3 Tips To Brainstorming Villains

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Photo by Olly Bennett

One of my very favorite parts of a book are its villains. They create the drive to will a hero/heroine to survive the worst the villain and life can throw at them. Their journey to survive and overcome are inspiring.

When it comes to inspiring the reader with a hero/heroine’s survival, the villain is key. Not just any villain will do, but the worst possible foe, with great skills in bringing about their evil schemes.

Some of the best ever villains have similar qualities exhibited in stories. Susan May Warren teaches the importance of showing an almost insurmountable ability to do evil, when pitting him against the hero/heroine. This is of huge import when trying to make a believable villain.

There are other important elements to a villain as well.

As you brainstorm villains for your stories a few tips will help you to create a villain that draws the reader to keep turning pages.

3 Tips To Brainstorming Villains:

  1. Brainstorm A Lair. A villain needs a place for his evil to have a home world. Writing mentor Rachel Hauck shared this insight with me. If there is a villain point of view, this might be a place where s/he reflects on their crimes, or looks at mementos. If not, it can be a place that others discover to uncover the plots or evil intentions of the villain.
  2. Brainstorm Incidents That Place The Villain Next To The Hero/Heroine. Placing the villain next to the hero/heroine without them being aware of the evil that is so close creates tension and a feeling of danger.
  3. Brainstorm a tell or unique behavior for your villain. This can be as simple as a smell, or sound that brings a sense of foreboding in the hero or heroine, even when they don’t know what caused it. This tell can be used at different times to create an emotion.

Who is your favorite villain of all time? Why?

Once Upon A Time…

By Patricia Bradley

There was a princess. Now this was not an ordinary princess. No, this was a very princess-2modern and savvy young lady who knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to be a writer…a published writer, indeed.

She learned the craft and honed her skills, even joined My Book Therapy…She was taught by the best. She entered contests, and paid attention to the critiques, learned what worked and what didn’t.

She queried and went to conferences, made appointments and smiled and nodded, gave editors one-sheets and elevator pitches. She even fetched water and coffee and carried their boxes and boxes of books.

Whew!

All to no avail.

Years passed. She fretted and frayed because no one wanted her book, her precious baby. They sent it back with words like Sorry this does not meet our editorial needs at this time…or loved the hero but your heroine simply didn’t do it for me.

They said her baby was ugly. But she continued to write and learn, made her heroine vulnerable and sassy and her hero noble and true.

After all her appointments and letters had failed, she had all but decided her writing ‘twas not meant to be. And low and behold a note dropped from the sky. ‘Twas from an editor she knew not from Adam, and certainly not an editor she’d queried.

Dear Princess,

Your story I must see for recommendation has come from on high….

She danced and frolicked, then quickly bundled her story and winged it the editor’s way. Oh joy, oh joy, the editor loved her hero…and heroine, too. Soon the princess held her book in her very own hands…

And the moral of this story is…

“Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NASB

Learn the craft, hone your skills, write the best story you know how for an audience of One. And pray. God did not give you a dream to snatch it away. Remember, it’s always in His timing. All we have to do is be ready.

Habakkuk 2:3- “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” TLB

Leave a comment and let me know what dream you have. As for dreams, my 5th book from Revell released January 31!

Check it out…img_0084

It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

Available at: AmazonB&N, CBD

 

 

10 Reasons To Keep Believing In Spite Of Mistakes – NFL Bloopers And Writing Gaffs

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Photo by j m Griffin

Have you made some mistakes that you are afraid you can’t recover from in your writing career?

When it comes to success, sometimes we can be our own  nemesis. We make mistakes, forget pitches, stick our feet in our mouths, you name it, it’s probably been done.

No matter what, Believe.

Here are some NFL bloopers that I’m sure the players thought they might not recover from, but they lived to play another day.

