The Beauty of Aesthetics

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It’s Thursday which means the glory of #ThursdayAesthetic is in full force across social media.

 

What are aesthetics? They are a photo/illustration collection board made by authors as a means to inspire, entice, and make us anxious to read their stories.  Let me tell you, they are freaking GORGEOUS.

 

Seriously, search the hashtag on Instagram or Twitter and you’ll be amazed.

 

Because this trend is popular with authors, #ThursdayAesthetic was created by Jessica James (Twitter user @literarilyjess) as means for authors to share their story aesthetics every Thursday. Every week she provides a theme and this week’s theme is Throwback.

 

Looking back at all my projects, the sweet embrace of nostalgia took over. As such, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my aesthetics with you.

 

VANITY

Vanity Aesthetic

To learn more about VANITY, go here

 

PROJECT GEN

PROJECT GEN Aesthetic

To learn more about PROJECT GEN, go here

 

ASH OF THE PHOENIX

Ash of the Phoenix Aesthetic

To learn more about ASH OF THE PHOENIX, go here

 

Do you have an aesthetic for your work? Leave me a link in the Comment section so I can check it out!

 

Until next post,

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Five Reasons You Should Handwrite Your First Draft

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With technology literally being at our fingertips, most writers have exchanged pen and paper with keyboards. However, there are a few of us old-school writers out there who maintain handwritten drafts. Here are my top 5 reasons why you should handwrite your first draft:

1. Quiets the Inner Editor.  Picture this, you’ve set aside time to finish writing that scene. With your playlist bumping and your assortment of snacks and drinks, you’re ready to write all the words! As you re-read your previous work, you start to notice something. Oh no, did I really misspell my MC’s name there? Jeez, how many times have I used smile? Before you know it, all your allotted time has been dedicated to rewriting the same piece over and over. By handwriting your draft, you can turn to a clean page and not have to worry about red and green squiggly lines.

2. ‎Less Distractions (no Internet). I’ll be honest here. The Interwebs are the easiest way to get distracted. While writing on a computer, I become compelled to look up the etymology of certain words. Or my mind drifts where I’m convinced I have to look up the name of the drummer from my favorite band in nineth grade. While surfing the web, it’s then I realize I haven’t checked my social media sites in a few minutes. Hey, I need to work on my platform right? Having the Internet just one click away is far too tempting. Instead, if I need to remember to research something, I can jot a note in my side margin of my notebook to look up later.

3. ‎Establishes a Hard Copy.  Every writer fears the dreaded blue screen of death of their computer. We can be writing when all of a sudden our computer reboots before we had the chance to save our changes. Or worse, our hard drive gets fried and we’ve lost everything. (Insert pterodactyl screeching.) By having my first draft written out, I have a hard copy that can be transposed into the computer. Two copies of my manuscript both hard copy and electronic ensures I have a better chance of saving me from rage-inducing headaches from a lost MS.

4. ‎Wireless and Portable.  Having a notebook and pen is freeing. Think about it. No cords. No batteries dying before your eyes. No need for a WiFi connection. You can write anywhere.

5. ‎Promotes free flow writing. (A panster’s ideal).  If you’re not familiar with freeform writing, I would refer you to (insert site here). My pen is able to flow especially when I write in cursive. By doing this, I am able to crank out higher word counts all while focusing on being present in the story. Could you do this on the computer? Sure. But having to not worry about typos brings me peace.

There you have it! I encourage you try and write out your next scene to see if you experience any of these perks.

Happy writing!

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 30 – Cards

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Magic is thrilling, at times breathtaking, yet it is not always through elaborate stunts and theatrical performances. Sometimes the greatest tricks can come from a simple deck of cards. Here’s my response to this week’s prompt:


The magician fanned the deck out in front of Petra, the cards shining against the bright light. It was a peculiar deck, not one that could be found for a nickel at the soda shop. No, these cards told a story. Geometric shapes bordered around clouds, one sheltering a cherub and the other shielding a clever demon. Petra’s plump fingers hovered, her indecisiveness ebbing and flowing like the sea.

 

“Come child, we haven’t got all day. Go ahead, pick a card,” the magician urged her.

 

Petra folded her lips together as she gave him a nod. The longer she stalled, the longer she’d have to wait to see the trick. Her stomach grumbled, reminding her that supper would be served soon enough. Spending too much time in the alley with this stranger would mean she’d have to scrape the bottom of the stew pot for the remains that would be her meal. And she couldn’t have that.

