The Council Of Twelve Series – What Should Be Next?

The Council of Twelve series so far includes the first three books in the series.

You can find them here:

Katie is the sweetest angel we can imagine, a fantastic consort, emotionally stable, and still responsible, helpful, and caring. She’s Raphael’s perfect second half.

Sundance is the second female angel we meet in the series. She’s an exceptional angel in many ways, the first warrior angel in three centuries, she is blessed with many gifts and talented beyond her young age.

Zepheira is a strong-willed, stubborn woman, so far the fiercest female character in the series. As a half-angel, she is a raw diamond, and due to her nature, the only one holding Uriel’s fire.

During the entire series, we will recognize recurring characters and meeting new ones; in particular, are we going to meet ‘The Council of Twelve,’ including the twelve most powerful individuals existing, each one of them holding unique talents and powers.

Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Benadrel, Zachariel, Deonur, Tsechirel, Santanael, Centriel, Anghariel, and Simael.

The fight Good vs. Evil is present within each book, the tension climbs higher with each story.

In your opinion, what should happen next? Tell me in the comment. If you have an idea, want to write a short story that you think might fit the series, write it, please and send it to me: aurorajean.alexander@aol.com. Write ‘The Council of Twelve series on Writer’s Treasure Chest’ in the subject line.

I look forward to your emails.

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

Soul Taker Secrets – Katie Bakes Bread

We know that Katie loves to invite the ‘Council Of Twelve’ over for dinner. She cares for each one of the Council members and wants them more to feel like a real family. Now, we also know, Katie isn’t a naturally talented cook. But that does not keep her away from trying. Lately, she got a recipe for European bread, a rare recipe that’s normally inherited within the family. The last family member does not have kids and wants Katie to have it. Let’s see what she did with it.


Ingredients:

2.2- lbs flour

3.5 ounces unsalted butter

2.08 cups milk

2 eggs

2 1/2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cube fresh yeast

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Instructions:

The flour goes into a big sturdy bowl. With a spoon ‘shovel’ the flower in the middle towards the outside and create a deep ‘hole’ in the middle.

The salt goes on the outside, where the most flour is.  Don’t mix it with the middle, please.

Pour half a cup milk into a coffee mug, the rest of the milk into a pan. The unsalted butter goes into the pan as well. Carefully and slowly heat up milk and butter together until the butter is liquid.

In the coffee mug add the sugar and carefully pluck the fresh yeast into pieces. Add it to the milk and sugar and leave it there for about 15 – 20 minutes to activate the yeast. (The fresh yeast is hard to find in supermarkets but can be ordered online.) Occasionally stir the liquid until the yeast is viscous and softened.

One egg and the egg white of the second egg go into the deep middle in the flour bowl. The yolk of the other egg putt aside into a coffee cup or mug and put it into the fridge.

When the butter is liquid and the milk warm, let them cool for a moment. It’s better they’re not used boiling hot, or you’re burning your hands. – As soon as they’ve cooled down, pour them in the deep middle of the bowl where the eggs are. At the end add the mug with the milk, sugar, and yeast and add it, but make sure you don’t mix it with the salt.

Start stirring the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the entire mixture turns halfway into a crumbly dough, then turn the bowl upside down and get the mixture out, onto a clean and sturdy surface. Use your hands to clean out the bowl and then start kneading the mixture until you have one compact dough.

 

Continue kneading now and start working some air into the dough. Knead for at least ten minutes, then the dough goes back into the bowl.

Cover the bowl with a warm, humid, clean towel and place the bowl for around 90 minutes in a very warm room to let the dough rise. (Under no circumstances try to invent ‘technics’ to accelerate that process. It’s first of all, useless because it’s the yeast that is growing and does that quite slowly, and second, if you involve your oven or stove, all you will have is a slight ‘crust’ on the surface of the dough, which will ruin the bread.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 90 minutes, check the dough. It should have been grown significantly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into two pieces. One of them put aside. The other one is cut into two pieces again. Take the two pieces then and carefully flatten them on the surface to get the needless air out.

Now start carefully rolling both ‘quarters’ of the dough into long (approx 40 – 45 inches) rolls. If your dough has risen as he was planned to rise, that length should be possible). Cross both rolls in the middle and start braiding them. One side goes ‘down South’, the other one goes up to the opposite side. It’s actually quite simple. In case one is confused and doesn’t know how to do it, there are videos on YouTube.

 

Repeat the same thing with the second half of the dough. By now you should have two braided bread loaves on one or two oven trays.

 

Now, cover the loaves again with the humid warm kitchen towel and move it back into the warm room for another 45 minutes.

