Thursday, February 25, 2016


Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have grown miniature "brains," spherical clusters of cells about 350 micrometers in diameter, barely visible to the naked eye, for the purpose of studying human brain function and testing drugs:


According to the article, "While the versions aren't exact replicas of brains, they are made of the same neurons and cells found in human brains, feature the same structures and act in the same way." Generated from stem cells created by reprogramming human skin DNA, the clusters "contain circuitry that functions like an actual brain."

In 2013, scientists in Vienna grew "a small brain that was at the same developmental level as a 9-week-old fetus." Although the process sounds a bit Frankensteinian, the mini-brains don't have consciousness or any ability to think (whatever, exactly, that means). However, if enough of them were linked, could they form a biological "computer"? And, if large and complex enough, could such a network develop consciousness?

Also, how long before some pressure group decides that these tiny balls of neurons constitute human individuals entitled to personhood rights?

In other brain news, also at Johns Hopkins, researchers are working on "brain mapping technology to enable a patient to independently move individual fingers on a prosthetic arm just by thinking about it." With no cumbersome learning process involved, the patient can produce movements similar to those of a natural hand by simply willing the motion.

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic

The device used in this trial requires a separate computer pack to enable the patient to transmit commands to the artificial arm. The system costs about half a million dollars, so commercial application remains a long way off. At present, only an individual as valuable as the Six Million Dollar Man would qualify for a full set of these prostheses.

Speaking of individuality and identity, how much of his or her organic body could an individual have replaced and still remain that same person? The Tin Woodman in THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ has his entire body replaced by a metal one piece by piece, not all at once, and at the end of the process he still identifies himself as the man he was before the curse severed all his limbs. Of course, in his case magic must be involved, because he has a tin head, too, with no indication that his organic brain was transplanted into it. From Six Million Dollar Man to Darth Vader (mentioned in the prosthetic article) to Robocop to Tin Woodman—still the same person? Suppose the Good Witch of the North grew a brain for the Tin Woodman, using the Oz equivalent of the mini-brain technique, and magically transferred his consciousness into it? In Oz he would still be himself (as we know from the fact that both he and the Scarecrow have consciousness and personalities despite being made completely of inorganic materials), but what about in this world?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Theme-Plot-Character-Worldbuilding Integration Part 7 - The Legacy As Motivation

Theme-Plot-Character-Worldbuilding Integration
Part 7
The Legacy As Motivation

Index to Theme-Plot-Character-Worldbuilding Integration:

Actors famously ask Directors, "What's my motivation?"

Writers are both actor and director in the story they scribe with words.

And the words the writer writes have to "show don't tell" the intangibles of the ineffable truths of life.

The writer's problem, as an artist, is to make personal peace with the idea that, "The book the writer writes is not the book the reader reads."

 Then it is easy to choose abstract symbols to represent ideas -- knowing the reader will not interpret them as the writer meant.
Each reader, just as with a video-gamer or board gamer, creates their own story arising from the template the writer provides.

The writer is like the tuning fork  (yep, old fashioned image), setting up where to begin the song.

But we all know that a romance writer is weaving a story from the individual "tones" of emotion that constitute the fabric of a Relationship.

One such thread the writer must weave into that fabric of Romance is "The Parents" - or even "The Grandparents."

A couple falling in love are not just two individuals.

Each brings to the proceedings a long history.
Today, many family histories are broken.  But in human history it's always been that way -- war, famine, pestilence, and death have left orphans to bounce around the world like the little ball in the roulette wheel -- finally landing in some compartment with a family name (number on the wheel) that is not their own.

Yet, somehow, we all resonate to "the past" -- to family.

When trying to explain our inexplicable behavior and choices, we say, "I was raised to ..."

Brain studies are showing more and more how plastic the human brain is, especially in childhood, so how we are "raised" may indeed explain a lot.

Even genetic studies show how our genes can be activated (or not) by the stress and impact of events in childhood.

So two humans who come together igniting Romance between them each bring to that Event a long, long historical trail -- some of which they, themselves may not know.

We are now finding that the father's diet, disease, exercise, drug-habits, etc. can severely influence the child's health and longevity.

Whether we know it or not, whether we have any hint of it or not, our ancestry and early childhood experiences define that moment when Romance ignites -- and may even determine whether the fire, once ignited, continues to burn.

So, many themes, many plots, arise from Legacy -- yours, your reader's, and your Character's.

One perennial favorite Gothic Romance starts with inheriting a house -- often haunted, sometimes containing "secrets" in the walls, and always leading to trouble that someone in this strange town can help with.

Other sorts of inheritance have generated magnificent Romance plots. You probably have a favorite -- I certainly do have a couple.

The Legacy that configures your life is one thing.  The Legacy you leave behind you -- that will configure your grandchildren's lives -- is another.  Perhaps they are the same thing?

Legacy is part of every THEME.  You can't avoid it if you want Characters who walk off the page into your reader's dreams.

Legacy is a component of every PLOT, whether you as the writer know consciously that you put it in.

Legacy is the hidden, subconscious motivation of every CHARACTER -- if that character has any dimension of realism.  Legacy is the lynch-pin that holds Plot and Story together.  In other words, Legacy -- where this Character came from, and what they leave to future generations -- defines your Theme.  You may not see or understand what you've written for decades after it is published, but when you do find it, you will recognize your own Legacy in that Theme.

We are all driven to select one action rather than another by "who we are."  Legacy is a major component of Identity.

If your main Character lacks Identity, no reader will believe anything in the Story, even if they believe the Plot.  Sometimes that's the effect you, as an artist, want to create.  But learn to do it on purpose, not by accident.

Legacy reveals and defines the entire WORLD that you have built around your Character.

Legacy is the Show Don't Tell that can convey in one vividly drawn description of an Object, or one oft-quoted cliche, exactly what your intangible THEME is.  "Grandma always said a stitch in time saves nine, and I never knew what that meant until you saved my life."

Love is often founded on some secret of life shared in a non-verbal way.

So, a Legacy that drives or defines your Main Character can be just a few words, some notes in a song, -- even words in a foreign language the Character does not know.

Such a Legacy -- a song fragment -- can serve to introduce and define a non-Human Character who falls in love with a Human.

Discovering the meaning of that Legacy can be the Mystery Plot, the suspense line for the novel -- or perhaps a long series of novels.

For example, suppose your Main Character inherits some old diaries kept but disregarded for generations.  Suppose an Occasion comes along where that Main Character opens the crumbling old books and deciphers the cursive scrawl -- probably using Google.

And it is a letter from a dying ancestor to her children.

For example, it might list some bits of advice or admonishment.

1) Always keep your promises to yourself, and it will be easier to keep your promises to others.  This will be regarded as evidence of Integrity and gain you Trust.

2) Create your personal Inhibitions to serve your purpose in life.

3) Fill your life with carefully chosen habits, honed to avoid betraying the hard-won Trust of yourself and of others.

4) Remember that every Asset is a Liability.

5) Troubles come in threes - and so do Triumphs. In three years your choices today will have crafted tomorrow.

6) Discover the story of your life and live it with zest.

7) Learn something every day.

8) Create new options for solving any problem that is set before you without relying on suggestions of those who set the problem.  Redefine the problem and create more options.  Then choose a course of action.

Any one of those bits of Advice could be, say, inscribed on a piece of jewelry that is an hierloom legacy -- meaningless until some Plot Event reveals the need for it.

Each of them in turn could be used as the theme for a novel, making an 8 volume series that makes sense because they form a thematic-set, a group of related ideas that can form and drive a story.

Using such a device, you can craft a novel in two Times or Eras, one where the Ancestor learned the lesson and made the inscription, and "today" where a descendant reads the message and solves a current problem accordingly -- perhaps crafting a new Legacy.

When you expand this writing device of Legacy to include non-Humans, Aliens From Another Planet (either here on Earth or met by a Human protagonist Out There), the contrast between the Human and the Alien Legacy, and the odd-similarity that joins them, provide not only the Character Motivations but also the essence of the Romance.

