Character Interview with Starr Black

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Hey, y’all. Time for a character interview with the fabulous Starr Black. She doesn’t need much in the way of introductions, so let’s just jump in.

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Me: Hi, Starr. It’s wonderful to see you again.

Starr: Thanks, girl. Always fabulous to be here. You can invite me over any time.

Me: Oh, you’re delightful. Okay, let’s kick this off with one of the basics. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Starr: Gladly. I am a strong-ass female that likes to kick ass and trend set at the same time. I’m fiercely competitive but compassionate—mostly because I’m the eldest of five. Most importantly, I’m a witch with some grand-standing new wave ideas that are going to change to the world of magic. Not so importantly…I’m the heir to a prestigious lineage. And the pressure’s not what gets to me, it’s conforming to their traditions that gives me serious hives.

Me: What kind of new wave ideas are we talking about?

Starr: Well, patent pending, I weave spells into artwork. I may even be planning a graphic novel spell book, but I can’t spill too many details. All those sneaky imitators waiting to swoop in on my genius. Not happening.

Me: Smart thinking. You mentioned having younger siblings. Any pets?

Starr: Oh no. No, no, no. The twins are more than enough. We don’t need any more animals running around the house.

Me: Do you work out or are you a coach potato?

Starr: Oh, I get my yoga on. Balance and flexibility have so many health benefits. And other benefits. I’m working on my handstands.

Me: I can see balance and flexibility coming in handy with how busy you are, especially with the new add-ons to your friends list.

Starr:  Hmm, well, I don’t know how much a friend Evan is, but he’s not as bad as I thought he was before. Maybe more of an ally. Or neutral. We’ll see. But Lily has made my life so much more exciting. It’s nice to interact with someone who’s not hanging out with me to climb the social ladder or looking to steal some of my true fabulousness. Let me tell you, that’s a struggle. I don’t know. Lily’s got the whole own your awkward thing going on, and it works for her. Plus, have you seen her wonder twin guardians? An FBI agent with all sorts of pull and intimidation tactics and steeliness. And an uber smart geneticist who becomes Mr. Mom when he comes home. Have you tried his baklava? Girl. Please. Plus, they’re both total babes.

Me: I wonder how Lily would react to you calling her father and uncle babes.

Starr: She’d probably just shake her head at me. Because I only have two speeds, full and off.

Me: I can see that.

Starr: It’s more than okay to bask in my glory. It’s free until eight.

Me: What’s your plan for after high school?

Starr: Sassy Sister Sidekick Consultant with the REPpers? No, well, yes, that, but I want to teach kids how to develop their magic. Be the mentor I’d always wanted.

Me: You mentioned having an issue with conforming to traditions, does that play a role?

Starr: I think you already know the answer to that. Don’t get me wrong, my family is supportive and loving and all of that, but no one took the way I practiced seriously until I made them. Until I started teaching it to other people. But I don’t just want to teach my way. I want them to experiment until they find what’s right for them.

Me: I respect that. What’s the best way to get on your good side?

Starr: Bring your best to the table. We all have amazing things inside us. So unleash it or get the hell out of the way.

Me: Easiest way to get on your bad side?

Starr: Lie to me. About anything. It’s disrespectful.

Me: What movies do you absolutely hate?

Starr: Ugh. The Wizard of Oz.

Me: Because of the green skin, long nose, and wart?

Starr: Girl, don’t even get me started with that shit.

Me: And who is your celebrity crush?

Starr: Sam Rockwell. I just saw him in Mr. Right with Anna Kendrick. So cute. Funny. Crazy. Sexy.

Me: I’m noticing a trend here, Starr. Should I be worried?

Starr: You can, but it wouldn’t do you much good.

Me: I think it’s time to end this before we stir up any misinterpretation or accusations.

Starr: I think you might be right.

Me: Thank you, Starr, for joining me today. Help yourself to some more coffee, and I have pie on the counter.

 

Well, y’all, Starr may be a bit flamboyant, but I hope that doesn’t dissuade you from getting to know her better in THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.

Alisha Chambers.The Lily Graves Series.The Girl with the Glowing Hair.ebook

Editing Advice: Show Verses Tell

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Oh, the old, repetitive adage we all hear through the entirety of our writing careers.

I’m guilty of this, saying show me, don’t tell me. Show me. Don’t tell me.