10 Reasons to Keep Believing in Spite of Mistakes:

  1. You Love To Write- At the end of the day, your voice won’t stay silent. You must write just as much as you must breathe.
  2. Editors Are Human – They have seen almost any mistake you have made before.
  3. Agents Are Human Too – They have heard almost every mistake in the book.
  4. Mentors Create A Lifeline – There are mentors in the writing community that will come along side you and give you get-back-on-track advice.
  5. You’re A Life-Long Learner – Writers are constantly learning new things about the trade. You never arrive. Just keep learning and be teachable.
  6. Someday You’ll Look Back And Laugh- Hold on to this thought. There will come a day when you see the humor in these moments.
  7. Everything Is Possible – Our Heavenly Father has promised that “All things are possible to those who love God.” (Phil. 4:13)
  8. You Are Not Alone – There are many on this writing journey with you. Find a local writing group or share with friends, but don’t go it alone.
  9. A Career Is Not Defined In One Day – Aren’t we all grateful for this?  One day will not make or break your career. Be patient with yourself.
  10. The Patriots Won The Superbowl – In an unprecedented comeback, never before seen in history, the Patriots won the Superbowl. If they can do it, against all odds and Superbowl past stats, so can you!

Who else has come back from sure defeat in their past, or can you think of someone in history that has made a huge comeback?

3 Tips On Life From A Mother’s Day Plant

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Photo of My Mother’s Day Plant From Malachi

Every year one of my four children have brought me a Mother’s Day plant from school. Unfortunately, the survival rate with my green-not thumb is relatively low. All until a few years ago.

It was a warm spring day like any other when my then eight-year-old son Malachi got off of the school bus. He ran into the house, hands extended with a present wrapped in a brightly colored paper bag.

After the appropriate ooohs and aaaahs, I looked inside the bag and there was a plant. A flower that barely reached the top edge of the painted flower pot. It was quite beautiful with purple flowers.

Malachi reminded me to water it when I forgot, sometimes he watered it for me. The little plant has seen two winters and it is still growing. I haven’t seen flowers in a while, but that is probably because it needs a transplant to a bigger pot. I can’t bring myself to move it from the pot my son painted.

This flower plant is now quite tall. The picture above shows you that it has grown like a weed, stretching towards whatever source of light it could find. Even in the winter when the Minnesota sun is less that warm, it reaches for whatever light it can absorb.

Right now the plant isn’t flowering, but this year I will be transplanting it to a new pot. It’s season to flower again will probably be here. The resilience of the plant is amazing. Along the way I have learned a few things about life from this plant.

3 Tips On Life From A Mother’s Day Plant:

  1. Rely on your team when you’re weak. Malachi and my daughter Esther helped me so often with watering the plant. In life we need a team to help us with things we don’t remember or aren’t very good at.
  2. Stretch Towards Sources of Light. This sturdy flower always reached for the light, bending toward it. Look for positive influences to build you up. Seek out God who is our light in dark times. Surround yourself with others who encourage and challenge you.
  3. Recognize The Seasons Of Life And Be Resilient. This Mother’s Day plant has been tipped over and lost half of its soil. It has been bumped, shaded, and moved. Still it is resilient as if it knows that it will flower again when the time is right. Our life has seasons. Be patient and resilient and your season to bloom will come again.

It is amazing what you can learn from a plant. My kids are outgrowing the plant school gifts, but this one continues to stay with me. If I’m fortunate, my not-so-green thumb will keep it alive for several more years with the help of my family.

What is your favorite gift that just lasted forever?

 

 

3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming

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Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Group work in the writing community can be wonderful, or frustrating. It becomes frustrating when individuals aren’t on point when you brainstorm your story, or you end up following story threads that eventually won’t work in your story. But the rewards of a group brainstorming session can be substantial.

So, how do you get brainstorming sessions to be effective ways to expand your story options? Gather your courage to share your story with others and ask for their help.

Brainstorming with other writers.can bring new life to an author’s stories. The challenge is often in finding the right group to brainstorm with and keeping the brainstorming session focused enough to be helpful.

Over the past few years I’ve watched some brainstorming groups succeed and some fail. Each group that failed got bogged down in one of three areas. Here are 3 tips to successful group brainstorming from my observations.

