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.

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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.

Editing Advice: Do Verses Don’t Do

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Oh my, yes, that title does make one pucker, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not quite what you think. I’m not here to provide a long list of things you should or should not be doing. Instead, I want to talk about making characters act (do) rather than telling the reader what they didn’t do. See? Super simple.

Dialogue, or a lack thereof, is typically where I find this problem creeping up, often to indicate silence. Like so:

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

He said nothing.

Or He didn’t reply.

This is telling because if we don’t see him say anything, we know he didn’t say anything. This is a wonderful opportunity to create character and drop a detail, which I have a habit of referencing. In case you didn’t notice, it’s one of my favorite pieces of advice.

Let’s revise:

“I’m pregnant,” I said.

Blank shock widened his eyes before his brow crinkled and the worries I’d been holding instead pinched his features in a frenzy.

I hope the difference is evident, but I want to point out how we both see the emotion on his face as well as get an internal reflection from the POV character. An active interpretation of his reaction creates more depth for them both.

Now, let me clarify. Every so-called rule has an equally valid reason to break it.

This also comes with creating an internal reaction by allowing reflection to pause between pieces of dialogue. For example:

“I’m pregnant,” I said.

 I expected him to swear, to ask me if it was his, to call me a whore and stomp away, but he reached for my hand instead.

“Just tell me what you need from me.”

Besides the cheese, this creates expectations from the POV character and sets up the shock of reality when he actually responds.

Less commonly—although commonly enough—we see this happening in action, too.

Anthony even drew me this lovely reference picture during one of our meetings with:

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I think it’d been the fourth or fifth story we’d seen this happen in that night.

And the example was something along the lines of: She didn’t spare a glance backwards, running with long, practiced strides. (Sorry if this is from your story and I butchered it).

Of course, we’d edit it down to: She ran with long, practiced strides.

If we don’t see her look back, we know she didn’t do it.

One of the others that creates a similar show/tell issue is silence. Man, this one gets a lot of authors.

They were silent. He remained silent. There was nothing but silence.

I’ve seen it in a lot of ways, and we have plenty of options to transform this into showing instead. My favorite, of course, is personificationEvery second of silence sliced another layer of confidence away.

But any form of dropping in sensory details or an internal reaction will improve on this silence.

So, there’s an editing tip from the Transmundane Press style book.

Got any don’t do scenarios in your WIP? Show me your changes in the comments below.

Did You Know…An Ethology Lesson on Shifters

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Like vampires, I have shared a few different versions of them on here, and I’ll list them below, but the shifters in Lily’s world aren’t quite the same as what I’ve written before.

According to Lily’s Ethology textbook:

Shifters build packs as they bond, traditionally with the alpha, whose goal it is to create a cohesive unit that cares for and protects each other. Litters are encouraged to express themselves openly both verbally and nonverbally, making their bonds stronger than most.

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I’ve been fascinated with how other authors create alphas and packs; how some alphas create such dominance that others plot their overthrow or flee the oppression on their free will; how some rile up their followers for war and keep secrets; how so many of the strongest seem to also be the meanest; how many are bullies and animals.

Granted, they are animals, but hey, we all are. And that seems to be a running theme in Lily world as she noted:

My ethology book weighed down with post-its, connecting what I read with what I saw and what Adam taught me. 

Vampires and shapeshifters were strangely like their mythologies, but like not. 

Demons and angels were less opposite than they’re depicted in religions, but like not. 

All of them weren’t exactly as people had noted, how they had noted each other. But we were all strangely…human. Whatever that meant. 

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Instead of focusing on the negatives, the ethology strips that away and allows Lily to see them in a neutral light, which is important. As Lily is meant to be a part of the police force—a REPper, more on that soon—neutrality is a necessity, and something far lost in the tiny town of Saint Siena.

In that light, shifters of all varieties aim to create community and peace, because more often than not, they want peaceful lives instead of violent ones, they want families instead of enemies, they want love instead of rivalries.

Essentially, shifters are who have the most common with humanity in general.

 

Lily’s book, THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR, has its full cover and a publication date: October 1st, my birthday!

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

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

 

Want to learn more about different types of shifters, check out some of my previous Did You Know… posts.

Did You Know…About the Jackal People?

Did You Know…About the Berserker?

Did You Know…About the Navajo Shapeshifter?

Did You Know…About the Portuguese Werewolf?

Did You Know…About the Japanese Werewolf?

