke down. The wars have been consistent since—too many battles won and lost on both sides.

Both camps were stationed somewhere in New York, but smaller checkpoints scattered the country and the world. Eilon waved his hand as though he cleared the air. “I know not the infrastructure, but many check points for us are family-owned and ran, or for favors like this.

“But I digress, the camps are only the backdrop for the reality of this world. Yet, still, I must start from the beginning or closer to it. For made creatures—or those that can be both born and made, they hold misplaced magick, spread by the sole remaining god from the Atlantean pantheon, the god of beasts.” Eilon paused with dramatic flair, making himself akin to the pouty bout of supernatural creatures flooding cinematic media.

With a swift transition, Eilon persuaded Kaia of the dangers vampires and bosex had alike—speed, agility, power, and at times, extra abilities, which she’d already seen with the twins and Kalib. Scarlet didn’t show any of her powers, which didn’t bode well for Kaia and Sev in the end. Both races shared a fondness for biting—in affection and in the way they transformed humans. However, vampires were sterile, and bosex were not—who generally had litters at a time, like their full-animal counterparts.

But Eilon did something interesting. He didn’t say they were dangerous, but they had dangerous attributes, and she appreciated that. Kaia had complete faith that none of her men would hurt her. In fact, bosex were more thoroughly integrated in the human world, protecting them and themselves by blending in. And technology has helped the vampires in the recent decades.

Sev flipped her hair through his fingers. The first time she looked to him and smiled, Eilon snapped for her focus again, so she sat forward like a good student and gave him her full attention, although Sev didn’t let up his playful touch.

Beyond the basics, the cultures of each group varied as widely as humans did, yet he knew few of their species were distinctly matriarchal across the board, like dragons. The idea of dragons hiding somewhere in the real world nudged at her every childhood fantasy. Many groups of fae also had female leaders, although not predominately.

Sev leaned up, the front of his body searing along her side, and he draped her hair behind her ear. “You can take control of me any time you want.”

This earned him a sharp swat from their host, and Kaia’s cheeks flared with heat.

Kaia raised her hand, earning a dubious look from Eilon, but he gestured for her to speak. “Can you tell me anything about a pixie named Scarlet?”

“Scarlet, what, my dear?”

Shoot, she didn’t know. “Just Scarlet. She reminds me of Audrey Hepburn—the bun, the pearls, the conservative dress, and the gloves. Her features were more exotic, darker, almond eyes. Can you change physical appearance in your human forms? Or do you get what you get?”

“You get what you get—same as human genetics. Some can change their appearance, but that is rare.”

“That’s probably why she wears the gloves. She can’t change the scars on her arm.”

Eilon straightened, reminding her of an old, Catholic-school nun by the way he looked down at her. “Marusya! You’re speaking of Marusya Negreev—one of Celampresian’s best weapons during her strike against the fae. She single-handedly infiltrated the faerie mound in the Soviet Union just before the Russian Revolution and the fall of Tsar Nicholas the second. Many believe that the fall of the mound influenced the fall of the tsar’s regime, but no one knows for certain. Many fae died without their home to hide within.”

Kaia’s heart broke at the sound of loss in his voice. “Was that your home?”

The barest of nods sent Eilon across the room. He pulled a spray bottle from under the side table and gently sprayed the ivy growing over his walls. Sev sat up again, arm braced around Kaia, soothing her in a way only he seemed able to do.

“You were able to live in a nearby oak, weren’t you?”

Eilon focused on his work for a long time before he peeked at them. “I was a child then.”

With a few more pats and strokes and sprays, the fae spun with a new flourish. “Enough about old times. Enough! I will tell you of The Scarlet Queen, we will have dessert, and then off to bed. Miss Red does not like me to stay up all night without her.”

Kaia giggled and covered her mouth, picturing this small man wrapped around a plush radish. The way Eilon smiled at her made it harder to stop. “Do you actually call her The Scarlet Queen? Like the evil red queen or the queen of hearts? Alice in Wonderland?”

“Yes, like her. She was a bloody queen. Her death toll will remain the highest for all fair folk unless we are eliminated. Extinct. It may come to that some day.