"What does she see in him?  What does he see in her?"

These are the key questions in any Romance, and the most potent answers always lie in Legacy.

That's why Mafia stories are so powerful -- it's all about Family, Heritage, Belonging.

Legacy is about acceptance, rejection, and living up to (or down to) expectations of others.

Always remember, it's not just the Legacy your Main Character receives, but also about the Legacy they craft to hand on to their posterity.

It is said we are granted leniency in the merit of the good deeds of our ancestors, so the question becomes what have you done today to earn leniency for your progeny?

Romance is the prelude to creating a new historic node, a knot in the network of humanity, a crossroads in the fabric of Time.

For example: why do we cry at weddings?

When the Romance involves a human and non-human, two vastly different historical networks become knotted together via a newly created Legacy.

That is why the Character of Spock -- or even Worf -- captivate the attention.  They hold the potential to make Romance new again.

Legacy can be a physical object, a financial asset, a meaningful memento such as a quilt with a Wisdom saying woven into it, or an idea, a credo to live by, a philosophy or religion, Ancient Wisdom, or  maybe even a recipe for something distinctively aromatic.

Legacy items can appeal to all the senses, become the MacGuffin that everyone chases around after, or the bone of contention that tears the family apart.  A Legacy item can become of the focal point of the plot, the tie to the past that is so full of pain the Main Character destroys or Deep-Six's the item at the end.

In other words, Legacy is about emotion, and allows the writer to show-don't-tell the texture of that emotion.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Pirates Know This. Authors Should Too.

This is a very handy primer which advises all and sundry how to navigate filehosting sites.  Hit the big, bright "Download Now" button, and you will get malware.  Neglect to uncheck the little boxes, and you will be subscribed to all manner of spam.

Read the entire page. 
It is quite an education.

Regarding "", this is how to use Google Search to search the site without registering and logging in;

For instance, I can check for my works using this:

However, sending a DMCA is simply going through the motions. Send a takedown, and perhaps they will take the book down, but uploaders will reup it.

The site has rules that require uploaders to include at least one mirror site, and to promptly reupload works that are taken down.  See here:

Dead link requests
  • Please PM the ORIGINAL POSTER with re-up requests
  • If you do not get a reply within a few days (3 at most) you can post in the topic, explaining that you received no response from the OP.
  • If the Original Poster is no longer active or not replacing links, post in the topic or PM a moderator with a link to the thread so it can be moved to Expired and reposted by somebody else.
What does this mean for an author? Document everything. Then, tell the Feds. 

On the other hand, there is a site called  MUYEBETA

which appears to snag information from Goodreads, and might even be promotion. I concluded that it wasn't worth the trouble of sending a DMCA, but I might take another look in the light of what I learned from 

The links go to a useless scam site called bestbook library,

You can Google a question about whether almost any named site is a scam, or whether it is safe.  If the site shows a blurred open book that could be anything, it probably isn't your book or my book, and anyone wanting a free read will discover that they have to provide credit card information before they can enjoy the free read.... and once the pirates have your credit card, do you really think they won't charge you?

Happy Hunting!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sex in the Sea

If you're in search of ideas for truly alien sex, pick up SEX IN THE SEA, by marine biologist Marah J. Hardt. She begins with the quest for a potential mate, not always easy to find in the vastness of the oceans, and continues through courtship, mating, fertilization, and birth or hatching. Some sea creatures travel formidable distances back to their birthplaces to reproduce, while at the opposite extreme others (oysters, coral, etc.) spend their adult lives stuck in one spot and somehow have to get their gametes together without moving from that spot. Some animals change sex when they mature, while a few species can even flip their genders back and forth multiple times over their lives. There are species with two or three distinct types of males, one of which looks like a female in order to sneak past dominant macho-style males and mate with real females. Some male animals have penises longer than their bodies. There's even one that has sperm cells longer than its own body! Female right whales can have intercourse with two males at once, one on each side. A certain segmented, sand-dwelling worm has multiple penises or vaginas, one for each segment. Hardt says they mate like a zipper closing. Squids and octopuses use a specially adapted arm to place a sperm packet inside the female. There are creatures that detach their penises like darts. Hermaphroditic flatworms don't copulate in the "normal" way but stab each other with their organs to inject sperm anywhere in the mate's body. The males of some species of fish attach themselves to the bodies of their much larger mates and atrophy into mere sperm-dispensing appendages. One species takes this process even further, with a female hosting numerous tiny males inside her body. In one kind of shark that bears live young, stronger fetuses murder their weaker siblings in the womb.

Imagine what marriage would be like on a world where the dominant species reproduced like angler fish, with the husband a parasitic attachment to his wife. Consider the dramatic possibilities of sibling rivalry among intelligent beings who know their potential brothers and sisters were eaten in the womb. Sexual politics in a species that reproduced externally, like most fish and amphibians, would be quite different from the status quo in our culture, where the burden of carrying the young inside the body falls on the female. One of Fredric Brown's humorous short-short stories features a man who falls in love with a mermaid and agrees to be transformed into a merman so they can marry. After the change, he's horrified to learn that merfolk mate like fish, by spawning into the water instead of copulating.

Suppose a human hero fell in love with a member of a gender-fluid alien race, able to change sex back and forth depending on environmental cues such as the sex of his/her mate (like some fish). Marion Zimmmer Bradley creates such a race, the chieri, in her Darkover series, and one of the human characters in THE WORLD WRECKERS faces that very challenge.

Every chapter of SEX IN THE SEA offers similar thought-provoking oddities. Written in a breezy, slangy style, this book is both fun and informative.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Astrology Just For Writers - Part 13 - The Artist's Dilemma by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Astrology Just For Writers
Part 13
The Artist's Dilemma
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous posts on Astrology Just For Writers are indexed here:

The two panels of this graphic are neatly displayed as two sides of the dilemma not back to back, but at an ANGLE.

In Astrology these two statements represent two Houses (everyone has all 12 Houses, so it is there inside you somewhere).

The "Get A Real Job" attitude is more Capricorn or Natural 10th House -- the Cardinal Earth sign that is ruled by Saturn and tends toward the practical.

The "Without Passion" side has the lofty incoherence of Neptune, which as I've pointed out previously represents the mental condition that we describe in Romance as being "In Love."

The Artist is passionate.  The Lover is passionate.

Sex is the Creative act -- which other people do try to constrain (Saturn) and define (Saturn) and manage for you (Capricorn).

Two people in love inspire others in ways that prove, over and over again, that Love Conquers All.

And that does, indeed, "change the world."  Romance, mellowing into Love, settling into Happily Ever After, raising children who understand Love and spread it through the world, all that changes the world.

Capricorn/Saturn is famous for resisting change -- but also then insisting on change, sometimes massive, sometimes painful change, about every seven years.

Pisces is the Mutable Water sign -- and interestingly produces many Engineers, mechanical geniuses, as well as artists.

Pisces is opposite Virgo, the detail-oriented-sign.  Pisces blurs and blends details so they are not distinct.  

In other words, Pisces is bound to its opposite, Virgo, and is 60 degrees from Capricorn -- which visually seems to be about what that image corner shows, an oblique angle.  If it were a "right angle" we couldn't read both sides so easily.

So what's opposite Capricorn?  Cancer!  The sign of Home, the basis of Life, family, parents/children.  

So Capricorn, the "Get a real job" attitude is opposed by Home-Making (Cancer), and pulled off balance by creative imagination (Pisces).

Pisces is the Natural 12th House -- the summation of the meaning of your life.  

Noel Tyl says that the reigning Need of a Natal Chart is shown by the position of the Moon -- ruler of Cancer.  The ruler of the opposite House, Saturn organizes resources to fulfill that Need using the Ideals represented by Neptune.