Did You Know…An Ethology Lesson on Witches

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Okay, we’re delving into a seriously deep well here. Witches span history and cultures, and heaven forbid, we sink into the black hole of witchcraft in fiction.

They embody scar-faced saviors, spiteful young women, idealized youth, and green-skinned villains.

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As Lily’s Ethology book explains: Witches derive their power from their passion. Although encouraged to indulge themselves magically, pride can hinder their performance, so witches often remind their young to humble themselves.

With that in mind, let me introduce Starr Black, head witch from a formidable founding family. She’s strong, she’s sassy, and she’s smart. Essentially, Starr is a force to be reckoned with. And she becomes Lily’s bestie as traditions break down. Starr couldn’t be more ready for it.

Quickly, we find that tradition exhausts Starr as she has her own way of doing things—drawing instead of spell-casting, chants, or chemistry—and she rants about her wish for freedom, mostly from the expectations of her society, but I’m sure being the eldest of five isn’t doing her any favors, either.

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However, her family is an interesting one, as this Snow White look-a-like has a younger sister with rare abilities. Mary is a bloodhound, meaning she can track magical origins with the depths and ease historians would envy, but she’s also strong-willed and strong-minded—more immune to magic and spells and trickery than the rest, which comes in handy for Lily’s investigation and helps save some lives. I don’t know much about Mary yet, but she creates a hell of a lot of implications about the magical world these teens occupy. The largest is hierarchy, exactly what Starr feels buried under.

In fact, she can say it better than I can, so here are a few excerpts from this sassy spitfire—and one of my new favorite characters:

If you could use a spell to transform into another person for the day, who would you be and what would you do?

Her smile made me giddy, reminiscent of adolescent sleepover secrets. “Don’t laugh at me, but I’d be Henrietta Yukon. She’s this magic guru down in Oklahoma with her highly-watched YouTube channel. She mentors youth around the world on magic and creativity. The first time I met her at a convention, she blessed my fountain pen for clear lines and intentions. It’s the only one I use. She inspired me to keep working on my craft the way it felt right for me. No one else had ever done that. So, what I’d do is make a video about my own style of spell-weaving and let it domino through her viewers. I’ve got a guy who does computer hacking on my payroll. I can get it up there, believe me. I want to show people that the traditional way isn’t always the right way or the only way.”

She sighed the same way my friends sighed over hot guys when she talked about her magic.

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She pulled her rose gold phone from her bag and tapped through to a picture of boy with a naturally dark tan. And man, he was pretty. Chiseled jaw, cheekbones, chin, and arms. And that’s because it was all I could see of him. Pretty sure everything else was chiseled, too. “Yeah. I know. He’s perfect. Beautiful, strong, princely even.”

“But…” I supplied the not so implicit segue to her problem.

But, he’s boring. Goddess, he’s charming and agreeable and thoughtful.”

“And boring.” That all sounded nice to me.

“Where’s the intellectual foreplay, since when did that go out of style? Pride and Prejudice suffers on its shelf while women ask for Disney. It’s revolting. What is an educated young woman to do without debate and lively conversation?”

“What do you talk about?”

“Ugh.” The eye roll she gave me could have sent me back to kindergarten. “Whether we should go to the vineyard for the summer or Aspen for the holiday. Whether the function served the right food and who deserved the best cigars, or if the matte chrome or shiny chrome made the best flask. Highbrow, stuffy, boring stuff. Sports and tradition and society. Do you know what society does? Huh? Do you? It tells you not to be original or different or to encourage change.”

Her perfectly manicured nails matched the red of her lips as she signed her overwhelmed frustration. “I don’t want to be some clone automaton repeating the same existence to ensure that existence continues. I want fire.”

“Well, you know magic. Why don’t you make some fire?”

“I shouldn’t have to make my own fire.”

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Prior to breaking into the school:

Starr appeared in one of the spotlights on the sidewalk, sauntering in heels, skinny jeans, and a long, billowing shirt. Somehow, her heels didn’t echo or clink like I expected. She stopped between us with a flourish.

“Oh, don’t give me that look. They’re enchanted to be silent. Please.”

 

 

Oh yeah, she’s a fun outlier, and I hope y’all like her as much as I do when she gets here this October!

And stay tuned for more mini-ethology lessons from Lily Graves’s world and sign up for an ARC of the first in her series, GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.

 

Did You Know…About the Cave Goblin?

