Monday, October 30, 2023
Sunday, October 22, 2023
Now that I've finished the stinger scene of Book 17, HOMECOMING, which has a HUGE revelation (you have to wait and see), I'm diving into writing Book 18. I can't tease anything about that, because it would give away too much. You'll have to wait and see.
I've written the first chapter already. It's a short but potent one and I feel good about it, but it opens with the climax and jumps back (similar to Book 4), so... we'll see if it plays out the way I expect. It will probably have some tweaks, but I expect it to remain mostly the same. First chapters on these books can be rather difficult. I don't like boring.
So, it's off and running on Book 18.
I'll let you in on a secret at this point--I have 25 books planned and synopsized. We've still got a ways to go, but things are amping up for the grand finale.
Stick around, because it will only get more intriguing!
Saturday, October 21, 2023
Starfire Angels is based on Christian values. This means the whole series--Dark Angel Chronicles, Revelations, and especially Forgotten Worlds. The values of Crystal Keepers must be virtuous, or they could easily destroy the universe. The Starfire entities (aka Guardians) are creatures of virtue, but also judgment. They will destroy civilizations that devolve into vice, especially using their power for destruction.
But they decided to take a different approach with the Inari. They decided to blend with them and enforce this on their bearers, but in Forgotten Worlds, you learn that it has another purpose.
They require self-control on the part of their bearers, Crystal Keepers. This is part of modesty. Crystal Keepers often also are described as wearing a simple gray "flightsuit" (a type of fitted coverall), although they can wear other clothes. They are supported by their world for the services they provide and are not expected to own much. Sound familiar? This is how the saints often lived, what Jesus taught his disciples.
Dress and attitude often go hand-in-hand. Modesty is also a state of mind. Crystal Keepers are expected to be selfless and modest in attitude and dress.
In Book 3 of Forgotten Worlds, VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS, Nik and Vel are tested on virtues. One of those not highlighted is modesty, but when you consider the mirror, seeing within yourself includes modesty. It's part of seeing within yourself. Many of the other tests were based more on prudence but modesty is also there in a small degree.
What inspired me in this post was this latest Saturday talk from Fr. Chris Alar. I am guilty of immodesty in my youth, but part of my transformation of faith is seeking greater virtue to please the Lord and honor His gifts, just as the fictional Keepers do to be worthy of the power of the Starfire.
Sunday, October 15, 2023
I didn't like the original version of Nya from my early time with Midjourney, so I went back and fiddled with it some more. I like this much better.
She's not a fierce warrior type but has a gentler demeanor about her, which I used in my description this time. I also had to add the crystal, since I would never get that detail added the way I want in Midjourney. Instead, I had MJ render the necklace separately and layered it in with some blending techniques. Technically, her eyebrows should be silvery white also, but that seems to be more than MJ can handle.
I like this version of Nya much better.
Crystal Keeper Paveiros Nyalin as she appears
through most of the books of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds,
without her wings.
Saturday, October 14, 2023
I'm playing with Midjourney again. Unfortunately, it seems that the stealth function is not working. I can see others supposedly in stealth mode and they can see my work (made apparent by the fact that someone used one of my renditions). Frustrating to say the least as these are my characters.
But, I worked on details and details and details and finally have a version of Zaer that I can be satisfied with. It has the coloring pretty close and the expression exactly as one would imagine--the confidence and almost a sort of scolding you could expect from her. She knows she's in charge and doesn't take an argument from anyone. She might be a bit over half the height of an average human male, but her demeanor is like she's much bigger. She's tough as nails but can have a very maternal side to those she feels need her, like Nya and the others. She also tends to assign nicknames to those whom she sees as being beneath her in some way (Nya, Nik, Ann). Individuals she respects more tend to be called by their name (L'Ni, Vel, Shen, Seska).
I found that a foxlike look was more appropriate for her. And I never pictured her with a human feminine figure, so this is quite accurate. (Midjourney isn't very good about centering a main image. It always wants to put the main piece towards the bottom.)
Now to tackle Shen... oh, boy.
I posted this as a thread on X but wanted to write it out in full for anyone interested.
