Monday, May 20, 2024

Writing update - Forgotten Worlds Book 19 status

Getting back to what I've been doing...

The garden is in for the summer.

And Book 19, ALL THE KING'S MEN, has passed 37K words. I've been dealing with some fatigue lately but still writing at those times of day when I'm focused. This book continues to develop in ways I hadn't foreseen. My original outline was based on an idea that had to change after the series evolved from the point where I originally conceived the idea a year or two (several books) before I started writing it. And it also was the type of idea that hadn't taken into consideration certain logic. It was a fun idea, but it really needed more meat to it.

It's getting that meat filled in as I discover the full potential of this plot. I'm always amazed at how a single sentence can completely flip a story (and will inspire me to even more depth based on that single small statement full of massive ideas). That's happened a few times in this WIP. It's part of the writing process.

I can't say much more than I have in a few posts now, but like all these stories, it is a fun ride of discovery. It's even more interesting when I can change up the genre a bit to give it a new twist or crossover, like this with its fantasy setting. It keeps me challenged, and that keeps me interested in what comes next, as I hope it does for the readers.

This series remains what I consider a classic space opera that all ages can enjoy. I hope you're having as much fun reading as I am writing. I continue to work to keep each story interesting and fresh but within the expectations of the SFF genre and adding to the series plot.

After I finish this first draft, I'll get HOMECOMING ready and published. Book 17 has a huge revelation for the characters, although hints have been sprinkled into it since early in the series. Stick around for what's to come!

Thanks for reading!

Forgotten Worlds Book Series (1-16 available now) from Melanie Nilles on Vimeo.

Friday, May 17, 2024

The saints are alive in heaven and bring our prayers before God

I have a couple of events to share that show that the saints are alive in heaven and helping us.

God the Father is the creator of everything. We might think of ourselves as renters. Everything is His, and I offer all that I am back to him, which is why I have taken down some of my books and edited others. I don't want to offend the Lord but to honor Him. (I strongly encourage writers to exclude sex scenes and incitement of lust in readers in any form as well as any expressions using the Lord's name in vain. You are leading others to sin, which is a sin for you that you have to account for in your judgment.)

Sometimes we need help in this life, and like a good landlord, God comes to our aid when we need it, more so when we honor Him and don't put the things of this world above Him. We can go directly to God, but think of the saints like the property office staff who intercede for the renter to the owner of the property--they work more closely with the owner everyday than the renters do. In that, we can ask favors of those in heaven with Him. Those in heaven are referred to as the saints (whether the deceased who have attained heaven or the angels already in heaven). They are the pure, holy* souls who have attained the blessings of the beatific vision. They love us for God's sake and want to help us. It's part of their purpose, part of the way they continue to express their love of God and honor Him.

They are alive in heaven and hear our prayers. According to exorcists, they only hear when God allows it, such as when we address them directly, including the angels. By loving the saints and letting them help us, we are loving God, just as by loving others on this world, we are loving God. The saints are closer to God. We only worship God, but asking the saints for intercession, for the help we sometimes need when we can't do something ourselves or when temptations overwhelm us, is honoring God by acknowledging those He has deemed worthy to join Him in heaven.

That's a bit of an explanation of why we pray to (ask) the saints for help. They are our heavenly customer service, so to speak.

And now for a couple of new stories of saintly intercession, although one is not yet canonized.

The first story is of a request to Blessed Carlo Acutis.

I had trouble with one of the computers I use at work--a program not working--and I had tried EVERYTHING (I know quite a bit about computers--had been the technical person for a couple of small offices and hubby is a programmer). I was so frustrated and needed to use this particular program to update our online training. I had one last option and remembered Carlo Acutis (if his family sees this, thank you). On Monday, I said a little prayer and asked this young man of our modern world for his intercession... The program worked perfectly afterwards! I made the changes I needed to make and uploaded the updates. (Carlo Acutis was a kid who liked computer programming.)