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Goblins are monstrous Medieval creatures with a wide variety of abilities, dispositions, and forms, but they primarily cause trouble for mankind with their mischievous, unpleasant, vengeful, and greedy ways.

goblin_s_bloody_cloth_by_teroporthan-dceuek2.jpg(Photo Credit: Goblin’s Bloody Cloth by Tero Porthan)

The muki live in subterranean caves and are known as miners. From the Central Andes in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, the muki remains consistent in its dwarf-like height (no taller than two feet), its brawny and disproportionate body, lack of neck, deep and husky voice, long/bright blonde hair, reddish face with a long white beard, and deep and aggressively hypnotic metallic eyes. Sometimes, he has two horns to break rocks and search out mineral veins. Sometimes, he carries a mining lantern. Sometimes, he has pointy ears.

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The muki live in secluded places, and their attacks arouse fear in the local communities, especially as they are known to steal defenseless children. Often, Elders advise using a belt to battle one and not to succumb to fear.

Yet, muki hold great power to help humans they like, making metal veins appear or disappear in a mine, sensing moods and emotions of the surrounding miners, helping their work by softening or hardening veins, and whistling loudly to warn miners of danger. They also make pacts with discreet and honest humans. And several stories tell of capturing these creatures, who often offer to do the miner’s work for some cocoa, alcohol, or a woman’s touch. If the miner reneges their promise, the muki will kill them.

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The kobold is a famous German goblin with the versatility of living on ships, in mines, and human homes. They can change their appearance to fit their locale; however, most choose to be ambivalent household spirits—doing chores around the house—or they perform malicious tricks at being slighted. They can materialize as animals, fire, or human, typically taking shape as a small child in homes. Those who live in mines are often hunched and ugly, and those who take up residences on ships smoke pipes and dress as sailors.

Those who live underground were often blamed for cave-ins and rockslides. They favored pranking fool miners into taking worthless ore, mistaking them for rich veins of copper or silver, and when the ore was smelted, it became a noxious pollutant. Miners tried to placate kobolds with gold and silver offerings and respect, but still, sometimes, the kobold returned the favor with cobalt, a poisonous ore thusly named after the creature.

Yet, when treated well, the kobolds could benefit miners, knocking to warn miners not to travel in certain directs and indicating where rich veins of metal could be found—the more knocks, the better mining.

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In Finnish mythologies, the hiisi are similar to giants or trolls and are found near striking cliffs, ominous crevasses, large boulders, potholes, woods, hills, and other prominent geographical features or rough terrain. They travel in a noisy procession and attack people who do not get out of their way. They come inside and steal your things when a door is left open. Cultivated areas are the only safe place to hide from a hiisi as they’re seen as sanctified.  Many pre-historic structures and larger stone boulders were thought erected by the hiisi and other giants.

Goblins come in plenty of shapes and flavors, but they all share one thing in common: they prefer being left alone.

 

Sources: thisisFINLAND, Hiisi, Mystic Files, Goblin, Kobold

The Girl with the Glowing Hair, Cover Reveal & Excerpt

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Oh. My. Shit. Y’all.

I am so excited about this book on so many levels, and now, I have an amazing cover to go with it.

If you haven’t been following along with the ethology lessons in Lily Graves’s world, this story is basically my serious—but not so serious—parody of the paranormal high school, featuring Lilith, the daughter of Lucifer, her super-villain partner, a fabulous witch bestie, an overbearing mentor, and wonder-twin guardians.

Feel free to catch up here.

Now, for the money shot…

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

Isn’t she beautiful? Lori Grundy from Cover Reveal Designs did amazing, detailed work and found a girl who actually looked like Lily. Psst, I don’t have their character pages made yet, but you can take a peek at them over here.

All right, I’m dropping you in an excerpt. Enjoy!

 

I met Starr in front of her oversized colonial. Inside was all high ceilings and glossy wood. Science, research and teaching, paid my dad well, but we weren’t wealthy like this. This was Jenna wealthy, and the comparison made my skin itch. But Starr’s smile wasn’t fake.

“Hey, girlie. Get in here before anyone else gets home.” Her heels from school clicked along the hardwood floors, clanking as she turned into a kitchen that gutted me with envy. The island in the middle was bigger than the entire room at Uncle Henry’s.

She pulled two small mugs from beneath a sputtering espresso machine. My knees rattled as I cupped the porcelain in my hands. The fragrant foam sat me at her counter. Man, I could get used to the taste of that.

Snow White’s ruby mouth perked, and she sat beside me. “We have to practice down here until my mom gets home because the brats will be mayhem in about an hour.”

“That’s cool. I’m more worried about how long it’s going to take me to scribble spells competently.”

