Nature’s Touch

This gentle light, won’t do me harm

It’s nice, caressing, keeps me warm.

The sun, what does it stand for?

It’s our universe’s heart

In life, it plays the biggest part

Do I have to tell you more?

**

The wind, the moon, they all depend

On our light, with no start, or end.

Nature is the biggest power

It influences all around

Sometimes quiet, sometimes with sound

The human, animal, and the flower.

**

The smallest things, that’s what I learned

Are worth so much more than what we earned.

Beauty is not in a model’s face

It’s not in artificial things

It’s not in princes, queens, or kings

It’s in an angel’s loving grace.

**

These few words, how can it be

That they mean so much to me?

They touch my heart, they calm my fears

They hold the love that’s in my heart

In my soul they play their part.

But most they comfort me and dry my tears.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, August 2021)


picture courtesy of Google.com

Soul Taker Secrets – An Angelic Dish

Katie and her consort-sisters grew. They developed as a group, as a family, as strong independent powerful women.

While in the beginning, the ‘Council of Twelve’ mainly was that, a ‘council,’ the members of ‘the brotherhood’ how they called it, merely met when they had a problem to solve, work out together, regroup the troops, or some other business challenge coming up. Rarely did they meet just for fun. Of course, when you’re a brotherhood of a dozen enormously strong creatures working together, you start knowing each other. However, they barely met anywhere else than in the Great Hall, the arena, or a battlefield.

Once Katie and Raphael fell in love, the entire Council met for dinner once a month in their house. Katie was known as one of the most incapable chefs of all times, but not even one council member had the heart (or the guts) to tell her that. She knew she wasn’t that good a cook and got herself help and support. But she constantly learned. Not even Sundance could help much. Sundance was a warrior and usually ate either in the warrior common dining hall or cooked for herself. Her kitchen knowledge was limited to mostly oatmeal, coffee, or cereal.

With Zepheira and Simin, two more consorts showed up, and their knowledge and willingness to learn made the monthly meetings much more enjoyable.

The longer the consorts knew each other, the closer their connection was. They started to open up to all council members. Even though they seemed intimidating at first, the consorts included them in their circles, and the ‘brotherhood’ slowly turned into a family—a family who deeply cared for each other. The Great Hall was not only for the Council Meetings anymore, but the consorts often gathered there with the council members to support a crisis.

In an earlier blog post, we learned about the favorite ‘Council of Twelve’ dessert.

Today we find out that the Great Hall does have a small kitchen attached. In case of a crisis, it was much easier to whip something up right there than cooking in one of the houses and carrying the food for sixteen people over.

They stocked the kitchen with long-lasting nutrition, such as cereal, the ingredients for oatmeal, coffee, tea, dried ice tea concentrate, rice, dried mushrooms, raisins, nuts,  cinnamon, pasta, and vegetable and fruit cans.

Our consorts found out pretty quickly that it was easy to ‘whip up’ some oatmeal and that all council members loved it. Occasionally, if there was plenty of time, one of the consorts decided to get some fresh fruit to pimp it up a bit.

Let’s see how Katie’s basic oatmeal recipe looks like.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (such as Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Desired toppings (such as sliced almonds, peanut butter, or fresh fruit)

How to Make It

Step 1

Combine oats, milk, water, salt, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

Step 2

Simmer uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Step 3

Divide equally between two bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon honey. Add additional desired toppings and serve.

Chef’s Notes

For dairy-free oatmeal, substitute your favorite nut milk. 

(Source: The Only Basic Oatmeal Recipe You’ll Ever Need | Cooking Light)

A Child’s Nightmare

Earlier this year I had a task to fulfill: Write a one-page short story, not more than 400 words, Fiction/Drama. I did that, submitted it, and waited. A while later the reading was ready. It took quite some time until the information got to me, but finally, it’s here. Listen to the Short Story Reading below.