“She is ruthless and dispassionate and has been this way since before she allied with the vampire queen. Her name should have been a sign of what she’d been burdened with, and her family was blamed for much of her bitterness. Names can prove powerful. So powerful to taint the soul. When Marusya gained power in the Soviet mound, she flayed her own parents for her merciless upbringing and proved to the people that she would defeat all who came against her, earning her title as the Scarlet Queen.”

And Scarlet wanted the bear—wanted her and Sev as casualties of war, a means to prove her lack of mercy.

“Did you say flayed?” Sev features drew closed.

“Like butchered? With the big, long knife?” Fear pumped through her, and her fingers dug into Sev’s knee.

“She uses no knife. The power is in her hands. The Scarlet Queen is a powerful spell caster. Flaying is not her only ability. She can perform many gruesome acts with them. I have articles. I will get them for you and bring dessert.” Eilon stood abruptly and left the room.

Kaia gripped Sev harder. “If she has the power to flay us, how do we stand a chance?”

Life’s endless promises seemed severed, the end coming closer and closer with each breath.

 

Breaking Down Satire: Satirical Violence

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Often, when people talk about violence and satire, they’re discussing the violent acts within a text, especially video games.

Well, that’s not what satirical violence means. It’s when the subject is treated violently.

Since satire can have a wide range of tones and varying strengths of attack, violence can be considered one of the more cutting instruments in the tool box.

To clarify—or re-clarify—the purpose of satire is to ridicule human folly and vice through irony, derision, or wit, or my preference, sarcasm. So, violence takes that ridicule to an extreme.

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One of my favorite examples of this is South Park: think “Raising the Bar,” how the present Barbara Streisand, “Taming Strange,” and “Go Fund Yourself,” amongst many, many more. The way they handle their subjects tend to be extreme to hammer their points home. Or so I assume. I may practice analysis for a living, but I will never claim to actually know the intent of an author. With that out of the way, let me provide an example where I do know the writer’s intent.

In nearly every one of my stories and novels, I make an attack on conformity. It’s my leading satirical note, and I hit it pretty viciously. One of the things I hammer is conforming to any group’s ideals—not just the leading ones.

Why? Because conformity means following without understanding one’s actions or behaviors. It eliminates original thought, which keeps people from analyzing messages completely.  Again, this is something I teach, and my favorite way to teach it is by presenting ideas that are not my own, playing devil’s advocate, and presenting interesting texts for examination since I don’t want to create twenty-four or forty-eight or ninety-six Alisha clones. Please, one of me is enough. I simply want individuals who can think for themselves and to seek out information on topics from multiple perspectives.

That’s the interesting thing about Ria, specifically, in my Blood Phoenix novels. Constantly, she’s reminded that the Assetato and the Celampresians are evil paranormal groups. One clearly claims good over the other, but both complete evil acts for the sake of their own goals. However, good and bad exist on both sides. The whole of one group cannot be defined by particular members of it.

The reason I call it satirical violence is because this lack of conformity gets her in a lot of trouble, and consistently. Most often, Ria’s right. Like when she refused to kill her victims, when she rebelled against those who kept her in a cage and fed her a child, when she refuses to show her fear of the queen vampire, when she helps a new renegade adjust, when she chose to surround herself with humans…I mean, I could list more, but I think I’ve made my point.

Violence is an important, and often misunderstood, characteristic of satire. It’s also one to be careful with as it can polarize more than the deftly crafted story will.

 

 

A Flip Through My Writing Bullet Journal

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Hello, lovelies.

I wanted to share a flip through of my writing notebook.

If you’d like to watch my flip through instead, check out the video below:

So, I got this notebook for five dollars–well, my mom bought the notebook (thanks mom!)–and decided to keep writing spreads and notes in one place rather than throughout years of bullet journals.

First is my year’s projects at a glance:

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Right now, I have all coral sticky notes for 2019. And already, I can tell you I’m behind on January in two places, but I should catch up with one by the end of the month.

This is the awesome thing about sticky notes, I can replace, adjust, and remove, etc., as I need. And I use this spread for that purpose–to visually revise after the year has started.

