Soul Taker Secrets – Angel Wings

The Council of Twelve series is a YA fantasy/paranormal romance series where we meet celestial beings. The first book in the series is ‘Soul Taker’, where we meet the Council of Twelve, the most powerful individuals in existence, and the protagonist, Katie, a Guardian Angel-to-be. In the ‘Soul Taker Secrets’ category, I reveal the one or other ‘inside’ knowledge about The Council of Twelve, their consorts, and in this case, a little of their physical secrets.


Picture courtesy of https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/feathers-article/

Wing feathers

The wing feathers specialized for flight are characterized by uniform windproof surfaces, or vanes, on either side of the central shaft that is created by an interlocking microstructure. Also called remiges, these feathers are asymmetric with a shorter, less flexible leading edge that prevents mid-air twisting.

Amazon Parrot wing feather illustration by Andrew Leach

Tail feathers

Most tail feathers, or rectrices, feature an interlocking microstructure similar to wing feathers. Arranged in a fan shape, these feathers support precision steering in flight. Typically, birds have six pairs of feathers on the tail, which display increasing levels of asymmetry toward the outer pairs. In some birds, tail feathers have evolved into showy ornaments that are useless in flight.

Ruffed Grouse tail feather illustration by Andrew Leach

Contour feathers

Contour feathers are what you see covering the bird’s body and streamlining its shape. Arranged in an overlapping pattern like shingles, the waterproof tips are exposed to the elements, and the fluffy bases are tucked close to the body. Sometimes brilliantly colored or uniformly drab, contour feathers can also help the bird show off or stay camouflaged. Contour feathers on the wing, called coverts, shape it into an efficient airfoil by smoothing over the region where the flight feathers attached to the bone.

Helmeted Guineafowl contour feather illustration by Andrew Leach

Semiplume

Mostly hidden beneath other feathers on the body, semiplumes have a developed central rachis but no hooks on the barbules, creating a fluffy insulating structure.

Northern Cardinal semiplume feather illustration by Andrew Leach

Down

Similar to semiplumes with an even looser branching structure but little or no central rachis, down feathers, are relatively short and positioned closest to the body where they trap body heat.

Canada Goose down feather illustration by Andrew Leach

Filoplume

Short, simple feathers with few barbs, filoplumes function like mammal whiskers to sense the position of the contour feathers.

Common Poorwill filoplume feather illustration by Andrew Leach

Bristle

Bristles are the simplest feathers, with a stiff rachis that usually lacks barb branches. Most commonly found on the head, bristles may protect the bird’s eyes and face.

Domestic Chicken bristle feather illustration by Andrew Leach

(Source: https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/feathers-article/)


Now that we learned about the different feathers in the wings let’s look at the different wing-shapes.

Picture courtesy of https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/

In this picture, we can see the wing shaping feathers and their functionality.


Now, bird and angel wings basically have the same biological structure with one main difference. Their mobility is far more extended to guarantee the optimal function since, of course, angels don’t have tail feathers to brake, steer, and keep the balance of the wing carrier. And of course, they are much more reliable, due to the weight they have to lift.

Picture courtesy of Freepik.com

Why Does A Romantic Book End At The ‘Happily Ever After?’

Picture courtesy of Google.com


I suspect we all know the touching moment we waited for after we were going through the adventures of the romantic couple. We smiled with them when they found each other. We were happy with them when they fell in love. We cried with them when they lost each other because of some horrible misunderstanding. And, of course, we celebrated when they found each other again, kissed and ‘lived happily ever after.’

And now?

Don’t we ask ourselves how their wedding looked like? How are their families, how their friends? Don’t we wish sometimes we could play a ‘fly on the wall’ seeing how their relationship develops when challenged by marriage?

And that’s when my imagination runs wild.

Of course, it would be amazing and heartwarming to see their wedding. Because weddings are always touching and celebrating and viewing the ‘good’ in everything and everybody.