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Image (c) Matthew Loffhagen

So, how do we do this?

First, we have what I deem simply as telling words. They’re thus: feel, felt, saw, looked, smelled, thought, wondered, found, touched, knew, and noticed. 99.99% of the time, these indicate telling.

Here are a few examples of them in action:

She wondered if he liked the color blue. / Would he like this in blue? Does he like blue?

 He saw the forest looming in the distance. / The forest loomed in the distance.

 I felt disgusted at the sight. / The bloated, dead deer twisted my gut with nausea.

Essentially, we’re trying to put the reader into the experience rather than telling them about it. This often creates first person/close third conditions—the most popular forms of storytelling, but even if a narrator is providing the reader with a story, they can draw the reader in with the same techniques as distant third and omniscient.

Now, other forms of telling are a bit harder to identify. However, we need to keep in mind that readers are smart, so when we show the character within the world, we don’t need to explain it to our readers.

For example, Silvia’s palms grew sweaty every time John got close. Her attraction to him made her nervous.

Note how her sweaty palms and his proximity impliesher attraction to him, and given the context of a story or setting and internal dialogue, we don’t need to hold up a sign and scream, “Hey, did you get it?”

I do want to mention that telling has its purpose, we need it to get through the boring parts of the story, to get us along to the exciting scenes.

For instance, we don’t want to describe the wake up, morning routine, and drive to work before we get to the stack of paperwork piled on our poor character’s plate and her impending breakdown from it. Spending time on this type of action would need a function, like creating internal turmoil, but it certainly shouldn’t last too long.

Instead, jump into that scene and her breakdown and tell while you show, because I’m sure she’ll reflect on how she dreaded every minute of her prep to get there in scene.

For instance, if this breakdown comes at the beginning of a story, the telling would come in her thoughts:

I knew it. Another damn stack of paperwork. The impending doom ticked with every second from the moment my alarm went off to finishing breakfast, from brushing my teeth to the stop-and-go on the highway to get here. And I knew it when that musty blast of AC clogged my nose as I pushed my way into the building.

This is telling, yes, because we don’t walk through every step with the character, but imagine if this took, let’s say, two to seven pages. (I’ve seen longer.) It would be really hard to keep the tension and interest of the reader. I deem this step-by-step telling.

Let’s take a brief peek at what this looks like:

I got up at six a.m. when my alarm went off, groaning about my stupid desk job. The floor was cold under my feet as I put each on the carpet-less floor. Tugging my nightie around myself, I shuffled to the closet to get my robe and rubbed my arms until some warmth returned. I walked to the bathroom to pee before I made breakfast.

I pulled the pan from the bottom, right cupboard and the butter from the fridge door…

And is this growing tedious yet? Are you asking, so what? What’s the point? Where’s the story?

But it’s showing. Full of details and images and actions, but this is the boring stuff, the stuff we can leave implied or simplified. Need a character to go upstairs? Don’t show him taking them, just show that he moved (on the second floor…in his bedroom…on the balcony…), and the reader will know that he must have gone up those stairs.

 

Try it out in your current WIP and share the changes below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

 

 

Character Interview with Evan Walker

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Hey, y’all. Time for a character interview with the infamous, Evan Walker. He’s a bit of a tough one, especially for a fifteen-year-old, so let’s see what we can get out of him.

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Me: Hi, Evan, Thanks for joining me today.

Evan: Yeah. Sure. They’re counting this as a part of my community service, so whatever.

Me: Community service? What for?

Evan: I have a propensity for using fire in ways that get out of hand. Sometimes. Allegedly.

Me: I see. It seems you have more than fire in your arsenal. At least, according to your file.

Evan: Did Lily give you that? More to be said than what’s officially on paper. Not that anyone really cares what really happened, so long as someone has been punished for the inconvenience.

Me: I plead the fifth on the file, so why don’t we get into it.

Evan: Whenever you’re ready.

Me: Do you have any pets?

Evan: Just Moon, my end-of-the-year project. I’m still working on Mom to let me build her a habitat in the backyard, but for some reason, she’s not happy with the thought of a dragon nest so close to the house. Not after what happened at school.

Me: What happened at school?

Evan: You have my file.

Me: That wasn’t in your file.

Evan: Too bad for you, then, huh?

Me: Do you put both socks on first, or one sock, one shoe?

Evan: Both socks first. I’m not a monster.