The bread will rise again. See the difference here:

BEFORE                                                                                    AFTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, keep the towels on the bread and set them into a cool, almost cold place. (not the fridge or freezer) for about 10 – 15 minutes. This is going to ‘shock’ the yeast into ‘a coma’. Means, from that cold moment on, it won’t grow anymore.

Then get the mug or cup with the leftover egg yolk from the fridge and add a teaspoon of milk. Stir until you get a pale yellow liquid which you carefully apply to the bread with a common household brush. If you don’t have one, just use the back of the teaspoon. But don’t press, just carefully brush over the bread, otherwise, you’ll have lots of bulges and pockets in the bread surface.

Now, place the trays in the cold oven, don’t pre-heat! Bake it on 375 degrees F. for about 30 to 35 minutes until the egg yolk on the bread is golden-yellow. Under no circumstances open the oven during the first 20 minutes. It might be your bread is sinking within itself and you’ll get flat loaves.

Leave the loaves on the trays for another five minutes to make sure the bottom is crusty, then remove them from the tray and put them on a lattice or grid to let it cool.

Katie served the Council Of Twelve braided bread like that:

Soul Taker Secrets – Katie Cooks With Help

 

We know that Katie loves to invite the ‘Council Of Twelve’ over for dinner. She cares for each one of the Council members and wants them more to feel like a real family. Now, we also know, Katie isn’t a naturally talented cook. But occasionally she gets help in the kitchen. If that happens, the Council members get dinner like that one:


Filet Mignon with Baked Potatoes and Garlic/Lemon-Broccoli

Picture and recipe courtesy of http://www.selfproclaimedfoodie.com

Ingredients

16 ounces filet mignon 2 steaks, about 2 inches thick, room temperature

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper freshly ground

2 tablespoons butter Kerrygold recommended

2 cloves garlic smashed

2 sprigs rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

Instructions

  • Take steaks out of the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to cook them to allow them to come to room temperature. Coat both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Add butter, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to oven-safe stainless steel or cast iron pan.
  • Heat over medium-high to high heat. You want the pan to be as hot as you can get it without burning the butter. Allow butter to melt, swirling frequently to prevent burning. The more you move the butter around, the less it will burn.
  • As soon as the butter is melted, add both steaks to the hot pan. Sear 2-3 minutes on both sides, constantly spooning the hot butter onto the steaks, and only turn once after they get nicely browned. Do not let the butter burn – keep it moving. Insert the thermometer into thickest part of the steak and transfer pan with steaks to the hot oven.
  • Finish cooking in the hot oven. Remove when internal temperature reaches 120 degrees F for rare, 125 degrees F for medium-rare, and 130 degrees F for medium. This should take around 10 minutes. Allow steaks to rest in pan for at least 5 minutes (temperature should rise another 5 degrees).

Picture and recipe courtesy of http://www.spendwithpennies.com

Ingredients

4 russet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Scrub potatoes to remove any dirt or debris. Dab dry.
  • Poke holes over potatoes with a fork in about 5-6 places per potato.
  • Coat the outside of each potato with olive oil and salt.
  • Place potatoes directly on the middle rack of your oven and bake 50-60 minutes. (I place a small piece of foil on the rack below to catch any drippings).
  • Serve hot with your favorite toppings.

picture courtesy of Google.com / recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com

Ingredients

2 heads broccoli, separated into florets

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon lemon juice

 

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • In a large bowl, toss broccoli florets with the extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, pepper and garlic. Spread the broccoli out in an even layer on a baking sheet.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until florets are tender enough to pierce the stems with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and transfer to a serving platter. Squeeze lemon juice liberally over the broccoli before serving for a refreshing, tangy finish.

Just in case you plan to cook Katies meal, let me know how it tastes, please. 

Soul Taker Secrets: Katie’s European Cooking

Katie got a hint from one of the top angelic chefs in the warrior’s kitchens. With his help, she cooked an unusual kind of casserole in European style. Needless to say, the entire Council Of Twelve enjoyed that particular dinner enormously. Zachariel even went as far as to smirk and say: “This doesn’t taste half bad. Maybe there’s hope for your wife, Rafe.”


The pot:

This recipe needs a very particular European style pot, the so-called “Romertopf”. The pot can be ordered on Amazon. It isn’t a cheap product. But it’s a fantastic way to cook healthy and collect the food’s own taste.

