Saturday, March 28, 2015

Negative Traits = The Perfect Villain by Connie Vines

Looking for the perfect, or not so perfect, villain for your story?

Finding a hero, well that is perfectly simple.  A dash of Prince Charming, a sprinkle of Albert Einstein, a quarter cup of Fred Astaire, a hint of Hans Solo. . .well, you get my drift. A quick whisk or two and TADA!  You have a hero!

Not so, with a villain, that is an entirely different cup of (hemlock) tea. 

Deeply flawed, and driven by: dark forces, questionable morals, a wounded soul, or simply bad fashion sense, villains must connect with readers in some realistic way.  A strong villain forces the hero to step up, demanding more moral fiber than he, the hero, knew that he possessed.  Remember, there is no “Happily Ever After” without the twists and turns supplied compliments of the villain!

Remember unless your villain is a serial killer, or the embodiment of pure Evil, he—the villain, must possession a rich and complex character and past.  He must be a worthy antagonist for protagonist (aka: Our Beloved Hero).  So, how exactly do you plan to come up with the perfect villain?

I like to start with back-story (of course for most of the novel this is known only to me). I pepper hints and drop in a few clumps of info.  Later, the reader will say, “Of course!  I should have guess sooner!” The reader may harbor sympathy (which I like to develop in my Tween stories).  Everyone can relate to an event, which made a profound change is his/her life.  Sometimes this even makes a person better/stronger.  Other times (as in the villain’s case) it drives them to the edge of insanity, or damages them beyond (mental/emotional/physical) recover.  However, in the beginning, the story all about the hero.

It is not until the middle of the story; we appreciate the villain’s ability to set those nasty plot twists into motion.

Your villain can be your hero’s mirror.  Oh, you can go for the classic blonde vs brunette, if you are looking for campy.  Or, you can look to character traits.  The hero may be shy, fearful of horses, and a back-words sort of dresser with a gentle way with those in need.  While the villain is confident, articulate (with a sexy accent), owns a stable of show-horses, wears Armani suits, and (at times the veil slips) he sees gentleness as weakness.  He discovered as a child, only the strongest survive!

Give him quirks, sensitivities (remember the movie “Red Dragon”), an awareness of himself. Your villain must evolve also.  He may escalate into pure Evil, or see the light.  Or, perhaps, reside somewhere in between the two places. 

Remember to open his old wounds.  Something, be it a place, event, smell, or sound must trigger his behavior.  Show the villain trying to avoid a situation, event.
I can’t divulge too much about my “villains” due to the manner in which they tie into a story’s plot.  However, I will give you a hint, or two.

Whisper upon the Water, my YA/Tween novel set in the late 1880s in a Native American boarding school deals with the aftermath of the Indian Wars.  The story also addresses the way the children were treated and forced to become “White”.  My villain is Sister Enid.  The reader will discover that Sister Enid as a story of her own.  My romance and romantic suspense novels, Lynx and Brede (Rodeo Romance Book 1 & 2), also have carefully constructed villains.

My next BWL release, is an anthology, Gumbo Ya Ya has five separate stories.  
And, a myriad of delightful villains to boo and hiss at! 

·        “Marrying off Murphy” my villain is a friend who shoves my hero into an ‘unwelcomed situation’. 

·        “Love Potion # 9” brings us two villains: “element of magic” and. .well, that’s enough of a hint. 

·        “A Slice of Scandal” is a murder mystery where villains abound. 

·        “The Ghost of Gombi Island” we have a pirate, a ghost, and a witch on the high seas (I will let you ponder the villain’s identity.)  

·        “1-800-Fortune” (a T.A.R.A. and Fool for Love, finalist). Brings us an unnamed villain (at least until the final pages—remember, no peeking when you purchase the book).

What character traits.

Or what I’ve discovered usually irritate me, and, consequently, my hero the most.  Remember, just like the menu at “Denny’s” you can mix or match your selection.
Abrasive, Antisocial, Catty (one of my personal faves), Confrontational (perfect for a co-worker when combined Catty and Devious).  Or, Obsessive (no wait, that’s me!), Paranoid, Perfectionist, Self-Destructive, Vindictive.  These are just a few traits, I am certain you can name many, many more.

Does you villain need the limelight? Alternatively, does he prefer to hide in the shadows?  Does he have a driving need to belong? To be loved?

Your villain did not just crawl out from beneath a toadstool. 

Write that backstory and make certain your villain is the worst that he can be!

Thank you for visiting the BWL blog today.

