Updated: Mar 29
About a week ago I listed 107 facts about the Bible. I had so much fun with it though, I thought, ‘Why not also list 107 facts about my book Celestial too?’ I’m super excited about my new book undergoing one of its final testing stages, so I probably should start sharing more about it anyway. After all, I’ve hinted at it a lot, but hadn’t elaborated on it much yet. So here are 107 spoiler free facts about my first novel, Celestial!
#1. Celestial is an action adventure, speculative fiction story about six angels on a covert-ops mission and their Captain who secretly wants to know what Christian salvation is really like and what it’s about at its deepest core.
#2. Celestial was originally intended to be a videogame. The whole drive I had behind it was to create a top-notch Christian game that could rival top RPGs like Kingdom Hearts and Legend of Zelda.
#3. Before it got its official title, I formerly called Celestial the ‘Angel Project’, and for a short time I considered the title ‘Trinity’. Clearly, that title didn’t stick.
#4. To maintain Biblical integrity and preserve plausibility for my angelic characters, I conducted my own private Bible study. Thusly, I investigated every verse that mentioned angels and demons in both Old and New Testaments for three months straight before I even began scripting concept notes.
#5. During this study, I had to go over other tough theological questions such as: What does being made in God’s image mean? Can angels or demons have sin natures? What does God reveal as the difference between spirit and soul? and so on.
#6. At the same time, I heavily researched world mythologies, historical mysteries, and past and present haunted locations. I then heavily compared my own research and others’ eyewitness records to what the Bible said is solidly true about angels and demons to piece together plausible ‘cause and effect’ scenarios between the spiritual and physical realms and why and how such events occurred. (It certainly helped that I am a mythology and history geek to begin with.)
#7. To decide the names of my characters, I read through thousands of Hebrew male and unisex names along with their meanings, chose the ones that sounded the best, and then asked my friends and family to vote on their favorites.
#8. While I originally planned to give my main character the name with the most votes, I went with the runner up since its meaning fit his character role better.
#9. Celestial’s primary protagonist is Jediah, and his name means ‘God knows; God Protects’ in Hebrew.
#10. The irony is that my family’s top pick for a name (Neryia) wound up not getting used for any of the other main characters. I ended up giving it to a minor side-character.
#11. Based on Scripture, I came up with six angelic types for my book: Army Angel, Messenger Angel, Ministry Angel, Worship Angel, Nature Angel, and Angels of Death. I had each type vary wildly in appearance and abilities. The idea behind that was so at least one of my angelic types could fit any given description and task an angel had performed in the Biblical text. Thus, there’d be at least one kind of angel in Celestial that could suit any given verse.
#12. My main six angels include three army angels (Jediah, Laszio, and Eran); one ministry angel (Nechum); one messenger angel (Akela); and one angel of death (Alameth).
#13. Since all angels were created by God, angels in Celestial consider each other family and consequentially brothers.
#14. My move to turn Celestial from a game design to a book came after I showed a drafted story summary to my family and friends. They liked it so well, they kept asking me why not write it as a book. I resisted the idea for months, since I never wrote a book before nor intended to write one, but I eventually broke down to try one chapter.
#15. I started scribbling Celestial’s first chapter on notepaper in June 2013 while on vacation. I was sitting by a poolside, waiting for my sunscreen to soak in, when I finished it. I was eighteen at the time.
#16. Linore Burkard (author of Before the Season Ends, Pulse, and Forever Lately) is a friend of mine and attended the same church as me during that time. She caught wind about my ‘chapter’ attempt and asked to read it. Afterwards, she highly encouraged me to pursue this story and to join the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) to hone my writing skills. By that point, I learned I actually loved writing, and the rest is history.
#17. It took me four years to write the first draft.
#18. The reason why it took so long (besides it being my first time) was the daily demands of my tight schedule. You see, I’m not just a new writer. I’m a dance teacher, studio owner, church custodian, jewelry maker, and videogame reviewer. Combine all those jobs with my need to give time to my family and to help take care of my widowed grandmothers, and you can probably see how Celestial ended up consistently at the bottom of my importance totem pole. Thus, I could only work on it bits at a time whenever I could squeeze it in.