And then our couple moves in with each other. Both go to work… every morning she makes her favorite coffee, every morning he tells her that this particular brand gives him bad reflux. Then they climb in their own cars and drive off, only to see each other late at night, due to overtime and traffic jams.

She cooks, but he’s not home. Disappointed, she covers his meal and puts it away in the refrigerator, leaving him a note before she goes to bed. He comes home late, makes himself a sandwich because he can’t stand that particular dish, and never dared to tell her.

The weekends they often spend with their in-laws’ camping or in the one or other backyard with a barbecue. They can’t go on vacation… because they can’t get off the same time – and of course, they cannot stay away from work longer than a weekend.

Even though everyone waits for them to announce that they are expecting, that never happens because both are too busy to make money and soon buy their own house… Unfortunately, they don’t realize they are waiting too long until she’s in her forties and finally decides it might be too risky to have a child now.

Occasionally they’re going out for dinner, but mostly they don’t have to say much to each other unless they discuss the job… and then it’s Monday, and the routine starts from scratch.

They might buy the house everybody expects them to buy. It’s a breathtaking museum, but they’re too busy with their job to enjoy it… it’s not a home, it’s just a status symbol. And they both continue working.

And at one point they realize… they don’t have that much to say to each other. They don’t know, do we actually know each other? Or did we just rush into our marriage because everybody expected us to; our families, the readers…

Basically, their marriage is the wrong coffee, and a woman who cannot cook… it’s everything everyone expects, but to them, it’s just routine and boredom.

And that’s why a romantic book usually ends with the kiss and the ‘happily ever after.’

Do You Dream About Your Story?


When I saw this quote, I immediately felt affected. It was like Neil Gaiman ‘read my mind.’ There are times I have a hard time thinking about something else than my current story. I write in the morning, in the afternoon, and sometimes at night… means, shortly, before I go to sleep. In such a case, I may dream of my story…

Don’t expect too much of my dreams, please. I don’t remember I ever was ‘part’ of my story or found myself to be one of the protagonists. It was more like I watched a scene that I wrote before. I admit, the one or other time I had to correct some view after I woke up – but if I dream of my story (and that doesn’t happen every night), mostly, things might be a bit hazy.

My dreams are not generally the place where I get my ideas from. I think they’re more a reflection of my writing than anything else. But they also inspire me and softly ‘push’ me forward to go to my story and continue writing because that is, what I do, and that is what I want to do.

Of course, I know that Neil Gaiman did not talk about literal dreams… but the book that is in my head, is a story I’m responsible for, a story I can build, a book that can come true, that others can read; a book that may bring joy and smiles to people… and all this is in my hands. I am responsible for.

I love that thought, and that’s why I picked this quote. I think it is a unique, positive thought I would like to hold on and share with you, with readers, with other authors, with friends.

What are your thoughts about this quote? Please share them in the comments.


 

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman, (born Neil Richard Gaiman 10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and films.

His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals.

He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. (Source: Wikipedia)


 

Summer 2020

The sun burns hot, but there’s a breeze

in the yard I can hear the hum of the bees.

The ocean, it never is very far away

the sun is shining, here I want to stay.

**

Temperatures are hot, the air, it sings

We know already what the next day brings

more blue skies, more light and sun

Southern California is home and fun.

**

This summer things are different though

the danger is omnipresent, that we know.

But still, I need the sunshine and the air

I’ll go outside and I take care.

**

The sunsets still are so one-of-a-kind

I have a hard time to get them off my mind.

The colors, the clouds, and the palm trees

swaying in the summer breeze.

**

And even when the times are hard

when we are in crisis and hold up our guard

There’s still the beauty of nature to roam

outside our window, in our hearts, we call it home.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, July 2020)

Picture Courtesy of Google.com

 

A. J. Alexander’s Writing Assistant #3

On April 9, 2020, I published a post about how I got my ‘Baby Boy,’ my ‘Writing Assistant #1‘. A couple weeks back I published my Writing Assistant #2.

In my first Assistant post, I published about 2 feet of information about Maine Coon cats. In this post, I’ll spare you from the same information. If you like to read about it, go back to the first post.