 

She plucked a card from the middle and brought it up to her face. The three of hearts. That was easy enough to remember.

 

He motioned for her to place the card back with the rest of the cards. After sliding it in place, the magician swiped the rest of the deck together and clapped it between in hands. “Excellent.”

 

His hands whirled together as he uttered unfamiliar words. Petra watched above her card, her forehead crinkling with every move. His melodic chant swirled in her ears, making her rock on her heels. Her heart fluttered as her eyelids began to droop, the pull of his magic syphoning every bit of energy she had.

 

A snap of his fingers widened her eyes. She sucked in a breath. Was the trick over? Did she miss it?

 

He flicked a card against his chin before holding it in front of her. “And now, is this your card?”

 

Petra grinned once she saw the three of hearts. She clapped with glee. “Yes!”

 

As she began to walk away, his grip on her shoulder pulled her back. Her high-pitched yelp bounced against the brick walls. Adrenaline twisted her stomach as she peered up at him.

 

“Uh-uh-uh. The trick is not done.”

 

He smacked her card against her forehead. His low chuckle boomed like thunder rolling over the Oklahoma plains. His chanting resumed as he narrowed his eyes at her.

 

Petra twisted in his grip. “Please, stop. I need to go home! I –”

 

A flash of light burst through the air. A sharp ringing assaulted her ears. Petra cowered with her hands cupping the sides of her head. The light dimmed, revealing the last thing she wanted to see.

 

The wicked grin of the magician filled the sky above her. She shook her head, trying to convince herself this was a dream. Or a nightmare.

 

His cackle rang out. “My dear, you are now permanently part of my deck. Thank you for your participation. Now that is a trick.”


Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 29 – Pie

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Are things ever as easy as pie? Some characters like to think so. Here’s my response:


“Come on, it will be as easy as pie,” she said with a wink.

Marsela crossed her arms, the stiff folds of her lab coat crinkling. She took a step forward, her head cocked to the side as she scrutinized her lab partner.

“And exactly how many pies have you made, Ginger?”

She wedged her tongue into the side of her cheek as she rolled her eyes. “Hmm, I can’t recall making a pie, but I’ve eaten plenty. How hard can baking be?”

Marsela’s skin burned as she threw her hands up in the air. “When you’re comparing gene splicing to baking pies, I wouldn’t say it’s ‘easy as pie’ for one thing.”

Ginger rounded the table, her shuffled steps threatening to lose her slip-on shoes. “Well, how ’bout as easy as eating pie?”

Marsela bit down her laughter, sending it through her nose with a snort. Being stuck down below sea level with this witty woman hadn’t been as tortuous as Marsela had initially thought. No matter how mad or irritated she could be, Ginger always found a way to make her laugh, something Marsela adored and despised.

“All right, that’s enough wasting time. Do you have the sample dishes ready?” Marsela asked.

“Of course I do. Are you ready to begin documenting Phase One?”

Marsela fished around in the pockets of her lab coat.

Oh no.

Frantic, she clawed at the stitching, trying to find her portable file. But her nails only met the stiff fabric.

“Is something wrong?” Ginger asked.

“No I – I must have left something on my desk. Let me go get it. I’ll be quick.”

“Okay, Marsela, but hurry up. These genes don’t like to air dry.”

A scoff brushed past Marsela’s lips. She shook her head at Ginger as she walked out of the room. Once in the narrow hallway, Marsela gripped the railing of the submarine. The bruises on her shoulders reminded her a sudden attack on the ship could send her crashing into metal, all thanks to the genetically-enhanced creatures lurking outside in the water. Hand over hand, she walked down the hall to the secondary lab. Gripping the door handle, she cranked away until the locking pin loosened. The hinges creaked as Marsela opened the door. She covered her mouth as she gasped.

Broken glass and splashes of fluid littered her once tidied desk. A blob of scales and skin slithered across the floor, a slick film leaving a path behind it.

“Ginger, you need to see this!”

Marsela kept her distance but remained focused on the – fish? eel? – thing that somehow came to life on its own.

“Marsela, what is it?”

She held out a trembling finger. Ginger gasped. The deformed creature crouched, its slit-like eyes peering up at them. It let out a screech as it leaped in the air. Marsela and Ginger slammed the door shut. Flesh smacking metal made Marsela wince.