Check out the Romertopf (and order) here

Picture courtesy of Amazon.com

The casserole:

You will need:

1 pound of potatoes (or baby potatoes)

3 or 4 big tomatoes

1 big onion or 10 – 12 scallions

1 pack of dried apricots

6  chicken drumsticks

1 cup chicken broth

1 tsp unsalted butter

salt, pepper, paprika


Instructions:

  1. Take the pot: read its instructions carefully: if it’s a pure clay pot, water it sufficiently before starting to cook. If it’s glazed, like mine, just butter it with the tablespoon of butter. It’s easy to clean. (But NOT dishwasher-proof!!)

2.  Prepare the potatoes. Wash them, peel them and cut them into cubes. (or do it as I did with the baby potatoes, which I didn’t peel and cut them into 4 to 6 pieces.  Cut the tomatoes into pieces, peel the scallions, or peel and cut the onion into small pieces. Prepare the cup of chicken broth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Prepare the chicken drumsticks, unpack them, wash them, dab them dry and season them with only a bit of salt, pepper, and paprika, on both sides. You can also buy a whole chicken and cut it into 4 – 6 pieces. (I decided on drumsticks because, as much as I like chicken, I’m not a doctor and autopsies aren’t my favorite thing to do.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Fill the bottom of your pot with the small cut onion, the potatoes, the dried apricots, and the broth. On top put the drumsticks. Cover the pot and put it into the cold oven. Heat it up to 425 degrees F and leave it for 50 minutes.

5. After these 50 minutes, add the tomatoes to the pot, cover it again and leave it for another 15 – 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Remove the lid of the pot and leave it for about 10 minutes in the oven, uncovered.

7. Remove it from the oven, prepare a few plates and serve it. Enjoy.

 

The Story And The Cover – Finding The Right Model

While working on ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I built character by character, developed, considered their look, decided who they are and in what direction they would head within their story.

But also, I was ‘creating’ their look; dark hair, blue eyes, black hair, bronze eyes, tall, muscular, petite, almost ethereal. I will deliver many descriptions while ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series progresses.

In my head, the characters and their personality formed together with their look, and while creating them, I didn’t consider any consequences – like the book cover to the story.

Let me give you an example:
Katie is a breathtaking beauty with caramel colored hair and brown eyes; her cream skin makes her look almost fragile.

To find ‘Katie’ I was busy looking through hundreds of pictures on several websites. In a way, it was an exciting task, and my excitement grew with every picture. But after a while I got slightly bored, my hope slowly dying that I would find “THE” Katie… the woman I had created in my head.

I wish I could say, ‘suddenly’ I found her, just as she was in my fantasy… but the fact is, I didn’t. Katie was not one of the models, but the Model I found has caramel colored hair and is stunningly beautiful. I set the first mark on her picture. Whenever I discovered a model who got close to her beauty or my description, I tagged her. In the end, I compared all the models and by process of elimination, I ‘rejected’ one model after the next until I got ‘my Katie.’

I took some time to get used to ‘combine’ my fantasy with the model and then went through the different pictures of the model. Finally, I picked the one that’s on the cover now.

By now that’s ‘my Katie’ on the cover.

I was talking with my cover designer about the cover. I could deliver her Katie, but what about the rest of the cover? The man, the background, the font? I’m lucky to have a cover designer who knows her stuff. I informed her that I couldn’t go through the model search again. I wanted some mystery, some secret.

Soul Taker isn’t a love-story-romance where a man and a woman are kissing on the cover…


I wanted something different; a man every reader can connect to, and has the chance to create the character’s look in their own fantasy. And my cover designer found the solution. I’m very proud of the ‘Soul Taker’ cover.

Since the second book in the series is completed and only needs to return from the Copyright Lawyer, we had to get together and discuss the next cover.

Believe it or not – I was sitting on the monitor and dully clicked through hundreds of pictures.

Let me tell you – the thought of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is planned to contain 13 books, scares me.

How are you designing your covers? At what point do you start considering what should be on the cover, and if you have cover models – how do you pick them? Let us know about it in the comments. We’re curious.


Buy Soul Taker here:


Amazon Ebook US
Amazon Ebook UK
Amazon Paperback US
Amazon Paperback UK
Amazon Kindle DE
Amazon Paperback DE
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
SCR|BD
Kobo
iTunes

A. J. Alexander And Soul Taker In Sally’s Cafe And Book Store

As of today Soul Taker and I are to be found within Sally’s Cafe And Bookstore’s sacred hallowed halls! I am very grateful for this chance. Thank you so much, Sally Cronin!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-free-author-promotion/


Links to Soul Taker:

Amazon Ebook US

Amazon Ebook UK

Amazon Paperback US

Amazon Paperback UK

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

SCR|BD

Kobo