#19. To provide some form of ‘physical’ (or ‘meta’-physical in this case) limitations on the angelic and demonic characters of my story, I came up with ‘Energy’ to act as a measurable unit for their stamina and as their ‘lifeblood’. The idea is that whatever movement, ability, or power they use costs ‘Energy’. Without it, they’re rendered weak and may collapse entirely if it’s completely depleted.
#20. Celestial’s angels have gold colored ‘Energy’. For demons, it is colored red.
#21. As eternal beings, neither angels nor demons can die. Therefore, in Celestial, I have it that they can survive any injury and make full recoveries over time. However, the regeneration process can be excruciatingly painful and take a super long time depending on the severity of the damage.
#22. Army angels in Celestial are the designated soldiers, and each of them have two large wings. Their feathers are especially unique because the quills can sharpen and soften at will. This allows them to not only mimic the flight ability of almost any bird but provides them with extra weapons like feather darts and fully customizable armor.
#23. Army angel wings also have the added ability to generate hot waves of white light with every clap and swish. Just don’t get hit by one. They can pack a nasty wallop.
#24. There’s no mandatory weapon in the angel army, so every angelic soldier chooses and builds his own unique weapon of choice. For Jediah, it’s the sword. For Laszio and Eran, they chose diabolo sticks similar to what’s used by Chinese yo-yo artists.
#25. Select few Army angels in Celestial are granted extra powers by God. The few who did receive extra abilities are known as the ‘elect’, and they often bear specific responsibilities.
#26. Jediah bears the Captain’s rank and is himself an ‘elect’ angel. His duty is to guard the Abyss (a prison cell for demons) until the Tribulation age comes. His special gifts include the Holy Chains that can ensnare any demon and the Key that controls every lock in the Abyss. These powers are only available to him on needed occasions though, so he can’t just use them willy-nilly.
#27. Jediah is assisted by an entire faction of soldiers in the Abyss. Two of which include Privates Laszio and Eran, who become his back up team (known as wingmen) for his mission in Celestial’s story.
#28. Despite all angels being the exact same age, Laszio and Eran see Jediah like a wise older brother.
#29. Laszio and Eran are abnormally weak for soldiers. They’re smaller and have a below average ‘Energy’ capacity too. To curb their inherent slack, Jediah had them permanently paired up as battle partners. This not only vastly improving their effectiveness; the two also became the closest friends ever since.
#30. Laszio is the only primary character to undergo a serious name change. I called him Asiel throughout my first and second drafts, but after several people commented that I had too many characters with similar names, I changed Asiel’s name to Laszio. (It took me a lengthy while to stop calling him ‘Asiel’ too.)
#31. Laszio’s name means ‘God is my help’ in Hebrew.
#32. Eran’s name means ‘Watchful’ in Hebrew.
#33. The reason why I made such an odd choice in Laszio and Eran’s weapons is three fold. (1.) I personally love how a ton of videogames turn abnormal objects like instruments and nick-nacks into weapons, but I had yet to see any game, movie, or tv show weaponize anything like the Chinese yo-yo. (2.) My sisters and I enjoy doing tricks with the extremely similar Diabolo; and I love watching professionals perform. (3.) I thought it’d be fun and cool to put in my book. Rule of cool, guys. Rule of cool.
#34. Of course, the hardest thing about giving Laszio and Eran Diabolo sticks to fight with is how to legibly describe it to readers who may not know what that is without using the words ‘Diabolo’ or ‘Chinese Yo-yo’.
#35. Describing my angels’ actions and feelings in sensory ways was particularly grueling because they are spiritual beings. The sky was the limit in some areas when it came to creativity, but I couldn’t readily use ‘skin’, ‘bones’, or ‘organs’ to show their emotions in my writing style. I had to scrape for alternative means and terms that could apply to these beings who lack actual human-physicality.
#36. On the plus side of this ‘description’ struggle, I was forced to come up with new, meta-physical ways to show my characters’ expressions. One means I came up with was to have the coloration of their eyes change depending on their mood - kinda like a mood ring.