1pg. Short Story: A Child’s Nightmare

by A.J. Alexander on Vimeo


A Child’s Nightmare By Aurora Jean Alexander

I waited in my grandmother’s salon. The entire house seemed to walk on tiptoes. Did they really think I didn’t know what my parents wanted to tell me?

I was in the living room yesterday when they broke out in one of their arguments.

“I think we should take Stephanie to that boarding school. It would be easiest for her not to see her home being sold, our belongings split up, and us moving to different cities.” My father had said.

My mother replied acidly: “Yes, like you cared a lot about our girl, when you came home, day and night, drunk, reeking of perfume and other women.” My father yelled. “Stephanie never saw anything like it.” He lifted his hand as he wanted to slap her, but my mother screamed fearfully: “Don’t you dare to hit me again, not in my house!”

A calm and controlled voice behind her said: “The way I see it, this is still my house, daughter. I don’t want to hear one more word about it. As for you, soon-to-be-former-son. I don’t want to see you ever lifting your hand again against my daughter or anyone else in this family. It is time you both move on with your plans. Does Stephanie even know you separated and will get a divorce? You cannot just ship her out like a package and expect her to accept everything upon her return.”

My mother replied sourly: “It was his job to tell her. But we all know he is a coward.” My father hissed at her. “How dare you saying that.”

My grandmother shook her head and made up her mind: “I’ll tell her tomorrow.”

Now I stood in front of her in the salon. The door to the back fields stood wide open. My grandmother explained in a few words: “Listen, child. Your father and mother will get a divorce. They planned to have you go to school somewhere else to save you the trouble of listening to their arguments any longer. But I insisted you stay here instead, live with me for the time being. Is that okay?”

I nodded. “Yes, grandmother.”, tears streaming down my face. Then I turned around, darted through that open door, and did what I would do all my life. I ran towards the sun and light, into freedom, away from those who caused me pain and darkness.

(Copyright, March 2021)

Picture courtesy of ‘Teen Magazine’

How Not To Start A New Book

As many of you already know, my writing process is a bit unorthodox. With the books so far written in my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I generally worked as follows:

1. Preparation (develop characters and update character sheets)

2. Draft plot and take notes

3. Start writing the first draft of the book by hand

4. Read the first draft, make necessary corrections in red

5. Type the corrected draft into the computer

6. Personal editing I

7. Personal editing II

9. Send book to the editor

10. Additional steps after the book is returned to me, fully proofread, edited, and formatted…


‘The Council of Twelve’ series is published with four books, and books 5 and 6 are written and prepared to be published. I have an additional book connected to the series currently with my editor. Book 7 is in my personal editing; books 8 and 9 are written and need to be typed into the computer. Since I got ‘The Council of Twelve’ series so very well prepared, I permitted myself to write a different story; one that has been in my head for quite some time already.

I have my ‘The Council of Twelve’ plot and character sheets updated and carry them with me constantly in the form of ‘Microsoft OneNotes’, which is a wonderful writer’s tool, at least to me… It allows me to take notes and write down ideas at any given time, on either my phone, my computer, or my tablet, and I have nothing else to do than to sync the program to have access to the latest version on any of my devices. Additionally, after nine books in the series, I know my characters quite well and rarely need to peek at my notes.

Now, I sit here, working on my new book. It’s a remarkable story and wonderful to work on. As soon as my pen touches the paper, it writes. I’m writing, drafting, plotting, writing again… And today I realized that, except a few notes on tiny paper sheets at the beginning and a hand-drafted family tree, I hadn’t done much preparation. In my excitement to start the book, I forgot to prepare correctly.

And now, in my handwritten draft, I’m paying for my omission. I forgot how often I have to flip to the pages to check on descriptions, characters, colors, and names. I discovered two ‘Davids’ and two ‘Peters,’ which angers me to no end.

I’m a very reliable person, and I don’t generally neglect my duties, not even those I have set up for myself, except in the preparation of this particular book. I decided to write a book outside the YA Fantasy genre, where I feel ‘home’ with my series. I should have known that careful preparation to write that book was necessary. But here I stand and could kick myself for not doing what should have been done quite some time ago.

