How to Get Published – Step 3


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Lost in her Thoughts - Samy Charnine

Lost in her Thoughts – Samy Charnine

An abridged version of this post appeared on May 16th over at The Supernatural Underground.

Hi Everyone! Next in the Steps to Publication series: the opening line.

Every story begins with a spell, invoked through the opening line. We can expand this to say every chapter, every scene and even every paragraph also begins with a spell.

Why? According the the Harry Potter universe, an opening spell facilitates the passage between two zones, creating an accessible connection. In the case of fiction, the connection is between the reader and writer, a conduit that transports both to a “secondary world” where the story takes place.

Think of the opening spell as the magic that draws the reader in, convincing them to sets aside their ‘real’ world responsibilities and immerse in the pages. Like any good spell, there are a variety of ways to go about it, but realize this inaugural line is rarely written first. Often the first line, paragraph and chapter are edited and revised for days, weeks and months after the story is completed.

Of course, there are exceptions. Stephen King, for example, creates whole stories around the opening line:

Because it’s not just the reader’s way in, it’s the writer‘s way in also, and you’ve got to find a doorway that fits us both. I think that’s why my books tend to begin as first sentences — I’ll write that opening sentence first, and when I get it right I’ll start to think I really have something – Stephen King

To make this opening spell powerful, you have to be willing to give it your all. It might help to identify your approach. Here are four to consider:

  • The plunge – shock and awe
  • The mood – voice and style
  • The compel – it’s irresistible
  • The back story – the table setter

Ingredients required for each will vary. I’ll break it down but note all will require a measure of time, imagination, paper and pen or word processor, and of course, solitude.

How ever you create the opening line, it must always whisper: Listen to me . . . Stay with me . . . surrender to me . . .

1) The Plunge

This opening spell is usually dynamic, dangerous and always in medias res. In other words, it starts in the middle of the action, where disaster doesn’t have long to wait.

“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

“Sammy’s voice was low, his fingers warmly persuasive. Terri Garey, A match Made in Hell

“I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first.” Pamela Briggs, Moon Called – Mercy Thompson

‘Where’s papa going with that axe?’ E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

“Mother, I’m in love with a robot.” Tanith Lee, The Silver Metal Lover

“Screaming, I slashed and kicked wildly.” Jocelynn Drake, Nightwalker

2) The Mood

The Lost Correspondent - Jason deCaires Taylor.

The Lost Correspondent – Jason deCaires Taylor

These opening spells tend to be more world building. They rely on voice, and the promise of what is to come.

“Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.” Brandon Sanderson – Elantris

“Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.” Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

“By the time the first AIVAS had finished its recital of the first nine years of the colonization of Pern, the sun, Rukbat, has set with an unusually fine display. Anne McCaffrey – All the Werys of Pern

“‘Ark-aawl’ —a hundred voices calling their territory from the treetops. Ly de Angeles – The Quickening

“The wind blew out of the northwest in dry, fierce gusts, sweeping across the face of the Gray Lands.” Helen Low – The Wall of Night

“In the days following the holocaust, which came to be known as the Great White, there was death and madness.” Isobelle Carmody – Obernewtyn

“It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow city streets because it is grieved by what it finds there.” Trudi Canavan – The Magicians’ Guild

3) The Compel

Falling by Igor Grushko Vayne

Falling by Igor Grushko Vayne

This opening spell is often a cross between the Plunge and the Mood. It has elements of both.

“What I have chosen to do is shocking.” Traci Harding – AWOL

“The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.” Jim Butcher – Blood Rites: the Dresden Files

“The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.” Ursula K. Le Guin – A Wizard of Earthsea

“Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.” Terry Pratchett – Hogfather

“On the second day of December, in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground.” Stephen King – The Shining

On this last one, the author comments:

It sets you in time. It sets you in place. And it recalls the ending of the book. This isn’t grand or elegant — it’s a door-opener . . . There’s nothing “big” here. It’s just one of those grace notes you try to put in there so that the narrative has a feeling of balance, and it helped me find my way in – Stephen King


In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.

4) The Back Story

Back story as an opening spell is tricky. Readers want to be in the here and now, diving into what is, not what was. But with the right tone and pace, it can work.

Back story first lines deal with the past in a way that draws the reader in. We must be compelled to ask, “And then what?”

“Eight Months ago, I was attacked in the back alley of my home town and rescued by an uber-hot guy named Chaz.” Amanda Arista – Nine Lives of an Urban Panther

“I cam to London to write and found myself practicing magic instead.” Kim Wilkins – Angel of Ruin/Fallen Angel.

