Courting Her, a Layla Mini

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I dug into the earth behind my crumbling abode, cramming soil under my short fingernails as the weeds threatening to choke my garden came loose. The pile would be turned into mulch, chopped and left to rot with other scraps. Not that we had many of those.

All of my digging created two trips to the composting pile and a scant two carrots, two potatoes, and smattering of tomatoes that were mildly chewed up by bugs. I gathered them in my apron pockets and lugged my tools back to the house.

Sweat and grime swathed my face, neck, and chest, but most would have to stay until tonight’s scheduled bath, but I wiped some away from my eyes and mouth with a damp cloth and wished I’d done more when the exotic scents of vanilla and honey permeated the back entrance.

Patting loose strands of hair, I turned to find the young gentleman who liked to come read to me and my three little brats. The twinkle in his midnight eyes made my stomach flip-flop.

I curtsied a little at his entrance. “Mr. Sotir, what a pleasant surprise. Would you like some tea? I can set you up in the drawing room.”

“I would, but I am in no need of such special treatment. I can take it here with you.”

Why did his eyes sparkle that way when he looked at me? I shuffled around the kitchen, putting my haul beside the sink, filling the kettle for the stove, and pulling cups and tea leaves and a strainer.

“Did you bring a book to read to us today?”

“I did. If that pleases you. I brought ‘The Tale of Tsaritsa Dinara.’ It’s a Russian tale about a Christian queen who struggles against a Persian king due to her refusal to comply with his demands for a tribute. She galloped into battle against him armored on a white steed. I think you would like it very much.”

“A female hero?” I smiled to myself. “I think I would like that, but the kids are about their chores and lessons right now, and I’m afraid that they will be for the next few hours.”

The water whistled on the stove, and I poured the tea to serve, leaning against the counter to enjoy my own.

“Perhaps until they are finished, I can regale you with stories in the oral tradition as we walk.”

A blush burned my cheeks, hopefully hidden under the smeared soil. “What stories do you know so well to recite to me? Is it a means to parade your position over me for some kind of perversion of your own?”

He laughed silently and shook his head. “Nothing of the kind. I assure you.”

I nodded, and he extended his elbow to me as an escort.

Flutters exaggerated the flopping of my stomach, and I had a hard time following the obscure tale he wove.

When we circled back under the bridge to the muddied creek, he pulled me to a stop.

Thudding in my chest made my breath go wild as this man leaned in closer. Perhaps a perversion wouldn’t be quite so bad.

The pad of his thumb brushed dirt from my cheek.

“You are an awfully forward man, Mr. Sotir.”

“Eugene. I believe we are familiar enough for you to call me Eugene.”

The touch of his mouth replaced the sun with stars, and my fingers found his suit before he retreated.

“Forgive me,” he said against my lips. “I couldn’t seem to help myself. Perhaps, we should return to the house to keep me from overstepping my bounds again.”

Did You Know…About Druids Talking to Animals

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In the old days, tribes lived with their animals differently than most do now. Druids sought involvement in life rather than detachment and simply included animals in their lives: spending time, caring for, and conversing with them beyond the ordinary. Animals in the spirit and physical world guide, counsel, heal, or protect us.

Druids learnt about animals’ special qualities and gifts through experience. The Ovate, especially, study animals and trees who hold particular attributes that they can call upon to help themselves, seeing or relating to them in our inner worlds as well as the outer worlds, too.

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Tarbh-feis was a ritual where Druids cook a killed bull’s meat, go into a trance, and consume the sacred animal’s flesh to taste their magical powers. Imbas forosnai allowed the Druid to gain advice from these animals’ spirits. Many myths create links between speaking to animals with shapeshifting, which most ancient Druids believed were psychological transformations rather than physical ones.

In the “Tàin Bo Cuailgne,” two swinwherds with magical powers were the druidic keepers of the sacred animals. As the last rival Druids, they became two great magical bulls.

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The Celtic religion were considered unusual since they highly regarded pigs when most considered the animal filthy and unhygienic. Yet, myths tell of a series of characters being transformed into swine, like Gwydion and Gildaethwy who birthed a piglet whom a wizard turned into a boy, like Cilhwch and Hen Wen, too.