Better than that, one of the backup drives that had been giving me trouble also started working perfectly. I hadn't even asked that in my simple little prayer request. I had almost given up on it and hardly used it because it would take sooo looong to run, but I plugged it in today for an end-of-week backup. I was shocked at how fast the login for the encrypted backup drive came up and it backed up like it hadn't done since it was new.

Thank you, Blessed Carlo Acutis!

Buddy after our ride before untacking and having
his hooves trimmed. The new Wintec 500 saddles
are great saddles at a fair price; it fits us both perfectly.
And while trimming my horse's hooves yesterday, he got a bit fidgety and I asked St. Francis to keep him occupied so I could hurry up and finish (a storm was coming in). St. Francis of Assisi is the patron of animals (among other causes) and even had a horse. My Buddy boy stood still for me after that, and I finished with a little time to spare.

(We had an excellent ride yesterday prior to my trimming his hooves, but I had a little prayer to St. Francis in my heart before getting in the saddle--calming supplements don't always work on Buddy. Much of the time, he stands better for hoof trimming before I ride, although it's generally a better idea to exercise a horse before trimming so they're tired and stand better. Not Buddy. It worked out well yesterday, though.)

Throughout my life, I've prayed to St. Anthony for lost items and have had some true miracles from his intercession, but haven't needed him for a little while. St. Kateri Tekakwitha is another saint who has come to my aid. Of course, I always honor St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother; Mary goes without saying--the most powerful saint in heaven and greater than all other saints combined, according to demons.

Those alive in heaven are always there to help us before God. Never hesitate to ask for intercession. If they don't lead us to a solution within this world, they can lead to those miracles we need, through their petitions to God on our behalf.

God bless you and keep you!


* Sanctus, the origin of the word saint, is Latin for holy.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Spring is in full swing!

Spring is finally here to stay... although the weather can surprise us in ND.

After calling 811 for utility locating, we used the
flags to mark the lilacs for mowing.
We've planted some fruit trees and a row of lilacs after finally remembering the deadline for the soil conservation district and ordering them a few months ago. One doesn't think of planting in the arctic weather of January, but that's when orders have to be made to have trees for May pick-up. 

And we had a nice wet couple of weeks here. Everything is green!

The rhubarb and strawberries woke up before the last of the freezing nights were done. This morning I counted over half a dozen blossoms on my growing strawberry patch already and pulled one blossom stalk off the rhubarb (after ripping out one of the three plants to make more room for the strawberry patch to expand and because I get way more rhubarb than I need from the other two plants). And the raspberries are all leafed out now too, so blossoms should be starting on those soon.

Grapes are budding out--both survived the winter. Woohoo! 🥳  However, it appears that the vines have to be a certain thickness to survive and wake up. The smaller plant is only budding at the base, although there might be a small bud further up. The bigger plant (two years old) has clear buds about three feet up on the main vine, and that's the plant that gave us a few small grapes last year already. I'll prune dead vines and lesser vines after I see a few main trunks. I just added fertilizer to those today for the year.

This morning was pretty calm for wind, so we burned the debris in our garden from last year. Most of it burned but some was too wet, so we tossed that into the compost bin after it cooled and then soaked it down again because compost needs to be kept wet. Other years it's been too dry to burn so hubby mowed the cornstalks to chop them up instead. We didn't plant as much corn last year because no one else is really eating it. This year we're skipping corn entirely.

Hubby is tilling the garden today. We'll let that settle probably until next week and plan the layout before then. The perennials have their own section now, so that doesn't change. Hubby will have his section for his peppers (bells, seranos, and jalapeños), which are being hardened before transplanting, along with two tomato plants. He likes making his own salsa, so he's planned that out. I just need my winter onions to grow big enough to share. I love cooking with onions, so I go through a lot. 

