A Smiling Acquaintance – A Riddle Poem


I live in the Americas, in Central and the South

I am a happy mammal, with a constant smile upon my mouth.

There are two families of my species, named after our feet

And also we are different, in what we hunt and eat.

**

Eleven thousand years ago, a few of us were living on the ground

The size of elephants we were weighed in tons, and not with pound…

But the arrival of humans made us easy targets, eaten and extinct

What stayed was our mini-version, the one that smiled and blinked.

**

Also, we are easy target, that means we moved us to the trees

Where we do all, eat and sleep, and slowly move, breed and pair and sneeze.

We don’t have much energy, we don’t do well with others too

Normally, we all are loners, unless we are playing peek-a-boo.

**

We haven’t much developed lately, we stay frozen in our form

We smile, we eat, and we move slowly, to us that is the given norm.

Once a week we might come down from our favorite living tree

Fertilize the soil below it, before climbing up again to be.

**

Our fur is brown, sometimes beige, always straight, and never curled.

We are breeding a very special, unique moth within the insect world.

Our name comes from our movement, sluggish, lazy, very slow.

The name is program, you might guess, we are a ‘sloth’, that is to know.

*****

(Copyright, Aurora Jean Alexander, April 2022)

Picture courtesy of Google.com

The Best Part Of Telling A Story – Part I

I have been asked numerous times what the best part of being a writer is… I usually reply that it is the start, when the page is still blank and waits for the words to show up on the monitor. But, to be honest, I’m not really sure that’s true. In fact, I think, there are several steps that are just as much fun than starting to type…

1. Drafting the plot

2. Finding a motive

3. Creating the protagonist and antagonist

4. Finding the perfect location

5. Thinking of plot twists

6. Create side characters

[7. Depending on the story, maybe even create a world]


Of course, crime story writers work differently than fantasy writers do. Now, since I write fantasy, but wrote a crime story out of my fantasy series, let me start with the fun part on both…

Part I – Drafting A Plot

‘The Council of Twelve’ series generally starts with a new charkacter being introduced to the readers. Since I just started to draft a new book, I would like to be careful not to give away too much. But imagine my thoughts are going into the following direction:

A New Consort

What Is She?

How Does She Meet The Council Of Twelve?

Why Does She Meet Them?

What Complicates The Situation?

Who Is Her Consort?

How Are The Problems Going To Show Up?

What Does The Council Of Twelve Do To Solve The Problem?

What Is The New Consort’s Part In The Fight Good Vs. Evil?

How Is This Story Going To Open A Spot For The Next Story?


When it comes to drafting a new crime story, my first draft was lighter and only contained a few questions:

Who Is The Victim?

Who Is The Perpetrator?

What Is The Motive?

Who Are The Suspects?

Who Is The Investigator?


Before these questions are not answered, I won’t start to write. There are a whole lot of notes to take, and during the plot draft, more questions will inevitably show up. A book rises and falls with the plot, and it has to be worked out very carefully. If the reader at the end is left with too many lose ends, the book is either no good, or it’s part of a series and the questions are supposed to be answered in the next part.

Saving time on the plot draft is not the best time saved. Of course, I can only talk about myself and what is fun for me, but this is the first fun step of telling a new story for me.

If you’re a writer and have something to add, or if you’re a reader and would like to ask questions, the post is open to comments.

The Oscars 2022 – Fashion Post

Welcome to my annual Oscars-Fashion critics a la AJ. As usually, I’m not discussing movies, performances, or anything else for that matter. I looked at the participants and their gowns, and I’m presenting my personal opinion here, nothing more. Your taste might very much differentiate, but we know this will happen. I hope, you’ll have a little bit of fun with this post.