Deer also featured prominently with the deer hunt motif that engrossed the hunter so that the deer could lead them through the gates of the Otherworld without them noticing. A great number of Celtic deities were depicted with stag antlers.

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Magical horses were also common throughout the myths, some needing up to thirty women to satisfy their sexual lust, some rode easily over water, and some lured fools onto their backs and drowned the riders.

Swans imply a romantic context as they’re monogamous, used as the primary symbol of how love conquers all. In one of Ireland’s tragedies, a jealous stepmother turned Lir’s four children into swans for nine-hundred years, who could still speak to humans and make beautiful music.

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Finally, the salmon embody wisdom. They swim in a magical pool where hazel nuts fall from the nine trees surrounding it. Eating the nuts gives them the salmon the wisdom of the trees. Some Welsh myths claim salmon as the oldest of all creatures. Those who taste salmon absorb knowledge.

Many Druid tribes felt connections to specific animals and believed in animal ancestry. Either way, animals guided and guarded them.

 

 

Sources:

https://druidnetwork.org/what-is-druidry/learning-resources/polytheist/lesson-thirteen/

https://www.druidry.org/druid-way/teaching-and-practice/druid-animal-lore

 

 

Character Background: Felix Gray

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Felix Gray. If you’re familiar with Ria’s story at all, you know who this little monster is. If not, well, that’s why we’re here.

Felix is Phea, the queen of the vampires’, pet project. He’s got connections in the right places, and he knows the rules well enough to wiggle around them to suit his needs.

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As part of Phea’s progression through history, she stayed with Felix and his family as a foster child in the late 1700s. When Felix discovered her secret, he begged her to take him away from the impoverished life, which led him to work in deplorable industrialized conditions alongside his parents until finding his way into local crime. This, in part, allowed him to prove himself to Phea; however, her true test came in killing his parents—presumably because of their treatment of her, but honestly, she’s not telling me the entire truth here, and she’s pretty sadistic in general, so it may simply be to keep anyone from looking for him.

This cruel nature blossomed in Felix, which is why he’s her gofer. He punishes, kidnaps, tortures, and kills, etc., at her command. Many others do this for her as well, of course, but she enjoys him because he’s so eager to please.

It wasn’t until after Felix became a vampire that he met the others: namely James, Phea’s second in command and lover. Animosity bloomed, and Felix swore to take her from him eventually. This is why he’s so focused on Ria when she comes to their training facility and tries to claim her. But of course, he fails to beat Gene—all by James’s design.

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Let’s just say that Felix isn’t nearly as sneaky or smart as he thinks he is. Nor is he as powerful as he wishes as he was made by Samuel, the designated maker of a large lot of vampires because he is strong but lacks the ability to usurp the queen. If you haven’t guessed it, this, too, was on purpose.

But again, Felix planned to take Ria away from both James and Gene as their stories progress, and many have commented on how everyone seems to be “into her,” but Felix’s reasons for attacking her in such ways is purely (or almost purely) part of his strategy to pit James and Gene against each other and to slowly eliminate the competition.

His motives aren’t anything new. He’s a pretty basic bad guy, who’s smart enough to outwit most humans, but not smart enough to contend with those ten- or forty-times his age. Experience often benefits the paranormal more than their abilities do.

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That’s Felix in a nutshell. Got any questions about Felix or the others, drop them in the comments below.  Otherwise, tell me about your supportive villains. How do you balance them with your main antagonist?

 

Cheers and happy reading/writing y’all!6

Breaking Down Satire: Chekhov’s Gun

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Chekhov’s Gun comes from the saying, “If in Act I, you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act,” although the version I heard was a bit different as it featured a table instead of a wall, and many variations exist. In any case, the lesson comes in foreshadowing and cohesion, and Anton Chekhov’s point was that every element introduced in a story should serve a function.

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Essentially, Chekhov’s Gun means not making false promises or creating red herrings by introducing important details, elements, or themes without following through with a purpose for it. Why note it otherwise? Often mixed up with foreshadowing, which hints or makes a reader aware of a specific element or detail but doesn’t bring special attention to it.

But let’s clear up one more thing: Every single plot point or detail does not need to be massively meaningful. The blue curtains might not mean melancholy or depression, as I’ve heard so many students groan when we analyze stories in class. The elements or items must play a significant role when presented in a dramatic way or receives special focus.