“Ginger, how did this happen?”

“Heh, gene splicing, easy as pie, right?”


Do you have a response you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments!

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 28 – Different

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For this week, I wanted to focus on the opportunity for our characters to be able to make a change. How can your character transform into something different? Here’s my response:


 

“I’m going to be different, just you wait and see,” she whispered into the woods.

Fingers curled into fists, swinging at her sides like a pendulum. Long lashes tickled her skin as she closed her eyes. Her time had come.

The brisk, breeze swept over her, blanketing her with a chill that made her curl her toes. A quick inhale greeted her with fresh cedar. A raven called down to her, urging her to proceed with her plan.

Quiet the world around you. Breathe me in.

She cradled her elbows as she clenched her eyes shut, not daring to be tempted with reality. Coming to the forest had been her purpose. She intended to come as one person and leave as another. And she would become just that.

Come to me now, dear.

Flashes of memories of giddy childhood games and bright face paint looped together, a tapestry of her former life stitched together with the hope of a child. Her innocent laughter pierced her eyes, the wild smile of her youth stretching her lips now. She had come alone, yet she had never felt so crowded among the trees.

“I am here,” she whispered.

Abandoning reason, she embraced the surge of light that surrounded her, making her thankful she had closed her eyes. A wave of scorching heat burned her skin, whisking away the calmness of her soul.

No!

With clenched teeth, she refused to open her eyes at the risk of interrupting the celestial being enveloping her. Reassuring words spoke to her heart, reminding her the pain was temporary, but the screams of torment rattled her core.

“Help me!”

Just as the words left her lips, the light around her disappeared, as if God had swept it under the earth’s carpet. Shaking hands and her mouth agape, she opened her eyes. The forest stared back at her, unmoved by her presence.

Did it work?

Her slender fingers brushed the nape of her neck, following her spine down to the middle of her back. Wisps of soft feathers brushed against her fingertips. Pursing her lips, she plucked a feather, her skin warming in protest. She choked on her breath.

A black feather, darker than the nights she prayed, lay in the center of her hand. The wind picked up and blew the feather down to the forest floor. She watched it tumble over the toe of her boot before being consumed by the heap of dead leaves.

“It worked.” She arched her back, her wings stretching with ease. “It worked!”


Have a response of your own? I’d love to read it!

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 27 – Entrance

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How a character enters a scene can really dictate the mood and theme of the story. Do they stubble into the room? Are they enjoying a cup of coffee early in the morning? Either way, this week’s prompt allows us to let our characters enter with a bang. Here’s my response:


 

The air around them scorched like the depths of the desert. She lowered her ray gun as she wiped the sweat that clung to her brow against her bare shoulder.

 

“I was never good at being quiet,” she said with a wink.

 

Bursting through the entrance, they surveyed the old warehouse. More than a dozen pairs of eyes stared at them, their mouths hanging open. The bright overhead lights flicked like strobe lights, but this was no dance party they were late to. As the dust settled, Artema waved her gun.

 

“All right, everyone. You decide your next move. Hand us over the charge crystals and you’ll live. But if you don’t,” she clicked her tongue, “then you’ll meet Mr. Laser Blaster here. Choose wisely.”

 

Her brother leaned into her side, his hand blaster aiming at their stunned audience.

 

“Do you think they have anything else here? I could really go for a strong cup of coffee,” he whispered.

 

Her lips bunched together. “Not now, Creed.”

 

Disheveled faces continued to stare at them as if they spoke an unfamiliar language. As Artema waved her barrel around, the stench of putrid sewage assaulted her, bathing her with unclean thoughts. These people fled from The Radar, hoping to build a better life in the shadows. One of her heartstrings tightened, threatening to snap like a twig. Artema shook her head, ridding herself from the sympathy that carried in the warehouse. She and Creed had to make end’s meet. Too bad a life of a thief was all they knew.

 

“Well?” Artema readier her finger on the trigger.

 

The sound of shuffling steps eased her stiff muscles. People stepped aside to make way for the bold soul that dared to approach her. She took a step forward as she returned her finger against the trigger. Her lower lip dropped when she saw him.

 

A boy. THE boy.

 

Creed rushed forward, his gun pointed right at the boy’s forehead. Artema lunged forward, striking her brother’s forearm with the butt of her ray gun.

