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#Library Haul for the Week of 09/24/17 | #amreading

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I don’t know about you, but when it’s time to check books out from the library, it’s kind of like a Lay’s potato chip thing—I can never “eat” just one. And since I never know for sure exactly what I’m going to feel like reading at any given moment, I always check out multiple options at a time.

These days, this entails hours spent on the part of my local library’s website where all of the digital items are cataloged, as I’m going to be checking out ebooks and/or audiobooks. Not only is it easier to carry around ten library books/audiobooks when they’re digital, but since they return themselves automatically when the due-date arrives, I never have to worry about overdue books anymore!

Since I just returned a bunch of books and checked out another group this weekend, I thought it might be fun to share my haul. And I’d love to see yours, too!

My Library Haul for the week of 09/24/17


Victoria: A Life by A. N. Wilson, narrated by Clive Chafer
Currently Listening

      When Queen Victoria died in 1901, she had ruled for nearly sixty-four years. She was a mother of nine and grandmother of forty-two and the matriarch of royal Europe through her children’s marriages. To many, Queen Victoria is a ruler shrouded in myth and mystique, an aging, stiff widow paraded as the figurehead to an all-male imperial enterprise. But in truth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch was one of the most passionate, expressive, humorous and unconventional women who ever lived, and the story of her life continues to fascinate.

      A. N. Wilson’s exhaustively researched and definitive biography includes a wealth of new material from previously unseen sources to show us Queen Victoria as she’s never been seen before. Wilson explores the curious set of circumstances that led to Victoria’s coronation, her strange and isolated childhood, her passionate marriage to Prince Albert and his pivotal influence even after death and her widowhood and subsequent intimate friendship with her Highland servant John Brown, all set against the backdrop of this momentous epoch in Britain’s history — and the world’s.

      Born at the very moment of the expansion of British political and commercial power across the globe, Victoria went on to chart a unique course for her country even as she became the matriarch of nearly every great dynasty of Europe. Her destiny was thus interwoven with those of millions of people — not just in Europe but in the ever-expanding empire that Britain was becoming throughout the nineteenth century. The famed queen had a face that adorned postage stamps, banners, statues and busts all over the known world.

      Wilson’s Victoria is a towering achievement, a masterpiece of biography by a writer at the height of his powers.

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, narrated by Juliet Stevenson

      This is Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel, a widely acclaimed work based on the actual murder, in 1831, of a progressive mill owner. It follows Mary Barton, daughter of a man implicated in the murder, through her adolescence, when she suffers the advances of the mill owner, and later through love and marriage. Set in Manchester, between 1837-42, it paints a powerful and moving picture of working-class life in Victorian England.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, narrated by the author

      Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal.

      Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God.

      Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy.

      Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

      The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

      When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

      With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

The Pirate Next Door (Regency Pirates #1) by Jennifer Ashley

      Mayfair, London, 1810: Alexandra Alastair, a respectable young English widow, wonders if she dare add the new viscount who’s moved in next door to her list of potential husbands.

      He certainly doesn’t look like the gentlemen on her list—Grayson Finley, Viscount Stoke, is tall and sun-bronzed, muscular and blue-eyed. He wears dress so casual as to be unclothed—long coats, leather breeches, shirts without collar or cravat, and he carries pistols wherever he goes. The men who attend him are just as strange, exotic-looking, even. And the way Grayson smiles at Alexandra whenever they pass in the street—sinful, blood-warming—turns her inside out.

      In the middle of the night Alexandra hears shouting coming from the house next door, and the viscount’s life being threatened. She rushes over just in time to save Grayson from being hanged by his greatest enemy, his former best friend.

      Thus is Alexandra pulled into the adventures of Grayson Finley, former pirate and terror of the seas. Grayson has made a bargain with the devil (in the form of the pirate hunter, James Ardmore), in order to ensure the safety of his daughter. He’ll do anything to keep her safe, but when Alexandra saves his life, he looks into her eyes the color of water and starts to drown . . .