Connie Vines

Friday, March 27, 2015

ASTARA the ancient Goddess of Easter - by Vijaya Schartz

The 8th century British writer Bede, mentions that the name for Easter is derived from a Pagan spring festival of the goddess ASTARA. Revered by the Babylonians, Sumerians and Persians, this goddess derived from ASTRA and OSTARA the Greek goddess of spring and fertility. The name means STAR and she is sometimes referred to as the Star Goddess.
She is said to be the last Pagan goddess to leave Earth, bound for the stars, during the Bronze Age, and was worshiped throughout the civilized world of that time, even in Asia (under the name of Kali). Ancient Alien theorists will tell you that she must have been an alien visitor, who remained on Earth to teach the populations of the time, then flew back to the heavens.

The familiar Easter bunny and the multicolored eggs (both symbols of fertility) come not from the Christian or the Jewish Passover traditions, but straight from the Pagan festival of ASTARA. Since this was a spring festival, around the same time as the Jewish Passover and it marked the resurrection of Christ, the early Church made both events coincide, and blended the traditions.

In other words, if you cannot prevent the Pagans from celebrating their festivals, join them and call it a Christian holiday. This technique worked well for early Christian rulers, and helped impose Christianity in many Pagan societies.
Even the last supper that inspired the modern communion was a tradition from ancient Egypt, where the priests and priestesses symbolically partook of the body of Osiris during religious rituals.

Buy this eBook on Amazon
Now that we have forgotten the origins of our festivals, we take for granted that Christian or Jewish holidays include only Christian and Jewish traditions, but the deeper roots of these traditions go far back into our ancient past. It seems that religions change and evolve, but somehow, the traditions remain.
Learn more about ancient traditions by reading THE CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, a Medieval series based on authentic Celtic legends. Find these books on my Amazon page HERE.

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, Blasters, Romance with a Kick

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Returning to old friends--Tricia McGill 

Writers who read this will know what I am talking about, but if by chance there are perhaps a few people who just like to read, then this is for you.

I am in the process of editing an old book of mine and to me this is just like catching up with old friends and acquaintances. Perhaps I am peculiar but I love the process of going over old work and doing my best to improve it.

I’m currently re-writing Book 2 in my Wild Heather series. Book 1—The Laird is available now and this next one will be titled Travis (previously published as My Highland Love)

For non-writers only, I thought you may be interested in my personal researching process that goes into creating a story. Because the Wild Heather series is Time-Travel obviously there is a marked difference to writing a contemporary. We not only need to know a lot about history for the protagonists living in the present but also a great deal of how life would have been in the past when they get back there.

And this series is set in Scotland, creating a whole range of questions needing answers. The research in my case starts just after I have the idea of what the book will be about. It would be no good writing pages about the castle they found way back in 1050 if I made it a stone construction with battlements etc. which weren’t built until the 13th century onwards. 

I needed to know some of the history of Stirling Castle, which features prominently in The Laird, as my heroine Liz is extremely interested in it and its past.

This information taken from:

“Stirling Castle is the grandest of Scotland's castles and one of the most popular visitor attractions in the country. 250 feet above the plain on an extinct volcano, Stirling became the strategic military key to the kingdom during the 13th and 14th century Wars of Independence and was the favourite royal residence of many of the Stuart Monarchs.

Many important events from Scotland's past took place at Stirling Castle, including the violent murder of the eighth Earl of Douglas by James II in 1452. Stirling Castle played an important role in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. She spent her childhood in the castle and Mary's coronation took place in the Chapel Royal in 1543.” 

I needed to know what flora and fauna would be around in that time. Also what food the Scottish folk ate now and what they would have eaten then. I had to know what clothing the people wore in 1050, how they wore their hair and how they went about day to day living. I had no idea the kilt as we know it today didn’t evolve until the 16th century and the Scottish word for kilt derives from the Old Norse word ‘kjalta’. I would have looked silly if I had my 1050 laird wearing a modern day kilt.


We end up with reams of notes, most of which never enter our stories, but come into the ‘need to know’ category to get a feel of the time and place. Then there are the weapons used in the time period we send our protagonists back to.
 (apologies for my rough sketches, but you get the idea)

I didn't know wolves once roamed the Scottish hills until the last one disappeared two centuries ago. The elk have also gone, but the eagles remain, along with the red deer. I abhor all kinds of sport that includes the slaughter of animals for enjoyment. In Travis’s time they killed purely for food but the practice of shooting deer still goes on in the highlands. The stag casts his antlers each spring around March or April and new horns grow quickly. The stags are not considered suitable to kill until the velvet has left the horns, a fact I had to learn in my research.

Lucky for me I enjoy the research entailed as I haven’t stuck to one sub-genre in my writing career. I’ve also had to learn about the Vikings (who intrigue me), the Ancient Brits (who fascinate me), early Australian settlers (who have my utmost admiration), and London during WW1 and WW11 (a period I learned a lot about through my older siblings). Perhaps the easiest to research would be my Beneath Southern Skies series as these are all set in present day Australia. Then there is my venture into futuristic, the easiest of all, as this is set on another planet. In this book my imagination was allowed to run riot and create characters, mode of transport, and setting as the fancy took me, and who could challenge me on my facts.

