3 Tips To Brainstorming Villains


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?


3 Tips To Brainstorming Through Blank Page Paralysis

Photo by Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Photo by Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

A story is a complex structure with multiple elements, each key to the overall success of a novel. Many key parts of story structure I learned through My Book Therapy’s coaches Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, and Lisa Jordan.

Their instruction helped me understand the spine of a novel and the elements required for a novel to be publication worthy.

Once all of the key elements are in place, an author still must put flesh on the bones of the story. It can be an overwhelming task. Is it any wonder that sometimes along the way writers get lost?

Do you struggle from Blank Page Paralysis?

Staring at a blank page, waiting for brilliance to strike can be frustrating. Instead of staying stuck, try the following strategies.

3 Tips To Brainstorming Through Blank Page Paralysis:

*Brainstorm From Setting. Determine the setting for the next scene. Brainstorm the sensory details and what is present in the setting. Determine who is there and what the mood is of the scene. As the setting begins to come to life, it becomes easier to visualize your character there and what their goal is next.

*Brainstorm From Character. Identify the Point of View character for the next scene. Brainstorm how they are feeling, what the goal is for them in the scene, and how the setting reflects their mood. Then brainstorm who and what is in the scene with the POV character that could cause obstacles to them reaching their goals.

*Brainstorm From Plot. Focus on what will happen in the coming scene that moves the plot forward. Determine where you need to be at the end of the scene and how the objectives of the Point of View character feeds into the plot. Brainstorm what could happen in the coming scene. Put no filters on the possibilities. When you are finished, select the one that best moves your story forward.

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How Do You Get Out Of Blank Page Paralysis?

3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey

Photo by Stancu Alexandru

Photo by Stancu Alexandru

The journey of an author is never easy. There are the ups and downs of rejections, contest critiques, and writer’s block.

The profession itself is full of potholes, not to mention the crazy roadblocks that come with everyday responsibilities. Family, faith, friendships, holiday shopping, buying skiis for your high schooler. . . yeah, okay, that last one is all me.

My family has also struggled with health concerns and I deal with chronic pain. Sometimes writing seems next to impossible, but there are 3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey.

Don’t take my word for it. Nope. These amazing words come from one of my writing mentors that has helped me along the journey.

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times Bestseller with several books under her belt. Here are just a few:

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Rachel is a brilliant writer. I absolutely love her metaphors and rich stories that tug at your heart. All of her craft expertise has brought her great success, but there is one thing she taught me that is pivotal to our writing journey.

Without these three words all of her Bestsellers would have remained an idea, unrealized. It seems simple, but without this no writer can be successful.

What are these 3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey?

Simple Really.


When you don’t feel like writing and you want to play candy crush. . .


When you want to give up and burn your rough draft. . .


It may sound trite, but the truth is that most of my ideas waiting to be published are only going to be accomplished if I constantly commit myself to writing.


No matter what.

Even if it is just for a little while, the words add up to whole manuscripts and eventually I finish a book. It is the small moments, the two hundred words here, three hundred words there that push me forward.

Rachel has given me a lot of advice. Her craft teaching and spiritual encouragement have been a huge part of my journey, but these 3 words. . . if I follow this advice, I will finish books.

What do you do to help you keep your BUTT IN Chair?



5 Qualities Of A Journey To A Carol Award – Observations in Author Beth K. Vogt

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Photo by Beth K. Vogt

Do you long to be an award winning author? Who doesn’t, right? The reality is that a journey to such an award is full of potholes and cliff hangers.

We see the end result in a moment of celebration, but we often don’t recognize the journey that gets a person to the top of the podium. Behind that trophy are years of work, tears, and dedication.

Many of my friends have received big awards. Observing their writing journeys, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share with you.

In previous years I’ve seen many of my friends, including Lisa Jordan, Susan May Warren, Colleen Coble, Rachel HauckJulie Klassen and others receive a prestigious award.

What are the secrets to their success?

5 Qualities In A Journey To A Carol Award that I’ve observed in all of these recipients stand out.

This year my writing friend Beth K. Vogt won a Carol Award for her book Crazy Little Thing Called Love. I can’t think of a more deserving author. She has shown her dedication to excellence in several award winning books.

Not only is she a proficient author, she is an amazing person who I have learned a lot from over the past few years. She is one of my favorite romance authors of all time. I’ve been blessed to observe much of her journey. Here is what I discovered.

5 Qualities In A Journey To A Carol Award – Observations in Author Beth K. Vogt:

*Dedication to excellence in writing craft. Beth has taken an incredible amount of time to study the writing craft. It is not enough to be excellent once. Each book she pushes to improve her craft. Her rich metaphors and emotions that grip readers are honed in her writing workshop.

*A Mentor’s heart. Beth continues to pour her life into other authors to help them succeed. She doesn’t worry about keeping success for herself, but shares freely of her knowledge with others. In sharing, she grows stronger as a writer both mentally and emotionally.

*A supportive tribe. Learning from other great mentors and sharing the journey with a tribe of writing friends is a key to Beth’s success. She has cheerleaders and challengers to keep her on the writing path towards success. It is more than just those who encourage, but also those who would be honest with a skilled eye for writing.

*Accepts constructive criticism with grace. On the journey there are times when Beth received constructive criticism from mentors and writing friends, just like all of us. She didn’t get defensive, or angry. She replied with grace, giving thought to what was shared.

*Pursues her relationship with Christ. In writing Christian Fiction, Beth recognizes the importance of deep, abiding faith. She pursues her relationship with Christ as she writes, so that her characters live and breathe in the real world. It keeps her grounded on the journey’s roller coaster turns.

Who is your favorite award winning author? What have you learned from their journey?

3 Tips To Kung Fu Proof Your Writers’ Conference

Photo by flipton

Photo by flipton

Welcome back readers! I hope all of you are having a great summer.