#37. Another means I invented to showcase how my characters are feeling is through the Ministry angels’ empathic sense. You see, Ministry angels in my story are among the most emotionally perceptive. That’s largely because they can literally sense the emotions in others.
#38. Ministry angels in Celestial are the most adept to human society. They duck in and out of human disguise often. They’re tasked with safeguarding people or whole areas from spiritual attack, and not only do they have the Empathic Sense. They also can generate forcefields that are impervious to spiritual assault.
#39. Ministry angels in my book are also one of the two angelic types that lack wings.
#40. The main Ministry angel in Celestial’s plot is Nechum, and his name means ‘Reliever of Anxiety’ in Hebrew.
#41. Nechum is the least comfortable with fighting among my main characters, but he’s not really in Jediah’s team for the offensive anyway (which is more than all right by him).
#42. I’ve mentioned Nechum’s concept development in an earlier article on this website, but it’s very true what I said about his role in my story. His part went through the most drastic changes of any character.
#43. Nechum started out as the timid ‘heart’ of the group who’s discovering his own bravery and being underestimated by everyone. However, I had the feeling that angle was terribly clichéd. Sure enough, as the plot matured, Nechum’s side of it matured right along with it. He’s still a timid sweetheart, but he’s fully confident in who he is. More importantly, even the main villains don’t underestimate him. They’re way too genre savvy to dismiss the ‘soft one’.
#44. One of the Christian clichés I’m eager to curb in Celestial is the unsaved/cynical protagonist character. I understand the heavy drive in Christian fiction to create ‘realistic’ protagonists to replace the ‘sainty-saint’ Christian lead, but I feel like the ‘God-critic’ as the main protagonist is also getting tiring. So my main hero, Jediah, is almost a complete flip-reverse of this character. Instead of somebody who needs salvation but starts out scoffing it, we’ve got somebody who wants to experience salvation but can’t have it - because he’s an angel.
#45. Another Christian cliché I wanted to completely demolish in Celestial was this idea that becoming a Christian means a loss of identity - like you end up just another ‘sainty-saint’ like everyone else in a given church. (I even think this is why some people avoid Christianity and why some people think that an interesting yet genuinely good Christian protagonist is near impossible to make). So for Celestial, I wanted to break the mold by presenting six genuinely good angels with unique personalities and quirks.
#46. Of course, developing six angels with strong identities presented quite the challenge. To help with that, I heavily examined the relational dynamics in my own family. You see, I was greatly blessed with a God-fearing family, but not a one of us is anything like the other. We each like to live life and serve the Lord differently. We differ in how we act and speak. We’re different in how we use our hobbies, interests, and talents for God, others, and each other. So my family became my framework for how I presented my main characters. Now, that does not mean I super-imposed my family into my characters. I just used my experiences with them to inform how I’d portray the dynamics in my angels’ relationships.
#47. The Bible had many many verses and principles that revealed angels are not perfect. This particular discovery (which blew my mind for a bit) certainly gave me a lot more dimensions to work with for my angels. However, this meant I needed to strike a hard balance between making them flawed enough without tarnishing their ‘angelic-ness’. Once again, I turned towards my family life as well as my church congregation to give myself a sort of measuring stick. We Christians love God. We do our best, but sometimes we make mistakes, get misguided, and can be thoroughly unaware of how our ‘good’ intents can go wrong.
#48. One of my favorite characters to work on was my angel of death, Alameth. I love all my characters equally, but he was one of the most fun and interesting to work with. His presence in Celestial’s story added so many extra layers and serious depth to the plot. Plus, I enjoyed developing his backstory and personality quite a bit.
#49. Alameth’s angelic type (Angel of Death) was one of the first types I developed.
#50. I didn’t want my angels of death to look like Grim Reapers, yet I knew there should be a sort of ominous presence to them. So while there are some similarities to such myths like hooded cloaks and mist, I had their robes be grey, their faces not be skull faces, and they wouldn’t carry scythes.
#51. Angels of death, while lacking actual wings in Celestial, can still fly using their mists. Their mists also act as an extension of themselves, reacting to their mental commands and their emotions.