“You and those ten-dollar words.”

I bit my lip and sipped the cappuccino. “My mission this morning didn’t go well. We’re going to need your guy.”

Her cup chinked against the counter, and her fingers tapped her phone. With one final flourish, she scooped up her caffeine and posed. “Done. I’ll have the thumb drive in the morning.”

My phone lit up on the counter, which startled me. I didn’t have people who talked to me anymore, other than Starr. A message popped up:

Meet me at the diner at five.

It was from Evan.

“Well, apparently, you have a date.” The glint in Starr’s eyes made it really hard not to roll my own.

“Then, we’d better get to work.”

“Mmm. While we do, I have some update-worthy news.” She fished out a pad of paper and pencils from one of the island drawers and crafted three doodles she designed for me to practice.

I grabbed a pencil and waited. “Are you going to tell me, or what?”

She fished a locket from beneath her shirt.

“A romantic gesture?”

The purse of her lips confirmed it. From her too-perfect boyfriend. “I don’t think I can stand it much longer.”

“Have you told him how much you hate the socialite stuff?”

“Ugh. Yes. To deaf ears.”

I scribbled out the first spell, wincing at the wobbly and uneven lines. “It’s more torture to slowly peel off the bandage than it is to rip it off. If you’ve made a decision, act on it.”

“And leave me ostracized by my parents, friends, and community for giving up on such a perfect future?”

“Talk about ten-dollar words.”

She snorted. “Yeah.”

“You’ll be in good company.” Both Evan and I were outliers, as Dad would call us. “We’re way ahead of the curve, so…”

“I’m not sure being grouped with Evan is such a positive move.”

I shrugged. “He’s been a pretty good friend so far. Attitude aside, he’s helped me out a lot.”

“You make it hard not to dig my nails in that.”

“Guys and girls can be just friends you know.” An argument I’d had about Blake for three years before we did, in fact, date. But I’d never really thought of him like that until he’d made a move. I scribbled out another drawing, paying less attention to the lines and more to the emotion Blake tapped into my chest. A few bubbles of mist seeped from the paper.

Hey. Look at that.” Starr hovered above the drawing to see the change. “The spell is still distorted, must have been something inside you. What’d you think of?”

“My ex.”

“The one you left at home?”

“Yeah.” I set the pencil down and tried to push the feeling away.

“Got a picture?”

Really?

“Hey. I’m human, which means I’m curious. Come on. Was he embarrassing?”

Unlocking my phone, I gave her free reign on my photos. Her eyes grew and grew before it dropped to her lap and her mouth followed.

“Man. Talk about pretty. And you were popular.”

“My friends were popular.”

“Same thing.”

“So, our friendship means I’m popular? It doesn’t feel that way.”

“Okay. You’ve got me. Although, you’re more infamous because of the delinquent.”

“I’m sure I’m breaking all sorts of social norms with the pair of you.”

Her laugh made the grime from my old life slip away, even if just a little.

“I knew there was boy drama in your life somewhere. Makes me feel less alone, you know, so stop holding out on me.”

“He broke up with me for my best friend after I moved.”

A sharp intake of breath released a hiss from her ruby lips. “Bastards. You should sic your psycho on them.”

That teased a laugh out of me, and I took up scribbling again.

Each round sent new billows of fog into the kitchen, larger and thicker each time, until Starr had to turn on the oven fan to clear the room. Her siblings giggled and ran around in it, but the distraction stalled the magic.

The eldest sat at a stool opposite me, looking a bit more traditionally like a witch.

“She’s not a witch,” Starr’s sister said.

“Nope. She sure isn’t.” Starr wrangled one of the other three siblings, who squealed and kicked her feet as she got swung around. “You know what she is?”

Brown gaze overbearing, almost like a hot touch.

“Nephilim. A strong one. Lucifer’s.”

Alarm clanged straight through me, and my fingers dug into the counter’s edge without my consent. I looked to Starr for an explanation. How could she know that unless her sister already told her about my mother?

“Mary’s what we call a bloodhound. She can interpret magical origins of pretty much anything, and she just started training this last year.” The child in her arms swung down to its feet and tugged her toward the fridge. “Fine. Yes. I will feed you heathens, but you have to go wash up first. You know what momma says.”

“The war on germs means hand-to-hand combat,” the youngest three hollered before zooming off to the bathroom.

“The war on germs means hand-to-hand combat?” I asked.

Starr shrugged. “If it works, it works.”

“Speaking of work, I’d better go meet Evan. I’ll keep practicing and let you know what’s up tonight.”