Me: If you could cure one disease, which one would you cure?

Evan: Ignorance.

Me: I don’t know if you could consider that a disease.

Evan: It is.

Me: How do you feel about two new additions to your friends list?

Evan: Lily’s good. She’s quick and not afraid to go toe-to-toe with others. I’ve got respect for that. But Starr isn’t my friend. She’s Lily’s friend. Just so we’re clear.

Me: What do you hope to do after high school?

Evan: Move out of my parents’ house.

Me: How will you do that? Got a job in mind? College?

Evan: I’ve considered giving college a try, but I’ve heard it’s not for smart people. Regardless, I’ll probably keep dabbling in Alchemy and animals.

Me: Is there a job out there that combines the two?

Evan: If there isn’t, I’ll make one.

Me: Ambitious. I like it. What do you care about most in the world?

Evan: Right. I tell you that, and people will be holding it against me for the rest of my life. Not happening.

Me: Fair enough. Didn’t think of it that way. What’s the easiest way to annoy you?

Evan: Conjecture. I hate when I say I don’t know something, and people keep offering suggestions or explanations anyways. If you don’t know for sure, shut your mouth.

Me: And what the best way of cheering you up?

Evan: A chocolate malt and silence.

Me: All right. Nice and concise, Evan. I appreciate you spending time with me today.

Evan: Sure. I need you to sign off on my service hour.

Me: Can do.

 

Well, y’all, Evan may not be the revealing or chatty type, but I hope that doesn’t dissuade you from getting to know him better in THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR, last chance to get that 25% discount at the Transmundane Press store!

Did You Know…About the God of Chaos

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In Greek mythology, Chaos was the first primordial god—according to Hesiod—who formed the initial void of the universe, or the gap between heaven and earth. In his version, Chaos was the first thing to exist, and from it came Gaia, Earth; Tartarus, the Nether Abyss; and Eros, Love. When personified, he fathered Erebus, Darkness; and Nyx, Night. Yet, this personification didn’t keep him from being known as a far away, underground, or gloomy place beyond Tartarus.

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The Abrahamic belief systems reference Chaoskampf, or a cosmic battle between a sea monster that represents the forces of chaos and a creator god or a cultural hero that imposes order by force. Judaism refers to this chaotic creature as Leviathan (or more modernly as the “great whale.”) Christianity refers to Leviathan as the image of Satan, who threatens God’s creatures by trying to eat them and with the attempted upheaval in the waters of Chaos. This version demonizes him as envious and one of the seven Princes of Hell.

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In Zoroastrianism, hymns presented the two sides of existence as the mainyu, or the mind, spirit and otherwise abstract energy, and the angra, or the destructive, chaotic, disorderly, inhibitive, and malign, etc. manifestations. It also refers to the angra mainyuas “absolute antithesis.” The mythological story portrays a back and forth between good and evil with the personified Angra Mainyu planning to dry up the earth, urging hero Zoroaster to turn away from the good religion for sovereignty of the world, and battling Spenta Mainyu for possession of khvaraenah, or divine glory and fortune. Utlimately, Angra Mainyu is assigned to the nether world, one of darkness, to reign over the daevas, demons or opponents.

Anient Egyptians embodied chaos as deity Apep or Apophis. As Ra was the solar deity, bringing of light, his greatest enemy was the “Lord of Chaos.” As the personification of all evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake or serpent that stretched sixteen yards in length and had a head made of flint. Although, he has been similarly depicted as a crocodile, like modern Judaism has shown the Leviathan. Myth has suggested, however, that Ra’s birth was a consequence of Apep’s primordial force, thus suggesting that evil is merely the consequence of an individual’s own struggles against non-existence.

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In the native Caribbean cultures, the deity of chaos and disorder was believed to control the weather, particularly hurricanes, called Juracán. Taíno mythology, these storms were spawned and controlled by the goddess Guabancex, or “the one whose fury destroys everything,” as the Taínos were aware of the hurricane’s spiraling wind patterns, which they used when depicting the deity. When Guabancex’s volatile temper unleashed these hurricanes—or juracánes—she would interrupt the balance of rain and drought, rotating her arms in a spiral to pick up the ocean water and land and force it violently back over the Taíno settlements. She threatened the other deities to coerce them into joining the chaos.