#52. Angels of death in my story are also known as Destroyers. This is because their mists can also cause other harmful side-effects like erosion, sickness, and acidic burns.
#53. I enjoyed coming up with the angels’ traditions and customs for Celestial. One of them included a reason why the Angels of Death would wear hoods. I have it in mind that it’s their way of showing respect to those passing away and to express their mourning for the universe as it suffers from the Sin Curse. The hoods, however, will be permanently removed once the New Heaven and New Earth comes.
#54. One of the ways I like to get inspired for my characters is to watch similar characters in movies and films that fit what I’m going for the closest. It wasn’t uncommon for me to super-impose them into movie scenes too. For example, whenever I wanted to focus on Alameth, I’d watch clips of Raven from the 90’s Teen Titans cartoon and Shota Aizawa from the My Hero Academia anime.
#55. Messenger angels in Celestial are the couriers, but their job is way more dangerous and taxing than simply delivering messages. They have to travel thousands of miles in a blink and quite often through dangerous battle zones. As a result, they’re high-speed flyers.
#56. Similar to Soldiers, Messengers have two wings, but unlike Soldiers they don’t have large feathers. Their wings are thin and more akin to a hummingbird’s. This makes them not only the fastest and most agile flyers. This means they’re also the only angels who can fly at any angle.
#57. To help with aerodynamics, I had Messenger angels in Celestial wear tight fitting gold uniforms. They also wear leather padding over their shoulders, torso and back for lightweight protection. These leather guards are also equipped with special snaps and buttons for their satchels and bags.
#58. The messenger angel chosen to be Jediah’s courier during their undercover mission is Akela.
#59. Akela’s name in Hebrew means ‘Happy’, and just like his names suggests, he’s a very chipper personality.
#60. Akela may have been one of the hardest characters for me to write because while I wanted him to help balance out Celestial’s dark aspects, I didn’t want him to simply be the ‘comic relief’.
#61. Another reason why I found Akela pretty difficult to write was because I wanted to make him lighthearted and fun but without turning him into that ‘annoying’ character readers would want to strangle. Thankfully, most of my testers who read his parts liked him, so hopefully that’s a good sign.
#62. If it weren’t kind of obvious, the Flash was one of my first inspirations for Akela’s character. Making sure he didn’t end up as a carbon copy of the Flash was another tricky thing for me too.
#63. One of the few things that wasn’t hard about writing Akela was his dialogue. You see, I’m a really chatty person in real life, and I tend to say exactly what I think. So whatever goofy thought or comment I would have said in any given story moment I’d just give to him.
#64. One of the best parts of writing Celestial was the golden opportunity for me to really take the contents of the Bible and present it as something legendary to readers. For some people, the Bible may just be a children’s story, but to believers and to angels (who’ve actually lived the Bible) God’s Word is full of wonder, mystery, and unveils how truly epic God and the world we live in actually is.
#65. Unlike what most people might assume, Satan is not the main antagonist of Celestial. He plays a role, but he’s not the centric villain. The main antagonist is an original character.
#66. I had two reasons why I didn’t designate Satan as the prime villain. (A) I thought that’d be kinda cliché, and (B) I felt that unless this was an ‘End Times’ story, I couldn’t get much closure with him. With a totally new adversary, though, closure was feasible.
#67. I won’t disclose much about Celestial’s villain. I want my audience to meet him directly in the story, but I will say that I wrote him to address this modern idea that there’s such a thing as ‘grey morality’ - like there’s a viable in-between to good and evil. According to Jesus, there’s no such place.
#68. It took me around eight years and four drafts to write Celestial to its current completed state. Sure, I’ve heard a lot of writers go through seventeen or upwards of twenty drafts before producing a final product, but I’m admittedly a compulsive self-editor. I kept re-writing and re-writing as I went. So while my drafts were few, I tried to make a single draft equivalent to five drafts. I guess you could say I’m more of a cross-country runner than a meter dash sprinter when it comes to writing.
#69. When I started getting serious about writing Celestial, I was trying to utilize one of my Dad’s older laptops. That quickly got cumbersome, so I invested in an iPad Mini 2 with an attachable keyboard. It became my best friend for a vast majority of the journey.