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides #1) by Jennifer Ashley

      The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family–rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn’t be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them–of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

      The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He’s also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

      Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama–an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

      And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster

      Luke Skywalker expected trouble when he volunteered to follow Princess Leia on her mission to the planet Circarpous. But he discovered that hidden on the planet was the Kaiburr crystal, a mysterious gem that would give the one who possessed it such powers over the Force that he would be all but invincible. In the wrong hands, the crystal could be deadly. So Luke had to find this treasure and find it fast.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley

      If you write, you know what it’s like. Insight and creativity – the desire to push the boundaries of your writing – strike when you least expect it. And you’re often in no position to act: in the shower, driving the kids to school…in the middle of the night. The 3 A.M. Epiphany offers more than 200 intriguing writing exercises designed to help you think, write, and revise like never before, without having to wait for creative inspiration. Brian Kiteley, noted author and director of the University of Denver’s creative writing program, has crafted and refined these exercises through 15 years of teaching experience.

      You’ll learn how to:
      * Transform staid and stale writing patterns into exciting experiments in fiction
      * Shed the anxieties that keep you from reaching your full potential as a writer
      * Craft unique ideas by combining personal experience with unrestricted imagination
      * Examine and overcome all of your fiction writing concerns, from getting started to writer’s block

      Open the book, select an exercise, and give it a try. It’s just what you need to craft refreshing new fiction, discover bold new insights, and explore what it means to be a writer. IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START – NOT EVEN 3 A.M.

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich

      This book details the elements of writing and publishing a novel, and addresses all categories of fiction–from mystery/thriller/action titles to romance; from stand-alone narratives to series. It offers practical and inspiring advice on such subjects as structuring a plot and handling rejection. And it combines one of today’s most successful fiction writers with a published non-fiction writer who teaches creative fiction. HOW I WRITE is the perfect reference for anyone looking to improve their writing, and for those fans who are hungry to find out more about just how Janet Evanovich ticks.

The Anatomist’s Wife (Lady Darby Mystery #1) by Anna Lee Huber

      Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

      Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage–a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn’t about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.

      When Kiera and Gage’s search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim.

What do you have checked out from the library to try?

#FirstDraft90: Days 1-30 Prep Work Schedule

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Welcome to FirstDraft90!

Whether you’re planning to write your own story during the next ninety days, or you’re just following along with my progress, August 1 is the beginning of the process.

As in each first-draft challenge I’ve done in the past, the first thirty days is all about the prep work. In order to make sure that we can start writing the first draft on Day 31 with as much momentum as possible, each day for the next thirty days will have specific tasks to complete in order to get to know our characters, our plot, and our story world as much as possible. This should allow us to write more freely (and faster) later.

If you’d like, you can follow the original prep schedule for FirstDraft60/120, which you can find here or by clicking the FirstDraft60 link near the top of the website (if you’re on a mobile device, the link could be down below the post).

Because I’ve now done this a couple of times, I’ve modified the schedule to something that I hope will suit my process a little better—especially since I’ve already written detailed story ideas (I still have a few minutes in which to choose one before it’s officially August 1) and done a microscopic amount of preliminary research for each one.

My Schedule for 30 Days of Prep

Day 1 (Tuesday 8/1): Create a OneNote notebook for the story with the following pages/sections:
Revisions Notebook, Style Sheet, and Research Repository
Story Bible—Characters, Setting, Props

Day 2 (Wednesday 8/2): Story Structure & Timeline

Day 3 (Thursday 8/3): Continue/Finish Story Structure & Timeline

Day 4 (Friday 8/4): Complete Structure/Timeline, if needed. Create lists of all characters, setting; create style guide