Ideals are generally considered "impractical" -- and Saturn is the distilled definition of the Practical.  

Note how a story must have two Conflicts -- internal to the Characters and external to the Characters -- that are resolved at the end of the story.  

That oblique angle relationship between the practical Capricorn and the impractical Idealism of Pisces depicts the perfect conflict for a Romance.  You just have to find a resolution you can convince your readers to believe.  Neptune is all about belief.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Trademark Scams

Have you trademarked any title, or expression, or unique term? Some science fiction romance or paranormal authors have done so.  For instance, some in the publishing world are watching with interest a lawsuit concerning the similarity or otherwise of the terms "Dark Hunter" and "Shadow Hunter."

This isn't about that. It's about numerous scams that try to trick authors who own trademarks into paying entitites other than the USPTO for services that some would say are worthless, and that are not renewals of those trademark registrations.

Here's a sample that was mailed to me for a trademark of mine. I apologize for the wrinkles. I did not treat the scam with great respect.

Trademarks only last for five years, and have to be renewed. Usually, the renewal notice will be sent to the trademark owner's lawyer.

The entity you should be paying is the USPTO, and no other acronym.  If the USPTO sends you an email, it will come from (but, of course, you should make sure that this addy wasn't just written in.)  If you receive a letter, it will come from Alexandria, VA.

However, there seem to be several scams that also call Alexandria, VA their home.

The $750 fee is in the ball park, but a bit more than a legitimate renewal fee.  I've received solicitations trying to trick me into paying double that.

If you have been tricked, the USPTO will not help you get your money back, but if you report them, you might help the Feds to prosecute them.

For more information, check out the USPTO site:

Happy Valentines Day.

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Is Selling Short Stories Worthwhile?

Karen Hurley writes in LOCUS about the abysmal payment rates for short stories:

The Sad Economics of Writing Short Fiction

In the Golden Age of the pulps, when dozens of genre fiction magazines existed, a skillful, prolific writer might have been able to make a living from short fiction. Nowadays, as Hurley's examples illustrate, short-story markets that pay an approximation of a living wage (however one quantifies that concept in terms of writing-hours) are hard to find. A well-paying anthology will offer a few hundred dollars up front, plus (maybe) a later trickle of royalties, if the contract provides for such. PLAYBOY, once a major venue for SF and fantasy, no longer accepts unsolicited submissions, except during special contests. Even when they did, I suspect their $3000-per-story payments went to established, high-profile authors. And even those authors wouldn't have sold to PLAYBOY more often than once in a while. OMNI paid comparable rates but went out of print years ago. has just closed to unsolicited submissions. The slick women's magazines such as COSMOPOLITAN, REDBOOK, and GOOD HOUSEKEEPING used to run fiction, even genre fiction (Ray Bradbury's classic "Homecoming" first appeared in MADEMOISELLE), but that era has passed.

If a market pays five cents per word, a 5000-word story would pay $250.00. An author would have to sell about fifteen of those every month to garner enough to survive at a basic level in most American cities. Even if that many available markets of that level or higher existed, a writer would have to be prolific enough to produce a story every two days for years on end and gifted enough to sell everything he or she wrote.

Hurley mentions the alternative of self-publishing. Via that route, a story can continue to generate income indefinitely—but probably nowhere near a living wage. The big earners in that field would be high-profile authors who are already making a living from other sources.

For most authors, then, short stories alone may produce a nice supplementary income but never enough to live on. So why write them? Some writers do it for the joy of the process. The short form comes naturally to them. It doesn't, for me; my natural lengths seem to be novella and short novel. Short fiction, however, offers a way to keep one's name before audiences and, one hopes, attract new readers for those novels. I write occasional short stories to submit to anthologies, if the anthology theme appeals to me—for practice and, if the story gets accepted, for the promotional benefits and the money (even if it usually isn't much). For instance, my husband and I have a collaborative tale, "A Walk in the Mountains," in the anthology REALMS OF DARKOVER, forthcoming in May.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Reviews 22 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg - Karen Chance's Cassie Palmer Novels

Reviews 22
Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Karen Chance's Cassie Palmer Novels 

I have not yet posted an Index to my reviews here, but this is #22 of the series of reviews about the field of Science Fiction Romance, Paranormal Romance, and related genres and what you can learn by studying various novels "published as" various genres.

I particularly focus on "ingredients" in other fields that can be smoothly blended into a dynamic Romance plot.

The results of a smooth blend are clear in the Historical Romance field.

Historical Romance produced hundreds, maybe thousands, of titles over a span of a couple of decades, and then as those born in the 1970's became book buyers, Historical Romance writers blended Women's Lib into Historical periods -- with some justification, and sometimes as pure fantasy.  Women raised in the Victorian era were portrayed as undaunted feminists -- and sometimes that "worked" for modern readers, and sometimes not so much.

Growing up in an oppressive environment cripples and warps most Personalities, so that the occasional individual who weathers the storm of denigration and negative messaging becomes a social outcast among her compliant peers.

But such defiant individuals have existed in all epochs of human history.

Look to the Biblical story of Dinah, of Deborah, of the several named Yehudit.  Look to the female Saints.

It isn't womanhood per se that determines whether you are outstanding, exceptional, defiant, un-bendable, or in the parlance of the writing craft, A Hero.

The hallmark of most science fiction is that the central character, the Hero or Point of View Character, the protagonist is one of those Unbendable humans who marches to his own drummer.

I haven't seen any research on this, but just scanning the people I know and their life-stories, I can't see any difference in the percentage of those Unbendables who are male vs those who are female.

The Unbendables are rare.  Societies that treasure their Unbendables thrive.  Societies that trash their Unbendables perish quickly.

Parents of an Unbendable usually see they've spawned an Ugly Duckling very early in the child's life.  Some Parents are proud of that kid -- others keep trying to bend them.

To study the Unbendable as a Character, read (and it's a joy and a delight, not like a school assignment task) Karen Chance's series about her Unbendable character, Cassie Palmer.

It's Paranormal Romance, but the Romance plot develops very slowly over the story-arc of the novels.

The 7th novel in the Cassie Palmer series is titled REAP THE WIND.

Cassie Palmer Novels:
Touch the Dark
Claimed by Shadow
Embrace the Night
Curse the Dawn
Hunt the Moon
Tempt the Stars
Reap the Wind (2015)
Ride the Storm

Here's her page on Amazon where you can "follow" her and get an email when a new book comes out.
All these novels are recommended, but they are so well written that you can dip into the series at any point and completely understand the action and romance.

The entire (long) novel is Cassie's increasingly desperate attempts to rescue the guy she loves, a Soul Mate from a very neat, (original) curse ripped from the Arthurian Legend headlines.

This fellow was/is the Merlin of Arthur's Kingdom.

Legend has it Merlin "lived backwards" -- a concept not explained in most Arthurian literature.

The science fiction part of this Fantasy-Romance is the precise, scientific way the Curse is explained and the way to lift the Curse is posited.

Karen Chance has used the best skills of Game Oriented Worldbuilding to create a Magic dimension that makes sense.

The Situation is that long ago the Greek/Roman gods were swept out of our Reality and walled away from us.

The project of building that magical wall was a team effort, spearheaded by one of those Unbendable types, a woman.

Now, another group of women, bent on siezing Power, have decided to bring back one of those gods.  Like most Sorcerer Apprentice thinking, they truly believe they can control the results of their initiative to their own advantage.

Cassie Palmer is more realistic, though almost totally ignorant of the  Magical skills involved.

Cassie has been "chosen" by some kind of Magical Power to fill the (always female) office of Pythia, a Seer who can transcend Time and implement various sorts of Magic, given enough training in youth.

Cassie has not had any of that training.  She's learning as she goes, beset by enemies who leave her no time to learn.

She was raised by a formidable crowd of Vampires, short tempered folks with way more Power than is good for the world.  She learned to become inconspicuous, quiet, un-noticed lest she set off a violent storm among those Vampires.  But she is an Unbendable.