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More interestingly, Chekhov’s Gun does not have to be an item like a gun. Scenes, memories, and characters quirks, etc. can all be used in tandem to propel a story forward, and to keep from confusing readers, false guns should be eradicated. Even if they’re your darlings.

Personally, I come across these when I’m stuck writing. Details I don’t know are significant until I have a hurdle to get over often reveals a gun I didn’t know I placed on the wall—or table in my case—and my subconscious is far smarter than I like to give it credit for.

Okay, before I delve into my own uses too deeply (am I setting myself up here or what?), I want to show how this links to satire. Well, typically that focal point reflects the main cause for criticism. We take special note of facts, characters, and events in satire, so we highlight them in dramatic ways in order to make our arguments.

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For instance, control is one of my big-hitter satirical notes as a sister to conformity. Once Ria wakes up as a vampire, she attacks her maker, drinking his blood and receiving a lecture about how his blood will not benefit her. Well, this serves two gun-like purposes.

One, control plays up throughout book one, but in a big moment, when Ria’s captured and held by the Assetato, they feed her a little girl. The on-going practice of wrangling her hunger, of maintaining control over the new animal inside of her, and trying not to hurt humans comes to a culmination when the child is offered to her. This also hits that satirical note of not letting what others do to her control her actions. She’s strong-minded and individual, and she will not conform. It’s a pretty consistent theme for me in each story I write, but it manifests in several, different ways.

And two, the emphasis on the benefits of paranormal blood becomes a serious issue in book two, CLAIMED, and if I’m being super honest, for the rest of the series, it grows into something that keeps control over her. See what I did there? Okay, cheekiness aside, her need for paranormal blood means a couple of drawbacks: she’ll need consistent volunteers—okay, maybe not a complete drawback given the three men in her life—and it also marks her as the anomaly she is. The scary bit is coming in book four, which I’ve just started drafting.

Much like the need and the control, this is a double-whammy gun moment. But Ria’s worst fears from the end of REBIRTH, book one, will finally come to fruition. Her secrets are going to be revealed, and she’s going to suffer the consequences of her birth. It should be an interesting and nasty experience.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a better handle on Chekhov’s Gun, but I wasn’t always so great at it. Naturally, writers seems to use this technique in some way to create twists and turns in a plot, but we certainly can generate more impact when we understand the usefulness of hanging that gun on the wall in Act I.

 

Let me know what you think of Chekhov’s Gun and how you use it in the comments below!

Happy reading and writing y’all.

Connections to the Garden of Eden

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I love when readers ask me, “Did you mean to…?” And fill in the blank.

Most of the time, the answer is a resounding, “Yes. I did.”

This time around, I have a lot of connections that are rooted in my newest novel, THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR, that come from my being raised as a Roman Catholic and the examination of religion I’ve processed over sixteen years in a collegiate environment and with my philosophical husband.

Anywho, the names of my characters are likely the biggest clue to religious references being made: Lilith, Adam, and Evan all represent a beginning with the Garden of Eden. Not only has Lily (Lilith’s) emergence into power create a kind of birth, she’s also cast out of her cushy life and into a strange world filled with people—or angels, demons, witches, and dragons, etc. She’s been cast out because of her new knowledge.

Adam is probably the easiest link. He’s actually the Adam from the mythological Garden of Eden. Lucifer, Lily’s mother, made him into the first demon some millennia back, although Adam has lost both of his wives before his change.

Evan creates a looser connection, an offshoot of Eve, but he also has a long history with Adam, a mutual hatred derived from different perspectives of morality. Adam punished Evan and his family for their beliefs, but Adam was also punished for his zeal. The two males are linked together from that moment. Evan grew with a knowledge of sin and has become Adam’s scapegoat—at least in the first book—but he has also been the town’s scapegoat since he was nine.

Of course, plenty more religious roots litter the novel and will continue to surface as the story progresses, like Lily’s mother gaining a larger role, Gabriel’s influence becoming clearer, a trapped God lurking somewhere near Saint Siena, and a continuous war in Heaven.

So if you ever see a connection and wonder, “Did you mean to…?” The answer is likely yes, but always feel free to ask!

Where do you pull references from as a writer or reader? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

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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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.