I would therefore strongly recommend to new writers, like myself, to carefully prepare what needs to be prepared before starting the new book. Otherwise, they will find themselves in the same situation I am now, with a few mixed ideas, two very similar conversations, and two Peters and Davids. At least, I find myself discovering my mistake now. I can still work on fixing the problem. But I know I shouldn’t have let it go that far. At least next time, I know what I have to do. Go back to the well-prepared, reliable writer I am.

What kind of advice would you give your fellow writers? What mistake have you been making that you had to correct? What problem were you facing that needed to be fixed? Let us know in the comments.

Summertime – Sunshine – Warmth

Finally, the time is here

a time awaited, full of fear.

Can we ever again reach

out to others at the beach?

**

But finally we are in luck

we’re loading car and also truck

It’s time again, we join the fun

enjoying water, warmth and sun.

**

We can dine-in without a strain

enjoy our friends and chat again.

Precautions, they are needed still

But all in all, life is a thrill.

**

Positivity and laughter can be seen

to swim and walk, I am too keen.

We waited too long, we thought it lost

But finally, we all can defrost.

**

Enjoy the warmth, enjoy the heat

go out, swim, meet friends and eat.

Time runs fast, and before in gear

you’ll read an autumn poem here.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, June 2021)

Picture courtesy of: Google.com

Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guy

For a while now, I have thought I have a twisted brain. I watch movies – and feel bad for the villain. There must be something wrong with me. Of course, I know, a villain is a villain, and all the evil in the story is coming from that end. I know, and I agree, there must be punishment. But my nature keeps considering if there wouldn’t be a ‘better’ punishment than the one they were going through…

Let me explain what I mean by providing you with a few examples:

Movie – Van Helsing

We have one ‘villain’ in that movie that my heart was bleeding for. Prince Velkan, brother to Princess Anna, was turned into a Werewolf to be used for the vampire Dracula’s dark and evil purposes. The Prince didn’t have a chance. He was shot by Van Helsing’s silver bullet and died in his sister’s arms in sunlight when he was turned back into a man.

I know, that Werewolf followed Dracula’s orders, plundered, scared, injured, and killed people! He did, what his Werewolf nature made him do.

But none of that was his fault. He was tortured by Dracula’s servant, hit, abused, hurt, injured, and had to give in to dark magic malpractice. And still, there was no happy ending for him. He died. Wasn’t that worth a few tears?


Movie – The Witches Of Eastwick

We all know him: Daryl Van Horne, bewitching three single women in the small town of Eastwick, Alexandra, Sukie, and Jane. He walks into their world and shakes up their lives. The affair between the four of them ends up in a possessive, controlling relationship that threatens to destroy the happy ‘foursome’, the population of Eastwick, and in particular, the friendship between the three women. In self-defense, Alex, Sukie, and Jane pick up the dark stranger’s dangerous magic and turn it against him in the hope of making him leave and disappear out of their lives as he had shown up. Unfortunately, his powers are far stronger than theirs, and in the process, their former ‘little devil’ shows his true face… the one of the big devil. And he fights back. With the help of a wax-doll and a kitchen fire, the three women manage to win the fight, which ends up in their opponent’s disappearance after he had melted from an over-dimensional monster into a gnarled little ridiculous caricature of himself. The big epic ‘battle’ ends with that slowly spinning, odd little gnome disappearing with a quiet ‘pop’ into nowhere, leaving back only a few sparkles. I had a lot of fun watching these scenes for the longest time, but still, I felt that tiny sting of regret to see the mighty antagonist being exposed to ridicule. I cannot explain it. I have been laughed about too often not to confuse ‘a simple joke’ with malicious exposure to ridicule, apparently even if it’s the one of a villain.