Day 5 (Saturday 8/5): Four Character Building Questions

Day 6 (Sunday 8/6): Hero SHAPE Chart

Day 7 (Monday 8/7): Heroine SHAPE Chart

Day 8 (Tuesday 8/8): Timer TuesdayDraft Write opening scene of Novella

Day 9 (Wednesday 8/9): Update Story Bible

Day 10 (Thursday 8/10): Characters’ Physical Descriptions

Day 11 (Friday 8/11): Ambitions, Inducements, and Entanglements (GMC)

Day 12 (Saturday 8/12): Heroine Backstory

Day 13 (Sunday 8/13): Hero Backstory

Day 14 (Monday 8/14): Create Writing Schedule

Day 15 (Tuesday 8/15): Timer TuesdayDraft Write continuing scene from last Tuesday, or a different opening scene (no editing of work from last week allowed, only notes for changes in the revision notebook permitted)

Day 16 (Wednesday 8/16): Update Story Bible (and Skype with Mom for her birthday!)

Day 17 (Thursday 8/17): Rewrite/revise story premise

Day 18 (Friday 8/18): Detailed story outline/storyboards/seven beats

Day 19 (Saturday 8/19): Write 25-, 50-, 150-, and 300-word marketing blurbs; revise premise/synopsis if needed

Day 20 (Sunday 8/20): Setting specifics: research, images, etc.

Day 21 (Monday 8/21): Research (era, events, costumes, etiquette, customs, etc.)

Day 22 (Tuesday 8/22): Timer TuesdayDraft Write continuing scene from last Tuesday, or a different opening scene (no editing of previous work allowed, only notes for changes in the revision notebook permitted)

Day 23 (Wednesday 8/23): Update Story Bible

Day 24 (Thursday 8/24): Storyboard all known scenes

Days 25–30 (Friday 8/25 — Wednesday 8/30): Review tasks and previous work and complete anything not yet finished; set up Pinterest board(s); collect images; review character info and add to or revise if needed; Timer Tuesday on 8/29 . . .

#FirstDraft90 Starts August 1! | #amwriting #FD90 #writingchallenge #writinggoals

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Because I unexpectedly decided to buy a house this year, a lot of my original goals for the first seven months had to be set aside in favor of house hunting, packing, cleaning, moving, and unpacking (who am I kidding—the unpacking will be going on for quite some time!). Oh, and just when I thought I’d be able to get back on track in July, I had to travel for work and took in a foster dog.

But now August is almost upon us, which means there’s no time like the present to open up the calendar I set for myself at the beginning of the year and get on schedule with my goals for the rest of the year. And what did I have scheduled from August 1 to December 31, 2017? Why, planning, writing, and revising a novella! Which brings us to . . .

FirstDraft90: August–October 2017
Choosing a Story

The last time we did FirstDraft60/120, my main goal was to do something “writing related” every day. I didn’t quite reach that goal completely, but I did accomplish something pretty important—I wrote a whole bunch of story ideas. So my task for today and Monday is to figure out which story I want to work on beginning on Tuesday. The choices are:

Working title: Her Independent Heart
Eleanor Ransome would rather run away from her beloved home than face the man her parents want her to marry—the son of their closest friends, James Yates. James follows her to Philadelphia—but can he win her independent heart?

James Yates = Arthur Darvill
Eleanor Ransome = Karen Gillan (adjusted for hair/eye color)


Working Title: Secrets of His Heart
Newly arrived in London, Edward Ransome, eldest son of British Naval Hero Sir William Ransome, is the toast of the town—and the most sought-after bachelor of the season. Clara Eckley-Hibbitt has been overlooked by society for her step-mother, Cordelia, ever since they came out together, leading Clara to bury herself in academic pursuits. Although Edward is dazzled by Cordelia, it’s Clara who creates sparks inside him—sparks of annoyance, irritation, vexation, and . . . delight. When a saboteur seems to be undermining Edward’s business, will it be Clara or Cordelia who will help him find the culprit—and discover the secrets of his heart?