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I got these next two spreads from Rachael Stephen‘s YouTube channel: The Harmon’s Plot Embryo and the Tragic Embryo. I find both of these helpful when brainstorming and the first stages of plotting. The tragic structure works better for short stories for me. I like happy-ish endings for novels and series, but I prefer to leave readers devastated at the end of something short.

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Next, I begin the three-act structure notes from well-storied. I’ve only begun plotting and planning instead of a hundred percent pantsing since this has made it dramatically improved my speed in drafting and edited. Granted, I miss things in my outlines and have to shift for those pantsing moments.

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The next few spreads came from Boho Berry–a bullet journal YouTube personality–when she did her first round of NaNoWriMo. There’s probably some typos in here because, honestly, I take notes when I’m exhausted, and I copied them word for word. I’m all right with it.

These help for both planning and breaking through writer’s block, especially when I pair them with the Dungeons & Dragons alignments. Again, more typos with neutral. I know. I get tired. I’m not fixing it. We’ll all survive, right?

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I got another personality breakdown from Rachael Stephen since seeing them presented differently can jar ideas free.

Finally, I have a plot twists spread from greatstorybook.com

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Welp, that’s what I’ve got. For now.

I’ll update y’all as I add things.

Stay tuned for my monthly update and review next week and tell me what kind of writing advice or tips you like to collect and how!

 

 

Character Interview with Adomous

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Hey, y’all. Time for a character interview with the mythological, Adomous. He tends to be infuriatingly high and mighty, so let’s see if we make it through this with all our skin.

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Me: Hi, Adam. Thank you for coming in and answering some questions today.

Adam: I’d say that I try to be helpful, but I don’t want to earn the wrong kind of reputation. Then, the old cronies crawl out of the woodwork to ask for something, and I’m trapped.

Me: Don’t worry, I won’t expose your secret. Let’s jump in. Yeah? What’s in your refrigerator right now?

Adam: Wine and leftovers—coconut curry over rice, more specifically. And creamer. For my coffee in the morning.

Me: That’s it? Really?

Adam: At the moment. The wine does take up quite a bit of space.

Me: Okay. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Adam: Crawling out from under the old G.O.D. It took millennia, but it is certainly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Me: G.O.D.?

Adam: It’s a title, sweetie. And that’s all I can say to someone with your clearance level.

Me: I’m pretty sure I have…

Adam: You don’t.

Me: What is your most treasured possession?

Adam: Something I treasure enough to not reveal what it is. That way, no one can use it as leverage against me.

Me: Why do I feel like I’m talking to Evan again?

Adam: Because you have a death wish?

Me: When and where were you the happiest?

Adam: When I was in the Garden of Eden with Lilith—before she was banished.

Me: Not with Eve?

Adam: I enjoyed spending time with Eve, too, but it wasn’t the same.

Me: What do you most dislike?

Adam: Why evil, of course. It is my job to enforce morality.

Me: How do you feel about your new charge, Lilith Graves?

Adam: I don’t think I can provide a sigh deep enough or long enough to express just how I feel about that young lady. She’s insubordinate and bull-headed. Eternally frustrating with a heart too big. She’ll get herself hurt.

Me: Why did you agree to take the job? There’re hints that you work with her mother?

Adam: I do and have for a long time. She made me what I am, and her trust in me is why I train Lily. I took the job as a favor. To protect her.

Me: Good answer.

 

 

All right, Adam might be a bit sour, but I have a feeling there’s a good heart hidden in there somewhere. I hope you get to know him better in THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.

Learn more about the series with Lily’s Ethology Lessons and other character interviews.

 

Did You Know…About the Types of Angels?

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Originally, angels were known as god’s messengers, his shadows, and serve as the celestial host, but writing categorize them according to their proximity to god and his grace: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. Further definition breaks them into three houses: The Angels of Contemplation, of the Cosmos, and of Earth.

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The Angels of Contemplation supervise the entire universe, concerned with the divine grace’s manifestations in the cosmos. They do not interact with humankind in a direct way.

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This sect includes the Seraphim, who serve as god’s caretakers, singing his praises and circling his throne with grace. Because they bask in god’s presence, no other beings, not even other angels, can look at them, but they are described as having six wings, two covering their faces, two covering their feet, and two keeping them aloft. And as they sing tributes to the lord and god’s decrees, they never cease singing.