Movie – Beetlejuice

Most of us know the movie. Beetlejuice, who ‘helps’ dead people do whatever necessary to make them comfortable in their afterlife. Of course, he only helps others to gain access to the world of the living. In the movie, it’s the Maitlands he sends advertisements to, calling himself a bio-exorcist. The Maitlands are recently deceased and don’t know anything about the complicated bureaucracy in the afterlife. Desperately trying to get the new owners out of their house, they meet Lydia, the daughter. Finally, Beetlejuice is freed, only to, of course, turn everything upside-down and try to use Lydia for his advantage. In the end, Beetlejuice is sent back to the afterlife, and in the waiting room, he enrages a powerful medicine man who turns him into a shrunken head. Of course, I know how selfish and obnoxious Beetlejuice is. (By the way: what a phenomenal acting performance, Michael Keaton!). But still, I think, in this case, I ‘suffer’ from the same feeling as I do in the former example. I feel sorry for the shrunken head. It’s, in a way, so funny, but also, it’s ridiculous; and ‘poor’ Beetlejuice now has to go through eternity like that, with everyone laughing about him? I feel bad for him, and I’m not sure why…


Movie – Pride & Prejudice

Now, in Pride and Prejudice, I picked Fitzwilliam Darcy’s two proposals mainly. In the 2005 movie, the first one set up in the rain, Elizabeth Bennet rejects him mentioning his arrogance, the destruction of her sister Jane’s growing love connection to his friend Bingley, and his contempt towards Mr. Wickham. Of course, at this point, she doesn’t know the entire truth; she only believes she knows it. Elizabeth overheard Mr. Darcy talking to his friend Bingley at a ball and hurting Elizabeth’s feelings and pride. She had never even taken his timidity and the pressure and high expectations of his family and society into consideration. Without knowing him, she yells his flaws into his face and lets him stand in the rain. Having hurt Elizabeth’s feelings by saying she was ‘barely tolerable, and not beautiful enough to tempt him’ was indeed no masterstroke on Darcy’s side. Still, he didn’t know she was listening. Does that make him a ‘villain’? No, I don’t think it does. Why is he still in this blog? Well, I detested his behavior towards Elizabeth, her sister Jane, and their family (and I’m not saying he wasn’t right!). However, I still somewhat cringe to see him standing there embarrassing himself, drowning in arrogance, smug self-importance, and rainwater. Yes, for a moment, I felt the tiniest string of malicious glee. And still, I felt terrible for him. Elizabeth’s words got him off his high horse, and he was lucky not to break his neck, figuratively spoken. The following events in the movie revealed quite some truth to Elizabeth and also changed Mr. Darcy. He, the second time, carefully considered his words to propose to Elizabeth… and she accepted. ‘Changing the villain’? Maybe, in a way, even though I still wouldn’t use the expression ‘villain’ in connections with Fitzwilliam Darcy’s name. Everyone knows the bad one in this story is Wickham… and a very young, foolish sister called Lydia.