3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming:

  1. Select group members carefully. Keep the group small- 6 or less to allow everyone time to bounce ideas. Find group members who use similar methods to write, providing a commonality of terms and knowledge.
  2. Identify the focus of the session. A complete book is too broad of a topic to brainstorm successfully in one session. Instead, focus on one thread of the story. This allows everyone in the group to focus on the area of greatest need. If the whole story idea is the focus, recognize that it may take a few brainstorming sessions to complete it.
  3. Record ideas and follow-up. During the brainstorming session, record ideas without passing judgement on them. Occasionally, redirect the conversation back to the thread you want to explore. Have a follow-up brainstorming session to further develop the ideas from the first session. This follow-up will deepen your story.

What works for you in group brainstorming?

10 Worst Valentine’s Day Gifts Ever

 

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Photo by Chiru

For as many amazing Valentine’s Day gifts you could give your significant other, there are some things that send the wrong message.

No one gets it right all of the time and there is that little thing called grace for the one we love’s imperfections, but then there is the list below.

Searching the internet I found a crazy lot of horrible Valentine’s Day gifts. The list below is a compilation of some of the worst.

10 Worst Valentine’s Day Gifts Ever:

  1. “Diamond Ring” Keychain in a Ring Box – Prank, or not, this gift lacks style. To the girl whose always wanted a diamond ring, you’ve just cheapened the moment when she does receive one.
  2. Spanx – For the man who gave this to his sweetheart. . . let me just say, “You have a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day?”
  3. Novelty Toilet Paper – Where do these people come up with these things?
  4. Naming A CockRoach at the Bronx Zoo – Apparently they did this one year. . . Why??
  5. Pink Game Console – Unless your sweetheart is a big gamer, this just says, “I went to the store and while I was there I found this really cool gift for you. . . for me.”
  6. Duct Tape Roses – Trust me, your girl is going to want the real thing! (Although, a survey said that 40% of women don’t want roses for Valentine’s Day)
  7. Gym Membership – No one wants to remember that they have some pounds to lose. Skip this gift and your relationship might last to see another Valentine’s Day.
  8. A Pickle Recipe Book – 1001 ways to make pickles. Nothing says love like something green that takes hours to can.
  9. Toilet Seat – This screams that someone was at the hardware store and didn’t want to go down a different isle, much less a store that would have what a sweetheart might want.
  10. “Cop Out” – I would rather my hubby say he forgot than to try to spin his forgetfulness with the whole “I love you all year round, so. . .” line.

What is the worst Valentine’s Day Gift You’ve Ever Received?

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Yesterday’s Super Sleuth Challenge Answer:

D. Drone Finger Printer is Not Real. For information about some of the latest crime fighting technology click here.

Do You Know Your Crime Stopping Technology? – Super Sleuth Challenge

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Photo by Nate Nolting

The more creative ways humans learn to scam the system, there are creative ways to stop them. Crime stopping technology is a huge business these days, especially with rise of technological skill.

Do you know your crime stopping technology?

As a romantic suspense writer I am constantly looking for new and interesting technology information that law enforcement official use to stop crime. Some of the new ideas are astounding.

The following are just a few of the surprising new innovations. How well do you know your crime stopping technology?

I thought I knew a lot of the new things on the market. . . until I saw these particular technological advances.

Below there is a list of five different crime stopping technologies used to catch criminals. One of these five is NOT real. Can you guess which one?

(Answer will be posted tomorrow.)

Which of the following crime stopping technologies is fake?

A. Shot Spotting– This technology is a gun shot sensor system that picks up the sound waves of a muzzle shot. This allows Police to respond more quickly to gunshots fired.

B. Smartwater– This technology allows owners to spray a unique chemical on their possessions to allow for quick identification in case of theft.

C. Body Odor Bio-metric Identifier– This technology stores the specific body odor of registered criminals that can be used later for canines to identify the culprit by the body odor at a new crime scene.

D. Drone Finger printer- This technology allows a drone to take pictures at a crime scene and identify finger prints to send directly to the lab for analysis.

E. Brain Fingerprinting- This technology is used to show the criminal pictures on a computer screen. They wear a headband that measures cognitive brain responses to stimuli on the screen. An EEG picks up specific responses.

So, Super Sleuths, which of these five crime stopping technologies is NOT real?