It's that time of year. I've posted in past years about our pumpkin processing from our garden pumpkins. We had a great harvest this year with 11 pumpkins total before the freeze killed the plant, although one didn't ripen on the plant, and the plant was dying before the freeze but still alive in some ways. That was weird.
Note: Pumpkins that ripen on the plant are sweet and delicious for use. Pumpkins picked while still green and ripened off the plant remain bitter. We discovered this a few years ago and will only process pumpkins that ripened to orange on the plant.
|The gap had a pumpkin in it, but the pic was taken|
after that one was cleaned and put in the oven.
We're only going to cook 2-3 pumpkins this year, but that will still provide a few gallons worth of puree, especially when the rinds are 1.5-2 inches thick and pumpkins are about 18-24 inches in diameter as shown in the next pic.
|Half of the first pumpkin to be processed for|
seeds and puree.
Here's the process for anyone wanting to know:
- Remove innards
- Cut fruit in half
- Bake @ 350 F for about 2 hrs (until rinds are soft enough to press in/maybe browning and even collapsing, which is when the skin peels off after it cools a little)
- Let cool (and bake the next half pumpkin)
- Scoop out rind and puree
- Measure puree into freezer bags (we put 2 cups per quart freezer bag) and press out as much air as possible before zipping shut. Lay these flat on pan, and when the pan is full, put it in the freezer.
- Wash seeds in clean water only (nothing else).
- Lay seeds out to dry on a pan or cookie sheet.
- Once dry, put seeds in a large bowl and pour on just enough olive oil to coat them without soaking them. Start out light and mix the seeds. If not enough oil, you can always add more a little at a time. (The oil will help salt or seasonings stick.)
- Add salt to taste (or other seasonings) and mix seeds to evenly distribute.
- Put parchment paper on cookie sheet.
- Spread seeds out one layer thick on cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 F until they start browning. Do not overcook!
- Set out to cool, then pour into bowl.
- Repeat steps 5-8 until all seeds are cooked.
- Put seeds away (do not need to be refrigerated) and enjoy.
I've written about fictional demon-like creatures, which is believable and entertaining, and one only needs to look to the real world to see such behaviors in people (who are influence by demon prompts/whispers/influences in their minds). But these are fictional and less frightening to me than the real thing.
I keep thinking I've listened to all of exorcist Fr. Chad Ripperger's lectures and then I find another or go back to what I've listened to. I swear he must have the charism of teaching. Once I start listening, I am engrossed.
This is very good, touching on the five top generals of Satan and their effects in this world and then expanding on the problems we face and must combat in spiritual warfare. D&D players may enjoy some of this and his other spiritual warfare and demonology lectures.
Thursday, October 12, 2023
Since I now have more consistent series covers for each of the series I have available, I decided I wanted to update the When Angels Cry cover. What I had was the best I could do at the time I originally published it over ten years ago. Now, however, there are many better options and artists available.
So, I have a cover now that is much more precise to what I wanted:
This novella about Raea's mother's escape to Earth and being followed by the Shirukan doesn't get much attention. I hope this cover catches the eyes of readers.
You can find more at https://melanienilles.com/books/when-angels-cry/.
Saturday, October 7, 2023
After updating Shards, I decided to take on the whole Starfire Angels: Revelations expansion series and updated covers on all to make the series more consistent. It's not perfect, but I kept the same basic title, series, and author typography and design. The cover art itself was more difficult to figure out, but I made up or found some images appropriate for the stories.
Because I liked the general look of NEMESIS as it was, I only tweaked that and then used it as the basis for the rest of the series. Here are the books in order with the new covers. I also updated the formatting on the ebooks and cleaned up some details in the books. Full edits would take too much time, but I fixed the issues that I encountered which were, fortunately, few and far between.
ps- NOW I can get back to working on Forgotten Worlds. And this was an excellent time to take on this little project. Since Nya returns to her homeworld in HOMECOMING (tell me that wasn't obvious by the title), the refresher was very helpful!
pps- I was also pleasantly surprised by how good they are. Sometimes I think I'm going to cringe when rereading some books, but these are very good (aside from finding those few typos), although this is a series that is very character-driven. They each get very in-depth into a particular character. Overall, an excellent series that deserves more marketing attention than I've given it up to this point.