We are approaching that time of year again. The time when our kids go back to school and many of us journey to a conference.

NOOOOOO! Don’t break out in hives. You can get through this. If you don’t think so, just watch this less than likely hero for a bit of inspiration.

In this clip we can empathize with Kung Fu Panda because we walk there some days. He makes a few mistakes in this video.

One: He looks unprepared for the answer to his teacher’s lesson. If not, he would not have fallen.

Two: He is focused only on if his teacher thought he had done well and forgot the rest of the things around him. . . the balance he lost.

Three: He didn’t recognize the facts right in front of his face when his father shows up because he doesn’t even know his name.

3 Tips To Kung Fu Proof Your Writers’ Conference:

  1. Avoid The Kiss Of Newbie Charm. There is nothing wrong with being a newbie to a
    Photo by normaldude

    Photo by normaldude

    conference. We have all be there at one time or another. BUT, there are some things newbies to conferences do that should be avoided. A few obvious ones include don’t pitch your book in the bathroom and don’t argue with an editor or agent in an interview. For some of the less obvious tips, check out this post here.

  2. Make The Conference Multi-focused. When we put all of our attention in one detail of a1167404_44042079 conference we often get disappointed. You should be thinking about your career on several levels such as networking, learning, encouraging, appointments, and spiritual growth. If the take away you expect is only appointment related you set yourself up for discouragement. For some tips on a multi-focused conference approach click here.
  3. Add Industry Knowledge To The Mix. Before conference read about editors and agents. Professor at workLearn what they are looking for before meeting with them.  Review the list of conference teachers and staff. You may be able to connect with them better if you recognize them on sight. No, don’t stalk them. On the off chance you run into them in line by the elevators you’ll be able to great them with more confidence because you know who they are. Other tips be industry savvy for conference can be found here.

A great resource written by the My Book Therapy team, including Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck can help you going into writer’s conference: The Truth About Conferences.

What makes you nervous at a writing conference?

Brainstorming An Aww Moment For Your Character

Photo by Caesantana

Photo by Caesantana

Do you have a moment you dread, but never admit to anyone? Maybe it is something that reminds you of a past hurt. These are the perfect opportunity to create an aww moment for your character.

By flipping a dreaded moment into a sweet memory you can create something beautiful.

One of my favorite examples is in the movie While You Were Sleeping.

At the beginning of the movie we see Lucy missing her father and keeping an empty passport that she never gets stamped. That empty passport is sad for her because it represents all of the dreams she never fulfilled.

In strolls Jack with the perfect romantic thing to do, making sure her passport was stamped.

What about your characters? Do they have sad memories that could be turned into something sweet?

Brainstorming An Aww Moment For Your Character:

1. Make a list of things your character dislikes, a dark moment in their past, or something that brings out negative feelings for them.

What is special about this episode clip from While You Were Sleeping is that it is one of her deeper wounds we see in the beginning of the story. Rachel Hauck taught the emotional tug book ends can provide in your story and this is a perfect example.

2. Select a few of these and flip them to the positive. For example, I disliked getting the mail before I met my husband because of a negative experience I had. My husband left roses in my mailbox. This softened my heart toward him and created the warm fuzzy moments of romance on our journey.

3. Add the extra brush stroke. During the movie clip we see them leave on a train at the end. That is the extra sweetness that makes us sigh.

What is your favorite aww moment in a movie or book?

3 Tips To Make Your Story Stronger From Olaf And The Movie “Frozen”

Photo by lovetoday

Photo by lovetoday

Snow has pummeled my community with more than sixteen inches in one day last week. We hearty Minnesotans have a love/hate relationship with the snow. We love a white Christmas, winter sports, and hot chocolate. Most of us are not that fond of shoveling.

When I get snowed in with the kids for a “Snow Day,” we love to cuddle up with a great movie. Now that Disney has one named after our winter experience, it is even more fun.

Watching a clip of the movie Frozen with one of my kids, a few things about it struck me that could be applied to story. These 3 Tips To Make Your Story Stronger From Olaf And The Movie Frozen come from the following clip:

3 Tips To Make Your Story Stronger From Olaf And The Movie Frozen:

1. Believability Is Key – No matter how much we love an idea for a story, if it isn’t believable, it can’t happen. Olaf loves the idea of frolicking in summer as much as we love some of our improbable story ideas. They are fun to entertain, but in real life they never work.

2. Be Unpredictable– Not only is it unpredictable that a snowman dreams of one day experiencing summer, but also there are unpredictable moments inside of that unpredictability. He wants a tan, to swim, and do things that are not a everyday snowman type of dream.

Also, the song lyrics are unpredictable, but they play with the humor of the predictable. “Winter is a great time to stay in and cuddle, but in the summer I’d be a … happy snowman.”

Our stories need the unpredictable. Find something about your character that we would never guess and reveal it at an unexpected moment. For example, a rock climber who is afraid of heights. Not possible, right? That all depends. Maybe they are determined not to let it win.

Or, you could have a character who eats at fast food all the time, but you find out they love to cook. Maybe they haven’t cooked much since they have no one to cook for and cooking reminds them of their lonely life.

A great example of this can be found in Rachel Hauck’s book Dining with Joy. The premise of the story is based on a cooking show host who can’t cook.

3. Snarky One Liners – In this section there are two lines of dialogue that really stand out. “I’m guessing you don’t have much experience with heat.” And, “I’m Gonna Tell Him.”

The first line states the obvious in a way that is humorous. A sidekick type character can add these elements so well. They add so much to the unpredictable moments.

The second line states the one thing that could be done to pop the dream bubble for Olaf. Wouldn’t you love to see the character’s expression when they find the truth?

What is your favorite part of the movie Frozen?