“Yes. I want to hear all about your date.” She shooed her eldest sibling off the stool to do as the littler ones had, and with no retort, I ran off to meet Evan at the diner.

He sat on the bench outside with two Styrofoam cups—the smaller of which he extended to me before I sat. Coffee.

“Thanks.” Starr’s words wiggled in my brain, but I shook it off. We were barely friends, and I needed more of those than I did anything else. “How come we’re not inside?”

The chill battled with the heat in the cup against my fingers.

“I can’t stay. Have to get straight home.”

“What, are you grounded?”

The straw bent under the pressure of his mouth. “Not yet, but I will be.”

“What did you—?”

“We have to go in this weekend. It’s our only option. Sunday between dusk and dawn, so whatever you have left to figure out, figure it out.”

Offense pounded against my lungs and heart. Good thing I’d made some progress, and really, I didn’t want to wait longer than I had to. Not with people in danger. So, I agreed and sipped my coffee, burning my tongue.

“Good.” Evan stood and walked away, stunning me in my seat for a few minutes before I made my own way home.

 

 

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

 

Stay tuned for more mini-ethology lessons from Lily Graves’s world and sign up for an ARC of the first in her series, GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.

 

Personification: a Personal Favorite

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Probably one of my favorite and one of the most utilized literary device in my bag—alliteration is likely the top—Personification is a helpful little pixie, amplifying feeling and imagery and depth in a scene with a little magic.

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Some of my favorite edits in a story, mine or otherwise, have transformed weak language into strong images, especially those that use to-be verbs or a lot of step-by-step action. Personification is my go-to fix for these, like:

Ria fell, banging her chin on the ground, verses, The ground jumped up to kiss Ria on the chin.

She dreaded this moment, verses, Dread sank its nails into my chest, piggy-backing across my shoulders and ribs.

He was in love, verses, Love ate at his insides, bloating it with rotten flesh and a swarm of maggots.

 

Now, I don’t feel as though any lesson I give would add much to what’s currently out there, so what I wanted to do was showcase how beautiful and powerful personification can be with some examples.

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The cave sneered at us with the promise of pain.

Wind’s wails cursed us.

The Ferris wheel’s eye tore open my soul, ravaging my insides and scattering them about the small carnival.

My computer throws a fit every time I try to use it. 

Thunder grumbled like an old man. 

The Scottish Highlands called my wolf from its hiding place.

I could likely go on and on and on and on…but I think you get my point. When you’re working through your WIP, give personification a chance.

 

Share your favorite uses of personification in the comments below and let me know what your favorite literary device is to use.

Camp NaNoWriMo: the Final Update

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Camp NaNoWrioMo, how I miss the simplicity of life when I could complete you.

But life happens, especially when you own a business.

What I still love about July and trying to write a whole piece in a month is that I always—ALWAYS—gain out of it is more words than I would have written otherwise.

Did I win? Not officially. But having 5,000 words I didn’t have before is a different kind of winning, and I’m okay with that.

So, instead of lamenting about where I went wrong, I thought I’d share some of what went right.

Here are some of my favorite bits from the short so far:

 

I shook it off, compartmentalizing, and swung into the kitchen to show Maddy my face before I disappeared upstairs. She’d mount my head on the wall if I snuck off without saying hello.

“You’re back.” Maddy’s smile lit up the stark kitchen, my nephew banging around the metal bowls to coat the fried chicken. “Have they been feeding you? Theo, make your uncle a bowl of stew to take with him.”

“I can feed myself just fine.” Although, I struggled to find the time away from the crew to find safer options as I wormed into their cliques. The taste of human flesh wasn’t my favorite, but I’d scavenged it a few times as a cub when I was desperate.

A few of the younger bosex gravitated my way as I ate grilled animals and human snacks. The older crew called me a hipster or vegan or hippie, but the plan wasn’t to convert them all, just their young, and the boys saw in me a lot of what they wanted as a man. Mostly, I was good with the ladies, and their hormones controlled much of their thoughts, but that was why the Assetato sent me in to infiltrate the group.

My nephew handed me a box with stew and bread enough to last me the night, and I nodded him my approval.

“Don’t hide away all night. We have a surprise performance from some locals that you wouldn’t want to miss, and I could use you at the door.” Maddy pinned me with her practiced mothering look, one she practiced on me throughout our childhood before she ever became a mother. It didn’t matter how many times I told her that she was only a few minutes older than me; she claimed older sibling status and waved it in my face like a dude with a big dick.