Instead, I’m going to introduce you to my second ‘Baby Girl’, my ‘Writing Assistant #3’.

This girl, too, is a pure breed Maine Coon cat, including beautiful Lynx-tips. Indeed, this one is a former ‘Best of Show’ champion.

After I got Charlet, I saw, her breeder had a breathtaking Calico Torbie female. I told her: “I never wanted a third cat, but if you EVER retire that one, I’ll take her in. She laughed and informed me she had a waiting list.

Surprisingly, a few months later the breeder called me up and asked me if I would keep my word and take her in. She said, the beautiful kitty had a bad delivery with her last litter and she needs to be retired, but also she had arthritis and was barely three years old. That’s why the entire ‘waiting list’ didn’t want her anymore. Of course, I kept my word and picked her up. Only a short time later I realized the kitty had difficulties eating and I took her to the vet… long story short: Esme had cancer and after fighting for her life for eight months, I had to admit we lost the fight and I had to have her euthanized. She fell asleep in my arms, Jake was with us…

When we got back home, it took me a while to realize that Esme had taken over the pack lead from Charlet. I had not known that and was surprised that Jake and Charlet started fighting badly and Charlet scratched and bit Jake seriously a few times. They had to figure out again who was the boss and even after months they could not decide. I had two cats who couldn’t stand each other anymore.

Finally, I knew I had to give them something else to concentrate on. A kitty would have been a possibility. They would have to focus on the baby and would stop fighting. (or Charlet, as a former mother would have pulled the kitten to her side and they both could have sided against Jake).

I never had a kitten before and was considering getting one. I heard of a breeder having two litters with Maine Coon kittens. Of course, I had the chance to cuddle with the cutest kittens on Earth.

Picture courtesy of Google.com

But then, somehow, I did not have the right feeling. I sensed that I was about to make a really bad decision. I told that to the breeder. She seemed disappointed. And started to hand out treats to her adult cats… and there I saw her. An elegant, breathtaking pitch-black panther cat, with a beautiful bushy tail and green eyes…

I asked the breeder: “Erica, this black cat… you don’t consider giving her for adoption, right?” She started laughing. I was a bit disappointed and said “I understand… she’s far too beautiful.” But Erica shook her head. “No, that’s not why I’m laughing. But before you arrived I talked to a breeder friend of mine and told her, that I would soon retire Tjara from breeding, since she’s 4 1/2 years old, almost five. But I have two litters with kittens, who will want the five-year-old cat? You are now the first one checking out the two litters and you’re asking if you can have the adult cat.” We laughed together… and the cat I fell in love with, was mine.

Usually, when I take cats home, I’ll keep them separated for a few hours, in the room where the litter boxes are, prepare water and make sure they relax and start getting the smell of their new home.

This cat didn’t last even one hour. After twenty minutes she scratched the door and demanded to see the rest of her new home. I laughed, shrugged, and said: “Good Luck.”

Jake and Charlet were waiting outside. Tjara licked Jake’s nose and let Charlet hiss at her. Then she walked through the rest of her new home. After about half an hour, she sat on the carpet, looked around, looked at me, and seemed to say: “New home? New Mommy? New subordinates? Fits – MINE.”

She had taken over the pack within not even an hour and is the boss ever since. Not even two days later even the connection between Charlet and Jake had normalized, that’s how strong Tjara is as a pack-leader.

I’m very proud of my strong kitty-cat. She rules with an iron paw, but at the same time, she’s helpful and cuddly.

Here we go:

 

The Truth – And How I Use My Characters To Say It

Picture courtesy of http://www.thepowerofoneness.com/blog/tag/live-your-truth/

Don’t we all wish sometimes we could just tell the truth instead of juggling tactfully around saying what the other one would like to hear? Let me give you a few examples.

Imagine, a hair salon, somewhere in a big city… the walls are covered with breathtaking hairstyles on equally breathtaking people, the hairstylist expects his next appointment.

A customer enters and points to one of the pictures on the wall, telling the hairdresser: “I want exactly that hairstyle here.”