Also, without corn taking up room in the garden, I'm planning on putting in four rows of peas instead of two. Legumes are a great rotation crop, and these sweet peas are delicious, even thawed after freezing. I put away a lot last year. This year I'm sure I'll get sick of them but will have more to share with family and friends. Other than that, it'll be a couple of cucumber plants, some of which we'll turn into homemade pickles but mostly give away to family and friends. This year I also bought holy basil seeds. I love holy basil as a seasoning and the flowers are beautiful and attract insects.

And then there's the usual pumpkin patch. We gut some for seeds, then cook and puree the flesh that we want to share with family and friends and the rest get gutted for seeds and turned into decorations. We put in the pumpkins well outside the garden because one plant can take over the garden.

So, gardening season is finally here!

It's also riding season. I'm hoping to have enough good days to give Buddy more of my time.


Other than that, writing is going well. Book 19 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is over 32,500 words and will have another 10-15K words on it before it's finished. It kind of turned into a mini Game of Thrones but without the debauchery and complete lack of ethics. How can I do that? Trust me, I can create a power play without sex, gore, and killing a bunch of characters. If you focus on an actual story instead of sensationalism, there's plenty you can do, especially when you still have the science fiction side of the series to consider. And there are dragons; not fire-breathing, but a type of dragon that is more plausible to the world. I hope to finish ALL THE KING'S MEN by June 1. Then I'll edit HOMECOMING and get that out... hopefully by the end of June.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day!

Monday, May 6, 2024

what are the chances?

Sometimes you make something up in your fictional worldbuilding that ends up having real-world implications.

Back when I first wrote A New Beginning (published in April 2019), I made up a game that involves play pieces on a board of moves and countermoves, a game of intrigue enjoyed by one of the characters. The name I gave it was Trellix, which wasn't used until book 2, The Rule of Yonder. I pulled that out of thin air, completely made it up, and it's in my copyright submission from 2019.

On a whim recently, I typed it in the search engine to see if anyone might have been enough of a fan to mention it on the internet. Lo and behold, a cybersecurity company formed in 2022 took the name Trellix and are award-winning in their industry.

I had it first, as a game of intrigue in my space opera setting and continue to reference it in Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds. I swear I had never heard of it before and thought there's no way anyone else would come up with that.

The game in my series is one of tricking other players with moves that takes their pieces off the board (a bit reminiscent of chess and Chinese checkers with some other unique rules). It's a fictional game that requires a lot of skill.

A cybersecurity company needs to have a lot of skill to anticipate moves and countermoves by cybercriminals to take out those criminals and their activities. It's a perfect name to match the game I made up. Makes me wonder if the person who decided on that business name had read my book and liked the idea behind it. 🤔

I think it's a suitable link between the two uses, considering I made up the word and just thought it sounded good for my fictional game. I'm flattered that someone would like it that much.

Monday, April 29, 2024

writing update ... always something

Although I like sharing truths, I'm still writing fiction. I've been working on Book 19, which had hit a snag after a flying start.

I went too fast and didn't give it a chance to simmer enough. In that, I hit a wall at a certain point and had to go back and rewrite a lot, but I also had to realize that with this being a bit of a high fantasy-ish space opera episode, I have a lot more to consider. It's an interesting crossover, especially since it uses the science of my Starfire-verse rather than magic.

I did work through the issues I had and am now looking at the plot twists that have developed. I really need to plan these out more than outlines to keep the entire series on track for the basics. I outline to various levels, depending on the book. In this, I thought I had a good plan, but it turned out that I hadn't considered certain factors enough and the plot was... dull. I had to spice that up a bit. I've relied so much on action that I had to turn to other factors in the medieval setting. I also had to explain that in a way that was logical for the lack of technology, and I could still modify that reason, but for now, I'm working within as much of a plausible explanation as I can. I do like that technology dies on this world. It makes the system a sort of Bermuda Triangle for the space-faring races, a perfect place to leave a Starfire shard. And in that, there was L'Ni's cybernetic implants and energy weapons to consider. 