Movie – The Mummy returns

I admit, the Mummy and the Mummy Returns are a couple of my favorite movies, and if I want to be entertained without thinking much, I turn them on. Here we have Imhotep, High Priest of a Pharaoh of the old Egyptian empire, who desired the Pharaoh’s lover, Anck-sun-amun. When the Pharaoh finds out about the affair, he has them both ‘eliminated,’ together with Imhotep’s priests. Imhotep himself was killed with the most horrible of all curses, the ‘Homdai.’ Unfortunately, tomb raiders, under the seal of archeology, find the sarcophagus and bring the High Priest back into the world. All Imhotep tries to do is getting his lover, Anck-sun-amun, back. He kills some of his grave robbers by ‘sucking them dry’ to re-create himself. He brings the old Egyptian plagues back to the world and tries to kidnap Evie, who, together with Rick, tries to get Imhotep back to his grave. That plot is absolutely sufficient for two movies. In the first movie, Evie and Rick fall in love with each other; they’re married and have a son in the second one. Of course, there is a lot of magic involved, re-incarnation, and humor. And then, towards the end of the second movie, ‘The Mummy Returns,’ things get really sad for Imhotep. Remember, we watched two films in which the re-incarnated Mummy kills at will, bewitches groups of people, uses his power to kidnap, torture, scare people, and even steal a child to bring back his ancient lover. For three thousand years, he had loved her. Even in his death and eternity, he never forgot her, and finally, she’s here, with him. He did, what he had to do, what he always wanted! And then the world is crumbling around them. The temple they’re in starts to collapse. He and Rick are held by the Underworld when the ceiling starts to crash. Even though Rick yells at his wife to get out, save herself, Evie doesn’t listen. Under the highest risk of her own life, she crosses the falling temple and throws herself to the ground to pull the love of her life out of the Underworld’s claws. Imhotep has to watch the horror to see his worst opponent being saved, and he desperately calls his only love: “Anck-sun-amun! Help me!” And that selfish, shallow, dumb chick screams ‘No!!” turns around and runs for her life… (Of course, she gets what she deserves only a few seconds later, but that’s only a detail.). What’s far more significant is the immeasurable disappointment in Imhotep’s face when he finds out that his love was far more extensive than hers and that the woman he fought for has shamefully let him down. After a last look at his enemies, he surrenders and lets himself fall backward to disappear forever, where he once raised from. That disappointment, the horror on Imhotep’s face, when the truth dawned on him, that’s what made me almost cry. I know he had murdered and pillaged… and still, I feel sorry for him. What’s wrong with me?


Do you ever feel bad for a villain? Do you feel odd when you see punishments for the bad? What story is it? Tell us about it in the comments!

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors 2021 – #Poetry M.J. Mallon, #Fantasy A.J. Alexander, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow

Thank you very much for featuring me on your blog! I’m honored!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Over the summer I will be updating author’s details in the Cafe and Bookstore and also sharing bios, books and recent reviews with you in this series…

Meet M. J. Mallon

I am a diverse author who blogs at: M.J. Mallon. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favourite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

I am proud to be included in the best selling horror anthology Nightmareland which received best seller status with best-selling author Dan Alatorre at the helm.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over: One hundred book reviews

I write collaborative articles celebrating the spiritual realm and love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious. I am a member of…

View original post 1,025 more words

Creating A Protagonist With Dark Secrets

Writing a fiction novel, staged in 2021 in Southern California is completely different from writing Young Adult fantasy. I had planned to create a main character who is not perfect, to not only extend the tension within the story, but also, because it’s important for the entire plot.

That means, I literally created a flawed protagonist. Flawed, but still sympathetic; imperfect, but still loveable.

I read plenty of books where I enjoyed reading about flawed characters. Some of them have dark secrets that are revealed. I didn’t want my protagonist to be perfect! Far from it… but then, that particular dark secret is a crime. How much of a disadvantage is that for the story?

There are quite some flawed famous beloved characters in history:

Elizabeth Bennett, protagonist in ‘Price and Prejudice’. She’s loveable, an independent and proud woman of her time (within permitted limits)… but she’s prejudgemental and a bit too arrogant at times and needs to work on herself to correct her. Do we love her less for that?

John Blackthorne, protagonist in ‘Shogun’. He’s good looking, even though the Japanese protagonists within the book call him ‘Barbarian’. He is highly intelligent, a strong and resilient character… but he sacrificed his entire ship crew except seven or eight of them, to fulfill his need for adventure, and he cheats on his wife. Do we love him less?

Indiana Jones. Our hero, our fighter for the good, against an entire military-power behind the ‘Fuehrer’… He loses as many times as he wins, but he would never give up. He’s flawed, vulnerable and still we love him.

John Wick – an absolutely deadly assassin, who comes out of his retirement to get back to the ones who killed his dog. He mows his opponents down by the dozen again and again – and still, we would do anything to keep him alive.

There are many more examples, but I’ll leave it up to you who you would add to the list. (Please, leave your favorite flawed hero in the comments, I’m curious)!.