Thursday, October 5, 2023
That didn't take much work.
And it was refreshing to go back to Leksel's backstory in Shards. I was afraid I had some things in the story that I would be ashamed of, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I really haven't written any sex scenes that weren't glossed over, but there was some heat to it. I toned that down to focus on story instead of sex, even if that was how Leksel and Korali started out their relationship.
But while I was afraid of what I had written between Leksel and Korali, I forgot how much of his story wasn't about their physical relationship. It is a good, satisfying short read to revisit.
At some point, I need to update all the Starfire Angels: Revelations books. They're a bit outdated in formatting and covers. I want to figure out completely new covers for Soriel, Deception, and Phantoms. And I'm debating whether I should just include Deception at the end of Soriel or not. Plus, I might like to even create a new cover for Shards. The only cover I don't like of this part of the series is Nemesis. I love that image, which is why I used it for my author branding on my website, blog, and Amazon.
So, when you end up reading Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Book 17, if you want to know more, this book is all about Leksel's backstory. You'll want to read Nemesis, however, for some things mentioned in HOMECOMING that happen after Shards.
Monday, October 2, 2023
Sunday, October 1, 2023
I have made Shards (Starfire Angels: Revelations) unavailable for now. I will be rewriting it and checking my other series as I have time, to remove any sexual content. A few years ago, I edited the Dark Angel Chronicles books to remove some of the swear words. I'm debating taking the swearing down to nothing (particularly the first book), but writing is a balancing act with reality and the reality is that kids do use some foul language in our public schools. Luckily, I've already kept sex scenes out of Starfire Angels: Dark Angel Chronicles and Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds. Legend of the White Dragon also has no sex scenes... that I can remember (it's been many years since I worked on that). Nor do the Demon Age books have sex scenes. And the violence in my books is never glorified, although because they are SFF, they do have fighting scenes.
What follows is a long religious explanation of my reasons. Stop here if you're opposed to truth or not yet ready for it.
It is sin to induce others to sin, which includes lust. Love is is not lust (sexual arousal/titillation), which is a sin, namely for someone who isn't one's spouse, including a reader reading about other spouses engaged in graphic sex scenes or even groping/kissing written to titillate readers. I don't care how much readers want that--it's our job as Christian writers not to cause others to sin. Every single incident will be counted against us on our judgment day. I have no problem personally with sex off the page or brief mentions of kisses or touches that don't go into enticing lust in readers. That would be expected at times, but it doesn't have to arouse the reader's lust.
I hate to say this, but writers of any genre who claim to be Christian need to rethink what they're doing if they're including anything that might cause readers to sin, including sexual arousal in the readers, such as comes from describing graphic sex scenes, groping, passionate kissing, etc. If it gets you aroused writing it (lust in the writer is already one sin), leave it out for the readers.
It's said that at our judgment, Satan is the prosecutor, getting the chance to name off every tiniest sin offense against us that is not confessed to a priest. The more a person sins without repentance, the closer to damnation is their soul.
The same goes for music, games, movies, etc. Entertainment is rife with glorifying sin, especially in our modern world.
And it's not just lust. It's any sin. It could be movies, books, games, etc. that glorify violence or even statements online that induce others to violence, engaging in or glorifying heretical, blasphemous, or even new age/occultic practices (which comes from demons, many of whom have been identified by exorcists with names known from mythological spirits or gods/goddesses), or which demean another person or the value of life. These are all sinful, multiplied by the number of others (readers/audience) who are influenced to such behavior. And it could go further than that. That doesn't mean we need to avoid the topics, but we must be careful not to induce curiosity and temptation to sin in our readers. Rather, the task is to show the truth of how it harms one's soul.