As for my depiction of the Goddess of Chaos, Meleia—although she is much more the goddess of fate and destruction as well—I gleamed a bit of her position from reading Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series with Acheron, the harbinger of destruction, and his mother, Apollymi, the Goddess of Life, Death, and Wisdom and daughter of Chaos. I particularly liked how the duo were shown as the destroyers.

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Meleia does not destroy all, as shown in her recent mini, she only has say over her own people. Well, sometimes good people must do bad things. It creates balance. This is reflected in Ria and her phoenix, making an amalgamation of power that will change the universe.

I like thinking of Meleia, and other creatures normally seen as evil, as individuals who do what they do out of necessity. This has a heck of a lot of cultural connections. Make the ones you will. All seen as purely evil have some sense of humanity to them. Some sense of mercy and good.

I know where Ria’s mercy lies. Meleia’s seem to reflect them. This makes me excited about learning about her, and getting to see pieces of her life as she becomes a more an integral part of Ria’s story.

Who knows, maybe after these next two books, she’ll have intrigued me to give her voice a story all its own.

Let’s see what happens.

Check out these related posts:

Gods of Chaos, a Meleia Mini

Did You Know…About the Hybrids & Chaos?

Did You Know…About the Phoenix?

Did You Know..About the REPpers?

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Demons make up a large percentage of the police community in Lily’s world; however, other creatures filter through them as well. Their responsibilities are large and wide-spreading. And at the head of it all, sits Lily’s mother.

I don’t want to give it all away, but the war over heaven never ended. Power has exchanged hands a few times. During this, Adam has worked beside Lucifer since he was cast out of the Garden of Eden, which is why Adam is sent to babysit because he’s one of the few who can protect her. And, well, not only is she an important bargaining chip, she’s inherited Lucifer’s rare powers.

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But what she’ll do with it all? I hate to say that I’m not sure. I think some type of special task force—my favorite in the detective genre on television, a guilty pleasure—but that’s not coming for a few books, so I don’t feel too pressured to know what the specifics are any time soon.

I trust my characters and their stories to add up to something in the long run. They haven’t let me down yet.

So, even though this doesn’t say much about what her future job will entail, her first semester does, and she’s not sure if she’s up for the profession by the end of it.

I’m afraid she doesn’t have much of a choice. As she says often, she’s the product of scientists, the FBI, and an arch angel.

“How old are you?” 

“I’m the product of scientists and the FBI, so fifty?” 

She was made for this. Literally.

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Since I still know little, I may as well highlight a few of those moments below:

From Chapter Six, The Person-to-Person Checklist:

Starr linked her arm with mine. “My friends and I are going to practice spells if you want to come along. You might not be a witch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself…especially with your studying.”

Wow. The school’s Snow-White-look-alike might make this place seem a little less lonely, but I wasn’t ready for a coven of witches conjuring spells. “The fear of sounding like a complete dork noted when I mention that I have homework. I need to catch up on, well, everything.”

“Probably for the better. Most groups don’t get along well with REPpers.”

Slang for my major in REP, Rule Enforcers of the Paranormal. REPpers punished their own. They punished everyone. They enforced the rules. At least, that’s what I gathered so far. Maybe I watched too many cop shows.

“Do witches?” Did this mean Starr and I wouldn’t get along?

“Depends.” Her slender shoulders reached for those delicate gold swoops dangling from her lobes. “Black magic witches don’t really care for you guys, and some white witches are still holding onto this, like, century-long grudge. Personally, I prefer the person-to-person checklist.”

“Checklist?”

“Honest. Sarcastic. Quick. Sweet. You know, there are others, like personal taste, but it’s so hard to dig that deep right off the bat. I’ll let you know next time.”

 

From Chapter Seventeen, The Mandatory Test Question:

A lot of us split into our own groups on our free time in school—in the halls and at lunch—otherwise, we get along in class and other activities. In fact, I hang out with a witch and a chimera. I watch her flirt-fight with a vampire in Art. I was the product of intermingling.

“It seems to depend on the individual. We stick to our own in larger groups, but when we’re in smaller ones, we mix together just as well. We’ve created sub-groups because of it.”

Adam nodded in approval and stood again, hands linked behind his back. “We were once segregated, and therefore, do have a tendency to be attracted to certain other species. In the same way, we fight. Shifters are territorial as are vampires, fey, and dragons. They tend to fight more with each other than others. Muses, ghosts, witches, and sirens are less territorial and used to migrating as needed or possible. Demons and angels sit somewhere between, more concerned with their position within their own society rather than a physical location in the cosmos.