The Laird: Wild Heather Book 1

Australian Andrew reluctantly answers a plea to visit his ailing uncle in Scotland. His PA, Liz, persuades him to take her along. In the dilapidated castle, while exploring an attic, they set off a course of events that propel them back in time to 1050 where they meet The Laird.

Travis: Wild Heather Book 2

In Book 1 we met Travis and his clansmen. In Book 2 we are reunited with them. Driven by revenge and set on annihilating all his enemies, Travis has little time in his life for another woman from the future. Amid the violence and bloodshed a great love grows.

My Books We Love books can be found here
My Books We Love books can be found here


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WIn a Kindle Fire in BWL's Swing into Spring Contest

 To celebrate the Spring Season, BWL is giving away a Kindle Fire HD 7, 7" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB

All you have to do to win is visit the Books We Love home page  browse our "Coming Soon" and new releases books and tell us which book you would like to read.

Send an email to with your selection(s) and your email address and home state/province. One entry per subscriber. Multiple entries do not increase your chances of winning. Sorry, this contest is only available in the US and Canada - not valid in Quebec or where prohibited by law.  Winner's name will be posted on the website on June 15, 2015.

Good Luck!
Swing into Spring Contest from Books We Love


Springtime—what are your favorite memories? Betty Jo Schuler

Baby chicks in assorted colors, cuddly bunnies with wiggly noses, tulips bobbing their heads in the breeze, lilacs sweetening the air…these are a few of my favorite spring things…to remember.  Let’s take a look back in time.
Easter?  How much has yours changed?
Many years ago, baby chicks were dyed pastel colors and available for sale in dime stores and other places. I know that horrifies animal lovers today but seventy years ago, it wasn’t harmful to anyone’s knowledge, and those Easter chicks I got every year were well-taken-care of.  My daddy set up a light to keep them warm and food and water dispensers. When they needed more room, he built an outside pen and later, we took them to his sister’s farm where they prospered.
White bunny rabbits…one Easter my “boyfriend” (we were in fifth grade) brought me a really beautiful live bunny with a red bow around its neck. Yikes!  What should I do with it?  It was a baby taken from his family who was given a temporary abode until…Daddy to the rescue. He built a first-class hutch out back when Sweetie needed more room, and that bunny appeared to live a long happy life.
Setting the scene…Fragrant blossoms sweeten the air and bright green grass sways in the breeze. Spring brings new life and hope. And Easter egg hunts and baskets. Who doesn’t love dark chocolate rabbits, white chocolate crosses, marshmallow Peeps, Jelly Bellies, cream-filled eggs. And of course—the unofficial treats of the season, hard-boiled, beautifully decorated Easter Eggs.
For weeks ahead at our house, onion skins were saved and eventually eggs were boiled in a pot of water with those skins.  They turned beautiful shades from golden to mahogany.  My family and I were all convinced they tasted better—some unique aroma or flavor we couldn’t pin down.  Another procedure we used was pickling eggs to make them gorgeous and piquant. First, peel boiled eggs and pickle them in a jar of pickled beet juice. And same as most people, we also personalized Easter eggs by writing names with a white crayon on the shell before dipping them in a cup of food coloring, vinegar and water
My favorite egg to find in my basket was the panoramic spun sugar egg.  They are such a work of art.  Of course, I didn’t eat those.  They were treasures.
While we’re on the subject and skipping ahead, there was a family tradition of starting Easter dinner with egg fights. All in fun. You cracked one end of yours against one of the person’s next to you. It went around the table and once a participant’s egg was damaged on both ends, he or she was out of the game. The last “fighter” with at least one end intact is the winner.  I don’t remember any prize for that but it could be added the hilarity. Now we could eat!
 Dinner?  I doubt this was the highpoint of Easter Day for youngsters but it was delicious and slowed down the activity level for a short time. Baked ham glazed with cola and brown sugar topped with pineapple rings. (My mom made it sound like there was no secret to the way she fixed hers but no one else could ever make it as good.) I remember candied sweet potatoes, yeasty hot rolls and who knew what else, but one other memorable thing was the white multi-layer cake my grandmother made with fluffy 7 minute frosting--and wait for it—fresh shredded coconut gracing the top with a nest of jelly beans in the middle.
What do you remember?  Isn’t it wonderful to go back to Spring times of your youth?  Thanks for taking this short trip with me.
Click to purchase from Amazon

Love seasons and special days in a small town? I grew up in one in Indiana.
LOVE IN A SMALL TOWN by Betty Jo Schuler
This cozy Small Town is one you'll want to visit, and stay right to the end. 

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