Despite her up-bringing, or perhaps because of it, she arrives at adulthood with the habit of thinking for herself, charting her own course, making her own decisions, and not standing in awe of what appears to be Authority wrapped in Power.

In other words, she is your typical science fiction hero.

She asks pesky questions, finds her own answers, doesn't totally believe anything she's told until she verifies it, plunges ahead with action based on whatever theory she considers most probably correct, and in the process takes a lot of personal, emotional, and physical damage -- and comes back swinging, relying on her next best theory.

She's a Strong Character, in the definition of the publishing industry.

Here are some of my previous posts on publishing's oft-repeated demand for "strong characters" -- a demand most beginning writers mis-interpret.  Karen Chance has gotten it right, so study Cassie Palmer for the traits highlighted in these posts.

And for Romance writers, I particularly recommend:

The Unbendables are only one sort of Strong Character.

The Unbendable Trait tends to generate fanfic about testing that character to destruction to find out what is inside the Unbendable shell.  That is the origin of much of the fanfic often called "Get Spock."  Or even, "Hurt/Comfort."

Before you can destroy (e.g. Bend) a Character with dramatic impact, you must first convince the reader the Character really is Unbendable, or Strong in some other way.  Towering, Formidable, perhaps justly Famous, or Great.  The Purely Strong Character invites the reader to destroy him.

This is why Superman collapses under the rays of Kryptonite.

But note that when stripped of his Powers, Superman adheres to his values.  How you regard Risk, and how you take Loss indicates whether your Character is Strong or Weak.  Adhering to values despite pain, loss or any other threat is Strong Character.

Every Unbendable Character must have a flaw, a crease, a crack, a weak spot.

Now look at Cassie Palmer's physical appearance.  She is short, built slight, -- wiry strength but no Titan.  She doesn't look formidable.  Physically, she is a mouse.

Then the Power chooses her to be Pythia -- which gives her access to Abilities Beyond Mortal Men.

But she has no clue how to use this Power.  To wield it as she would wish to, she would have had to be raised in the Pythia's household and trained to be the Pythia successor.

The girls who were so raised work to unseat Cassie from the Office of Pythia (i.e. kill her).

And the Pythia's Office itself has enemies out there who are not resting while Cassie learns the ropes. They do politics with explosions, spells, poisons.  They look for definitive solutions to the problem of Cassie Palmer.

The one ally she knows she needs is Merlin.  Her enemies win one by removing his Soul with a Curse that sends it backward in Time, skipping from one era to another, arriving to "inhabit" his own (somewhat immortal) Self, then skipping on --- a little like the 1989-1993 TV Series Quantum Leap.

Headlines are wondrous places to rip dramatic material from -- but old TV Series likewise provide grand opportunities.

Note how this theory explains the legend of Merlin "living backwards" and thus "knowing the future."

Cassie's current strategy in Reap the Wind is to remove the Curse on Merlin by time-teleporting back the one man who has the ability to cast a Curse-Removal-Spell.  The hitch is that she must go with him.

If they can catch up to Merlin at a moment when his future Soul is passing through backwards in time, and get that Curse-Removal-Spell thrown just exactly right, they can save Merlin's life and return to present time with a strong ally who knows a lot more magic than anyone else.

Cassie has limited energy for such Magic Stunts as transporting two people back thousands of years in time, or into the Realm of Faery.  She is kept scrambling and using more energy than she can afford by the former Pythia's students trying to derail her efforts to save Merlin.

REAP THE WIND is one wild time-travel-chase-scene liberally salted with mortal-combat and magic battles.

The action/battle scenes would make wondrous Indiana Jones style film material if this series is ever made into a TV Series or film.

As I've noted on many occasions in these blogs, the trend in novel publishing is toward the same structure that draws millions to theaters, as opposed to the few hundred thousand who buy any given novel in print, e-book or audiobook.

Romance Readers have an insatiable taste for Action today.  REAP THE WIND definitely provides a feast of action.

This novel leaves you eager for #8 in the series titled RIDE THE STORM -- a title that promises more breakneck action between love scenes.  "Follow" Karen Chance on Amazon to be notified when it is available.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, February 06, 2016

How Is the DMCA Working For You?

If you are a creator (author, musician, songwriter, photographer, artist) and have had your copyrights infringed by others, your thoughts, experiences and stories about piracy and the DMCA Takedown process could help the prepare their testimony for the US Copyright Office.

Please complete this survey

Thank you,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Why Groundhog Day?

Did the groundhog see his shadow in your neck of the woods? I've often wondered why a sunny day should forecast a longer winter. The notion seems backwards. It turns out there's a sort of rationale for the lore: Warmer air holds more moisture, conducive to clouds, so in winter a bright day is more likely to be colder than a cloudy day. (Hence my father's occasional remark, which baffled me as a kid, that it was too cold to snow.) Why do we rely for weather prediction on a large rodent? The habits of animals—badgers, bears, hedgehogs, woodchucks, etc.—used to be consulted for weather omens in many parts of Europe. German immigrants to North America brought this lore with them and attached it to a local creature in their new home, the groundhog. Some information about Groundhog Day on Fact Monster:

Groundhog Day

Why February 2? In pagan tradition, specifically Celtic, this date is Imbolc, a fertility-focused holiday heralding the earliest hints of spring:

Imbolc Traditions

This is the time when livestock begin to give milk and farmers start to prepare the earth for sowing. This website recommends spring cleaning in honor of Imbolc. It also describes the making of the Brideog, a straw effigy decorated with flowers, shells, etc., and dedicated to Brigit.

Associated with St. Brigid's day (February 1):

St. Brigid's Day

In pagan Ireland, Brigid (or Brigit) was a fire goddess. As St. Brigid, she is the "Irish aspect of divine femininity." Her feast day, according to the website, "celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring on February 1."

Early February was also when the ancient Romans celebrated fertility in the festival of Lupercalia.

All I can say about the "spring" associations of the date is that they must have originated in parts of Europe with much shorter winters than those in the upper half of the North American east coast! We could only dream of seeing "signs of spring on February 1" around here.

In the Christian liturgical year, February 2 commemorates the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple and the "purification" (after childbirth) of the Virgin Mary. The day is commonly called Candlemas because it was traditional for worshipers to bring their supply of candles to church to be blessed on that day. The "light" symbolism is appropriate to the celebration of this date as the halfway point between winter and spring. As an Anglican, I view the blending of pagan and Christian customs on seasonal holidays as a feature, not a bug. After all, the Supreme Deity is the Creator of nature.

In parts of England at one time it was considered bad luck to leave up your Christmas decorations after Candlemas. So when I don't dismantle the tree until after Epiphany (January 6), I'm not running late. I'm actually super early!

When the human species leaves Earth for other planets and star systems, I expect some of our holidays to voyage outward with us—for instance, Thanksgiving (all people enjoy feasts and understand gratitude) and Christmas (decorations and gifts have cross-cultural appeal). Groundhog Day probably won't come along, though, in my opinion. It's too closely tied to the seasonal cycles of one hemisphere of a single world.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Astrology Just For Writers, Part 12 - Virgo, 6th House and Soul Mates by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Astrology Just For Writers
Part 12
Virgo, 6th House and Soul Mates
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Often the best reason to go to a religious service is the jokes told by the Priest, Reverend or Rabbi.

These are usually very old jokes, and I do ever so much relish old jokes as plot-material for stories, just as cliche and misnomer supply reams of raw material for story tellers.  There's a reason old jokes survive generation to generation and get laughs from those who are too young to have heard them before -- and that reason is worth deep study if you plan a career in fiction writing.  It is most easily revealed by a study of Astrology -- not to "foretell" the future, but to understand Character Arc.  So this series of posts is Astrology Just For Writers.