“It becomes rather odd to have most species squashed together in one place for so long, but the experiment has proven useful in our government, our cities, and our relationships with human governments.

“That’s not to say problems don’t arise. We’ve had a few major incidents but not in a while. People start disappearing, and it’s usually a sign that something’s coming.”

I leaned forward again. “What kind of something?”

“Historically, various spells and sacrifices, cleansings, terrorist attacks. They’re typical of secular groups, human cults, and whack jobs. Most of us get along just fine.”

But when they disappear…like these three…bad things do happen. Were there more students gone, and I didn’t know about it? Maybe, I could get Starr to write me a little spell and Evan to teach me a few ins-and-outs of the school’s office and filing system.

A plan seeded in my brain, and before it could bloom, Adam tapped my desk, refocusing me like he was used to my going off on tangents of thought. Did a lot of REPpers do that? My dad and uncle did as links formed for them.

 

From Chapter Twenty-One, Running on Sugar:

“How do you stand the condescending coldness?”

A soft shrug. “I’m used to condescending, and I think it’s more of a tonal problem. One of my dad’s students was a really smart guy. Like put my dad to shame smart, and Dad is brilliant. Mensa brilliant. And the guy rubbed everyone the wrong way. Fact-driven. To the point. Always madsounding. He taught me how to read someone’s eyes and facial expressions with their words rather than their tone. Tone is too easily faked.”

“Man, you sound like a bonafide REPper.”

“I am a product of my upbringing.”

 

From Chapter Thirty-Nine, Stick to the Plan:

“Don’t patronize me. You pretend to care because you think I took those kids. That because of your mom, you’re enlightened. Made to be a REPper, better than the rest of us, but the world will burn because of you and your blood.”

 

Have I interested you enough to make you click on the cover? It magically transports you to the discounted e-book. It’ll be a fun ride; I promise. Just be sure to hold on.

Alisha Chambers.The Lily Graves Series.The Girl with the Glowing Hair.ebook

Editing Advice: Over Describing

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Yes, I’m treading into dreaded territory again. Our favorite axiom as writers: show, don’t tell.

Well, I hate to make it more complicated, but sometimes, showing too much becomes telling.

I could show this to you in a lot of ways, but let’s hone in on one: dropping too many details all at once.

Now, it’s easy to admit that I have issues with scene development. I’m not a fan of dumping all of the spatial information right up front unless it directly connects with the tension. Instead, I like to suggest filtering details through a scene so that the characters can interact with what’s around them rather than being told what’s where.

This is part of stylistic preference, and I don’t want to tell anyone that theirs is wrong. It’s just the way I prefer to both write and interact with the story as a reader.

But let me delve even deeper to one of my giant pet peeves—something that affects the trifecta of writer, reader, and editor. I’m serious; I skim past this stuff when it’s in a book, and I hate the waste of words.

That’s the uber-detailed depiction of a character. Eye color, hair color, skin color, height, weight, clothes and the way they fit, shoes, nail color, their half-hearted smile and cupid lips, the button nose…are you getting sick of me listing details yet? I’m sure sick of it.

My feelings aside, I’ve read some interesting research and heard theories from countless writing professors that say the same thing. Too many details like this all at once creates a blank spot in our memories for the character because we can’t remember them all. They get jumbled together with all of the other characters and their giant lists of features.

The best way to circumvent this is to pick and choose which details set the character apart from the others.

A character with rainbow eyes? Sure, mention those. That’s not typical.

A scar on their lip. Go for it.

Are they always flipping their hair from their eyes to no avail?

Got a ring on their finger that they turn when they’re anxious or nervous?

Their height make them loom over everyone?

Always tugging at the cuffs on their shirt?

See how these create images, props as they were, to identify a character without the whole shebang? Pair these with their distinct attitude as described by their dialect and general actions, and this is an excellent way to develop character without relying on over description. But be sure to use them with purpose.

Besides, readers are smart and fill in a lot of the blanks themselves. The way I imagine Boden isn’t the same as the way every reader I’ve come in contact with does. And you know what, I’m okay with that. Their version involves them in my world. I’m honored they want to spend time there.