What to wear What not to wear

Mila Kunis rocked the red carpet in a silk Zuhair Murad, elegant, stunning, flattering. Now, H.E.R. is a bit different… what on Earth happened here? It looks like the designer grabbed some fabric and draped it around her, somehow. She looks a bit like spilled lemon juice.
Reba McEntire in Pamela Rolland is the epitome of feminine. The emerald green makes her positively beam. Venus Williams is nicely dressed, but her overly revealing cleveage makes her look cheap. A little more would have been well adviced here… and I’m talking about a bit more fabric around the ample bosom…
Sofia Carson reminds me very strongly of Audrey Hepburn in this breathtaking Giambattista Valli dress. Maria Menouos, in my opinion, looks more like a lime colored rubber boot with the most senseless decoration ever seen. She’s a beautiful lady. I have no idea what her stylist had for breakfast…
Alana Haim looks stunning in her silver colored Louis Vuitton dress. Simple, beautiful, ladylike. (And I hope she’ll forgive me the typo below the picture) Jada Pinkett Smith wasn’t that lucky. Her stylist made her look a bit like a moss covered tree stump. Far too much fabric… What for? She doesn’t need it!
Jessica Chastain looks radiant in her lavender Gucci dress. She really glows with the flow. Now, Maggie Gyllenhaal… The cut and style of this dress would be elegant and figure flattering. But the gold applications, unfortunately, make her look a bit like a royal tea cozy.
Wanda Sykes looks cool and stylish in her ivory suit, feminine and impressive, while Ariana DeBose looks a bit like she decided on something that was made for a far bigger person. She almost falls out of her trousers and I’m not sure about all that extra fabric around and behind her. It doesn’t visibly serve a purpose. Too much red, too much everything.
Uma Thurman wears an accentuated ensemble in black and white, elegant and feminine. Zendaya, I believe, tried the same with her Valentino deux-piece, but to me, her design looks incomplete, and makes her look a bit sloppy and pale.
Rachel Zegler looks all the classic beauty she is in her black Dior gown. And then, there’s Billie Eilish… Billie, Billie, Billie… really? You look like you’re wearing the bed canopy from Dracula’s castle. Even a scarecrow has better taste than that!
Kristen Dunst in Christian Lacroix is glowing, a classic beautiful lady in red. I’m, in fact, a bit shocked about Nicole Kidman, who is rumored to have impeccable taste. In that gray ballooning frock she looks a bit like an 18th century lampshade.
Zoe Kravitz in Saint Laurent looks elegant, beautiful, simple and cute. I’m not sure about Julianne Hough though. I consider her one of the most beautiful women in every room, but that yellow gown makes her look a bit pale, and the dark red lipstick ages her. In my opinion she looks drawn and tired.
From what rumors say Kristen Stewart got quite a few negative headlines for her Chanel outfit on the red carpet. In my opinion, unjustly. Kristen Stewart was never one known to be traditional, and I think, with legs from the ground to the neck, and her positive radiance, she looks sexy and stylish. Well done!

I hope, you’ll permit me a few words about the gentlemen on the red carpet. I’m very much for unique individuality and the freedom to express yourself. But I’m also one who considers some traditions useful – even tasteful. I, therefore, hope, you will forgive me my comments on some ‘individual’ taste…

Bradley Cooper, in a classic, elegant tux as usually. It gives him positive glow and he looks attractive, handsome, and sexy. Wesley Snipes? Not so much. In this purplish/burgundy ‘something’ he reminds me a bit of a three week old radish that got forgotten in the vegetable section of a refrigerator… Oy…
Jason Momoa wears a classic all-black tux, his long mane is tamed, as I hear, in a french braid, and he wears glasses. he looks strong, masculine, and charismatic. And then, there’s Timothee Chalamet…. *sigh* Please, Timothee… you look like you had a hell of a hangover Saturday night and forgot half of your clothing. Get yourself a few muscles, and we’ll talk about this style, but chicken chest and no shirt don’t go well together. Huge fail!

I hope, you had fun with this post. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. We are curious about your taste!

(All pictures are curtesy of Google.com and usmagazine.com)

Book Of Love Movie – And A Writer’s Nightmare

Picture courtesy of Google.com

Unsuccessful English writer Henry’s novel sells to no one. But when his book is suddenly a surprise hit in Mexico, his publicist insists he travel there on a promotional tour. Upon arrival, a confused Henry discovers the reason behind his novel’s popularity – Mexican translator Maria has rewritten his dull book into a steamy erotic novel. As tempers flare between them, the sparks begin to fly.

As writers we can only imagine how confusing it would be to find out that our translator has turned our work into something we barely know anymore.

That’s exactly what happens to writer ‘Henry Copper’. What sounds like a nightmare to us writers, turns out to be the hilarious plot to a very cute movie. I watched ‘Book of Love’ today, and had a lot to laugh. There are quite a few sparks to fly between reserved Englishman Henry and enthusiastic and extroverted Maria. To people with a ‘flair’ for romance, please, watch the movie.

But this is not a movie review. I decided to prepare this blog post looking at the movie’s plot from a writer’s point of view.

Imagine your publisher tells you, nobody wants your book, but it’s very famous in another country, one, whose language you don’t speak. You are invited on a book tour in said country, and find out, your translator actually changed your book. Suddenly you sit there, your wonderful, thoughtful, considerate and logical characters had turned into passionate irresponsible hot-blooded lovers, without regrets.

As a writer I have to say: please, translator, whoever you are… don’t change my book! That’s not your job! As funny as it sounds in this movie, I’d like to have my characters the way I wrote them!

Let me make an example: ‘Soul Taker’, the first book in my series. The main characters, Katie and Raphael… I write Young Adult fantasy. And even though they do fall in love, I wouldn’t want anyone to turn them into wild sex-maniacs. It would be completely off. That’s not what I had planned. However, I figure, I would have to make amends, I expect. Another language means often, that a ‘word-by-word’ translation isn’t possible. The translator knows how to interpret my book without effectively changing it. But how do we trust that person’s work? If someone translates ‘Soul Taker’ to German, Dutch, or French, I could follow easily… but Spanish, Russian, Chinese? (And yes, of course, I hope, one day, ‘The Council of Twelve’ series is going to be loved globally).