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Also of this order are the Cherubim, who exist just beyond god’s throne and the Seraphim. Guardians of the light and the stars, they radiate divine light to cover the inverse with warmth and love. They are the keepers of knowledge and secrets, both Divine and Earthly. The Cherubim have a melding of typical angelic features; two or four wings; one of four faces, lion, ox, eagle, and man; or with the head of a lion, hands, arms, and torso of a man, and the legs and hooves of a calf.

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Thrones are the last class of the upper echelon, whose primary purpose is to bare the throne of god and the first line of justice and keeping of celestial law. They ponder the initial temperament of every godly ruling on the guilty and bestow the verdict on those below. They’re known as humble creatures who maintain their neutrality and objectivity in order to dispense justice. Simple yet bizarre, thrones are large orbs or wheels covered in reflective eyes and glowing with shimmering iridescent light—often charioting god as they exist in the state between physical and celestial worlds.

The Angels of the Cosmos maintain balance between the spiritual and corporeal universes. They often pass between the planes and rarely come in contact with humans as they risk compromising man’s natural flaws. Their exposure to the constant, intense duel puts them in a precarious position, as those who are purest are the most susceptible to impurity.

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The Dominions create the top tier whose primary purpose is to maintain the lines of communication between the worlds to regulate the duties of the angels below them in the hierarchy. They see across the infinite through endless eyes and have the ability to shift their physical bodies as they wish; although this makes them hard to describe, they typically carry a large orb or massive scepter as symbols of authority.

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Next, the Virtues channel the vast energies throughout the cosmos in countless forms. Their chief objective is to convey the unending heavenly energy to the physical world to be broadcast into humanity’s collective consciousness. They bestow heavenly miracles and holy blessings for those god favors, so they are often associated with courageous heroes whose strive for good. These angels appear as pure light who oversee all the stars, planets, and moons that fill the galaxies—overseeing the nature of things to mark the seasons and elements.

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Powers oversee the laws binging the physical realm, guarding peace, harmony, and order. The celestial energy they channel strengthens religion and bolsters the faithful against enemies of the church. They keep count of god’s followers, gather the truth, and hold all of the world’s history. Patrolling the borders of heaven, they act as the guardians in a more material manner and discourages any hellish invasion. The highest number of fallen angels come from this sect, possibly because of their proximity to temptation in the material world. Physically, they look like perfect humans with wings, marking them as the highest of the holy army.

Lastly, the Angels of Earth reside in the spiritual plane but are intricately involved with mankind’s affairs—present in the everyday lives of humanity, weaving in and out of our reality, listening and influencing. These angels are responsible for revelation, diplomacy, and retribution.

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The Principalities bear the social mores needed for political and administrative success in the earthly realm. Functioning in large groups, they create positive and symbolic energies to structure the abstract and push the boundaries of what is possible. Allowed more freedom to interact with humanity, principalities determine others’ assignments. Like the other Earth Angels, few traits distinguish them apart from the Powers.

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Archangels are the best known of the hierarchy. These sizable and imposing angels carry out god’s will, answering prayers, which is the main reason for their popularity. They indicate imminent great change.

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The final sect of the hierarchy are simply angels, whose focus is on guarding humanity. Floating in the invisible ether, they are the lowest amongst their brethren due to their proximity to god and amalgamation of powers, but they hold an important place on Earth. Powerful and magnificent beings, they radiate perfect grace and spirituality. Some of them are actual Guardian Angels, assigned to individuals, places, and things. Innumerable others watch, record, and influence infinite worlds.

 

For centuries, religious scholars have categorized angels in dozens of different ways, and these nine orders are just the beginning. Stay tuned for more on angels, heaven, and hell in future Did You Know…posts.

Get to know more about my favorite angel offspring, Lily, in THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.

His Return: a Colista mini.

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Gene lay beside me in bed, like a dream after the year he’d been gone to fight under the Gordians. His skin seemed paler, although that could have been the moon playing tricks on me.

And my heart.

I spent every day worrying over him, wondering if and when he might come back. If he’d be all in one piece.

And he was.

Thank the gods, he was.

But he had accumulated a new mass of scars—light and glowing against his usual tan—along his sides and arms. My fingers found a patch by his armpit, following them down to his ribs.