The index to previous posts on Astrology is here:

The Alien Romance subject we need to look at here, and will later examine in the series of posts on, perhaps, Theme-Character Integration, is, "What exactly IS a human?"  Until we can answer that, we can't "create" the Alien who can fall in love with our Human Character.
What Is A Human Being? is a huge topic, much bigger than me, for sure.

But what brought it into focus for me is a joke, which is not surprising because the entire purpose of Comedy is to reveal that which is too big to see.  If you want to understand Comedy, study the Mary Tyler Moore show.

The particular joke that caught my attention, that I just can't get out of my head, was told by a Rabbi at Yom Kippur Services -- how incongruous!  But it worked to open an entire issue Romance Writers must pay attention to, especially when trying to depict an Alien-Human Soul-Mate pair, a very complex Relationship.  If it is a Romance, the Relationship must drive the Plot, and that means the writer must know much more about the structure of Human Nature than the reader is likely to know, as well as how and why Characters "arc" -- and how to depict a Character Arc.  The core of Depicting (show don't tell) is Theme.

Here is a post laying out the basics of Theme and story structure:

Here is my earliest post on Soul Mates.

We've been discussing Soul and Soul-Mate in the context of Romance Craft and how the Romance genre is a natural fit into the Science Fiction Genre for a long time.  We've even touched on Comedy, but not on how to use it to reveal an esoteric thematic point in show-don't-tell.  That's what this joke does -- expresses a huge abstract notion of the nature of humanity in show-don't-tell.

Here's the essence of the joke, which I can't repeat exactly because I'm not good at comedy:

God was challenged by a Mortal who didn't believe in Him.  The Mortal says he can make humans, too, just as God does.

So God accepts the challenge and they repair to an open field to compete.  God reaches down and picks up a handful of dirt, and Creates it into a Human.  The Mortal then reaches down and picks up a handful of dirt and begins to create a human, but God says, "Wait!  You can't use THAT dirt -- I Created that dirt."

If the Mortal uses material that God created, then the Mortal isn't Creating a Human "just as God does."  He's using the material God Created.  His work is derivative, not original, therefore the entity he creates isn't "Human" in the sense that the Humans God Creates are Human.

This joke begs the question, "What is a human being?"

To define "Human" we generally reference Genesis, where God Creates Adam -- or more precisely Adam Kadmon (the first Man).

Adam Kadmon is not a "man" at all, but a genderless, or composit, template with both male and female nascent within.

Then God separates the female, leaving a "man" who is no longer the First Human.

The premise of my Sime~Gen Series is that the Sime~Gen Mutation is of the same order of basic Creation as that separation into male and female, so you have male and female Simes and male and female Gens -- whereupon family relationships become extremely complex, and Romance takes on a whole new meaning.  Playing with Worldbuilding at that original level of Creation makes a writer research and ponder the very essential nature of humanity, so I've spent decades burrowing into Tarot and Astrology, as well as Kabbalah, and every other religion.

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This post on the Astrology of the 6th House is to mull over an observation about the meaning of the 6th House as it pertains to the phenomenon of Soul Mate.  The plot-driver of the Sime~Gen Series is all about Karma and Soul Mates.

By the time you read this, the audiobook edition of the Sime~Gen novel, Mahogany Trinrose, one of the more esoteric-based novels revealing a lot of the hidden ESP functions pivotal to the series, on amazon.

Mahogany Trinrose Kindle and Trade Paperback

As always when studying the "Houses" of Astrology, focus on the "Natural" Houses -- with Aries as the 1st House and Pisces as the 12th.

In this case we are studying the Soul Mate properties of the 6th House.

Because the Astrological zodiac is depicted as circular, divided into 12 "Houses" -- and 12 "Signs" -- which exactly coincide in the Natural position (with 0 degress Aries Rising -- or "on the Eastern Horizon" --) therefore the 6th House is opposite the 12th.

This is an obvious fact, one that is just so blatantly "in your face" that you don't see it.

But the astrological wheel graphically represents something that is equally obvious in the most ordinary glyph used to represent the Kabbalistic Tree Of Life.


That "something" is "opposites."  The very nature of opposites, the fundamental concept of "opposition" is so pervasive in our lives that we don't notice it even when we're talking about it.

Both the astrological chart and the Tree of Life smack us between the eyes so hard with this obvious fact that we just don't notice it.  It's too big.  The fact is too stunning to comprehend.

That fact is: opposites exist.

Matter exists.  So does "anti-matter."  The entire universe is constructed symmetrically -- so why wouldn't you think a Human  Being is not symmetric?  We are symmetric on the outside, sort of -- most people a just a bit asymmetric, which lends them "character."  If we are symmetric on the outside, why wouldn't we be symmetric on the inside, composed of Opposites?

It is so simple, so obvious, we just don't incorporate it into our thinking when we plot a Romance Novel.  We think male-female, and that's the only pair of opposites.  But look at the astrological chart, and look at the Tree of Life -- more than one pair of opposites make up the total pattern.

"Opposites Attract" -- yeah, we all know that and use it when creating a "pair" who will fall madly in love at first sight.

What is it about opposites -- and what has that to do with human nature as depicted in the Rabbi's joke?

The punch-line of that joke, which I can't replicate, is where God says "You can't use my dirt and say you are Creating as I Create."  You have to Create your own dirt, then make a Human.  Maybe you can Create humans -- but can you Create dirt?  Clay?  A specific type of dirt that can be molded into a human?

We, (most Human cultures) assume that the Spiritual is OPPOSITE the Material.

We assume Soul is different from, perhaps incompatible with, Body.

We assume Soul and Body are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

We assume that Soul-Mate and Lust-for-Monkey-Sex are two different things.

We assume that one or the other must DOMINATE.

The proposition to mull over, in order to understand what the 6th House, Virgo, (the accountant, Ruled by Mercury) is that the target state is BALANCE.

Here is a thumbnail sketch of the "meaning" of the Houses given to beginners in Astrology -- misleading in many ways, but a starting point.  It "depicts" the Relationship of Opposites.

Ponder the concept of a dynamic equilibrium, a balance of balances where everything swings, and moves, dances, but stays in a dynamic tension with Pure Energy (what I've termed in previous posts here as Godshine) flowing from one state to the other and back again.  A circuit in perfect BALANCE.

All the assumptions about dividing the world into two-things and then fighting until one or the other dominates, are rooted in our modern culture's origin in the Hellenistic, or Ancient Greek culture that produced Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, et. al.

Fighting to Dominate is what the entire pantheon of Greek gods did, and the impetus to fight and to bully Humans, to rape Humans to create Heroes, came from the explicitly described dysfunctional (insane) family relationships among the gods.  It's all there in the mythology.

As a result of what we've inherited from the Helenistic Cultures, we live in a zero-sum-game culture, modeled and transmitted by Football, and other sports where you keep score to determine a winner, convincing all children that this is Reality.

This non-verbal absorption of a conviction makes any other concept of Reality "unthinkable" -- just literally unthinkable.  Our language contains no words for what the horoscope wheel and the Tree of Life depict, so we can't think these thoughts.

The science fiction romance writer must think such thoughts -- then find words to convey the illusion of understanding the alien.

So let's look deeper into the unthinkable alien.

To determine a winner, there must be a loser.

Winner and Loser are considered "opposites."  But are they?

Winner and Loser come in PAIRS - pairs of opposites - incompatible opposites where one must dominate the other. If one wins the trophy, the other can't have that trophy -- the trophy doesn't suddenly become two-trophies.  What kind of a "marriage" is that?  Where's the Romance in "I get and you don't."  Is winner/loser the correct paradigm to describe the reality of Romance?

Is the immersion of our culture in "Sports" the reason many readers won't touch Romance because the underlying concept of the Happily Ever After ending seems "unrealistic?"

In a true Happily Ever After ending, you can not have one of the couple dominating the other -- because the misery of the one dominated will eventually lead to rebellion.  The Sport paradigm disallows any kind of resolution where one does not dominate the other.