How can we trust the respective translations are correct and leave my story the way I wrote it?

I have never translated an entire book. I translated short stories and a few articles and blog posts into German, and I was always making sure I kept everything the way it was written, including the tone, which wasn’t always easy. But not in a million years I would have even considered changing anything. I consider that unethical. I wasn’t actually thinking twice how the authors of the respective pieces felt about trusting me. Did they? Or did they just ‘accept their fate’ and hope for the best? I can imagine it’s quite a risk!

If someone has experience with their books being translated, would you let us in on the secret in the comments? We’d really appreciate it! Thank you!

The Re-post Of One Of My Most Successful Blog Posts

For today, I decided to make my readers giggle a bit and repost one of my most successful blog posts of the past years. I hope it’s as much fun to you now as it was before. Enjoy the read.


A Little Bit Of Childhood – Or – How To Become A Tough Adult

I’m now talking to the kids, teenagers, and the ones who one day want to become teens, young adults, and millennials. I’m talking to those wimps who have no clue that one can grow up without having everyone (namely, the parents) fighting for them while they lean back and continue playing on their computers and not do anything…

Picture courtesy of Google.com

****************************

We and I very consciously talk about that group of people, born before 1980, we didn’t have what you have today – what did we have? Nothing, after the war! We had nothing! (And I know exactly who of you is laughing now and got the joke!) 😀

What did we have? We didn’t have mothers who bought us fast food or whatever we wanted to eat and ordered deliveries of our favorite sweets. We had a mother who cooked! Our mothers cooked spinach, green beans, peas, cauliflower – I grew up in a time before broccoli! We had real oatmeal and soup! We had to eat what was on the table – OR NOT EAT AT ALL! And when we didn’t behave as we should, there were days we were sent to bed without dinner.

We had toys – our toys came from China! All the lead paint and cadmium we sucked off the toys ourselves! Nobody helped us – and we didn’t die. Our mothers drove us around in cars without baby’s safety cushions and children’s seats, without airbags and some of them even without seat belts! Our mothers didn’t drive their children around in family vans and SUV’s. We had Volkswagen Beetles! Vacation time came, and our Dad was driving us, his wife, and two kids in the back of his baby blue beetle for 16 hours across the continent! Our mother had a few plastic bags for us kids to vomit into in case we didn’t feel so well.

When we were on the road, our mother didn’t have baby wipes or sterile medical wipes. She had a fabric family handkerchief where she spat into and wiped our faces with! That is actually the best stain remover on Earth! If a cleaner-production-company would be smart, they’d bottle up mother-spittle and sell it as an ‘all stain remover,’ because it removes everything, from mud to blood. And in that handkerchief, if anyone would ever have it scientifically investigated, you could have found the DNA from our great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, robber-knight Alexander!

When we couldn’t sleep as kids, we didn’t get ‘sleep-well-baby-tea’ or ‘baby-sleeping-juice’ from the drug store. No! Grandmother came in with the big bottle of brandy, and if there was none in the house, we got eggnog instead – we were forced to open our mouth and got it fed with the tablespoon, followed by a handful of gummi bears which we ate, one after another, then turned around and slept, and we still have all our teeth!

If we once in a rare while got a chewing gum, we didn’t chew and carelessly discarded it by the side of the road after half an hour. We chewed the entire day – and then in the evening, carefully placed it on our nightstand! In the morning, we blew the fluffs off the gum and stuck it back into our mouth – and in school, in the break, when talking to our best friend, we loaned it to her for the duration of the break – and the next lesson!

To play with we didn’t have Wii-consoles, Playstation, i-phones, i-pads, i-pods and were glued to them and frozen in time. What did we have to play with when we were kids? We had FRIENDS! And with these friends, we played daily! Yes, and sometimes we argued, we wrestled and once in a while one of our teeth fell out – but back then an incident like that wasn’t followed by an immediate meeting with parents who threatened to contact their lawyers! We were the ones being responsible for what we did!

And additionally, to the lost tooth, we got a clean slap across the face from Mom what she considered a clear statement in educational measures. Then we played ball – all kinds of ball. Softball, Basketball, soccer. The athletic kids were picked by the respective team captains, the not-so-athletic ones (like little AJ) were watching, not playing because these kids had to learn to handle disappointment – without the constant support of a children’s psychiatrist.

We all drank from the same glasses. Not the matching glasses – the SAME ones – like our siblings, parents, neighbors, neighbors’ kids, friends, and the neighbors’ dog sometimes. That wasn’t always nice – and sometimes we even drank from the garden hose when we were really thirsty – and we all survived!