“I never believed in ghost.” Merrie Destefano – Fathom

“In the early 1800’s a man named Amadeo Avogadro hypothesized a number—a baker’s dozen for chemists, but in his equation hid a paradox, one that could alter reality with a single thought.” Kim Falconer – Path of the Stray

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” JRR Tolkien – The Hobbit

Whether the opening begins with fear, shock, surprise, a problem, a question, a character or history, if you keep reading, it has done it’s job.

A few things that may not work as opening spells

Note: There are exceptions!

* Dialog, unless we have a strong sense of who is talking and care.

* Exposition. We don’t want eyes to glaze, ever.

* Superfluous characters or info, because  . . . it’s superfluous

* Introducing too many characters, foreign names, places or things we can’t relate to or prnounce.

Have a look at your favorite authors and genres, noticing their approach to opening lines. What do you think works best? The Plunge? The Mood? Back story? I’d love to hear them in the comments!.

You’ll find more Steps to Publication HERE!


How to Get Published – Step 2


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Would you want to read this?

Welcome back to the Steps to Publication series.

These posts are numbered, starting with Step 1, but this is not a linear process. See it more as a mobius loop where you find your own starting point. Jump in where it’s relevant to you.

Today’s topic is Formatting: How avoid rejection by doing it right

You know formatting is important, but do you know how to do it? Here are eleven key points to follow if you want your manuscript to be read by an editor, publisher or agent and not chucked in the bin because you were unaware of the guidelines.

Yes, there are guidelines. Most publishing houses and agents have them, so before you send, look them up and adjust your work appropriately before you submit.

It really is that important.

Here are the basics:

* 1″ margin on all sides
* Use a standard font, 12-point type. Times New Roman or Aria
* Double-space the entire text.
* Include a title page with your contact details and title of the work
* Number the pages, beginning with the first page of story text
* Use a header on each page, including your name, the title and date
* Each new chapter gets its own page, starting 1/3 of the way down the page
* Chapter number and chapter title are in all caps, separated by two hyphens
* Start the body of the chapter four to six lines below the chapter title.
* Indent fives spaces for each new paragraph.
If you don’t know how to format dialog – go here


Seems simple, right? As a mentor for the local writers center, I have yet to receive a ms that ticked even half the boxes for standard formatting. So, follow the rules. Check the agent/publisher’s specific guidelines, and get yourself in the habit of doing it right.

Remember, one of the fastest ways to be coming a professional writer is to get into the vibration of being one – and that means you know how to present your work!

Go to it!


Taurus New Moon Cruise


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The New Moon in Taurus is powerfully linked to Eros (passion), Mars (assertive energy) and Saturn (acuity). But things may not launch in a flash. It’s more like a slow burn, gradual, thoughtful, sustaining. In esoteric astrology there are four ‘serpent’ signs of transformation. Taurus is the first of them, the coiled up serpent energy that appears to be sleeping . . . until it awakens! Be ready for potent new beginnings.

LA. – Sunday 9:13 pm
NY – Monday 12:13 am
LON – Monday 05:13 am
SYD – Monday 2:13 pm

Until then, it’s the dark moon and Mercury is at a standstill, preparing to turn retrograde. The more you rest, muse, reflect and nurture, between now and the NM, the better. Once you spring forward, remember, it’s a time to rethink ideas and discover their source. Are they a true core value, or are you just going along for the ride? You decide, then prepave this time with your best, most cherished intentions.

Again, nothing happens in a rush, so settle in to a steady, measured progress, especially in the area of life described by the house of the New Moon. (Your house with 26 degrees of Taurus.)

Sign by sign horoscopes

AriesARIES: The new moon highlights your second house of core values and sense of ‘wealth’. What is it, inner and outer, that makes your feel secure? Your ruler Mars in Gemini is all about walking the talk. Find a balance between structure and spontaneity.

TaurusTAURUS: This is your new moon, the one that lights up all four corners of your life, Self-expression, home, career and partnership. It’s the perfect time to set new intentions, putting energy into YOU and what you want to create. What’s getting a revamp?

GeminiGEMINI: Taurus is your natural house of dreams and immersion in the collective. It’s a time of synchronicity, symbols and serendipitous connections. You will be generating new enthusiasm for a breakout solar year ahead. Muse, and create.

CancerCANCER: Time to indulge in connections, friendships and links with like minded others. This energy wants tangible results so remember the fortune cookie adage – to have a friend, be a friend. It’s your turn to give to the group. Participate!

LeoLEO: A month of public appearances, spotlight attention and new developments when it comes to your career, mission or profession. The key question is, are you doing what you love? The answer will define the rest of the year! Make changes where necessary.