I might have gone through a phase. Sue me.

 

###

 

I sent her a deadly wink and enjoyed the pink brushing her cheeks.

“You must be Maddy’s younger brother.”

I snorted. “Yeah, by two and a half minutes.”

“Twins. Makes sense. She worries about you.”

I draped an arm over the back of the empty hostess stand. “Does she? I didn’t realize she talked about me so much.”

A slender shoulder shrug, bouncing her hair as she drew a swig from her own beer. “Maybe it’s just me. We’re nearing friendship territory. Girls night and all.”

“It’s likely just you, little red. My sister isn’t a frilly type.”

The quirk of her mouth sweetened her scent. “Neither am I.”

“Must be why she confides in you then.”

“Oh, you don’t think she talks about you every chance she gets?”

“Not unless she wants me locked in a cell.”

“Are you telling me you’re as dangerous as you look?” She swiveled on the stool, crossing her legs and swinging her beer between her fingers. Her lips puckered around the tip of the bottle, her thumb running along the moisture on the neck.

A fire rumbled in my gut as I thought of a few things I’d like her to do with her mouth.

“Depends on how dangerous you think I look, little red.”

Her smile said she appreciated the name. “You make it sound like you’re the big bad wolf.”

“More of a surly bear.”

Her gaze danced along the front of me. “Big enough, but aren’t bears supposed to be hairy?”

I grinned for her. “Not when we live in the age of clippers and razors.”

“Are you trying to put images in my mind, bear?”

“None that aren’t already in there.” A new group of patrons pulled me from the naughty look in her eyes.

 

###

 

I had the door open, waiting for her without pause, and her finger found my arm on her way by. Close behind her, the door shut, and we were alone. The moon swaying with her hair as she bounced to her car and threw the bag in her trunk.

“Did you need me to check the backseat?”

“You mean that bear nose can’t smell it from here?” The slow blink of her eyes as her gaze tilted up at me teased me, but it didn’t persuade me that she might know more than she let on.

 

###

 

The steady flow of people kept me busy, but I checked on Kaia often enough to question myself. Other males seemed to take note of her as well, both human and not, and a pang of protective instincts hit me below the belt.

Worse off when Maddy stomped out from the kitchen with a tray in her hand and settled up to their table. I cringed at their laughter and smiles and the way Kaia touched the man’s arm.

And I lost myself in the bouncing beauties a young blonde in a blue wig laid out for me on the bar. I grinned at her attractive smile and made her a drink to match her costume.

The distraction didn’t last long, but before I knew it, Maddy jabbed her knuckles into my back. “Did you want a dinner break? I saw you eyeing that stew pretty hard.”

I rolled my eyes at her mom-tone.

“Or was something else distracting you? Not often so many women give you the sex-me eyes and you don’t take your dinner in the broom closet.”

“I have always wanted to know what a Smurf tastes like.”

 

 

Okay, I’m going to have to stop myself before I share the whole damn thing. Obviously, I’m excited about what I’ve got down.

Have you been pushing yourself to write more? Read more? Get more done? Let me know in the comments below.

Did You Know…An Ethology Lesson on Reapers

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The famous Grim Reaper figures were inspired by the black shrouds and mourning robes at death; the scythe, like one harvesting corn, reaps thousands of souls with its swing; and in Greek mythology, Chronos, or Father Time, was the harvest god, who ate his children to symbolize that nothing lasts forever.

No wonder the mythology morphed into this cloaked skeleton, holding a scythe, and ethereally hovering over a shaking victim succumbing to mortality.

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My reapers do deal in death, although they are too numerous to solely being responsible for transporting the dead to their afterlives. Reapers are time keepers, so they’re interested in details—controlling the universe, climates, populations, and lower-level businesses or agencies.

They’re good planners, diligent, and always meet a deadline.

And it’s not smart to get in a reaper’s way as they cannot be bribed or tricked, and few fight a reaper and survive. But none have beat death.

Created by archangel Ezekiel, they were meant to remain neutral between heaven and hell. Reapers can, however, be controlled by a demon or angel. They all also have a talisman, which, if found, can be used by a sorcerer to govern them.

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The scariest and strongest of the reapers can become essence to sneak around and immobilize their targets. Many can transform into the person or role they are “taking.” And many become ravens.

I’m looking forward to learning more about them in book two; they have a lot of potential.

 

Stay tuned for the cover reveal coming August 8th and more mini-ethology lessons from Lily Graves’s world.

Sign up for an ARC of the first in her series, GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.