Did You Know…About the Types of Angels?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

His Return: a Colista mini.

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

And my heart.

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

And he was.

Thank the gods, he was.

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

Gene opened his eyes like he’d feigned sleep.

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

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

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

And he was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted to believe him.

But I knew better.

Plan With Me: January 2019

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Breaking Down Satire: Hyperbole, Exaggeration, & Understatement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you join me next month for satirical violence.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Next, I have my overall goals for 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

TRANSCENDENT Launch Day!

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

Here are the original six hundred words:

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

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

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

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

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

Two purges in one day demanded a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I’m disappointed.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


 

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

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

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

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

 


 

Did You Know…About Dragons?

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Okay, dragons are an immensely varied species, so let’s explore the basics.

Most dragons have wings, like a bat with extended fingers creating the frame, giving dragons six limbs and feet that they can use with versatility. Their tail also has many uses, steering in flight, propelling in the water, and as a defensive weapon. Scales cover dragons’ bodies, growing with them, shielding them, and as they’re used as armor, a dragon does not shed its skin. Their feet tend to have three or four toes forward facing and a thumb-like digit that allows them to grasp objects.

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Their teeth are strong as are the muscles of their jaws. With four fangs, the number of other teeth depends on their age and what they eat. Horns that point backwards are meant for grooming and those aimed forward are defensive.

Their senses, on a majority, are heightened. Sight adapted for hunting allows them to accurately judge distances and see in the dark. A forked tongue helps with sniffing and sensing others by their scent. Taste is exceptional, although dragons tend to hate sweet flavors. Blindsense allows them to see invisible things and see with their eyes closed. However, their touch is deadened due to their thick skin, scales, and clawed feet, and their hearing is no better than humans.

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Dragons’ brains are large, making them smart. They love riddles and poetry and art and jewels. They tend to be reclusive, solitary creatures, hidden away in lairs. They prefer their own company but makes exceptions when mating and raising children or wyrmlings. They rarely unite and fight together against a foe, which is why most encounter only one dragon at a time. But they will fight each other over treasure, lairs, or mates.

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Finally, dragons are incredible fighters, able to incapacitate their enemies with a range of natural weapons. Dragon’s breath, for instance, stretches amongst various chemicals that are as different as each individual. If one has enough in its lungs, one can blow dragons breath onto its victims. Dragonfear freezes a victim’s muscles, pumps them with adrenaline, and clenches their stomach. And dragons also have a nature talent for spellcasting, which links with their own unique personalities.

 

 

Source: Suncatcher, Sindri. A Practical Guide to Dragons. Mirror Stone Books. 2006.

Our TRANSCENDENT Authors: a Featured Interview with Alisha Costanzo

My interview for my new story “The Glittering Pearls” about young martyred sin-eaters in TRANSCENDENT. ❤

Transmundane Press

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In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at Alisha Costanzo and her story “The Glittering Pearls.”

ABOUT THE STORY

What inspired your story?

I live in a realm of conspiracy theories, so the world gleamed from the current political climates and my deep-seated beliefs that people with power often hurt others with it and act as though they’re above the rest of us.

Doubly inspired, since my husband is a conspiracy king, “The Glittering Pearls” is based loosely off of his time as a solider, volunteering for every mission he could so that others didn’t have to. This common sacrificial thread in many of his stories and his propensity to absorb the guilt built-in to life—especially for me—in order to save others from it manifested the opening scene of a young man weighed…

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Character Interview with Starr Black

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: I can see that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: Easiest way to get on your bad side?

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

Me: What movies do you absolutely hate?

Starr: Ugh. The Wizard of Oz.

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

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

Me: And who is your celebrity crush?

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

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

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

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

Starr: I think you might be right.

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

 

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

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

Editing Advice: Show Verses Tell

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

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

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Image (c) Matthew Loffhagen

So, how do we do this?

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

Here are a few examples of them in action:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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