We barely ever drank water and never soda- nor ‘filtered water’ out of a bottle, or water with a taste – no, we drank lemonade, yellow lemon tasty liquid with tons of sugar, sometimes the thing was syrup with orange taste and bubbles – and then we went back playing and ran it off.

We got grades in school – from first class on! And when we had bad grades in school, our parents told us off! They didn’t go giving their opinion to our teachers! We were the ones who had to work hard in school because only the kids with good grades who knew things and were good in school went to college, not every Ritalin-addicted brat whose parents were too lazy to work in school back in their times and hired tutors for their kids from the second class on, still believing their brood is highly gifted.

We had everything – we, the ones born before 1980 had everything! Freedom, success, failure, happiness, disappointment – and lemonade! We grew up, we experienced the first computers – we learned how to use them, we grew with the technology – but it doesn’t control us! We are neither addicted, nor are we dominated by technology! To us, it is a relief, a help, not our master. We can survive without it – the one after 1980 can’t! We are the ones who are tough; nothing is killing us, shattering us or making us giving up – because we learned to live with whatever was thrown to us – and we survived!

(First published on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ March 5, 2020)

A One Of A Kind Spy – A Riddle

I’m considered beautiful, and also shy

I can be hidden, still watch you, like a spy.

My eyes are big, my features strong

I’m still not predator, don’t go wrong!

**

I am very fast, I won’t pry

But be aware, I cannot fly.

Just when I’m threatened, then I go

But far too often, it’s useless, though.

**

I’m useful to nature, and still I’m prey

Wolf, bear, cougar, what should I say?

They all look at me like food

That fills the belly of all their brood.

**

You can find me all over the world in different size

My life can be peaceful, but that comes with a prize.

I’m not protected like so many these days…

And that’s why I wander on different ways.

**

My babies are tiny, and should you find one on your lawn

Please, don’t feed them, they are my spawn.

They’re cute, I know, but if you intrude

I’ll leave alone, and they’ll be screwed.

**

I’m sure in the meantime you have an idea about me

Well hidden, beautiful, shy and I love to be free.

I would say, by now it should be clear

It’s no secret, I am called, a deer.

*****

(Copyright Aurora Jean Alexander, February 2, 2022)

Picture courtesy of Google.com

“Windowing” – Historic Tradition Mainly In Austria & Bavaria

In older times, in the ‘old countries’, mainly in Austria and Southern Germany, Bavaria, where several generations were living in one house, the bedrooms of young ladies were often on the second floor, to protect their virtue. Young men and ladies had only opportunity to meet each other on the dance floor at ‘village celebrations’, or at church. Of course, Sundays were family days, and the fathers protected their daughters like dragons and they often were not allowed to talk after mass.

Well, between farm and shepherd work they sometimes had the chance to briefly meet, but were strictly watched by chaperones, or, occasionally, older siblings.

Of course, the families did not tolerate fornication under their roof and didn’t accept visitors. (Fornication was illegal, by the procuration law §180 a. F. StGB).

This means, if a boy fell for a girl and wanted to secretly talk to her, he grabbed a ladder, at nighttime, and walked to her parent’s house. There he climbed up to her window and knocked – and if the girl liked him too, she opened. And then, they were talking – and kissing… and sometimes, maybe doing a few other secret things, veiled by the darkness of the night.

That tradition is, of course, not called ‘windowing’. (I used that word, because I think it gets closest to the original words). The tradition is called ‘Fensterln’ (Austrian dialect) or ‘Fenstaln’ (Bavarian dialect) and means nothing else than visiting their sweetheart by climbing into the window. That tradition was a partially accepted living out of proscribed prenuptial sexual activities.

After the sexual laxity and female emancipation, the tradition was rendered unnecessary.

Nowadays it’s only practiced for the fun of it.

When I was around 16 and vacationing with my family in my aunt and uncle’s house, I had fallen for a really cute boy, and he promised to visit me one night. Of course, he didn’t. I could imagine he didn’t want to fall down and break his neck in the darkness, He told me later, he couldn’t find a ladder that was long enough to reach the window… but I still suspect he was just scared to death from my Dad. And by thinking about it, it’s only natural. My Dad was a protector. Also, climbing into the room was out of the question, since I shared it with my younger sister. The boy probably thought, just for a couple kisses it wasn’t worth the effort. And I’m not that old… we could kiss during the day. *chuckle*

Why am I telling you about this tradition today? While writing a sub-story to my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I picked historic locations in Middle Europe, toward’s the end of the ‘Danube Monarchy’. During my research, I discovered an article about ‘Fensterln’ and started smiling, when I remembered it. Maybe, one day, you will have the chance to use it in one of your stories.

Happy Writing!

Picture courtesy of Google.com