Is Reality Created in incompatible pairs of opposites?  Or is there another Relationship that explains how Reality really works?  This is the subject of The Not So Minor Arcana.  Here we're looking at that subject via Astrology.

Giving every kid a 'certificate' for showing up is not the same as preventing them from internalizing the dominance-based model of the universe, as it differs from the balance-based model of the universe depicted in the Zodiac and the Tree of Life.

The Zodiac was familiar to the Helenistic culture, but the Tree of Life was not common to Aristotelian thinking.

We artificially divide humans into Soul and Body to force the concept "Human" into that Aristotelian either/or model of reality.

The misconception is that Reality is "either/or" based (all computers today are either/or based).

The Bible, however, is entirely rooted in a totally different (opposite, and not incompatible) model of reality.

The Bible starts with that Creation story which culminates in the Creation of Male and Female -- in the Divine image.

Perhaps the concept "Human" as depicted in the Bible actually explains to us what we will encounter when we get out into Space and find Intelligent Life on other planets -- or perhaps we may find already space-faring civilizations.

So lets think about the concept Human in terms of the 6th House.

The salient clue is that the 6th House is the opposite of the 12th House.

6th House is labeled, in this diagram, Service and Health -- but it represents your job, what you do to make money, and the manner in which you do it.  6th House is Virgo ruled by Mercury.

The 12th House is commonly labeled "self-undoing" -- the syndrome where you are your own worst enemy, hoist on your own petard, "busted."  But that's only one possible manifestation.  The 12th House is Pisces, ruled by Neptune.

Neptune ordinarily manifests as "dissolution" or "confusion" -- but one common manifestation is Romance.  12th House, Pisces, Neptune, all together define Romance, and the Soul Mate experience.
The 12th House represents the summation of Life, the synthesis of all the other variables in the Natal Chart, everything so deeply merged and mingled that Neptune has the reputation of being 'confusing' or 'dissolving reality' -- Neptune transits are called 'disorienting.'

Pisces/Neptune/12th House synthesizes everything into one thing, dissolving the borders between different things, for example Husband and Wife becoming One.  Marriage is the perfect symbol of 12th House.  Truly, to be "married" means you must "undo" yourself to incorporate the Other within your notion of Self.

Why is Neptune 'disorienting?'

Because, given our Hellenistic heritage, we 'orient' ourselves in Material Reality by separating off the Spiritual and isolating it as if it were something "other" than Material.

The joke the Rabbi told SHOWS without TELLING that Spiritual and Material are not, in fact, two DIFFERENT things.

Spiritual and Material appear to be incompatible opposites -- just like the nitty-gritty, separate detail orientation of Virgo/Mercury is conceptualized in our culture as "opposite" Pisces/Neptune and its Inclusive Big Picture, everything smearing into one idealistic cloud, portrait of Reality.  Neptune obscures details while Mercury separates them and gives them sparkling-hard-edges.

As you read on here below, always keep in mind that Neptune, the Ruler of the 12th House, is the single most definitive significator of Romance in general, and the Soul Mate (and Happily Ever After ending) in particular.  NEPTUNE is the ruling planet of this blog.  It's all about Romance stories.

Astrologically, Virgo, ruled by Mercury, is the 6th House which represents both what you do to earn a living (your job as distinct from your Career) and your Health.

The connection between satisfaction and success at 'Work' (your job, what you get paid money for) and your Physical Body Health is famous in Astrological interpretations of the 6th House.

Beginners in Astrology puzzle and anguish over finding an interpretation for a 6th House transit.

Seasoned professional astrologers will nail one or the other manifestion, in body or health, with fair accuracy, mostly by ignoring the problem of what the connection is between Bodily Health and Job Performance.  Modern science has pretty much "explained" that to the satisfaction of most people.

This Rabbi's joke tells us explicitly that this designation of 6th House as "Body Health" OR "Job Issues" is nonsense.

This Rabbi's joke tells us exactly how these two apparently unconnected things -- Body and Job -- are actually the self-same-identical thing.

But that connection is apparent only through the Tree of Life view of Reality -- the Biblical Description of the nature of reality as a balance, or dynamic equilibrium.

How the Tree of Life view, the graphic representation of the Biblical view of Creation, tells us the relationship between Body and Job becomes apparent only if you understand that the 12th House (Romance) is the connection between Body and Job.

Get that connection into your head, and your Romance plots will never get stale or repetitive, or derivative.

The connection between Romance, Body and Job is the answer to the question, "What is a Human Being?"  

The assumption you make about the Nature of the Human Being generates all the Themes you use in worldbuilding.

Here is the index to the advanced craft posts on integration of theme, plot, character and worldbuilding.
You can use the Helenistic definition of Human, the Roman Definition, or the Japanese, Chinese, Hindu, Native American, or many other definitions to generate dynamite Romance plots.  You can adapt any of them to produce a Happily Ever After scenario if you study and internalize the mythologies of these civilizations.  But there will always be readers who just won't accept that the HEA is possible in real life.

If you do study all these civilizations, and then study the Biblical view of the universe, you will find bits and pieces, a fragment here a shard over there -- traces of the Biblical view in each of these civilizations' mythologies.

The Talmud has it that God offered the Torah to all of the Nations of Earth before he got to Abraham. Each of the Nations asked some questions (typical of their cultures) before answering whether they would accept the Torah, so God just kept on searching.  When he offered the deal to Abraham (then Abram), he just accepted the deal without question, packed up and went to follow God's ways, and then asked what those ways were.

This story explains why you find bits and pieces of Torah everywhere -- everyone got something for considering the offer.  It also illustrates the difference between the culture that accepted Torah, the Biblical View of Reality, and those that regarded that view with suspicion.  The descendants of Abraham are an oddity among humans.

But the Torah also states, boldly and loudly, that eventually all the Nations will "bow down" to God, understand that Biblical View of Reality and rejoice in that understanding.  Nobody loses.  Everybody wins.  Reality is not structured as "either/or" or "I win means you lose."  In the Biblical view of reality, "I win means everyone wins."

That is what is so odd, yet not incompatible, between the general culture's view of reality and the Biblical view of Reality.  When you get a more global grasp of the Biblical View from the perspective of Torah, Tanach, Talmud, Mishnah and Gemmara, you will find that it differs markedly, stubbornly, and emphatically from all the other mythologies.  It is "alien" to every other culture on this Earth, yet is reflected in those cultures, and even the basis of those cultures.

One core issue that distinguishes the Biblical View, yet appears in so many other cultures, is the matter of Body and Soul.

Some cultures say the Body must dominate: "If it feels good, it is good."

Some cultures say the Soul must dominate: "Pleasure is Evil."

Our culture currently is resoundingly rejecting Pleasure Is Evil as a theme -- and going with Pleasure Is The Ultimate Good.  In Romance novels, the first order of business is monkey-sex, then comes Relationship.  Sexual attraction (Body) is considered "irresistible."  Body needs, physical desire, must always dominate any value the Mind (Soul) holds dear.  There's no point resisting the Body because it Dominates the Soul.  That's a thematic premise pervading the Romance field today.

That is, Pleasure (especially sexual pleasure) is the prime indicator by which we distinguish a Soul Mate from the background population.  You have to try out a guy in bed before you marry him, or you'll make a big mistake.  And the guy must be "handsome" -- or the gal "beautiful."  The Body counts more than the Soul.

In other words, the modern USA  culture is working this problem of "What is a human being?" by using the assumption that EITHER the Body OR the Soul must dominate.

Dominance is the only possible way to resolve a conflict, and opposites are always in conflict.  That is a Theme.  You see it working out in International Affairs -- as well as the current Presidential Election cycle.

In other words, in our modern cultural assumptions, Balance is not an Option, unless it is a static balance and tilted to one side or the other.

There is no way to synthesize opposites into a unified whole.