My last note, over description can happen in action as well. Something I often refer to as step-by-step action. The needless description of every movement a character makes to be sure we see it exactly as the writer does. Let’s just say, it becomes telling real quick.

Let me know if you want a full review of this in a future post. I’m sure I can go on about it for a while.

Got a way you love to identify your characters? Share them in the comments below!

Gods Fall to Chaos

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Yellow and orange bloomed across my vision, wisping at the blues of the morning sky. The diamond blue water spanned the horizon past the marbling stone archways; warm air shimmied up my white sarong. Blonde hair swam across my torso when I turned toward a man.

“Markandeya, what are you doing here?”

Bright cobalt eyes and scruffy dark hair and skin, this god dressed like a warrior, but he mimicked his twin brother without needed to. He stepped forward abruptly, a single step, wanting to reach for me.

“We’re in trouble.”

“You and I?” I step diagonal to him, seeming to get closer but keeping an equal distance between us.

“No. Us. All of us. All of Atlantis.” Markandeya turned with me, and I must have misread what his eyes showed me. Not a shard of kindness lived in him or his twin.

“So why come to me with this news? Why not Crehon?”

“Because, Meleia, if I perish, I’d rather have your voice in my ears.”

I laughed. “Me? The little play thing you love to call on to help send people to your realm?”

“I’ve only ever asked for you to do what you were made to do. People’s choices only allow them so much freedom. You have final say on their fates.” Markandeya stepped closer again, and I worked to resist the charm. Something of the true terror inside him lured me in.

“And what do you ask of me now?”

His gaze caught the way I moved around him, his chest expanding against his breastplate. “To stop Phea from destroying us.”

I shook my head. The ocean called to me, and I would soon sink into it with the rest of my family. “Nothing can be done.”

Markandeya invaded my space before I took a new breath. “You’ve already sacrificed us to this fate?”

Wobbling, the strong masculine scent of him intoxicating. “Fate may be my responsibility amongst our people, but I do not control the cosmos. I have no say what happens to our pantheon. If we perish, we will return—as many times as necessary.”

Fingers finally finding the back of my arm, touch warmer than I’d imagined. Kinder. His mouth brushed my ear, rough hair on his face prickling my cheek. “Then I hope in one of those lives, you won’t find me so repulsive.”

The shift of air captured our scents, and Markandeya disappeared.

My throne room shifted over the harbour.

Destiny singing our destruction as a lullaby from its depths.

Release Day & Birthday Sale

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If you haven’t heard of my new release, THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR, are you living under a rock?

This book has kept me excited for YEARS. Granted, I only finished writing it back in April, but my characters and I had to have a conversation half way through IMPRINTED about how they were next and to calm down until I could get to their book.

Well, now that it’s written, now that beta readers have given me positive feedback, now that the book is out in the world with its beautiful cover and crazy characters, I am still OBSESSED.

Yes, it’s cliché and bad form to be so in love with what I create, but the most fun thing about this book is that the characters really had a mind of their own—even though as I’ve said before, Evan is the closest to my husband as any character I’ve written.

I’ll do my best to reign in my squeals.

And I’ll get to my point.

The book is final here. You can buy it right now on most of the major retailers, but we have it on sale at the press store for 25% off because…drum roll…it’s my birthday. And I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate getting older than sharing this with you.

Okay, I’m almost done.

I’ve been talking about Lily and the gang for months, so if you want to know more, check out these Ethology lessons, this excerpt and this one and this one, and the official book trailer.

Here’s to being thirty-four and all that will come in my next rotation around the sun.

Much love, my lovelies.

Alisha Chambers.The Lily Graves Series.The Girl with the Glowing Hair.PRINT

Buy on AmazonKobo, or Nook.

New Excerpt from THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR

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After Art, I perused the flyers plastered between the lockers. Two more days until I had to officially declare my extra-curricular activities. I pulled a poster for fencing to carry around with me. I liked the physical activity, and learning how to use a sword against an opponent intrigued me. Then again, I might get enough defense from my REP training.

I stuck it on another board.

Exhausting the possibilities, I made my way to the basement. My only time down there was for Biology, which I barely made it to before the bell and ran from for lunch. But I vaguely remembered at least one wall of fliers.

Most of these were more science based: computer coding, robotics, potions, and…I stopped. A plain white paper stuck out from the others—something that fit me better than the rest.