Gene opened his eyes like he’d feigned sleep.

“What are you doing awake this late?” His husky voice pulled me closer to him, but only barely.

“A habit, that’s all.” The intensity in his blue eyes unnerved me. My husband had never left me intimidated before.

My father told me that he might return different. All soldiers did.

And he was.

Warmth cupped the back of my arm, and I wormed closer, wanting to sink into him.

“What keeps you up?” His voice dipped in my ears as he pulled my head against his shoulder.

“I worry—worried—about you. Out there. Fighting.” The truth was I’d spent an hour or more each night in front of our window with a bowl or herbs and oils and salts, begging the gods and the universe for Gene’s return.

“You don’t need to worry about me anymore.” The sweet scent of him lulled me into comfort, removing the layers of stress and anxiety from between my brows.

His heat surrounded me, relaxing me past the fear of waking up without him again.

“I can protect you, now. Provide for you. And I’m not going anywhere,” my dreams said in his voice.

I wanted to believe him.

But I knew better.

Plan With Me: January 2019

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My planning style hasn’t changed much over the course of 2018, and I don’t see much need for changing the majority of it at the moment. Although, I am excited to see if any of my projects require new additions to my monthlies and weekly spreads. If you’d like to see me talk through the process and watch me mark up my journal with pen and markers, please check out my companion video.

 

I do still plan to include artwork at the front of each month, even though I didn’t have time for November and December’s coloring pages. But, since my mom is buying me a color printer for Christmas, I’m going to make it easier on myself—and give myself more options—and print art that I like for my bullet journal, which I got between filming and posting, so here’s what I have for my January cover art. This is a piece by Jacquelin Deleon, which I printed on sticker paper and stuck in my journal. She shows off a lot of her beautiful art on YouTube. Check her out.

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First, I have my monthly calendar. This is to record holidays and birthdays and other important dates should I need them. Often, it remains pretty blank, like it is here, but December was full with five birthdays, the holiday season, and finals. But I also like the new addition of a word or phrase for the month. This month, it’s brave creativity. I chose this to remind myself not only to write and create, but to take chances and not miss out on opportunities.

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Next is my master tasks list and monthly breakdown. Along the left, I have all of the projects I’m working on for January, pulled from my quarterly goals and plan. Within the boxes—business, author, and school/home—I give those actions that have specific dates their spot so that I can plan out the rest. Part of these are pulled from my editorial calendar on the next page, but only those posts that I need to draft for my own blog. I also decided to add my word count goals on each Sunday in my Author section to keep an additional reminder that I should be writing.

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Finally, I’ve drawn out my editorial calendar. Notice, three calendars in a row. Seems redundant, but they all serve a different purpose. Hence, why I can’t use a regular planner. Too crowded. And talking about crowded, see how full this beast is? It’s going to stay that way for a while, too, as my business partner and I push to grow our business, which means more publications, more authors, and more marketing.

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I used to keep track of all the videos and Instagram posts I wanted to complete as well, but I never got around to them. They took up too much time and space in my journal, so I nixed them this go around. Although one of my goals is to post more on Instagram, I don’t think this calendar is the right place for me to plan that out. I haven’t figured out what to include for this goal—or several of my others—but when I do, I promise to share.

 

I will be creating more plan with me blogs and videos for those who want to write more, read more, create more, self-publish, market plan, and the like.

How do you plan out your projects and busy lives? Leave me your ideas, tips and tricks, or questions below!

Breaking Down Satire: Hyperbole, Exaggeration, & Understatement

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Hyperbole is one of the best ways to create a satirical message as the majority of an audience can easily understand exaggeration. This is because it is meant to generate strong feelings or effect. And there’s a good chance that hyperbole will catch a reader’s attention.

Besides, readers are attracted to this type of language because we use hyperbole in our everyday speech, especially in our youth: I’m so hungry I could eat a horse or my mom is going to kill me.

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And we all have the natural tendency to exaggerate as it makes our stories funnier and more dramatic. This is how we create characters that are larger than life. We can focus on particular causes or issues without needing to delve into the far-reaching complexities of the real world. If satire does nothing else, it certainly means to make a specific point, so hyperbole is supremely helpful.