VirgoVIRGO: Time to get out of your head, or the house, job, obligations and explore a new world. You are primed to taste, touch and smell new horizons, view the sights and appreciate every nuance. Travel, explore, expand. The world is waiting for you.

LibraLIBRA: Joint partnerships, especially where finances are involved, get a revamp. You decide how you want this to go, but it’s time to get practical and stop relying on outmoded biz models for shared revenue. Aim your sights higher and more will come.

ScorpioSCORPIO: One of your favorite new moons, Taurus puts the spotlight on relationship, especially sex and intimacy. No matter what is, or is not, happening in your life now, you take a moment to imagine it the way you want it to be. And so it begins . . .

SagittariusSAGITTARIUS: All the taken for granted things of the household, studio, office, your pets, plants and plans, include gym and dietary wellbeing, are ready for new energy and attention. You put your mind to the ‘little things’ to make sweeping changes. Now!

CapricornCAPRICORN: A childlike creative impulse washes over you, infusing all you touch with smiles and laughter. Don’t be embarrassed! It’s natural for you to play right now. Set aside some time for fun, carefree expenditure of energy. You won’t regret it.

AquariusAQUARIUS: This new moon is your cue to put attention inward, into the home, family and sense of emotional ground and stability. Evaluate, appreciate and make repairs where necessary. This sets the stage for fabulous results. Trust the process.

piscesPISCES: The new moon in your communications sector has you translating ethereal notions and honing them down to practical affirmations. i.e., cut to the chase: Your words are powerful creators of your future. Say what you mean; love what you say.

GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_smlListen to the Align with the Stars call for the month of May over at

There Jeannette Maw and I talk about Mars into Gemini, Mercury Rx and the New Moon in Taurus and desires.

Happy New Moon.


Align with the Stars – May Call


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Consulting the Oracle by John Waterhouse

If you missed the call, the recording is up on the main page at GVA. Scroll down to:

May 2015 Align with the Stars Call

Over at Good Vibe Astrology, Jeannette Maw and I will be talking about the May Astro weather including Mars and Sun into Gemini, New Moon in Taurus and Mercury retrograde. We’ll be talking astrology and deliberate creation, otherwise known as Astro-LOA.

These monthly “Align with the Stars” calls are a chance for everyone to learn how to put Astro-LOA to practice. All welcome to the live gathering.

Feel free to listen and/or join in, ask questions or stream online.

If you want to use you chart as an example, that would be great. Please have a link to it ready either from the Gallery or your own upload link. To put your chart up in the gallery just follow this simple tutorial.

Call Times: May 13th/14th
LA – Wednesday – 3 pm
NY – Wednesday – 6 pm
LON – Wednesday – 11 pm
SYD – Thursday – 8 am

To stream online, (or download after the call) visit Good Vibe Astrology on TalkShoe.

GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_smlOr dial in on Phone Number: (724) 444-7444 Call ID: 25859

Open to everyone.

See you there!


How to Get Published – Step 1


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The Wizard’s Apprentice – Desktop Nexus

Hi everyone,

Welcome to a new series of posts in the Writerly Sector of the 11th House Blog.

Over the next few months, I’m going to share steps which lead to publishing success. The focus is manly on genre fiction, but much can apply to non fiction and “literary” fiction as well.

The steps to publishing success will be numbered, starting with Step 1, but this in not a linear process. See it more as a mobius loop. You may not be taking these steps in the order I deliver them. Find your own starting point and jump in where you are drawn.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith

Mobius loops found in Rider-Waite-Smith tarot

Whatever stage you are focused on –

. . . finishing a manuscript, finding an agent, pitching your project, landing a contract, launching your website, amping your social metrics, handling interviews, talks and presentations, touring, and/or writing your next book . . .

– this series offers support, guidance, tips and feedback for your highest success.

Are you ready?

Step one. Make it your own.

Huh? What’s that mean?

It means, begin by writing the story you want to tell in the genre or blend that lights you up, with the POV (point of view) and voice and pace that feeds your muse. The operant words are you, you, yours. Later, when you are ready for revision (there is always revision) you’ll research your genre and nail it, hone the word count range, consider audience, publishers’ guidelines, tempo, pace etc. But first, make it your own.

Stephen King puts it like this:

When you write a story . . . your stuff starts out being just for you . . .

How do you make it your own?

I like what my yoga teacher, Adriene Mishler, says on this topic.

Find what feels good

In the case of the writer, that means find what feels good for the story. At the start, it’s incredibly personal. You may want to tune out the suggestions of others, family, friends, readers, editors, agents, publishers, until that first draft is down. They will be incredibly helpful for revision, but not yet. For now, it’s a “12th house journey” quiet, solo, immersed in the world of the your own imagination.