But can we love a criminal character? What is it that makes our character interesting? The flaws, the humor, the mood, the attitude… but a crime?

Now, am I crazy to worry about that? Without the crime there would be no story, and still I ask myself, ‘what is everyone going to think about this protagonist’? Will the readers still love that character as much as I do? Oh yes, I grew up like that, always considering how things look like to others. But in my book; in my story? (Yes, I know, talking about crimes and John Wick, it might seem a bit narrow-minded to worry about my little character and story. But I can’t help myself. It’s my work, and it’s upon me to tell the story, right?)

Let me know your thoughts on a flawed protagonist.

Picture courtesy of IndieWire.com

A Hidden Little Pest – A Riddle

We live in holes, all by ourselves, and alone

To some we’re cute, to others pests

we eat prey that falls in our traps

and in the ground we build our nests.

**

We’re blind and solitary, we do damage a lot

we only meet when it is time to mate.

in some countries we are caught in traps

others protect by law our fate.

**

Per litter we can have five babies

then we part our ways.

the father runs off to his future path

it’s only the mother who feeds and stays.

**

We’re small, but we’re agile and mostly overseen

There are numerous classes of us little bro’s.

There’s one species human who hates us mammals

it’s the fella who takes care of the yard and mows.

**

Our breathing is unusual, we need less oxygen

than other mammals and still we can survive

in smallest burrows and tight little holes

and do we feel humans see us, be sure we will dive.

**

We can damage plant roots by digging

and we do build really annoying hills.

However, we’re constructors with great noses

and don’t have to pay bills.

**

Our saliva is poison, we can use it to paralize

our pray and store it for later intake.

We live in the country, by creeks, and humid ground

and we prefer water, and sometimes live close to the lake.

**

We’re small and often forgotten

I’m sure by the time I talked about a hole

you have already guessed what I am.

Of course, I’m a mole!

*****

(Copyright Aurora Jean Alexander, May 2021)

Memorial Day 2021

May 31, 2021 is the day the USA remembers the fallen heros. It’s a day to celebrate the lives of the ones fighting for freedom, for rights, for country, home and family, and paid the highest price for what they believed in.

~ Dear Father in Heaven. Thank you for welcoming the Fallen’s souls in Heaven. Protect their families, and help them with their grief. Let the Heroes rest in peace. Amen ~

Tour was up, middle of June
She was plannin’ a welcome home barbecue
Green bean casserole, Grandma’s recipe
There was a knock on her door ’round two o’clock
Two uniforms and her heart stopped
Yellow ribbon ’round an oak tree
Blowing in the breeze
.
Here’s to the ones that didn’t make it back home
The ones we ain’t seen in so long
The hold up a beer ones, the wish they were here ones
The not forgotten but gone
They’re in a better place up there
But they sure left a hole down here
We just go on livin’ and go on missin’ the ones
The ones that didn’t make it back home
.
The whole town shut down, the whole town showed up
Sang Amazing Grace, watched a slideshow of
His twenty-two years
There was laughs and there was tears
And that preacher talked about sacrifice
And traffic stopped for them Cadillac lights
Johnny sold beer half price that night
And everybody raised ’em high, singin’
.
Here’s to the ones that didn’t make it back home
The ones we ain’t seen in so long
The hold up a beer ones, the wish they were here ones
The not forgotten but gone
They’re in a better place up there
But they sure left a hole down here
We just go on livin’ and go on missin’ the ones
The ones that didn’t make it back home
.
Back to that front porch
Back through that front door
To the life they were fightin’ for
.
Here’s to the ones that didn’t make it back home
The ones we ain’t seen in so long
The hold up a beer ones, the wish they were here ones
The not forgotten but gone
They’re in a better place up there
But they sure left a hole down here
We just go on livin’ and go on missin’ the ones
The ones that didn’t make it back home
.
The ones that didn’t make it back home
.
(Justin Moore ,The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home)

.