One of my favorite examples is in “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., which is probably why I teach it every semester. The themes of equality and Communism are exaggerated to create an extremely oppressed society. Forced to be the same as the lowest-common denominator, progress stalls, people are tortured, and no one bats an eye at the live execution that takes place on television.

Even better is the depiction of Harrison as a character. A behemoth at seven-foot tall with super strength and smarts and good looks that would put Thor to shame. When he chooses his Empress—after prematurely claiming his rule as Emperor by stamping his foot and threatening those in the TV studio—the two of them dance and leap to the touch the ceiling, and defy gravity by hovering there for minutes, kissing.

Well, this exaggeration serves two purposes: one, to indicate how even in an oppressed society, evolution will still create strong offspring to advance a species. No dictatorship can squash this completely. And two, to show how when grace, intelligence, and beauty are suppressed, any hint at true talent will seem miraculous. This plays well into his overall message that absolute equality is not possible.

On the other side, understatement expresses an idea with less strength than expected. Again, we use these often in our daily lives: I’ll be there in one second or this won’t hurt one bit.

This creates a casual or offhanded message about something quite serious.

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Once again, I gleam an example from the stories I teach in class, this time in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. She goes to great length to establish a utopia. In fact, she takes half the story to convince us that this place, Omelas, can exist, which sets up her message well.

In one last ditch effort to make believers out of us, she casually gives us the image of a naked child in a basement closet, festering in his excrement, barely eating, and shown no kindness. He is the trade that the people make for their luxuriously happy lives. And he’s shown to us in an offhanded way that tells the audience how the people need to think of him in order to maintain said happiness.

The understatement comes in how much focus she imparts on the people and their needs and psyches rather than the child’s and creates a perfect metaphor for first-world problems verses third-world problems, how societies are built off of stomping on others, like the trend of companies utilizing overseas sweatshops and child slave labor to provide us with cheap and easily accessible products. (By us, I’m speaking personally as a lower-middle-class American). In fact, one of my favorite examples is Apple, who put nets around their Chinese factories to keep workers from killing themselves. I’m sure if you do a quickie internet search, you’ll find more examples of this than you can stomach for the companies you buy from, which is why I advocate for voting with your dollar.

Okay, that’s hyperbole/exaggeration and understatement and a great way to launch this year’s focus on satirical elements and tools.

I hope you join me next month for satirical violence.

 

In the meantime, leave me your favorite hyperbolic or understated expressions and examples in the comments below.

Planning for the New Year: business, writing, and life

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I’ve finally done it. I’ve finally set up for my next year in my bullet journal. Y’all, I’ve been working on this since early November, trying to decide what I did right and where I went wrong in 2018, and what was purely out of my control that I could create allowances for next year.

And if you’d rather hear me talk about my process and watch me speed through writing in my journal, feel free to jump over to YouTube instead.

 

So first, I have my Level 10 Life. I do this every year, and I like to gauge how my work has filtered out into the different parts of my life. I love making circles with my moxedori stencil. Filling in circles makes me happier than checking off boxes for some reason. You can see, I’ve been pretty consistent trying to raise each of the areas in my life.

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And I use the stencil again on my next spread, making circles for my project trackers. I’ve split them between my writing goals and my editing goals for the year.

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They’re lofty, but so were last year’s. Here’s a photo of what I accomplished.

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I’ve got three of the projects plotted out already and will fill in the AIR progress in my 2018 bullet journal and the rest of CONDUITS, which is scheduled for January.

Next, I have my overall goals for 2019.

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As you can see, those circles from the last page only take up a little bit of my overall yearly goals, but like the visualization of my creative works broken down that way. Writing and editing is the fun part of running a publishing press, but I have a lot of goals that require more grueling research and administrative tasks, which fill out the rest of this page.

On the second page, I’ve listed my personal goals, like learning how to composite art for graphic design and cover creation, which have been goals of mine for a long time. I’m getting better. I also have some nice fitness goals, which I’m super excited about. I’ve just gotten my husband a power tower for his birthday, and he’s teaching me how to do assisted pull ups at the moment. Man, my back is sore from that, but I can’t wait to do a full pull up on my own. I’m also looking forward to pushing myself through a 5k—and I’m almost there—which I never thought I’d say with genuine enthusiasm. Seriously, had you asked me seven years ago when I first started lifting those heavy-ass five-pound weights, if I’d ever enjoy running, I’d have laughed in your face. Spittle and all. But now…the change is interesting.