To accomplish this, you must feed your muse. This will be different for everyone, so tune in to your own inner guidance and find out what she or he prefers.

Quick guide to feeding your muse

images* Show up. You have a muse. Meet with her daily.
* Create a sacred space, a room, corner or desk to write UNDISTURBED.
* Ritual Routine – when is your writing time? Honor it like a god!
* Non-judgment. Anything goes at this stage. Let the story lead.
* Fuel the body – meditation, exercise, nature, food, water, sunlight, starlight
* Fuel your sensuality – connect to touch, taste, smell, sight, sound.
* Dream and synchronicity awareness. Messages come from here!
* Read more! Immerse in stories inside and outside your genre.

Do the work, one scene at a time.

Don’t set out to write a novel. That’s daunting. Set out to write a scene, and then another and another. In a matter of months, you have a first draft.

At this stage, it is completely your own.

Next we’ll look at the manuscript itself and the all crucial formatting. Many a good story has been rejected simply because the writer didn’t know how to present it. Before we talk about structure and editing, we’ll make sure the ms (manuscript) won’t be knocked back on presentation alone.

Question and comments welcome!


Void of Course Mars


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Bilder für jedermann or

Bilder für jedermann or “Bookworm” by Fenner Behmer

Astro-LOA Flash: Mars turns Void of Course in Taurus (see times below) giving us some coasting time until the big bang into Gemini. Think of it as shifting into neutral when you’re clocking a good speed. You have a certain momentum and now you can let things ride.

MARS VOID at 28 TAURUS 24′ May 9th/10th
LA – Saturday – 1:36 pm
NY – Saturday – 4:36 pm
LON – Saturday – 9:36 pm
SYD – Sunday – 6:36 am

MARS INTO GEMINI May 11th/12th
LA – Monday – 7:40 pm
NY – Monday – 10:40 pm
LON – Tuesday – 3:40 am
SYD – Tuesday – 12:40 pm

Things to do on a Mars VOC

Relax, sleep in, congratulate yourself on what is working, growing, flourishing, and allow the trajectory to take you to the next exciting step. Celebrate!

Things not to do on a Mars VOC

Push, shovel, slave, barter, badger, holler, wrangle, threaten, macro or micro manage, regret, chastise, judge.

Mars is the engine of the psyche. The action station! It burns the fuel to turn the pistons of your life, getting you out of bed in the morning to jump into a new day.

Learn More about the astrology – natal and transit – of Mars on this quick tutorial.

When VOC, it’s ideal to unwind while you fill the tanks! Why? Because Mars has just been through almost all of Taurus and you have burned your Taurus house/planets down to the nib. In the days of the void, you refuel! Joss Whedon, a Cancer btw and clearly adept and self-nurturing and love, says:

Fill the tanks, fill the tanks. Constantly watch things, and things you don’t [normally watch]. Step outside your viewing zone, your reading zone. It’s all fodder but if you only take from one thing then it’ll show. – Joss Whedon

Whether your focused on business, art, helping professions, family, parenting, farming, it doesn’t matter. Find a way to refill what has been depleted. It might be reading, viewing, more exercise, less exercise, more nourishing food, fasting, massage, meditation, parties, sex, intimacy or time on your own. Your inner guidance knows what to do, or not do. Just fill the tanks.

NOTE: It’s usually the Moon’s void of course phase that we track, occurring for hours or a day every 2.5 days, but any planet, other than the sun, goes void of course. There are several ways to measure this. The contemporary way is to note when the Moon or planet is PAST the exact degree of its final major aspect while still in its current sign. So on the 9th of May, when Mars reaches 28 Taurus 24, it makes no applying aspect in that sign until moving into Gemini on the 11th. At that point it immediately applies to the square to Saturn at 2 Sagittarius.

Mars VOID is a really cool time to play with Jeannette Maw’s idea of doing nothing. Nothing but receive!

Let me know in the comments how you fill the tanks.

I’m putting in extra reading, meditation, conscious appreciation and making a career mood board. I’ll blog on that when Mars is in Gemini!

GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_mdmWhat about you?


For Astro-LOA on tap, join the Circle.

Astro-Flash Mercury into Gemini


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Astro-LOA Flash: Mercury into the curious, AIRY, communicative GEMINI is all about moving energy around. Stir it up. See new angles. Open pathways. Mercury is also heading for an about face on the 18th – the second retrograde of the year.

Whatever is excited now, you’ll be rethinking and reflecting on deeply soon.

Find a ways to slow the zany trajectory and consider what is true, false, illusion, confusion or brilliance to you. Open your mind!

For support, check Mercury by Transit tutorial, and the Mercury Rx tutorial.