A blanket volunteering program. Meet with an advocate every week to fulfill twenty hours of volunteer work a month. Variety. I needed it to stay sane. I pulled it off the wall when someone’s curse from the end of the hall echoed down to me.

The banging and reverberation of metal against cement drew me closer. The curses grew louder and more creative as I breached the door’s edge. Inside, water pooled under the metal lab table. Scratching scrambled over the tops, and a boy’s voice ground out curses I didn’t understand before he beckoned the beast back to him.

“Come on, Moon. Here, girl. I’ve got a nice little piece of lamb for you.”

Evan crept into view, making kissy noises and holding out a red chunk of meat.

It dropped me into a fit of giggles.

His back sharpened like I’d thrown something at him before he peeked at me over his shoulder.

The fear in him shoved me into his room rather than away from it.

He closed the door behind me and pushed me against it, miming to stay quiet as he returned to his hunt.

Or it seemed that way.

Until the petite gold and purple dragon doubled in size.

“Shit.”

An eight-inch flame spit from the dragon’s mouth.

She doubled in size again, crinkling the metal under her claws.

I ducked, crawling under the lip of a table as fire rebounded off the door where I’d stood.

Stomp-creak. Stomp-creak.

The metal above me crumpled, pushing me scampering back under the chemical sink—a fire extinguisher rattling behind my hips.

Stomp. Stomp.

The dragon followed my movements, bending low over its haunches, neck extending to shoot flame at me again.

Grabbing the extinguisher, I pulled the pin and sprayed. Flames licked my skin around the foam.

Bong.

Clear air.

I paused.

Evan threw a tray of lamb steaks on a far table, distracting Moon long enough to pull me off the floor. Shoved over the crunched metal, I rolled to my feet just before Evan landed behind me.

Moon slammed her tail against the door, keeping us trapped in the lab.

Blocking my view, Evan gestured my stillness as he assessed his dragon’s progress eating. The cringe of his mouth didn’t give me much hope.

He stepped us forward together, a foot at a time, his hand clasped around my bicep. Firm without hurting me, Evan signaled me to move silently. My uncle had done this to me once, skirting me out of a 7-Eleven as a kid pulled a gun on the cashier. I hid around the corner while he went back in to talk the kid down.

It was the first time I saw him work. The first confirmation of my trust in him. He was a badass.

Uncle Henry got shot that day, too, in the shoulder, but he kept the kid from hurting anyone else.

We’d stopped.

An empty plate clattered to the floor, and the dragon smacked its chops.

Her long narrow face turned our way. A screech slammed me against the concrete wall. Evan’s chest pressed into mine, his arms barring my sight of the dragon.

“Stay still.” He said through his teeth.

A sheen shimmered between us, and fire surrounded us.

I tensed, hands gripping his shirt as I waited for the pain, but the flames curled around Evan’s back, which bowed from the force.

My breath crackled with the heat.

Wide shoulders, the scent of grease and metal and orange blossoms.

His grunt made me jerk.

The fire backtracked.

Evan retreated enough for his dark eyes to examine me for a second before the flame pushed him back into me. So close that I could feel his strain, whatever he had that left us untouched took the damage.

Teeth grit, the warm metal of his lip ring scraped my cheek. “She smells you. I’ll distract her. You run.”

I met his gaze and nodded my confirmation.

Sucking in a deep breath, he pushed back, a small, shiny nugget appeared in his hand. “Go.”

Evan lobbed it into the flame, making the fire transform into a fog. Wet clung to my skin. My palms slipped on the door, twice, before I slithered out.

Close the door.”

I slammed it shut, ducking below the window.

Pulse beating in my ears, I sank to the floor, hand tapping a rhythm over my chest—willing it to slow down.

A rolling chirp pierced the silent air. And the door opened with a puff of smog.

Green hair and a sly grin appeared within it.

“Safe to come in, now.”

Curiosity got the best of me. Dragging myself off the floor, I waved the smell of atmosphere and pine nuts from the air, and the cloud rolled out of the room.

The lab was trashed but not demolished. Two of the tables maintained their ninety-degree edges, but another five could be set outside as sculptures. Glass littered the floor from test tubes and beakers.

I couldn’t speak for the other equipment in the room. I’d never seen anything like most of it, which surprised me. Growing up in my father’s lab exposed me to an ever-changing line of machines.

