Monthly Archives: January 2014

Love Spells for Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, my thoughts turn to romance and love spells. 


In my first book, Spell Check, Evie O’Reilly is desperate to prevent her best friend from casting a love spell directed at Evie’s secret crush. As the Jefferson High gang quickly discovers, a love spell aimed at a specific person delivers terrible karmic repercussions. There is a better, safer way to attract love.


A Safe, Simple, Powerful Love Spell:


Spells require focused intention. They are meditations. Think of the sort of love you desire while you follow these simple steps:

1.     Plan ahead so you can perform the love spell on a Friday, the day ruled by the Goddess Venus.
2.     Gather the following: 
A candle: Pink for love and friendship, or red for lustful love.
A small bowl filled with enough olive oil to coat the candle.
Petals from any of the following fresh garden-cut flowers (Do not use store-bought bouquets.): A pink or red rose, gardenia, hyacinth, pansy, jasmine, or orchid.
Ground cinnamon.

Photo credit: Jasmine Flowers on a Branch. Copyright

3.     Create a handwritten list of the qualities you most hope for in a new love.
4.     Mix together the flower petals, oil, and a pinch of cinnamon (optional).
5.     Have within reach some paper towels and the candle holder you plan to use. Using your hands (as opposed to a brush), coat the candle with the oil/flower/spice mixture. Begin at the bottom of the candle and work towards the middle. Then coat from the top to the middle. Infuse with positive thoughts of love as you work.
6.     Insert candle into the holder then place the holder atop your list.
7.     Burn candle completely in one day or one night, preferably a Friday.
8.     Do not leave the candle unattended. If you must leave, snuff (don’t blow) out the candle and relight it when you return.
Aim a love spell at a particular person. A binding love spell will harm you and the person you entrap. Trust the Universe will find you the best possible match.
copyright 2014 by Ariella Moon

Writing Unforgettable Characters: Part 2

Writing Unforgettable Characters. Part 2: Saving Mr. Banks


A hero or heroine’s strength or brilliance can be measured by the quality of their opponents. Would Sherlock Holmes seem so brilliant if he were up against a common thief instead of a criminal mastermind? Would Harry Potter be just another child wizard if Voldemort didn’t symbolize supreme evil?

It’s difficult to identify the true villain in the recently released movie, Saving Mr. Banks. Screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith present two indomitable characters with opposing goals. Walt Disney wants to adapt P.L. Travers’s book, Mary Poppins, into a movie. P.L. Travers wants to protect her characters from Disney’s perceived frivolity. She refuses him for twenty years, and agrees to meet Disney only when faced with dire financial difficulties.

From the outset, Mrs. Travers is prickly and oppositional. Walt Disney is affable and determined. Travers blocks his every move to transform her book into a fluffy, animated musical. The author appears destined to become a cartoon foil to the more loveable Disney. The great surprise in Saving Mr. Banks is the use of backstory to slowly shift the viewer’s perception of the contentious Mrs. Travers.

Importance of Backstory

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “backstory” as “a story that tells what led up to the main story or plot (as of a film).” Unforgettable characters have compelling backstories that drive their current goals. Walt Disney had promised his children he would make Mary Poppins into a movie. Late in the film we discover details about Disney’s father that provide further understanding of his motivation. But it is Travers’s Australian backstory —and what it reveals about her father and her relationship with him — that profoundly changes our understanding of her.


As Mrs. Travers’s backstory unfolds, Marcel and Smith slowly build her emotional foundation. The shapeshifter archetype comes to the fore. Spoiler Alert! Travers’s father shapeshifts from an imaginative, playful, doting father to a drunk who is unable to hold a job or grow up. As our perception of him changes, so does our empathy for, and our understanding of, his daughter.


On another level, the shapshifter archetype brings fresh comprehension to Travers’s assumptions about Disney. In The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler states, “By nature we look for people who match our internal image of the opposite sex.” Subconsciously, Travers judges Disney’s whimsical, magical (pixie dust!) side through the filter of her past and projects her father onto him. She wants to save her beloved characters from Disney because she fears he is too much like her father. But a character’s greatest weakness can be his greatest strength. Without the destructive influence of alcoholism that killed Travers’s father, Disney transformed imagination, magic, and childhood wonder into a highly successive business.

Travers’s emotional journey from distrust to trust, from disempowerment to empowerment, makes her an unforgettable character.

copyright 2014 by Ariella Moon

Writing Unforgettable Characters

Writing Unforgettable Characters

Part 1: Downton Abbey

In years past, Julian Fellowes, writer and creator of Downton Abbey, has stunned viewers by killing off beloved characters. (Thankfully, nowhere near the body count found in HBO’s Game of Thrones.) Spoiler Alert! In the Season Four opener, Fellowes delivers another shock only this time it is the rape of a beloved character.

Reader/Viewer Empathy

Joanne FroggattOver the course of three television seasons, viewers have come to know the large cast of aristocrats and servants that make up Downton Abbey. Arguably, the most relatable character, the one with the biggest heart, is Anna May Bates, played winningly by Joanne Froggatt. Viewers became invested in her happiness. They hoped she and Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) would overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and be able to marry. Anna’s happiness finally seemed assured, and then the horrid violent act occurs.

Writers are instructed to raise the stakes, build tension. Fellowes accomplished this by:

  1. Building viewer empathy.
  2. Heightening the sense of danger through foreshadowing. Mr. Bates warns Anna he doesn’t like or trust Lord Gillingham’s valet, Mr. Green (Nigel Harman), who later rapes her. Personally, I had some discomfort with this. It could be construed that the rape could have been avoided if Anna had just listened to her husband —thus insinuating the victim is to blame.
  3. Raising the viewer’s sense of helplessness. By juxtaposing scenes of an opera performance upstairs to the struggle downstairs, the viewer becomes increasingly nervous and realizes no one will hear Anna’s screams and come to her rescue.

 A Character’s Greatest Strength Can Also Be Her Greatest Flaw

Anna’s greatest strength is her unwavering ability to see the best in people. But the very characteristic that makes us like her so much also endangered her. Someone with a more suspicious nature might have reached for a knife when confronted in the kitchen. In Fellowes’s scene, Anna is slugged and falls to the floor in the second she realizes she is in harms way.

Was the scene gratuitous? Whether writing a book or television series, an author must consider a character’s arc within each book/episode as well as over the entire series. Writer risks reader/viewer alienation if a beloved character is pointlessly harmed. When Season Four debuted in the United Kingdom, Julian Fellowes told The BBC, “The whole point of the way we do things on Downton is we don’t do them gratuitously. We are interested in exploring the resultant emotions and the effect these things have on people.”

Time will tell. Meanwhile, Fellowes has given us a Master’s Class in Character Development. For that, I will forgive him for the unforgettable shot of the long empty hallway in Downtown Abbey and the sound of Anna’s screams.

copyright 2014 Ariella Moon

photo credit:

New Year’s Resolutions ~ Timing is Everything

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?

Resolutions are a lot like working magic. Success depends on focused intention. As any ceremonial magician will tell you, proper timing boosts the magic,. Will the movement of the planets help or hinder your resolution? What about the advent of the Chinese New Year? Find out more at


NASA-ESA, Hubble Space Telescope, Creative Commons