Nor should we be engaging with such risky stories in any form of entertainment. It stains our souls by influencing our thoughts toward sin. I'm beginning to understand why our ancestors were so, what we would consider, "rigid" about their faith. We see the result of loosening the laws of God in the spiritual warfare of our current society and the rise in crime and violence, child sacrifice (in so many forms, even if they were never at risk of being aborted), and attacks on Christianity, the Catholic church in particular (both from within and from outside).
The road to perdition is wide while narrow is the righteous path, because it's easy to sin or to not even realize we're sinning. It's very difficult to be a saint in the eyes of God.
Why I bring all this up:
I've been on a path to making huge improvements in my own life and want to help others do the same. I can't describe the tranquility and joy I've found in rediscovering my Catholic faith. The rosary every day has done wonders for me, but it is an effort. (Satan will use every weapon in his arsenal to stop us from invoking the Blessed Mother, whom he detests because she is a creature who should be below him (humans are generally lesser than angels, and demons are fallen angels) but is more perfect than him and has God's favor. He will even convince one that the rosary is blasphemy when, in reality, the blasphemy is in denying the miracle of the Immaculate Conception and perpetual virginity of Mary and the chastity of Joseph). See my Faith Resources tab for more about Marian devotion.
Now, I've started the Servite Rosary (seven sorrows (dolors) of Mary), which I find even more meaningful in combination with the regular rosary, and I've begun making time for Eucharistic adoration. (A fact about that--the consecrated hosts are sought by Satan worshippers for dark masses in which they desecrate them, because they are the true body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus, as the many Eucharistic miracles prove. See my Faith Resources tab for links to explanations.) Just an hour of sitting with Jesus's real presence in the Eucharist is an experience difficult to explain. It is magnificent and humbling. You leave feeling so peaceful and moved by the Holy Spirit that your heart swells greater than anything you can imagine with a love so pure that you feel a touch of heaven. I'm so glad I started these devotions and that I didn't listen to the voice that said it was too much work. These have given me a bigger boost to eliminating the smallest of sinful thoughts and learning to truly love others as God desires by controlling the worldly desires and resisting temptations and even praying for my "enemies", whom I have learned to see as much victims of Satan's lies as I once was so that I now pity them and pray for their repentance and conversion. I'll never be perfect, but I have the available resources to help me in the church. I'm also learning to accept my sufferings of any difficulties as penance for others who won't repent. We don't want to suffer, but the fake prosperity gospel many want to embrace is the road to hell. In this life, our suffering means more to Christ than the simplest of pleasures. Suffering aligns us more with Him and humbles us. Humility is our greatest weapon against Satan, who is pride incarnate.
The problem is that most people don't realize the minutiae adding up against them in the eyes of God in seeking pleasures and doing whatever they want that pleases them (Satan's motto). Discipline, humility, and charity are the basis of real love. I've learned to see it, and I see why Jesus weeps for us. Every small sin is another strike by a cat of nine tails (roman whip used on Christ in the scourging) or a nail or thorn. Our sins are His to bear, punishing Him every time, but it shouldn't be that way. We should resist the temptations of sin, especially in inducing sinful thoughts or behaviors in others. The Blessed Virgin Mary will help us learn to love him properly when we seek her, especially through the rosary, which is a meditation of "the Bible on beads."
Changing one's writing may mean fewer readers, but what is your soul's destination worth to you? Would you rather sell it for worldly goods ($$$, worldly pleasures) or preserve it for eternal life?
After years of avoiding it, I now also look forward to confession and the relief it brings to me in that absolution of my sins, which comes from Christ through his anointed priests (in what exorcists describe as a minor exorcism), which comes from the succession of the authority Christ gave his apostles who founded what became known as the Catholic church. Catholic priests are the only persons with the authority to exorcise demons; and sin allows demons into our lives. Although I will never be perfect, I have resolved to do my best to eliminate even near occasions of sin in my life, which is why anything inducing sin in others will not be included in my books, as I've mentioned. I didn't understand that for the longest time, but I'm awake to the truth now. What is seen cannot be unseen. God's law is immutable, it does not bend to the whims of his creatures.
When I found the image included here, I felt a need to share this as a warning. Sorry for the long-winded explanation, but I must obey what God is asking of me.