Cordelia Pembroke Eckley-Hibbit = Holliday Grainger
Edward William Ransome = Tom Mison
Clara Eckley-Hibbitt = Catherine Steadman


Working Title: An Antiquities Affair
Olivia Ahern loves rocks. Old stones, to be exact. From the first time she saw Stonehenge to her many visits to the castle ruins on her family’s estate, Olivia has lived in a world in which the past is more real to her than the present. But the antiquarian society she founded in her village brings in an outsider to help uncover and protect a cache of ancient Roman artifacts that she discovered—he’s a hulk of a man with unfashionably long blond hair named Charles Lott Cochrane. Charles never wanted a war. But now he’s in the middle of one and must choose which side of the battle he’s really on. Will his focus on the past keep him from finding his future?

Charles Lott Cochrane = Chris Hemsworth
Olivia Ahern = Elsa Pataky


Working Title: My Fair . . . Lady?
Michael Edward Witherington is traveling the Old World to find antiquities and treasures to send back to his family’s company in America. When he meets a beautiful, dark-haired young woman in Florence, Italy, he believes he’s finally found the woman of his dreams—a maid in the household of Colin and Susan Yates, the Earl and Countess of Childers. However, when he meets her again in London, he discovers that his Mary is actually the Lady Marianne Yates. Marianne didn’t mean to deceive Michael. But she’s also spent the last three years not knowing if the men asking for her hand want her or her family’s money and status. Can she convince Michael to forgive her—and see that she is the same person, no matter what name she answers to?

Michael Witherington = Michiel Huisman
The Lady Marianne Yates = Sophie Turner


Working Title: When First We Met
Kit Cochrane left England four years ago after a potential suitor turned menacing, nearly strangling her when she turned down his proposal. It now seems safe for her to return and retake her place in society. Philip Grantly is grateful when Admiral Ned Cochrane, his commander from his last years in the Royal Navy, hires him to hunt down the man threatening the admiral’s daughter. However, the job takes on a new and more personal urgency when he realizes he’s falling in love with her. Can he protect her while also showing her how to trust—and love—again?

Catherine “Kit” Cochrane = Jessica de Gouw
Philip Grantly = Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Working Title: The Doctor and the Scotsman
Having successfully posed as a man in order to attend medical school, Adeline Witherington has arrived in a small Northern Kentucky town ready to take her place as “Dr. Henry Witherington.” It isn’t long before she discovers that one of the plantation owners, a burly Scotsman named Broderick McLaren, has a secret that could ruin him—and that she’s starting to develop feelings for him. When Adeline’s true identity is revealed to the community, can marrying Brodie save her—and the people they’ve both sworn to protect?

Adeline Henrietta “Henry” Witherington = Jaimie Alexander
Broderick McLaren = Sullivan Stapleton

Working Title: Learning to Love
The tenements and dockyards of Boston are full to overflowing with Irish immigrants in the summer of 1848. Recovering from a life-threatening wound suffered in the war with Mexico, Captain Jack Witherington does his best to avoid the crowds of Irishmen begging him for work at the Charlestown Navy Yard—until one day he falls victim to a brutal attack. Ellen Delaney rescues the handsome naval officer and takes him home to her doctor father to recover. Can Ellen, a teacher in the Irish charity school, teach Jack to set his prejudice aside? Or will Jack allow this latest trauma to stop him from trusting, or loving, anyone again—even Ellen?