Now, what does the hairstylist want to say? “Well, I’m afraid, that is a misunderstanding. See, this is a professional model, a really beautiful human being. Whereas you are a caprice of nature… barely to look at.”

What does the stylist say eventually? “Aaawww. What an excellent choice. That cut will frame your face wonderfully. I’m convinced it will look splendidly on you.”

Or, let’s have a look at another example:

Parents are invited to a parent’s conference day, and they’re meeting their kids’ teacher.

Imagine what the teacher would like to say: “Ah, yes. Your son Willy. A complete idiot. About as intelligent as six feet of dirt track… I’m surprised how this child finds the door in the morning to leave the house. My advice to you: set him free; start from scratch.”

What does he say? “Your son. He is intelligent but does have a few difficulties to focus and concentrate. There are practices and exercises to improve that. But I’m convinced the older he gets, the easier it will be for him…”

Or, how do you tell parents that their child is not the cutest on earth? Ask them for a picture. Then you study it for a few minutes and say: “Aha… hmm… you know…. are you sure that this is indeed the face?”

Of course, our society does not accept the naked truth. We all know words can hurt, and we don’t want to hurt people, nor do we want to be hurt. That’s when our ability to successfully veil our replies in conversations, create our answers in a way to compliment the other person, and hide what we really think.

At this point, I admit, it is a relief at times, to use my characters to speak what ‘they’ think, and of course, use them to write what I think. I rarely refer to a particular person or situation. But I permit my characters at times, to be as outspoken, open, bold, and sometimes rude, as I would never dare to be in public.

At times I wonder, if crime authors use their books to ‘kill people’ they don’t like in real life.

What would you permit your character to do what you cannot do or say in your real life? Let me know in the comments, I’m curious.

 

A Small Hunting Friend – A Riddle


I’m gorgeous, and I’m useful, colorful and small

even though my feet are short, I’m still good at brawl.

My main food is insects, small reptiles, mammals, and more

from carrion I keep away, I prefer a wider soar.

**

I’m unusually fast in moving, the wind carries me around

When I hunt, I’m very silent, but when I court, I make my sound.

I’m known to be quite talkative, my cry can be heard from far

to every student of ornithology, I’m a famous star.

**

We are migratory fowl, in fall we are moving South

we spend the winter in Central America where we live in routh.

Back home up north ’till Canada, we return to breed our young

we sing, we dance, and so we court, we all act as sprung.

**

We breed in caves, in old trees, and sometimes we use a nest

but to be honest, we don’t like to build, nestboxes are the best.

There we raise a couple youngsters, sometimes they’re also more

normal it is we have six babies, but rarely only four.

**

I mentioned we are useful to many farmers in the countryside

we hunt vermin, critters, insects on their ground from far and wide.

we protect the crop with what we eat and they love our call

That’s why they love us hunting there, even though we’re only small.

**

From Canada to Texas we are widely known and often seen

we’re not endangered, that is good, and we have never been.

I know it’s hard to guess my identity and that’s the game

That’s why I’ll tell you – American Kestrel – that’s my name.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, May 2020)


 

Picture courtesy of: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/american-kestrel

 

Happy Independence Day 2020

The Star-Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out of of their foul footsteps’ pollution
No refuge could save the hireling and slave’
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

 

I WISH YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES: 

Another Form Of Writing – Love Letters

Humans are able to feel so unbelievably strong emotions: Love, hate, reflux…

                                                                                                                     – unknown –

*****

When did we stop writing love letters? When was the classic ‘love letter’ a relict of the past?

In my opinion, technological progress has not only killed a lot of our ability to communicate but also our ability to write, maybe to be romantic…

Where did these little notes go?

Picture courtesy of http://www.thepowerofoneness.com/blog/tag/live-your-truth/

From what I hear, nowadays, people send each other texts. They start dating, sending texts, women are hurt when their love interest doesn’t text back within five minutes, the rate of misunderstandings within text messages is enormous, and often couples argue by text, and at the end, break up by text. It’s so much easier to send short messages, than to say what we feel… or: in this case, to write it down.