“Where’d she go?” No cage stood out. No purple movements. Nothing to indicate a habitat.

“Under her tarp. She needs to calm down.” He pointed to a white rectangle on the far wall. Bent to snatch something, he held my gold scarf out to me.

My hand patted my hair, yanking it free of the disarrayed ponytail. “Right. Thanks.”

Hands on his hips, he surveyed the room before he gauged me. “I’ll fix it tomorrow. Are you hungry? Let’s get out of here. Come on.”

That was the most normal thing he’s said to me since I sat next to him in class. It freaked me the hell out, but I followed him out of the lab, which he locked. His silence seemed to suck in extra energy when he normally deflected it.

What type of chimera was he?

 

 

Check out the official book trailer:

THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR launches October 1st!

Alisha Chambers.The Lily Graves Series.The Girl with the Glowing Hair.ebook

The Official blurb:

Lily is the daughter of Lucifer, a mother she’s never met.

When she’s laughed off the soccer field, Lily’s delivered to her FBI uncle and a new, paranormal, high school where she’ll be trained to keep other creatures in line.

Gaining few allies under the thumb of her obsessive mentor, she struggles to prove that something more is going on in their little town than anyone wants to admit.

If you like the innocence of Twilight, the snark from Buffy, and the wit of the Lunar Chronicles, you’ll be engrossed by Alisha Costanzo’s new dark and satirical YA series.

Read THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR and fall into a world worse than hell—welcome back to high school.

Did You Know…An Ethology Lesson on Chimera

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We’re closing in on the last few ethology lessons, so I’ve saved my favorites for last. The chimera. These guys are those unpredictable anomalies, much like the creatures described in my hybrids and chaos post a little bit back.

Unfortunately, Lily’s ethology book doesn’t explain their natures and behaviors well, listing examples and explaining that guessing their natures is just as accurate, so she’s had to rely on her surly mentor for information:

“They come in two forms, the genetic chimera that exhibit the physical characteristics of their combined lineage, and the blue-blood chimera that possess a single line’s traits but hold both internally—much like two creatures inhabiting one vessel.”

Like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.

“The book only mentions the first kind, so I thought we’d explore the blue-bloods, thusly named for their abilities to blend in with their dominant species. The most common combines one of us with a human, like our shifters. In fact, they are so common that we don’t call them such anymore.”

“Blue-bloods are hard to decipher unless they reveal their genetic makeup or undergo a series of tests, none of which are fun or kind. But they are often inhabited by more than one creature, creating what can be called a fractured personality. They’re both conscious and present. They interact with each other, and often share control over their limbs. This is not always to their advantage.”

Adam descended into examples, like the book. And what I pulled from it was that they tended to be more aware of their surroundings, seemed to have conversations with themselves, and have high reactionary skills. But apparently, they weren’t good with other people.

Essentially, as her bestie, Starr, explains, they’re rather mythological, even for the paranormal community.

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Originally, the chimera was a monstrous fire-breathing Greek hybrid composed of the parts of more than one animal, usually depicted as a lion with the head of a goat growing from its back and a tail made of a snake’s head. They were the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, sibling of monsters such as Cerberus and the Hydra. Often, the sight of such a monster foreshadowed disaster.

Other cultural chimeras are: the Mesopotamian monster, Anzu; the western dragons; the Ancient Egyptian, Griffin; the Assyrian deity, Lamassu; the Japanese, Nue; the Greek, Pegasus; the Chinese mythical creature, Pixiu; the Iranian flying creature, Simurgh; the Jewish griffin-like bird, Ziz; and etc.

arthur-larsen-as-nue.jpg

In reality, a genetic chimera is a single organism composed of cells with distinct genotypes: an individual derived from two or more zygotes, with differing sexes and sex organs, and are created by merging multiple fertilized eggs. This can also occur from organ or bone marrow transplants.

Can’t wait to explore more of the chimera in book two, especially since one of my favorite characters, Evan, is the rarest of them all. And as he is the representation of my husband as a teenager, I based the chimera on his psychology and behaviors. Believe me, the oddities and paradoxes run deep.

 

Stay tuned for a new excerpt this Friday from one of my favorite chapters.

And guys, I cannot wait until this is released for y’all. The responses I’ve been getting from my ARC readers prove the promise of this being a good read. Oh, the happiness this brings me.