#70. I had to replace my iPad mini at a certain point with a newer model, but iPads remain my go-to choice for writing and work to this day.
#71. A lot of story changes were made throughout Celestial’s writing process from deleted scenes to deleted characters. What’s ironic is that despite all the alterations, the very first scene from my very first chapter survived all these eight years.
#72. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on formal writing classes, so most of my learning came from my critique groups and from YouTube videos that discussed story tropes and character structures.
#73. The YouTube channels I visited most were hellofutureme for his ‘On Writing’ series and sarcasticproductions’s ‘Trope Talk’ series. (Word of warning though, saracsticproductions uses some crass words once in a while, so keep that in mind if you want to watch those videos for yourself.)
#74. I’ve also attended two writing conferences, one of which my friend, Linore Burkard, taught in.
#75. My absolute favorite learning experience, though, came from my time at the Realm Maker’s Conference. I heard from so many amazing writers and published authors there. They shared my love for fantasy and the Lord, and I took so many notes from some amazing classes. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and I’d love to go back once I get the chance.
#76. I drew inspiration from too many sources to count from all kinds of media - movies, tv shows, videogames, you name it.
#77. Some of the most prominent of my inspirations included DC, Marvel, Star Wars, Kung Fu Panda, Avatar the Last Airbender, Kingdom Hearts, Journey, The Lord of the Rings, and Naruto.
#78. I loved listening to instrumental music too while working on Celestial. This activity even proved productive whenever I was busy at my custodial work. I’d be mopping or vacuuming away, my mind would relax, and I’d sink into the musical compositions, letting my imagination piece a scene together like a movie that I’d write down later.
#79. Some of my favorite composers to listen to for Celestial included Hans Zimmer, John Powell, James Newton Howard, Yoko Shimomura, Austin Wintory, and Gareth Coker.
#80. Straight up songs were inspiring too. I even liked to imagine which songs each character would have on their iPods if they had them. (You know. For the fun of it.)
#81. For Jediah, I’d say his favorite song would be the hymn ‘Wonderful, Merciful Savior’.
#82. Alameth’s theme song would handily be ‘You Are my Hiding Place’ by Selah.
#83. More recently, I believe Jason Gray’s ‘Sparrows’ fits Akela’s character to a ‘T’.
#84. ‘Beyond Me’ by Tobymac captures Laszio and Eran’s struggles very well.
#85. Last but not least, ‘Make Me a Servant’ would be Nechum’s personal anthem.
#86. Of course, my best source for creative inspiration was the Bible itself. Try to see if you can spot all the Biblical shoutouts and references in my book once it comes out.
#87. While I wrote most of Celestial’s chapters in chronological order to reduce the potential for plot-holes, there were at least one or two exceptions. Those particular story moments were knocking around in my head so much, I decided there was no point in holding it in, so I just went ahead and wrote them.
#88. God does make an appearance early in the story, but because I didn’t want to be accused of ‘putting words in His mouth’ so to speak, ninety-nine percent of His dialogue in Celestial were drawn directly from what He already said in Scripture and placed in an appropriate, fully applicable context. The remaining one percent is for whenever He had to say a character’s name.
#89. Early when I started working on Celestial, my parents suggested I read Frank Peretti’s books This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness for contrast and comparison. (I really enjoyed them too!)
#90. I found it very interesting how similar and yet dissimilar my story was to Frank Peretti’s. One of the biggest differences was how we portrayed demons. While his were grotesque and named after sinful vices, mine are generally quite good looking and sport normal names.
#91. Another big difference between Frank Peretti’s books and my books are that his story focused more on the human characters than the angel characters, while mine does the exact opposite. Majority of Celestial’s plot is delivered from the angel’s side of things.
#92. I’ve already mentioned several challenges I had to deal with to finish Celestial, but the number one most frustrating aspect (and my personal Achilles’ heel) is keeping the story in the correct POV (point of view) - more specifically, writing in the third person limited POV.