You also might like the hot guy support for Mercury Rx.


Tip o’ the Month o’ May


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The Merry Month of May swings into action with the Full Moon in Scorpio on the 3rd/4th. It has a bit of a sting! Think of it as a powerhouse time of transformation where you face inner landscapes of the past an have the choice to reignite or release. Anger could be involved, which is your personal, internal body guard. Remember that. You may not need quite so much protection anymore.

This is a passionate moon, one that could propel you over perceived obstacles, or have you brooding about them. You decide. Moon is sextile ruling Pluto, opposite ruling Mars. You have untold creative power and energy. Use it as you will.

Technical Note: The fixed full moon is in the second decanate of Scorpio, which is Pisces, linking the energy of Mars/Pluto (Scorpio rulers) and Jupiter/Neptune (Pisces rulers). With a T-Square between Sun, Moon and Jupiter, and the trine to Neptune added into the mix, we are definitely looking at an emotional ride. As my friend Mystic Medusa always says, you can go haute Pisces or Lo Pisces, and for this lunar event, it couldn’t be more true. Decide if you want to be compassionate or conniving before hand, and stick to it! This FM also activates the Uranus-Pluto square, still in close orb. The watch word is change.

Full Moon @13 Scorpio May 3rd/4th
LA – Sunday – 08:43 pm
NY – Sunday – 11:43 pm
LON – Monday – 04:43am
SYD – Sunday –  01:43 pm

On the 7th, Venus moves into Cancer and trines Neptune, an aspect that brings care, empathy and gentle willingness to nurture. Most likely this will soften the edges of the Full Moon but don’t mistake kindness for weakness. This is a cardinal sign, with a strong emotional push. Venus here wants to take actions, ones that will enhance a sense of clan and security. It’s a perfect time to tune into your ideas of family, love and caring. Are you fulfilled, or needing something more, or different?

Mars into Gemini on the 11th is a flirty, vivacious, playful energy, though it’s honed into a serious point as it opposes Saturn, and activates the Saturn – Neptune square. This means there’s a drive to release old, crystallized patterns, and the ability to make leaping creative change, if we look inward. Without self awareness, this laser focus can be pointed at others. If you find yourself listing people’s faults left, right and center, ask what that list has to do with you.

Remember, like attracts like. Use that knowledge to flow inspired action. This is a wonderful opportunity to “be the better person.” It seems like a lot of homework to do, all in the first two weeks but if you put awareness on your actions and desires and the inner drives that motivate them, you’ll find the Mercury Retrograde period a breeze.

New Moon in Taurus on the 17th, opposite Saturn has a thoughtful vibe. If you are ready to pitch a well organized project or idea that you have build solid from the ground up and discussed in detail prior, excellent. But if you’re about to shoot from the hip, or go in blind, hit the pause button. Success comes with a well thought out plan. See Monthly New Moon scopes for tips (up by the 15th).

Mercury turns Rx on the 18th in the home sign of Gemini. You want to use this energy to revisit your old stories. What is it you keep telling yourself about your life? Is it helpful or unhelpful? If it’s the latter, take time to release the old pattern and script yourself a NEW STORY about whatever’s not going right. Home, family, love, money, career? Tell a new story. No time could be better for this exercise than the Mercury Rx period, between May 18th and June 11th. Rethink, rewrite, restore.

Technical Note: Go to the house(s) where Mercury is Rx and focus your review and renew practice there. Jeannette Maw, the Good Vibe Coach has tips for Story Crafting in Manifesting. It’s a fabulous practice, especially for the time of Mercury Rx.

Sun into Gemini on the 21st is more AIR – bright, communicative, flexible and flirtatious energy, though again, it’s coming off an opposition to Saturn and activating the Saturn – Neptune square. If you are working on a long-term project that lights you up, and feeds your creative muse, this could be a time of fresh input and help out of the blue. If you’re slaving away in a job you don’t like or a relationship that feels unfulfilled, the shift to Gemini will be the ray of light in the pigsty. If so, USE it to plan your healthy, optimistic change. You have a choice, and that begins by thinking yourself up a better story.

The month winds down with Mercury Rx on Sun and Mars, which might feel like both the tortoise and the hare have fallen asleep. Don’t panic; chill. This in not the time to measure or weigh anything up. Don’t look at states, or check emails, phone messages or answering machines. Breathe. Relax. Find ease. The egg will hatch if you keep incubating. Cracking it early isn’t going to help the cause.

Patience in the time of Gemini, everyone!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments as the month unfolds. Let’s work on those new stories!


Aries New Moon Rev Up


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Christian Schloe - Austrian Surrealist Digital painter

Christian Schloe – Austrian Surrealist Digital painter

April 18/19 is the New Moon in Aries!