For the next couple of spreads, I’ve set up the pages to outline and brainstorm my writing projects for the year. I have the novels in their own traveler’s notebooks, which I can crack open and share if anyone’s interested in seeing the whole project planning process for writing, editing, publishing, and marketing, let me know. I’d be happy to share.

I even have two pages for next year’s shorts, so I can plan or drop notes as I think of them.

Finally, I have a spot for some online courses that my husband as been advising me to make. We’ll see how this goes. I have some fun ideas for it to span amongst all of the writing levels I encounter now (remedial writing to polished creative writing).

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Okay, yes, I’m a dork, but I feel that planning out at least five years in advance for my business keeps me more on the ball. (And you should really see my writing plan, which is scheduled out to 2031. Yes. Really.)

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It takes me a long time to plan these out, and I have boards and sheets, and LOTS of color coding that goes into the lists here, which are quite bare and minimal, even though it doesn’t seem like it.

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Here, I’m listing my personal and author blog plan. Again, I have a lot of other paper that got me here, and a year-long plan of marketing set up in its own traveler’s notebook.

Next, I have really simple set-ups for books I plan to read this year. I only have eleven, which used to be what I would read in a couple weeks, but now, I read so much for both of my jobs that it’s impossible to read for pleasure a lot of the time. Or maybe I just feel guilty for not being productive. I don’t know.

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And beside it, I have a minimal spread for my yearly word count tracker. I plan to list my goal verses actual word count, and keeping a running total.

Then, I have a brainstorm spread for my website and book rebrands. I launched a new site last year with my new logo and need to add a LOT to it. I also plan to give my press website a revamp, but not an overhaul like my author site.

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Now, I’m into quarter planning before my January set-up. I used these pages last year and found them helpful—when I remembered to fill them out. After I got sick, it just seemed like another task that took time I could be spending catching up. Now that I am, it will be useful to keep me on track.

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Here are my stats and sales pages along with my future log. I track a lot of sites and online presence since I’ve made my mom a website and built her a store as well. She designs and crafts stained glass pieces, and her beautiful work made it easy to build an attractive site. Surely, this isn’t a shameless plug to get you to look at her work. No. I wouldn’t do that for my mom… (here’s the link).

Finally, I have my quarter one goals and project plans to set-up for the months ahead.

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You can see that the same projects pop up a lot, and this is how I really break down the steps and keep myself accountable. Motivation has little to do with it sometimes. It’s planning well and sticking the nose to the grindstone. And that’s what I’m off to do!

 

I will be creating more plan with me blogs and videos for those who want to write more, read more, create more, self-publish, market plan, and the like.

How do you plan out your projects and busy busy lives? Leave me your ideas, tips and tricks, or questions below!

TRANSCENDENT Launch Day!

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I started writing my story, “The Glittering Pearls,” for TRANSCENDENT four years ago after a conversation my husband and I had about eating sins. Like he often does, Jason triggered the necessary magnetic pull of random scraps from my mind to create Jace, an Eater, entering a depository after a long day of absorbing others’ sins.

Here are the original six hundred words:

Gravel crunched beneath Jace’s sneakers as he marched his way to the Depository. The predominately iron structure made the unbearable weight from his last purge dissipate enough for Jace to stand two inches taller. It was the only place he found any resemblance of peace.

The high and open arches of the building let in too much light during the day, but at twilight, the black metal stood as a shadow amongst small, glittering pearls. It looked dangerous, which meant no one else would be there—other than his fellow Eaters.

Upon entrance, Jace palmed the iron and held on, releasing a single moment from the day’s purges.

Echoes from a shrill scream reverberated within him as his arm jolted forward, slicing a blade through soft flesh and muscle, a set of nails digging ragged circles into his left shoulder. Hot blood spilled over his hand and the handle of the black iron knife used for official Guard business.