#93. When I began this project, I planned on writing Celestial in a third person omniscient POV. You see, I like classic literature with their fully aware narrators. Besides, with so many moving parts in my plot to be covered, I thought having an omniscient narrator made sense. Unfortunately, I kept getting pinged by so many of my peers because I wasn’t using third person limited POV. It turned out that modern markets considered third person omniscient too ‘old fashioned’. I frankly consider ‘popular trends’ a pretty poor reason to discount a POV that’s been respected and prominent for centuries, but after I got tired of so many professionals dissing my choice, I made the move to third person limited. (And let me tell ya, it was not easy!)
#94. Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time I expressed my hatred for third person limited, I’d be a millionaire. Thankfully, after lengthy hard-work, I’ve finally got a good handle on the POV style now. I can also enjoy it a lot better and can see its benefits, but I can’t deny that I still feel a little salty about the third person limited style from time to time. (I mean, come on. No one can use third person omniscient anymore just because marketers consider it ‘unpopular’? Oi-vey.)
#95. There were times when I kicked myself for attempting six frontline protagonists, but then I’d remind myself how one of my favorite authors, J. R. R. Tolkien, managed to do it with nine characters. ‘Surely, you can handle six!’ I’d say to myself. (And I repeated that to myself a lot.)
#96. I thought it was kinda interesting and cool that Tolkien gave himself a fictitious self-insert character, Faramir. I thought it’d be fun if I gave myself a vague cameo myself. Although, it’s incredibly obscure.
#97. I’m not going to spoil details about this, but there might be a particular scenario in Celestial regarding a particular country that might sound awfully familiar to a present situation. I gotta tell you, it was not on purpose at all. I conceived a vast majority of this story seven or so years ago, and I did not for the life of me expect a certain set up to mirror a real life situation.
#98. There were times when others who heard of or critiqued my book suggested I go and draw inspiration from classic Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic traditions about angels for my portrayal. However, while these wonderful people were trying to be helpful and I appreciate them, that would have defeated one of the major points. I wasn’t aiming to draw from what people think angels are like. I wanted to draw from what God said and showed they were like because He’s the biggest leading authority here. He made angels after all. Besides, if one is trying to break away from angelic tropes that everyone has already heard, why would you pick human tradition as your prime inspiration? That’s where most of our false angelic and demonic myths came from anyway.
#99. I created an original song written in poetic verse in Celestial. Funnily enough, I hadn’t actually created a melody for it - yet that is.
#100. Speaking of this original song, while this particular tune wouldn’t fit it in its current state anymore, the poem’s original form I had based off of ‘The Hanging Tree’ from the Hunger Games movies.
#101. However, the song’s current form I fashioned after the rhythms in the verses from ‘Jenny of Oldstones’ from the Game of Thrones series. (Don’t get the wrong idea, though. I’m not a fan of Game of Thrones. I just like their music.)
#102. I had tons of fun plotting the battle sequences for Celestial and would constantly employ my gamer senses and watch combat vids for ideas.
#103. I also learned and studied weaponry from various sources, including YouTube channels like shadiversity and one of my favorite tv shows, Forged in Fire.
#104. In December 2020, I released a short story spinoff based on Celestial right here on FlyingFaith called Gift of the Unseen. It’s a two parter and features a fully complete storyline with its own unique set of characters. Check it out after reading this article if you like!
#105. The fastest I ever produced a new draft was three weeks, and that meant I was typing almost non-stop every second I could spare.
#106. My ultimate goal with Celestial is to not only be entertaining. I’m hoping to give fellow Christians a unique perspective and deeper appreciation for the salvation they enjoy and for this to be a testimony to non-believers who aren’t saved yet. Maybe it might even pique their interest into seeking a relationship with Christ. Who knows?
#107. The key verse and the heart beating at the very core of Celestial’s story is this:
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” - 1 Peter 1:10-12
And there you have it! 107 spoiler free facts about my first book, Celestial! I hope you enjoyed it and maybe are now interested in hearing me share more about the book. If you’d like to see more exclusive content about Celestial’s progress or about this blog or if you want to become a part of future prizes and giveaways, don’t forget to subscribe to FlyingFaith’s monthly newsletter down below! As always, thanks for reading!