Until then, chill with dark moon. You know the drill! Self-nourish, quiet reflection, release anxiety through mediation, dance, yoga, the sea, nature, gardening, martial arts, animal familiars and note down intentions to state aloud on the new moon.

Aries is all about taking action and pushing forward. Where do you want to advance with your life? Rev up your excitement? Check out the house with 28 degrees of Aries and light a fire there! *reference for all 12 houses below*

This New Moon forms no major aspects to any other planets; the emphasis is very much on bringing your yin and yang, your anima and animus, into alignment and moving into a NEW phase of your life. The minor, 40 degree novile aspect to Venus adds charm, curiosity and grace to whatever you focus on.

Note also, this Sagittarius decanate of Aries – robust, independent, feisty and commanding. A basic ‘don’t fence me in’ attitude applies! Ask where you want to EXPAND your life!

LA – Saturday – 11:57 am
NY – Saturday – 2:57 pm
LON – Saturday – 7:57 pm
SYD – Sunday– 4:57 am

Remember, the New Moon in Aries is a blast of fresh energy and enthusiasm, giving  a kick start for the rest of the year ahead. It’s a time to honor the core words I am . . . (you fill in the blank. I am what?) Where Aries is in your chart, you be the boss, take the road only you can travel, and make a difference!

AriesARIES: The New Moon and Uranus in Aries in your solar first house boosts drive, enthusiasm and desire for adventure. You’re going to want to make the first move, and the second and third. Be sure you know where to point your energy, because once out the gate, there’s no turning back.

TaurusTAURUS: The Aries New Moon is a dreamers’ moon for you, giving you time to plant seeds of intention, take your time in setting them with clarity and enjoying their slow and steady growth. Let others run around like wild children. You have a plan, an inspiration, and you stick to it!

GeminiGEMINI: An old friendship resurfaces with an offer or idea that might having you changing course. This is an exciting time where you are charmed with success, especially in group endeavors or working with like-minded others. You definitely want to schedule in more social time, online and face to face!

CancerCANCER: Just when you were hoping for a little quiet down time, the career and media attention blasts you into the public eye. This will move your professional desires forward at top speed, but do be mindful of your own pace, and need for a sanctuary. Find a balance as you set intentions for high level success!

LeoLEO: There’s a course of study, a degree or travel (mind, body or spirit) that has your attention. You can get the grant, loan or other support to move forward with this dream, as long as it is original, and lights you up sky high. No matter how many contingencies are in place, remember, be the boss. Take charge!

VirgoVIRGO: This is the perfect New Moon to set intentions around joint finances in a business partnership or intimate. Without guidelines, it could get crazy out of hand. So stake your claim now, and not just for the $$$ but for the time, energy and creative input you contribute. Find clarity in all your connections!

LibraLIBRA: Whatever is going on in your personal, socially significant one-to-one relationships, NOW is when you set intentions for what you want. No more dilly dally. To live the connections most fulfilling, you declare your desires. This is also the time to sort animosities, open enemies or conflicts. Go to it!

ScorpioSCORPIO: Intentions around health, fitness and body awareness are transformational with this New Moon. It’s the perfect time to initiate a new exercise routine, adjust nutrition, drop non-nourishing habits and create fresh rituals that support the life you want to live. Play with this!

SagittariusSAGITTARIUS: With your ruler Jupiter trine Uranus, and linked to the New Moon by sign, you’ll want a super-size rocket for this fuel! Focus on your desires for romance, art, creativity, play and the joys of the heart be they books you write, pictures you paint or children you raise. Find enthusiasm, and fun!

CapricornCAPRICORN: Your question this month is, are you happy with your home? The house itself, the location, the occupants are important, but on a deeper level, think about your sense of roots, connection, sanctuary and tribe. This is where you set intentions for what you really want! Make them true.

AquariusAQUARIUS: Ideas for the future roll in at a rapid pace, sparking vivid conversations, proposals and projects. Write everything down! Not all will make it to the drawing board immediately, but they might be perfect for brainstorming a little further down the track. Be ready to speak, pitch, debate and rave!

piscesPISCES: Whatever is happening in your financial world, you will want to tune into your highest excitement and launch from there. That means find your deepest core values and make certain they are expressing in all your money making projects. Above all else, to success, your heart must be in it!

Have a wonderful ARIES NEW MOON Everyone!GoodVibeAstroD52cR06bP01ZL-Hoover6b_mdm

Want to learn more about astrology and the law of attraction? Drop by Good Vibe Astrology, check out the Free Astro-LOA, and classes.

Chart Reading Like a Pro is on now. Plenty of time to catch up if you want to jump in now!