I recommend picking the right stationery. It doesn’t have to be pink with hearts… but tasteful and a bit romantic.

You don’t have to be a writer to express honest feelings by writing them down. When you’re not sure about grammar and spelling, please hand the letter over to someone you trust to correct your letter. There’s nothing worse than your love interest roaring with laughter about your ‘meestakes.’

Maybe you might refrain from rhyming, in particular when you’re not used to writing poetry. In a love letter, it’s important to be true to how you feel and not try to impress.

**

I would walk on my knees in front of you

show you how much worship I can do.

Your heart, it pulses, it feels like a shock

in accordance with my …. uhm… soul.

**

And no, this is definitely not a verse for your love letter. (Unless you have a really humorous partner, of course).

Write what’s deep in your heart. Express what’s in your head, let the other one know that he/she is important to you. There is a choice of words that are important for your letter:

dream, feel, sense, love, thinking, love, heart, missing

Feel free to add more words to the list, in particular, important ones… they don’t need to have to be important to us, but to you – and your loved one.

Maybe you know each other for a while; maybe you are a couple already and have gone through a lot with each other, or maybe you want to tell someone how you feel? It doesn’t matter. As long as you express your deepest emotions and be honest, your letter is going to touch your recipient’s heart and soul.

Let me give you an example… a letter, addressed to someone who wishes to start a relationship, expressing affection and hope.

*****

Dear …..

We met through a phone call. When I particularized my situation, you immediately consented to help me. What a big heart you have! You didn’t have to, and still, you supported me. You were always there for me! We talked, and our conversations brought us closer.

We met a bit later personally, and that meeting only confirmed that I found who I was looking for, someone to trust, someone to feel safe with, someone to hope…

Our conversations, these endless, wonderful, humorous, and informative conversations… I cannot deny I’m addicted to these conversations. I love talking to you, I love hearing your voice, I love hearing your laughter, and when we don’t talk, I miss you… and I wish, one day, I would hear the same from your lips.

I wish I could hear the birds sing with you, I wish I could listen to the rain with you, I wish I could see you soon, I wish, I wish, I wish… you are someone special. I hope, one day, I will be able to tell you that, without embarrassment or humiliation, without any awkward feeling, but with a warm smile,  and maybe with a hug.

With all my heart

XXX


I know, this is far away from  Do you love me, yes/no/maybe. But it is clear, honest, and emotional. And that’s what you want when you write your love letter.

(Of course, you can hire someone to write your love letter. And yes, I do that occasionally, even though it’s not cheap). But that isn’t how it should be. A big part of a love letter is that part that you send with your words: your heart, your tears, yourself.

Good Luck!

Demon Tracker On The Indie’s Review Blog

I’m so happy that the Indie’s Review blog has published a review for Demon Tracker, the 3rd book in ‘The Council of Twelve’ series.


Zepheira is the best Demon Tracker working for the Good side. With her unusual looks, her phenomenal sense of smell, and her bravery, she quickly draws ‘The Big 7’s attention to her talent. They hire her to find one of them. Leaving her familiar surroundings and regular work environment unsettles Zepheira at first. But the challenge to prove herself and to increase the reputation of her infallibility tempts her.
She is convinced she will be a great asset to ‘The Big 7’. Little does she know she will be a much greater asset in Heaven’s fight against Evil. Zepheira suddenly becomes more than a hired tracker. She finds herself an important pawn in the game of love, heat, and fire. Will her courage and sacrifice be sufficient to dance with the flames.


AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON / BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW

NOTHING BUT PRAISE!- Book 3 in ‘The Council of Twelve Series’ is WOW! Taking sometime after ‘Sundance’ (book 2) we meet demon tracker extraordinaire Zepheira of the Divine Army. With her proud horns and her master sense of smell memory, she is good at her job. When a summons from The Council of Twelve calls her away Zepheira is intrigued and floored at the attraction she has for Uriel.

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