The sparse and open foyer of the Depository returned to him, and the hunch of his shoulders eased. He couldn’t rid himself of many at a time, but most of the elder Eaters made frequent ritual of it. Why they wanted to prolong their misery, Jace couldn’t figure. He rid himself of just enough to stave off a little of the pain, just enough to allow him a few precious hours of sleep. Tonight, his hand would meet the iron more than normal.

Two purges in one day demanded a lot.

Jace wound his way up a spiral staircase to the top level, a relatively small section of the building that housed donated cots and old furniture. Several Eaters took up the beds and couches, leaving smaller spaces for others. As he passed a few, he could see the twitches in their muscles and knew they did not sleep.

A corner sat empty of younger Eaters, like himself, as an elder lay propped against a slew of old cushions. None could truly bear to be near an elder, weighed down with more than a decade of sins on his soul that the evil radiating into his immediate surroundings.

Jace took a circular chair, with a short round back that curved into arms. It cupped his body as he pulled his knees to his chest. He closed his eyes to debilitating guilt and flashes of torture. Iron arched over him, and he touched it once more.

His hand closed around Ms. Wendy, the young librarian’s, throat, opening her mouth in a gasp of air. Leather and molding paper scented her clothes, but her hair hinted at herbs and romance. Ms. Wendy’s skirt crept up her thigh and hip above his hand as he grabbed her. A fire burned low in his belly and extremities. Adrenaline and lust filtering out of control as pain clawed at his arms—the first bit of her fight.

Peeling away from the iron; the withering pain curled him further in on himself.

Two guards in one day were too much for a pentam. But Jace turned sixteen in two days. The purges would grow worse as his duties moved him closer to the pristine parts of the city and its capitol.

After this, I left it for three years without much outlining or serious drive to figure this story out, although on tired days, I would think about it and what it stemmed from.

In 2016, a new layer bloomed, and I’d had a rough outline for the majority of the story. Then, I imagined this as a serial of stories from different Eaters’ points of view. Now, I can’t imagine trying to sustain the delicate balance of details and suggestion to create violent sins without showing too much for another story.

It’s no secret that I write a lot of violent and deadly and gruesome things. I have a tendency for killing kids in my stories and novels, but this one…was hard.

Maybe, I’m being jaded. I lost a quarter of this story after a bout of elated creation.

Now, let me be clear, most of my writing does not happen this way. Most of it comes in spurts and bits and me forcing myself to try words and phrases and sentences until I make some progress—even if it’s only a hundred words.

When I have these pure moments, they’re usually the best bits of the story in its final form. Afterwards, I chattered on excitedly to my husband and step-son about how proud I was of figuring out my characters and giving them strength.

Then, I came back, and those five pages were gone.

I checked every saved file and back up and messenger and email I could to find those five pages. I couldn’t.

So, I wrote them again. And with far less enthusiasm. Because I knew it wouldn’t be the same. The re-write missed something from the original that I couldn’t get back.

This tainted the rest of the story for me, but I had to get it out. It still needed finished, and I can’t say I’m not proud of the results. It’s a good story. It does exactly what I want it to.

But I’m disappointed.

This has never happened to me. I mean, I’ve lost a lot of pages before, and ones that I was proud of, but those were always in novels, and the impact seemed far less.

And I’ve been cursed with creative honesty. So, there you go.

I do hate to be bittersweet on a day like today because, on a whole, I am so, so proud and excited about this collection of stories.

We have seventy-one different tales and fourteen original pieces of artwork inside.

Don’t miss out on the opening-week sale before it goes up to full price.

 

 

 


 

Transcendent - Amazon KindleA parallel dimension exists below the surface of reality.

Its doors swing open every time we sleep, allowing us passage into the land of DREAMS, a plane rich with exotic fantasy and limitless bliss. Within this wonder world, however, lurk dark corridors and terrible creatures—some unfortunate travelers never escape the NIGHTMARES waiting in the shadows.

Many have tried bridging our worlds. Seekers and wise men have meditated for VISIONS and ingested intoxicants for HALLUCINATIONS in hopes that the veil between our realms will thin, allowing access to all the thrills, joys, and horrors beyond our senses.

TRANSCENDENT is an open gate, a gangway linking our realm to the shimmering sphere where nothing is certain and anything is possible.