* Reference for the houses:

The meanings of the houses are deep and rich with metaphorical and literal content but here is a quick list of key words to get you started.

1st house – Appearance, personality traits, outlook on life
2nd house – $$$, resources, talents, peace of mind
3rd house – Teaching, learning, writing, talking, connecting
4th house – Home, family, ancestors, emotional ground
5th house – Creative expression, offspring (books/kids etc), romance
6th house – Health, pets, daily routine, employment, magic
7th house – Socially significant relationships, contracts
8th house – Sex, death, taxes, shared resources, trust
9th house – New horizons, travel, beliefs, WWW
10th house – Career, mission, profession, public relations
11th house – Friends, goals for the future, groups
12th house – Unconscious, dreams, giving and receiving, meditative states

Cracking the Sidekick


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Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 12.13.20 pmIn a fictional world, sidekicks exist for one reason, and one reason only. It’s the same reason any character exist – to tell the story. But the sidekick, like an appetizer, isn’t the main. The don’t carry the ball often, but their place in the story can add much to the narrative, dialog, world building, tone and register. In this post I want to explore the qualities of a ‘good’ sidekick, what traits they have, their roles in the storytelling and ideas of how to write them.

What Sidekicks Are Good For

Back story:

A well written, three dimensional sidekick can help with back story, allowing the reader to see and hear about things that came before page one without wading through heavy exposition. We see this in Star Wars with the sidekick Chewbacca, where his adventures in the past with Han Solo help shape our understanding of the man. Also in the sidekicks C-3PO and R2-D2. We learn much about the world through their cometary.

World Building:

The sidekick can represent a culture or social group as Gimli and Legolas do in Lord of the Rings. Gollum, a ‘minor’ character, but with a major goal, provides a talking point for the long and complex history of the ring. What life was like in the past, the roots of the hobbits as a people. He is kind of an ‘anti-skidekick’ to the anti-hero Frodo.


The sidekick can have different values, ethics, goals and motivations, making for a contrast to the main protagonist. Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries, for example, hasn’t much of a moral compass. At all. His buddy Alaric Saltzman, however, does, and watching that friendship grow is a measure of the main character’s arc and emotional evolution.

Humor and wit:

The protagonist has to be pretty serious at times, playing it ‘straight’ as they work out how to fight the baddy, retrieve the lost treasure and save the day. The sidekick, however, is free to use wit and humor at times when the hero cannot. We see this in Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Xander (one of Buffy’s many sidekicks) where she can be in deep emotional angst and he can pop the one liner that lightens the moment without throwing away her feelings.


Similar to wit and humor, there are times when a scene is too intense, deep or meaningful and the sidekick can be just the one to lighten it all with a ‘throw-away’ line. Clive and Ravi do this on iZombie when Liv is too deep into the fact that she is dead, turned into a zombie and has to eat brains to survive. It can turn a scene around in a flash.

Freedom of Speech:

The sidekick can say things the hero might be thinking, or wish they could say, but can’t. In the Quantum Enchantment Series, Rosette has a sentient familiar, a temple cat who links with her telepathically. She might be having a conversation with a mentor or rival while her familiar does a running commentary on the whole thing, adding a new element to the scene.


The hero may also relate to the sidekick in ways they can’t to others, allowing the reader to gain more compassion or understanding. This works especially well for main characters that are not fully sympathetic. Eric Northman’s compassion for his progeny, Pam, is an example from True Blood, or Charlain Harrie’s Southern Vampire Mysteries.

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 12.35.52 pmWriting the Sidekick

The first question to answer when developing a sidekick in the story is why are they there? They have to move the plot forward, be part of the part of the story. They also have to have their own GMC – goals, motivations and conflicts, internal and external. In a shorter work, these won’t be explored to a great depth, but with novel length stories and series, there is room for these subplots to be woven.

In Lord of the Rings, Gollum is a shadow figure of Frodo, representing his darker obsessions, passions, and also his instinctual side. He knows natures ways, leads them into dark places, with darker designs. Gollum’s inner goals, in the end, aren’t any different than Frodo’s, but he still has his own history, motivations, conflicts, and outer challenges.

Further questions to ask when developing a sidekick:

  • How do they move the plot forward?
  • What do they contribute?
  • Do they have heart or at least evoke an emotional response?
  • Are their stakes genuine?
  • Is their dialog strong and juicy?
  • Are they redundant in any way?

When getting the story down, the writer isn’t usually thinking of all these things. I know I’m not! Still, it’s a useful checklist for subsequent edits.

How about you all? Who are some of your favorite sidekicks?

Writers, how to you approach these types of Characters?