Why do Romance writers and especially science fiction romance writers who deal in the Paranormal (Neptune rules the Paranormal) Romance field need a model of "Human" at all?  Why not just go with your readership's prevailing idea of what a Human is?

Well, if you just accept the prevailing assumption about the nature of Humanity, you will create a lot of read-and-toss, Airplane Read, Beach Read novels, all identical.

What distinguishes one novel from another is theme, and what distinguishes one theme from another is the distinctiveness of that theme.

In Alien Romance, if your Alien character is Human-with-pasted-on-quirks, you won't create a book or series that will be remembered and passed on to children and grandchildren as a "must-read."

The must-read classics are all novels with themes that challenge the unconscious assumptions about Reality, on such a deep subconscious level that the reader is not aware of having their notions challenged.

It's what screenwriting books like SAVE THE CAT! call "off the nose" writing.  You don't call a spade, a spade.  You don't name it on the nose.  You don't hit the nail on the head.  You come at the assumption at an oblique angle and strike a spark that lights tinder in the Soul of the reader.

To do that, you as a writer, need a number of significantly different notions of "what" a human being is.

Your human protagonist has to be able to recognize something "human" in your alien protagonist (preferably that no other human is seeing).

Your alien protagonist has to be able to see something alien in your human protagonist (preferably that no other alien is seeing.)

To pull that off, you have to understand how your target reader understands what a human being is, and you have to have a complete grasp of what other views of humanity can be understood by your reader if you can show them without telling.

As noted above, all cultures have some bit or piece of the Kabbalistic view of the human being. Astrology spans all cultural barriers and depicts mathematically and graphically what we all sense about ourselves, and how we "read" others.

Any reader looking for a Soul Mate novel with an HEA ending will be able to stipulate the existence of the Soul.

Most, however, will not be consciously aware that the resolution of the Body/Soul conflict in our culture is depicted as show-don't-tell in the work/health connection, the 6th House.

I'll give you one example of how this theory can explain the work/health connection, and from that you should be able to create new variations that could form a template for a comprehensible yet alien Alien protagonis.

Here is one way to understand the 6th House, Body/Work connection.

Here are two previous posts discussing the Soul-Time Hypothesis relevant to this quesiton about the meaning of the 6th House.

Here's the theory of what a human is that can generate infinite numbers of sexy alien protagonists.

Think back to that joke at the top of this post.

The nature of anything lies in its initial moments.  That's why Astrological Natal Charts of both human births and the "birth" of an Event -- the moment something happens -- hold usable meaning.

The starting point of a novel determines it's ending point, just as the start determines its middle.  Get those 3 points wrong, and the novel not only won't sell to a big publishing house, but it will be panned by comments on Amazon if you self-publish it.

The starting point determines the middle and end.

Or the middle determines the start and end.

Or the end determines the start and middle.

Unlike Euclidean (another Helenistic Greek) Geometry where it takes 3 points to determine a line, or a triangle, "life" only needs one point.

Or at least, that's the Kabbalistic (Tarot) theory.

In other words, in the Biblical View Of The Universe, there is no such thing as "random" -- but it's not "deterministic" either.  Determinism is one of the precepts of all the Ancient Greek plays that were updated by the Romans and copied by Shakespeare.

We live inside a pattern, but we have Free Will.

So any given starting point for a Life contains the potential for all sorts of middle and end points.

Free Will choice determines which of all the possible middle and end points will gain potential energy.  Which of those high-potential-energy points will be actualized is negotiated with God (who is not a Bully like the Greek gods; he doesn't dictate, He negotiates personally, individually.)

That's where the immense variety of human endeavor comes from.  We all contain Infinity because we were Created by the Infinite -- we are (like the Tardis) bigger inside than outside.

Here is a theory of what a child is that can be crafted into a Theme.

A child is born with specifically delineated Potential.  The child has a Soul from conception, but that Soul is enormously complex and thus doesn't all "fit" inside the baby.  The Soul has to "descend" as it prompts the baby's growth.

We say (also a thematic point) that when the Soul leaves the Body, the human dies.

But that idea is based on the either/or structure of reality.  Perhaps the Soul isn't either-present-or-absent.  Perhaps it is a gradual, step-wise, ever increasing habitation of the Body?

Kabbalah delineates Levels to the Soul - just like Atoms were first thought (by the Helenistic Greeks) to be the smallest indivisible particle of matter, but later were discovered to be composed of electrons and a nucleus, and all of those particles are composed of other sub-atomic particles, each with its own Character.

Likewise, the Biblical View of the Universe, gives us a vision of the human Soul as being composed of Levels, all very intricate and complex.

A baby has a Soul connected, but not fully descended.  At various ages, on the birthday (by the Hebrew calendar) the Soul descends a little more.

This explains how and why children at different ages have increasing capacity for self-control, self-discipline, comprehension of the abstract, etc.  The stages of human development show us what to teach at different ages.

Children learn by doing.  Thus, at each age, additional activities are added to the daily regimen, and additional responsibilities are added until at age 12 or 13 the child is fully responsible for the consequences of her/his actions.

Real learning is always non-verbal.  The deeds carve and shape our view of the universe.

With deeds, we learn the words that correspond to those deeds. Charity.  Justice.  Compassion.

None of those words means anything without the previous practice of the deed: "Don't hit your little sister!"  "Johnny, you must share that toy even though it is yours."

So as a child becomes an Adult (sexual maturity is a big part of that), the Soul descends and gains a firmer grip on the Body.

Throughout the rest of the life, there are milestone birthdays (70 and 80, 90 and 100, being major significators) that delineate a firmer and then weakening grip of the Soul on the Body.

For most of the productive (working at a 6th House job) life, the Soul fits into the Body like a hand fits into a glove.

The Soul wears the Body, and like the hand wearing a glove, stretches and shapes the Body into a replica (an opposite, like a plaster cast you pour molten metal into to make a 3-D object) of the Soul.

We now know that you can have many genes that are not "turned on" or "expressed" -- and that the experiences of Life can switch genes on or off.  You are not your genes.  You are not pre-destined (a Helenistic concept incompatible with the Biblical View of the Universe) by your genes.

You are what your Soul can make of you.  That can be infinite possibilities in infinite combinations.

Or maybe you are what "you" make of your Soul.

In the Helenistic view of the universe, the question would be, "Well, WHICH is it -- the Soul that makes the Body or the Body that makes the Soul?"

In the Biblical view of the universe, that question is utter nonsense.

See how you can use various views of the universe in various human cultures to depict truly Alien aliens who can be Soul Mates to a human?

An Alien who has never heard of the either/or zero-sum-game view of the universe would be sorely puzzled by the very question "which is it?"  The question itself is nonsense.

In the Biblical view of the universe, Body and Soul are really the same thing (Neptune synthesizes).

Remember the Rabbi-joke?  "You can't use that dirt.  You have to Create your human from scratch as I did."

That's MY dirt.  I created that dirt.

What dirt is that?  It's the "dirt" or "clay" from which our bodies are "molded."

Just as that clay was Created specifically to be the body of a particular individual human, so too was the Soul that will wear that Body Created.  They are a pair, synthesized, made one, Neptune style.

We know, today, that our Body is a few pounds of carbon, minerals, etc. (dirt) and a whole lot of Water.

We don't know yet what our Soul is, or is made of, other than it is the breath God blew into Adam's nostrils.

In a previous post, I pointed out the Soul-Time-Hypothesis that I think explains a lot about why "science" can't peg the Soul and prove it exists.

Theory: the Soul enters manifestation through the dimension of Time.

The Soul has no material dimensions -- no height, width, breadth, mass, weight, not even "energy" as in electrons or magnetic fields.  That's why modern science can't even find it, nevermind measure it -- all our instruments are made of matter.

The Soul doesn't inhabit the Body or Possess the Body.

The Soul is not the Body, but it is not an "either/or" relationship.

The Body and the Soul are both created by God, designed for each other, just like in the joke.  "That's My dirt!  Make your own."