 

“No – no! He’s the one, Creed.”

 

The boy outstretched his hands. A pile of bright green crystals shone before their eyes. Artema resisted the urge to snatch them up, lowering her hands by her sides.

 

“They don’t know what you are or why you’ve come,” the boy admitted.

 

Artema narrowed her eyes. “The same could be said about you. What are you doing here anyway?”

 

He shrugged his bony shoulder. “Hiding from The Radar, of course.”

 

Artema cradled the back of his neck. “Come with us. We have to get you out of here. It’s not safe, no matter what these people have told you.”


Have a response of your own? Feel free to share it!

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 26 – Escape

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This week is all about escape, whether it be to a “happy place” or somewhere where your characters can hide. Here’s my response:


Her shoulders dropped to the floor with an exaggerated shrug. “Sometimes, it’s not that easy, Mike.”

He glanced at the chains bound around his wrists, the edge of the digging into his skin. He had forgotten what it meant for things to be “easy” now. Having ended up in a dark dungeon had become all too familiar. Nevertheless, with the chains becoming like a metallic second skin, Mike wanted to do anything to lift their spirits.

“Genevieve, please tell me how you don’t wind up going crazy down here.”

Her cheeks relaxed and the wrinkles in the corner of her eyes faded. Biting her lip, her head bounced back and forth as if to a cheery tune. But the only rhythm in the dungeon consisted of inconsolable sobs and rattled chains.

“I just – I guess I teleport using my mind,” she explained.

Mike’s ears perked up. “Teleport? Using your mind?”

“In so many ways.” She took a step forward. The clanking of metal resounded in the holding cell as she tripped back. “Stupid chains,” she cursed.

Mike dropped to his knees, the weight in legs like the iron that imprisoned him. Digging his thumb into the shackle, he attempted to free his skin so the blistering sore could get some relief. His yelp pierced his own ears as he pulled back his hand. He shook out his infected hand as he looked at her once more.

“Can you teach me how, then?”

The faintest smile lifted the corner of her lips. With grace, she folded her legs beneath her. She arched her back before settling into a statue-like pose.

“Close your eyes, Michael.”

Hearing his formal name would have irked him like a mosquito bite, but he was desperate for relief. His chest expanded as his eyelids dropped, the blackest of darkness greeting him like an old friend.

“Listen to my words and nothing else,” she commanded.

Mike pushed away the questions swirling around in his head. He forced the worries of the future and mistakes of the past away from his mind.

Focus.

“We are now leaving this dungeon. You and I are as weightless as the paper planes we used to make as children.”

He took in a deep breath as his body transformed. His aching muscles eased into tranquility, melting like butter under the hot knife of her commands. The image of the bright, blue sky infiltrated his mind. Puffs of white clouds scattered about the sky. His nose twitched upon the scent of saltwater tickling his nostrils. He licked his lips, the bitter salt sticking to his skin.

Her sweet voice continued. “I’m right here with you. Take us back there, Mike. Embrace me with all that you are and lead me there.”

Grains of hot sand clung to the bottom of his feet. Waves crashing against the cliff side boomed in his ears. Wind wiped his brown curly hair like the blades of tall grass. He dared to open his eyes.

And then he saw her.

The edges of her cotton white dress fluttered in the wind. Her hair blew in the wind like a thick band of golden ribbon. The smile plastered on her face spoke of her freedom.

He cupped his hands around his cheeks. “How are we here?”

She looked at him with flirtatious eyes, her wink making his stomach ripple with excitement.

“You brought us here, of course.”

He looked down at his wrists. The sight of soft, supple skin void of any blistering or shackles made him giddy. A satisfied chuckle hummed on his lips. He looked over at her once more, his excitement threatening to burst his heart from his chest.

He threw his hands up. “We’re free!”

He wanted to run to her, to kiss her harder than anyone had before. He took a step forward, but the clank of metal robbed him of his joy.

No.

The stench of blood and filth violated his nose. Thick, metal bracelets dug into his wrists once again. Tears formed in his eyes as he looked up at her.

“Genevieve, what – what happened?”

Pursing her lips, her sad eyes surveyed the ground instead of meeting his like he’d hope.

“You go there anytime you’d like. But in the end, we’ll always be here,” she whispered.


 

Until next post,

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