Thoughts and ideas welcome here!


Anna Dressed in Blood


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5 Stars!

Carrying on with my lunar eclipse reading, this is another recent favorite, though it was published in 2011. I was turned onto this book by my awesome Escape Club YA Bookclub. Book two is on their 2015 list and I’m playing catch up!

Anna Dressed In Blood is written by Kendare Blake, an American author living in Washington state. She says she “writes dark” and this YA paranormal/horror is no exception. It can be read as a stand alone, but, gratefully, there is a sequel, Girl of Nightmares.

Published by Tor Teen (12 – 18), the premise is simple. Lone ghost hunter boy meets psychotic dead girl and sparks fly. It’s a classic Romeo and Juliet, dagger and all, but the tone, voice and tempo of the story is so engaging, you don’t think cliché all. Not once. The characters are true to life and they propel the story along with their humor, wit and fear. No jolting out of this narrative. It’s tight, authentic and compelling.

Blake has the ability to take a classic star crossed lovers story and turn it into something completely fresh. It’s done with sensitivity and the skill to write characters who grow and develop (forwards and back), allowing for a range of conflicting emotions, morals and drives. In other words, they ring true. The supernatural being, Anna, feels remarkably believable, at once repulsive and sympathetic, a true anti-hero/dark hero. Told in the third person from the POV of Cas, a 17 year old high school junior/ghost hunter, the language is at times raw, the imagery gory and the emotions elating to heartbreaking.

I was particularly impressed with Tor Teen’s editing and liberal ruling on the tone of the story. There was no watering down, censoring of profanity (well, I didn’t see the submitted draft so maybe . . .). The point is, Anna Dressed in Blood treats their readers as the savvy people they are. Well done.

Needless to say, I’m reading book 2 as we speak.

Happy Eclipse!

A Town Called Dust


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A Town Called Dust by Justin Woolley

  4.5 Stars

With Saturday’s lunar eclipse ready to strike a match on the sheer side of the Uranus – Pluto square, I’m thinking the best thing to do is relax and catch up on the *TBR list. It’s actually doing wonders for my serotonin levels; I highly recommend it. While in the process, with my two-birds-one-stone Mars in Capricorn, I’ll review some of the more enjoyable reads as I go along, starting with A Town Called Dust.

I actually won a Kindle version of Dust over at the wonderful Escape Club YA Bookclub – their first giveaway since moving to Goodreads.

This book is written by Justin Woolley, a graphic novelist venturing forth with A Town Called Dust as his debut novel. Nicely done. The story is rich with complex politics and religious structures, but the heart of it centers around two youths. One is a boy named Squid, a timid, maltreated orphan who’s taken in by his aunt and uncle. They have a remote dirt farm (they literally farm dirt!) near the post apocalyptic outback town called Dust. The other half of this heart belongs to Lynn, a girl raised in the comparative comforts and privilege of Alice, the capital of the known world (that we’ve seen so far).

The genre is Speculative Fiction, the sub-category YA Dystopia, the big bad, zombie-like ghouls. These ‘night of the living dead’ creatures lumber around in hordes and the only thing keeping them from devouring the remainder of the human population is the ‘ghoul proof fence’ that runs forever through the territory, and the Diggers, men (only men) trained to keep the threat back should a breach occur. Which it does. At the start of the story, ghouls break through in plague proportions. The narrative hits the ground running from there, and barely pauses to catch its breath.

It’s a page turning, but that’s not all I love about this book. The world building is strong, the mythology intriguing. Woolley very subtly brings up issues of gender, race, privilege, education and religion without distracting the eye from the story itself. It’s not just Rabbit Proof Fence meets World War Z, though there are actually elements of both, and they work. A Town Called Dust has an emotive core, fueled by our heroes Squid and Lynn, whose responses remain consistently believable, as do their growth arcs.

On critique, two things. One is *POV changes, a hallmark in Fantasy that can be a bit jolting. I know I’m forever looking for ways to make these feel seamless so I acutely watch how others do it. There were times I didn’t want to leave the POV I was in; other times the shift felt absolutely natural. Two, a story world where the ultimate threat is a horde of mindless-flesh-eating-machines posses its own problems. Unless you go the way of Isaac Marion, there’s not a lot of room for a growth arc, change or surprise. Because I like my baddies with a touch of good, and my goodies with a touch of bad, it will be interesting to see if the human antagonists become more complex and unpredictable as the series unfolds. Woolley gives us a taste of this in a minor character we meet along the way, and it’s brilliant.

Published by Momentum of Pan Macmillan Australia, this is a fabulous debut novel. I will definitely be reading Woolley’s next installment in the series!

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* to be read
* point of view


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