Now, back to the 6th House.

Theory: suppose the Soul is given a free will choice before conception.

Astrology assigns the meaning of the MC, the 10th House Cusp, to the Purpose of this Life.  Natural 10th House is Capricorn, the Manager, and is ruled by Saturn.  While that 10th House cusp can be in any sign, depending on where and when you are born (when your Life begins), it adds attributes of Capricorn and Saturn to your personal 10th House cusp.

Science shows how hormones trigger birth, and the trigger starts in the fetus.  The fetus's Nature determines the moment of birth.

So suppose the Soul chooses the Parents and the moment of Birth to make the "purpose" of this life.

The Soul takes on a Life to realize the potential encoded into the 10th House cusp.

That sign/ruler combination chosen by the Soul is inflected by Capricorn and Saturn (Management and Discipline).

Saturn is often regarded as "purpose" or "ambition."

You are born with an ambition to realize your potential for completing a certain job, a purpose in life, a career.  By Noel Tyl's theory, the Moon position by sign, ruler and House represents your driving need, and Saturn organizes the world around you to fulfill that need.

But to do that, you need to make money, have a job, 6th House.

Another interpretation of the Natural 6th House, Virgo, is "service."

Virgos make great secretaries, accountants, detail oriented people.  Unless they have a Big Picture attribute highlighted elsewhere in their Natal Chart, they tend toward project-oriented professions. They make great health-care professionals, treating each patient as a project.

But there's nothing shallow about Virgo.  They aren't subservient by nature.

The 6th House is put to the service of the 10th -- the ambition, the Purpose Of This Life is served by whatever you do for a living, as a job.  Your career is the purpose of your life, your job is a means to walk the paths of that career.

It is often said the key to real happiness (as in Happily Ever After) is to Serve.

THEORY:  If your 6th House (job) is serving the Purpose of Your Life, your Body (6th house) will be healthy.

In other words, your Soul took God's job-offer to be You and do Whatever Job He Had That Needed Doing.  As long as you are doing the job you were hired by God to do, you will be healthy enough to do it.

You might not be "healthy" by general human standards.  You might be what is termed crippled or disabled.  You might be melting down with autoimune disease.  You might be missing limbs. You might have impaired senses.  If you are doing the job you were hired to do, then you will be healthy enough to do it.

Sometimes the job is to  be sick, dependent, impaired.

Sometimes the job is to be hale, healthy, strong, and the person upon whom the lame and weak depend.  Sometimes the job is to support the weak.  Sometimes the job is to be weak so that the Strong can do their job.

It's all 6th House.  Service equals Health.

The 12th House, the opposite to the 6th, is about the transcendent Soul, the summation of the Life, what it all means.  Neptune is idealism, a transcendent vision through the Soul's eyes, not the eyes of the Body.

There are a lot of insights into the meaning of the 12th House, Pisces ruled by Neptune (which rules Romance, as I keep reminding you).

The 12th is "reflected" into the 6th House.

Here's a story that illustrates (show don't tell) how this 6/12 axis of the Natal Chart works.

We can regard God as the artist who is Creating one-of-a-kind original artwork, each one a human being (or maybe an Alien Soul Mate for a human being).

All of the crafts our artisans practice express a way that the Divine Creates us.

One of those crafts is the silversmith.

If you research on YouTube you might find a video showing how to smelt silver where the silversmith gives tells the student how to determine when all the dross, or impurities, have been burned out of the silver -- leaving only pure silver.  How do you know when to stop smelting?

The clue the silversmith looks for is the reflection of his/her own face in the melted puddle of silver.

When purified, silver becomes a mirror, reflecting the smith's visage back at him/her.

The metaphore for why God smelts us in the fires of Life, gives us all this hardship, obstacles, difficulties, sorrows and grief, is that he's purifying us as silver is purified.  And he'll know we're finished, we're pure, when he sees Himself in us.

The Biblical description of God has long lists of attributes shown to us over the ages - for example, there are 13 Attributes of Mercy (and that's just one thing, Mercy).  Other Attributes likewise have parts.

When you reflect those attributes, He'll stop heating you in His fire.

Any Romance writer trying to create an Alien Love Interest, a non-human Soul Mate for a human, can use one or a few of these attributes to establish the essential humanity of the non-human regardless of the non-human's biology, form or figure.

Here are the 13 Attributes according to My Jewish Learning.

– The Lord! (Adonai)–God is merciful before a person sins! Even though aware that future evil lies dormant within him.

– The Lord! (Adonai)–God is merciful after the sinner has gone astray.

– God (El)–a name that denotes power as ruler over nature and humankind, indicating that God’s mercy sometimes surpasses even the degree indicated by this name.

– Compassionate (rahum)–God is filled with loving sympathy for human frailty does not put people into situations of extreme temptation, and eases the punishment of the guilty.

– Gracious (v’hanun)–God shows mercy even to those who do not deserve it consoling the afflicted and raising up the oppressed.

– Slow to anger (ereh apayim)–God gives the sinner ample time to reflect, improve, and repent.

– Abundant in Kindness (v’rav hesed)–God is kind toward those who lack personal merits, providing more gifts and blessings than they deserve; if one’s personal behavior is evenly balanced between virtue and sin, God tips the scales of justice toward the good.

– Truth (v’emet)–God never reneges on His word to reward those who serve Him.

– Preserver of kindness for thousands of generations (notzeir hesed la-alafim)–God remembers the deeds of the righteous for thebenefit of their less virtuous generations of offspring (thus we constantly invoke the merit of the Patriarchs).

– Forgiver of iniquity (nosei avon)–God forgives intentional sin resulting from an evil disposition, as long as the sinner repents.

– Forgiver of willful sin (pesha)–God allows even those who commit a sin with the malicious intent of rebelling against and angering Him the opportunity to repent.
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It doesn't matter what religion you espouse, or even if you're an Atheist or Agnostic, you recognize these behaviors as desireable and a signature of the Lovability of a person (human or not).  So most of your target audience will respond to a show-don't-tell illustration that your Alien character just naturally (without thought or consideration, without hesitation) exhibits one or another of these attributes.

And the reverse is true -- the Alien protagonist will recognize the Alien-Within your human protagonist when one or a combination of these traits comes to the fore in the plot.

Notice the phrase above: "as long as the sinner repents."

You may be surprised how fast the "repents" scene, the confession scene, the tell-the-truth scene, establishes rapport between the Character and your Target Reader, even if the Character is Alien.

The Target Reader is selected by what is repented, to whom, and why (maybe also when in the narrative arc confession and repentance take place).  Different readers will applaud a Character's choices of when to fess up to what, and why fessing up is necessary (or not necessary).

Think about the TV Series I Love Lucy -- every episode with a very funny confession scene.

The Values (2nd House) of your Confessing Character are shown-not-told by that choice of when and to what to confess.

In the 3rd book in the Romantic Times Award winning Dushau Trilogy, I hinted at an Alien's contemplation of condemnation by his father and grandfather when he finally would get home and confess.

His trepidation at confronting his family showed a similarity to human values -- even though he is so definitely not human that his wrong-doing does not seem wrong to a human.

Those 13 Attributes of Mercy embody the essence of what it is to be Human, a  Soul wearing a Body that fits like a glove, a work-glove designed for a specific task which the Soul is dead-set on completing come Hell or High Water (10th House Purpose In Life) using that Body (6th House) to do the Job (6th House).

When fully integrated (purified) into that task, the Soul shines through the custom-Created Body and attracts the Soul Mate.  It is the Soul that is "mated" -- not the Body.  So you can easily depict a Human/Alien Romance.

Romance (Neptune/ 12th House) blossoms, Love At First Sight happens, and Health-Job-Service and everything Virgo manifests as the Virtue of Virgo rather than the Vice.

Every astrological sign can manifest as its best virtue or its worst vice, and it could be that whether virtue or vice is apparent depends on how much of the Soul has infused the Body.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg