Dreams and how they affect my writing…

high angle view of lying down on grass

This isn’t about manifesting your dreams into reality. I have author friends who are all about that woo-woo mindset matters business. This is about how parts of dreams I have make their way into my stories.

I don’t remember everything I dream about, but I can lucid dream on occasion. When my mind isn’t too lazy to put in the effort at least, I have vivid dreams. Some of those dreams involve fairly complex plots, interesting characters, and wild action scenes. Those are the ones I wake trying to scribble down details from before I forget them.

I don’t keep a regular dream journal, that may be a thing for some people, but not me. Instead, I have a note pad app on my phone. If I have a really intense dream, or remember some crazy plotline, those go into the app as fast as I can type. I don’t keep my phone by my bed, so sometimes i still scribble notes while I’m half asleep.

My subconscious is sometimes even more creative than I am. At least I feel that way when a fully developed story plays out through a long winter’s nap. Some of the best ideas in the Magic Unleashed series came from dreams. Either as I woke up, or more often as I’m trying to drift off to sleep. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had to jump out of bed to jot down the perfect solution to a writing problem. What a terrible problem to have.

My great uncle had perfect Sunday School attendance for over 73 years.

That means he went to church every Sunday, hours before that week’s worship service (even while he was a prisoner of war in world war two). His achievement is an extraordinary level of dedication and testament of his faith. My grandmother, his sister, always held up his example when I complained about going with her to Sunday school and church.

Here’s something I realized many years ago. Despite the inspiring accomplishment that Uncle Julian achieved so many years in a row, he wasn’t always a shining light in our family. He never married, lived an austere life that suited his devotion, but was often bitter for reasons I can only begin to imagine. Julian lived in the same home he grew up in for most of his life.

More than his faith and attendance, I remember him being mean to his adult sisters. I didn’t like that, and told him so whenever I visited. He was a hard worker, retiring from the same job he’d started before WWII in the late 1990’s. He stayed busy after retiring, spent even more time at church, or helped as he could in the small community where he lived most of his life.

I relate this little bit of family history because like my Uncle Julian, the characters I write about are complex. Individuals are seldom one or two dimensional characters, and that holds true for the people in my stories. Uncle Julian had great faith and determination, but he held anger and resentment that our family endured the six days a week he wasn’t at church.

One kind of magic is Celestial…

left human hand photo

Or in the Magic Unleashed series, Life magic. As the name implies, Life magic is primarily a force for healing. It’s practitioners also possess a wide range of combat abilities, mainly for fighting the undead (Necromancy) and creatures of Chaos (Fire magic). Life wizards are champions of order. They can manipulate hardened light to create weapons, defenses, and perform rituals the promote peace and health.

Life magic has several peculiarities that set it apart from other kinds of magic. Augury, or the interpretation of sky signs and bird behaviors. Auspices take the form of weather, and the behavior of individual birds and flocks. All these signs and portents speak to Life wizards and inform their decision making.

Another trait unique to Life wizards is long lasting youth and beauty. Because they work directly with health and life itself, Celestial wizards age more slowly than other mortals. Their joy for living also makes them charismatic and attractive to others. But like all magic users, Life wizards do age and eventually die.

Readers will meet Elizabeth Fairchild in the second book in the series, Midwestern Magicians. She is learning how to use her powers along with all the other wizards in the series. Her experiences with healing, fighting the undead, and coming to terms with how magic is changing her are just the beginning of her story.

A change of pace – Before Dawn

silhouette of tree near body of water during golden hour

There is a sacredness to the hush before dawn
When stillness settles over one tiny slice of the world
After another.
Every bird call and shifting tree limb sounds disrespectful
As if they were interrupting an orchestrated silence
Before the day takes its first breath.
Rejoice in the silence.
That still moment holds a treasure more dear
Than the golden promise of sunrise.
It offers gratitude for yesterday and hope
For the limitless possibilities
Of today.

I almost forgot to post today!

nature flowers blue flower
Forget-me-not Flowers

I have a lot on my plate lately, but I’m still writing, still querying, and still sharing my progress here. Fantastic America is my priority as a finished novel, but I’ve also put the manuscript aside lately to build up Gari’s adventures in the strange world of Torthal. I have a dozen other ideas for stories I’ve held off on while I worked on FA , but I will be writing more of those stories soon.

I feel like I’m closer than ever to a solid query, and I’m anxious to move forward with it. I’m also putting my short story hat back on. I’m plotting out several new stories in both the Magic Unleashed series and unrelated stories I’ve just not had the chance to work on lately. Summer is busy, but I can’t help but write when my muse pours the words on the page for me.

Overall, I’m happy with how my work is going. The ideas I’m experimenting with are fun, and the chills are multiplying as the ideas coalesce. New characters are taking shape, and the scenes in my head are making it onto the page (even though some are just outlines right now). I’ll share more here as I can.

Author voice versus author intrusion…

man with megaphone pointing

An author’s voice comes through once a writer learns who they are and how they speak (or write) to their audience. It’s a beautiful thing to find your voice and lift it up for the world to hear. Author intrusion is totally different and jarring to readers. It can pull them out of an otherwise well written and enjoyable story.

There are certainly times when authors intentionally addresses their audience. Done well, this can enhance a story, add layers to the world the reader is immersed in, and provide deeper insight into t atopic. Author intrusion is NOT that situation, it’s usually an accident on the author’s part, and adds little or nothing to the story.

Here are some examples: Offering direct opinions, screwing up the Point of View, or screwing up the setting (description or interactions). Each is a mistake (often a simple oversight). I’ve been guilty of some of these, but try to catch them whenever I can. There are a lot more, but this gives you a place to start looking for them.

Offering Direct Opinions

A character is engaged in some detail of the story, they are busy describing whatever that is, and out of no where, think something uncharacteristic. This can be an observation about how unfair life is, how difficult the situation is, or how tragic the outcome may be. If the character wouldn’t think these thoughts without the writer over their shoulder, they shouldn’t think it at all. This ruins the illusion of free agency at least, or throws an unfamiliar attitude at the audience at worst.

As authors, we try to get inside the characters we create to bring them to life. If a character is significantly like the author in the real world, it can be easy to toss our personal impressions to that character without anyone noticing. When the character is distinctly different from the author, the intrusion is even more apparent, and jarring to the reader.

Screwing up the Point of View

This is related to opinions, but different enough to get individual treatment. Unique POV is paramount in effective modern day storytelling. A character has to offer readers a perspective only that voice can bring them. A lens through which the details of a story are filtered and focused. Messing that up with extra tidbits is a sure way to ruin that perspective.

Authors spend hours crafting world, scenes, and moving characters through plot events. Invariably some of that work is left out of the story, but remains lodged in our minds. When that bit of background flotsam makes it onto the page anyway, I’ve screwed up the point of view. This is jarring too, especially if it’s out of step with the POV character’s persona or experience.

Screwing up the Setting

This is close to the POV but specific to the setting in a scene or the whole story. Authors love to show off the world they’ve built (me included). So much so, that if we aren’t careful the characters may show knowledge they couldn’t possibly have about it. If a character spills a secret that the author wants the audience to know, they’ve violated this principle of author intrusion.

I caught myself doing this after a fight scene not long ago. The characters are talking after it’s over, and one remarked about how well the other fought. The problem there was that this character never saw the other attack. So their commentary was out of place, no one else in my beta read or challenge group caught this. But I found it and fixed it, because I knew how jarring it would be for anyone else who figured that out.

Readers will give an author wide leeway in how their characters interact, but there has to be internal consistency to maintain that leeway. Writers can ruin a suspension of disbelief with any of these mistakes. Catching them before they have the chance to do that is part of our job as writers.

One kind of magic is Lithic…

bird s eye view of mountains during dawn

Or in the Magic Unleashed series, Earth magic. Earth magic is the opposite of Sorcery. Where the latter is focused on matters of the mind, the former is concerned with transforming the world around it. Lithic magic can build and tear down in equal measures. The ground beneath our feet is the plaything of Earth wizards. They can manipulate or change every mineral, plant, and animal tied to the soil with their their magic.

Sorcerers split their awareness between the Realm and the waking world. Earth wizards focus on building and maintaining the life they know. In the world of Fantastic America, all wizards are learning how to use their powers. One of the first manifestations of that power comes from speaking with the animals that call Earth home.

Earth wizards can communicate with, befriend, and control living things. Though humans find it easier to communicate with other vertebrates, especially mammals, their is no reason they couldn’t learn to control insects, sea sponges, or microbes. But this command and control of living things is not their principal ability.

As the name implies, Earth wizards can command stones, crystals, and metals of all kinds. They can manipulate them, build with them, or use them to tear down other structures. As impressive as that sounds, it is only a fraction of their true might. Gravity itself can bend to their will, bringing with it a host of abilities.

Despite this awesome array of powers, Earth wizards are not omnipotent. They are mortals destined to live and die the same as any other. There is no philosopher’s stone that can turn back the clock as they age and pass away.

Readers of the Magic Unleased series will meet Adam Goetz, in the fourth book in the series, Raising New Orleans. As a newly empowered Earth wizard, he views his power as a curse. The story follows Adam’s path from seeing an affliction become a gift. One that he must learn to use as a weapon against an insidious evil.

Words have the power we give them…

world map illustration

I hope this goes viral. Words have power, at least the power we allow them to have. As an experiment to prove this, please share this post: We need to stop calling the body of water causing so much consternation the ‘South China Sea’ and give it a new name. I nominate the ‘East Philippine Sea’ with historical precedent, geographic reality, and compelling Filipino interests.

I’m apolitical, like Ferris said, “I’m against isms in general.” I don’t like to label people or pigeonhole someone into a predetermined check box. People are more complex than that. My only concerns are limited to: Are you a good human and do you care for others around you. Sadly, most folks I know are either too caught up in their daily lives to notice anything else. Or worse, don’t believe they can change anything no matter how they feel.

I hope this little experiment can make a ripple in the ether. If more people get behind an idea, it becomes more powerful. This was true for solidarity, trade unions, and women’s suffrage. Never underestimate the power of ideas. The tiny handful of people who make policy decisions around the world don’t. So, please share this post and maybe get some of your friends to share it too?

Happy Fourth of July!!!

man with fireworks

Today Americans celebrate our Independence Day. After the last year of pandemic lock down and justice reform protests, the conversations around backyard parties will be different. I hope there are discussions about how we see our country, and the directions we want to take going forward. It’s a time for food, fireworks, and families. But it should also be a time for sharing how we feel about America.

I’ve always faced a patriotic paradox. On the one hand I served the Republic in uniform for ten years, I gave my youth and health to defend America. On the other hand, America has been guilty of a long list of crimes against humanity. Including genocide against indigenous Americans, slavery, nuclear war against Japan, and institutional discrimination. I have to reconcile my love for America with my hatred of these sins against humanity (some of which are ongoing).

Today is a bittersweet holiday for me. Our family has a full day planned, grilling, fireworks, swimming (once the sun goes down for me), and a bonfire with those people we love most. We’ve had the same kind of celebration for over a decade, and I look forward to it every year.

Last year was different with the lockdown, but I hope this year will be a return to the crowd of friends and family from years past. Not everyone is so lucky, fewer of our friends and family than I care to think about won’t celebrate with us ever again.

So hold your loved ones close. Love them while you’re able. But never forget how America became the country we know today. Happy 4th of July!

Writing good descriptions and clear action.

persons in black shirt and pants

Clarity is important. Not only in fight scenes as the picture accompanying this article implies, but throughout every story. Details are important for conveying ideas and images through text. But it can be easy to lose perspective at that granular level. Not seeing the forest for the trees.

Balancing the level of detail with the scope of the point of view is equally important. Noticing those details is only one part of the formula. Especially in scenes that set the tone for a narrative. Choosing which elements best convey what the characters notice happening around them is vital. Of these, sensory specific writing can bring a strange or fantastic scene to life. Through the readers immediate grasp of familiar sensory cues.

For example, there is a scene in my debut novel, Fantastic America, describing a sea monster attack on a fishing trawler. The monsters are an unknown for the readers, but fishing boats, cameras, and sound crew are not. The sights and sounds I used had to draw the reader in. From the first tentacle’s appearance to the last moment the camera captured.

Likewise, in any visceral writing, the details a writer chooses impact how the reader will react. This can be anything from uncertainty of vision, to the surety of a clear, sunny day. The details have to work not only with the scene, but with the action and setting. Clarity in these sensory driven scenes is paramount to their effectiveness.

Not every scene should be sensory driven. That level of detail and emotional connection should be limited to the most pivotal scenes in a story. Otherwise I risk sensory overload for my readers. Fight scenes are a natural location in the narrative for this kind of writing, but they aren’t the only place. Any conflict, where your POV character is in direct confrontation works to dive into their sense of the moment.

One kind of magic is Sorcery…

In my debut novel, Fantastic America, sorcery is magic of the mind. Like most kinds or schools of magic, it has two branches. Sorcerers specialize in illusions or in battle magic. Both share some common abilities, spells and rituals.

As magic has just returned to the Earth after thousands of years, few people have any grasp of how any magic works. Sorcerers do have one advantage over other magic users. When sorcerers sleep, their mind inhabits a dreamlike version of the real world.

This is the Sorcerers’ Realm, an imperfect reflection of the waking world. It is a place for sorcerers to practice their abilities and strengthen their mental endurance. Sorcerers are not the only people who visit the Realm, dreamers with strong creativity sometimes appear in it’s perpetual night. A sorcerer can pull a sleeper into the Realm, to see into their mind or listen to their thoughts.

Illusionists learn to create stunningly intricate images that move and seem real. With enough practice, adept sorcerers can fool all five human senses. They can hide dangers from plain view, control people with creations of their imagination, or confound their enemies with projections of pure fantasy. The only limit to their illusory power is their creativity.

Battle Sorcerers use the stormy powers at their disposal to disrupt their enemies directly. Their primary weapon is electricity, and they have many ways to employ it. Calling lightning from a clear sky, infusing people and weapons with powerful electric charges, and directing bolts of electricity at their foes are just a few of their abilities.

Readers of my Magic Unleashed series will meet Alex DeLuna in the second book in the series, Midwestern Magicians. He is a newly empowered sorcerer, who has to figure out how to use his abilities. Magic changes the Earth day by day. Alex has no idea what the Sorcerers Realm is, let alone what it has in store for him. He will have to learn all he can to confront the dangers he is reluctantly drawn to face.

Writer’s Block is a lie.

opened notebook and silver pen on desk

Or at least, excuses for not writing are a comforting tale we tell ourselves. I’m not a big believer in writer’s block to begin with, but I am a believer in avoiding things that make me uncomfortable. One of the most discomforting feelings I have is that my writing won’t be good enough.

Procrastination comes naturally to me, but not writing is different. Writing gives me more than anything else in my life takes. So even on days that I might not do anything else, I write.

What makes it onto the page might not be anything I’d keep, but it’s better than nothing. The mess I write on my worst day can be re-shaped, molded, or discarded entirely for better words later. Let me share a secret, writing everyday makes my writing better, and reduces the mess I might clean up later.

So why do so many writers feel blocked? If so many authors experience it, writer’s block must be real, right? I may be in the minority here, but I don’t buy it. Here’s why: We can always write. Like I said earlier it may not be great, but words will flow onto the page (even if you have so many ideas you might explode).

Maybe the issue isn’t a lack of writing, but the fear creeping into our words that what we’re writing isn’t good enough. That can lead to imposter syndrome, or walking away from an unpleasant, even heartbreaking lie. Giving up is far worse than procrastination, dreams die on the vine from not trying.

I’m not suggesting you fake it till you make it either. Just banging out drivel all day every day won’t help you improve. Writing requires the full use of my brain, outlandish creative impulses and rule based problem solving. You have to work your mind, just like you have to build muscle. Writing well takes effort, whether that effort is unpleasant or not is up to each of us.

The process is ugly, I don’t work out at gym for that very reason. But my stories deserve to live in other minds, to be seen by other eyes. You can keep your writing process private, but sooner or later, you have to let your children out into the world. That can be scarier than any amount of writing in solitude.

Like the old Klingon Proverb says: “Fortune favors the bold.”

I’m writing in Torthal again…

The more I’ve written in story and back story, the more I love this world. It is at once alien, and familiar. The characters are strange, but the main character, Gari (the only human the reader has encountered so far) is still relatable.

Torthal holds many mysteries. Gari will help solve some of those mysteries, but many more will remain long after his story ends. He has bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately, some of the unfinished business he left behind in the Monastery of eternal Light will follow him.

This story is still unfolding for me. The outline for the next short story or chapter (I’m still not sure which), has me excited. Gari and his companions enter unfamiliar territory as a plague descends on Talara, capital of the country Gari has lived in, but not a part of, his whole life. There is a lot to cover in this visit, so it may be better as a novel or novella.

The challenge that I wrote Gari’s introduction for will be done in two weeks. I’ll keep you up to date on how that goes and how my story develops. Once the challenge is over, I’ll also share the short story right here. You can read how Gari’s adventure begins.

Querying is harder for me than writing…

expressive woman crying in dar room touching head

When I’m writing a story, my only concern is the story. How do I show the action, what emotions are my characters feeling, and is there enough description to stir the imagination in my audience? Querying is another animal entirely.

Writing a query letter involves condensing the most important aspects of my novel into an easy to follow format that compels an agent to ask for more. It is not an easy task. I’ve been querying now for a few months, not every day, or even every week, but steadily enough to know I need to learn more.

I’ve taken classes, signed up for query support groups, read ebooks, and tried to put all that advice into practice. I did my homework, sent out my new and improved high quality query to agents looking for books like mine. Crickets. No reply IS a reply, and I’ve moved on through my list. Rejection hurts a bit, but I’m made of stronger stuff, so I carry on.

No answer at all is the worst. I can handle any variation of, “not being a good fit.” What drives me bonkers is not hearing anything. Publishing is a business, with a lot of moving parts. Agents are busy people, and I understand why most can’t afford the luxury of replying to every author who sends them a query. It doesn’t make it any easier, especially after I’ve invested enough time that I’m sure this is someone I could work with.

Most authors go through this process, some take longer than others to find an agent. I have no doubt that my manuscript will land on the right agent’s desk. My querying process is painful for me, and I avoid pain, so it’s taking me longer than I’d like. But I chose this path, and I’ll keep at it until I succeed. Peace be the journey.

Magic comes in many forms…

fire in the middle of forest

In the Magic Unleashed series, one of which is fire. Chaos is one of the darker, more dangerous forms of magic. Fire is the servant of chaos, and forms an important aspect of chaos rituals. Wizards who employ fire magic accomplish infernal feats of transformation and destruction.

Fire is naturally destructive. Chaos magic enhances that destructive power to epic proportions. Chaos can enhance people, animals, and people in many ways. Physically, emotionally, and in terms of raw power, few living things can withstand fire magic.

Using any form of magic changes a wizard and their familiars over time. Rage is a key aspect of fire magic, but embracing fire repeatedly leaves even the most resilient wizard prone to bouts of corrosive anger. Blinding rage becomes more and more prevalent as a wizard draws on more and more chaos. Eventually, the person that was is consumed by chaos entirely.

Only careful use of fire magic, and an insulation from the rage that accompanies it can stave off this effect. Fire wizards instinctively know this, but often forget or ignore the insulating practice in the quest for more power. Power through chaos is obtainable, but the cost is an intimate loss of self.

How I organize my writing.

clear light bulb on black surface

I started writing as a pantser in high school. Organizing felt like wringing the life out of my stories. The longer I’ve written, the more I’ve come to appreciate outlines and planning ahead. There is still plenty of room for my stories to come to life, and I’m seldom surprised by where the narrative goes.

Outlining starts at the top level with the broad strokes of the story I want to tell. In a novel this is generally some variation of the three act structure. In short stories, the outlining is even more important because of the limited space in the narrative. Both give me a roadmap to follow while I write, but still allow the characters to live on the page.

The short story still has a condensed three act structure, a beginning, middle, and end. I only follow one point of view character in my short stories, multiple POV’s can distract readers in brief narratives. Instead, I try to focus on the elements of the story that show character growth. There is only room to show or tell so much in so few words.

In a novel the space an author has for character, setting, plot, and details is far greater than a short story. But the same principles apply. The main outline breaks down into chapter outlines, I have also used a spreadsheet to correlate chapters and characters between books for series. The spreadsheet is especially helpful if events in those books overlap in time.

Outlines are also helpful when I think of dialogue and internal thoughts before I’ve written a scene. These snippets don’t always make it into the final version of the story, but they help me plan out what will happen. Characters and events can still change as I write, but the goal of the outline helps me steer those wily critters where I need them.

I’m not trying to convert pantsers into plotters, but this is what worked for me. Everyone has to find a process that works for them. Outlining was the ticket for me, but I’m by no means locked into plotting. If an idea strikes me as better than what I’ve outlined, I have rewritten scenes on the fly. That works for me too, so my advice is, as always, write. Whatever works for you, is the way for you to go, but give this outlining a shot. It may help.

Torthal is at the dawn of new awakening.

purple and white petaled flower

The planet Torthal has been in a Dark Age for almost one thousand of their years (circums). Long ago, a cataclysm of some kind destroyed their global civilization. The survivors have developed entirely new societies. The ancients have been consigned to myth and legend. All of that is about to change.

Every decade or so, aliens from other worlds are pulled from their homes into Torthal. One of those worlds is Earth. Gari Garcia was a child when he and his parents were transported to Talara, the capital of Talmak, one of the torthan inheritor states. He has spent many circums in the archives of the monastery that took him in after being orphaned in Talara.

Gari has joined a caravan of refugees heading to Talara. He will have to reconcile the loss of his parents, the life he might have had, and whatever future he can build in Torthal. The secrets he unlocks will change Gari and Torthal forever. Another wave of immigrants is coming soon, and Gari is one of the few who understands what they will face.

Curiosity has fueled Gari’s quest for knowledge, but survival will fuel the next phase of his journey. He will have to defy his monastic training in order to continue his research. The future of outsiders and torthans alike depends on what he finds.

How to use history as a guide in writing fiction.

History can be a great tool for writing fiction. You can base settings, characters, and events on historical locations, figures, and circumstances. Alternatively, you can use those same ideas to invent places, people, and episodes. Some of the best stories I’ve ever read blend historical themes (even inaccurate ones) with the imagination of an author.

My debut novel, Fantastic America, uses history from all over the world to inform the characters of dangers they may face. Folklore, written historical accounts, and oral traditions can provide writers with a rich source of material. This material makes worlds that are at once familiar and strangely different from the world we know come to life.

Even without using a recognizable culture, or direct events from history, authors create living, breathing cultures and plots by applying history to other settings. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is essentially, the War of the Roses with fantastic elements. Martin chose the characters and events, but the epic fight to obtain the throne is history rewritten.

Art, architecture, and geography also bring depth to stories. Basing those on historical counterparts simplifies a writer’s task to describe settings and other details. Expand, minimize, or extrapolate from history whatever your story needs. Myths, legends, and cultural beliefs, real or imagined can add more layers to the world an author builds.

I’ve built dozens of worlds with a blend of real and imagined inspirations. My story dictates some of my choices, others are only aesthetic in nature. What works for me may not work for anyone else. Finding what fires your imagination, what fits into your work, and what entertains your audience is far more important than matching (or exceeding) what another author has done before.

10 of my favorite (recent) writing prompts:

thoughtful man with books at desk in night

I was never a big fan of writing prompts. The idea that I should write what someone else suggests instead of following my intuition bothered me. That’s a silly way to limit my creativity, and I’ve tried to embrace more writing prompts, lately. My latest example is a writing challenge that’s led to the creation of Torthal and my first short story set in that world.

Without a writing prompt I wouldn’t have launched a new round of world building. Nor would I have gotten back in touch with how much I enjoy that creative exercise. There is great value in writing prompts, even if you’re stubborn like me. I have to let go of some of my preconceived notions to let my creativity flourish.

To that end, I’m going to share a few of my favorite recent writing prompts. These are open ended to promote my creativity rather than channel it into a specific direction. I’ve put some of my favorite ideas in parentheses, but don’t let that hold you back, the point is to explore ideas you might not otherwise consider.

  1. Write about a ghost, or meeting a ghostly traveler. (The spookier the better!)
  2. Write about discovering a magical artifact. (An Indiana Jones style archaeologist, a find in a dusty attic, or random location.)
  3. Write about practicing a magical ability. (It could be in a school setting, with a personal tutor, or by themselves.)
  4. Write about fighting a supernatural entity. (A dangerous force, evil creature, or just about anything out of control that threatens people.)
  5. Write about hiding a magical trait. (Bursting into flames, turning invisible, shapeshifting – bonus points if it’s hard to control.)
  6. Write about a normal job with magic. (Magical ferryman, clean up crew, sky’s the limit.)
  7. Write about magical animals. (In the past, present, or future.)
  8. Write about someone who gains magical abilities. (New powers, an emerging trait they knew would come with age, or a total surprise.)
  9. Write about a mythological character in the modern world. (A god awakening in a remote location, a creature of myth who’s been hiding in plain sight, or some unique person who was misunderstood by the mythology of people in the past.)
  10. Write about exploring an unfamiliar magical location. (A secret garden, magical world, or whatever you can imagine.)