And visiting Starfire worlds is something I haven't written much on the page, except in passing, because Nya won't have an exciting time on most Starfire worlds. Most will be pretty routine, which is why I have had a few stories where I mention that they visited a world and were on to something else. A lot of the adventure is outside the Starfire worlds or incidental to their quest. And I leave time gaps between some books to allow for the monotony of life off the page. Of course, getting into trouble often becomes a bit of an in-joke for the characters, which is clear by Book 16, as they start looking at more precautions.

So, aside from the rambling, I have written over 25K words on Book 19 and am in a good place with it. I just need to write the last 15-20K words of this story.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Angel of God, my guardian dear...

I may write about alien "angels" in Starfire Angels, but each of us is actually assigned a real guardian angel when God infuses our soul into our body in the womb. St. Padre Pio was said to see and communicate with his guardian angel, as were several other saints.

I've heard my guardian angel on a few occasions and depend on him to wake me up in the morning for morning prayers--I never need an alarm clock--before I get ready for work. I've only kind of seen my guardian angel a couple of times in my life. I've never had a clearly defined image of his face, but their wings are of pure light, not feathers, which makes perfect sense as they are spiritual beings. I wasn't shown that until recently when being shown by my angel how to properly prostrate myself in respect to the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. (I saw him as if he was next to me, which is why I never saw his face, but the white robe and brilliant wings of pure light were amazingly clear!)

Anyway, here's something else to ponder about our guardian angels, from The Mystical City of God, Volume IV, by Ven. Sr. Mary of Jesus of Agreda (Spain), written in the 1600's:
At the moment in which a human being is conceived, the Lord commands the angels to stand guard over it and its mother. Afterwards, at the right time, He assigns a particular angel as its guardian, as I said in the first part of this history (Part I, 114). From the very beginning the angels enter into violent combat with the demons for the protection of the souls committed to their care. The demons contend that they have jurisdiction over the creature, because it is conceived in sin, a child of malediction, unworthy of grace and divine favor, and a slave of hell. The angel refutes them by maintaining that it was conceived according to the laws of nature, over which hell has no power; that, if it is conceived in sin, it was due to its human nature, by default of the first parents and not of its own free will; and that, even if conceived in sin, God has created it to know, praise and serve Him, and, by virtue of his Passion, to merit eternal glory; and that these high ends are not to be frustrated by the mere will of the demons. (par. 283)

If they are legitimate children, the angels allege, that the parents have received the Sacraments and blessings of the Church; likewise, that they have some virtues, such as having given alms, being kind, having practised some devotions or good works. The holy angels avail themselves of these things as powerful arms to ward off the devils and defend their charges. Over illegitimate children the combat waxes more difficult; the enemy exercises a greater right, because in the begetting of such children, wherein God has been so grievously offended, the enemies obtain a greater right and the parents justly deserve rigorous chastisement. Hence, in defending and preserving illegitimate children, God manifests his most liberal mercy in a special manner. The angels base their arguments against the demon on this mercy, and that, after all, the children are the results of natural causes, as I have said above. If the parents have no merits of their own, neither any virtues, but are sullied by sins and vices, then the holy angels refer to the merits found in the forefathers of the child, in its brothers or relations; to the prayers of its friends and acquaintances, and that it is no fault of the child if the parents are sinners or have committed excess in its generation. They also contend, that those children, if they live, may reach a high degree of virtue and holiness, and that the demon has no right to hinder them from arriving at the knowledge and love of their Creator. (par. 284) 

There's much more, but this chapter was an incredible revelation of what goes on in the spiritual realm and all that our guardian angels do for our souls.

As for the opening line of the prayer as the subject of this post...

Angel of God, 
my guardian dear,
to whom God's love 
commits me here,
ever this day 
be at my side
to light and guard, 
to rule and guide.