John Charles “Jack” Witherington = Luke Macfarlane
Ellen Delaney = Hannah James

Working Title: Her Rebellious Heart
In the summer of 1848, London’s working class are nearing a boiling point, which could lead to the same kind of violence seen in the Newport Uprising ten years before. Celebrated for his accomplishments in infiltrating and bringing down several smuggling/crime rings in London and Portsmouth, Metropolitan Policeman Edmund Cochrane is assigned to find and infiltrate the resurgence of Chartists in order to waylay another violent riot. After literally sweeping her off her feet—to save her from a runaway carriage—Edmund is invited to a meeting for the “working men of London” by Abigail Bradford—niece of the leader of the London Chartists. It isn’t long before Edmund has completely fallen for the feisty Abigail. If he acts on these feelings, he’ll put the investigation at risk. But he can’t keep lying to Abigail about his true motivations and the reason for his presence in her life. When Edmund’s identity is revealed, he’s set upon and brutally beaten. With his life in the balance, can Abby forgive his deception, put aside her rebelliousness, and let love reform her heart?

Edmund James Cochrane = Liam Hemsworth
Abigail Bradford = Jennifer Lawrence

Working Title: To Capture His Heart
By chance—because they saw a Wanted poster with a reward listed and they desperately needed the money—Valeria Amador and her two brothers became some of the best Vigilantes in California. With one last capture, the three will have enough to purchase land and build homes for themselves. So when they see a wanted posted looking for Dr. Frederick Ransome, they set a trap for the snake-oil salesman whose counterfeit medicines have left a trail of fatalities behind him. When Val meets a man calling himself Dr. Frederick Ransome, she admits he doesn’t look like the drawing on the poster. But she and her brothers are so close to their goal, she agrees to take him in and let the judge figure it out. Soon, though, she finds herself believing him and trying to convince her brothers of his innocence. She finally convinces them to detour to a town that leveled a complaint about him to see if they can identify him as the con artist. Will Freddie and Val be able to find the culprit before a rival group of vigilantes, known for delivering their prey dead more often than alive, finds Freddie and takes the law into their own hands?

Frederick Ransome = Ben Aldridge
Valeria Amador = Gal Gadot


Feel free to vote for your favorite in the comments!

Tomorrow, I’ll share my schedule for the thirty days of story planning.

Some Thoughts on What Liberty Means to Me | #IndependenceDay #July4

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

Methodist credo attributed to John Wesley

What Liberty Means to Me
I can’t choose what other people do;
. . . . I can only choose what I do.

I can’t choose what other people say;
. . . . I can only choose what I say.

I can’t choose how other people act;
. . . . I can only choose how I act.

I can’t choose how others treat me;
. . . . I can only choose how I treat others.

I can’t choose what others believe or how they worship;
. . . . I can only choose what I believe and how I will worship.

I can’t choose how politics influences society;
. . . . I can only choose how I might have an influence on society.

I can’t choose whether other people are angry;
. . . . I can only choose not to exacerbate that anger by becoming angry myself.

I can’t choose who wins elections;
. . . . I can only choose to educate myself on candidates and VOTE.

I can’t choose others’ morals and ethics;
. . . . I can only choose how moral and ethical I am.

I can’t choose what others do with their bodies, their lives, their careers, their homes, their families;
. . . . I can only choose what to do with mine.

I can’t choose whom others love;
. . . . I can only choose to love others.

Anger Is a Gift . . . But We Don’t Have to Accept It

It is said that one day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake!”

The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”


Why did I quote something from a website that has “fake” right there in the name? Because it goes so well with what comes before it. And because it goes so well with this quote:

Let love be without hypocrisy. Avoid what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

True liberty can be found only when we stop trying to control and make choices for others and we concentrate on making ourselves the best, most loving people we can possibly be.

It’s Reading Report Time! (May and June 2017) | #amreading

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy First Monday of July, everyone
Also, happy (belated) Canada Day and (early) Independence Day!

Since I was moving the first Monday in June, we’ll be covering what we read in both May and June today. Can’t wait to see what you’ve read and enjoyed over the past two months!

It’s Reading Report Time!

Open Book by Dave Dugdale

Open Book by Dave Dugdale

Tell us what you’ve finished since the beginning of last month, what you’re currently reading, and what’s on your To Be Read stack/list. And if you’ve reviewed the books you’ve read somewhere, please include links!

To format your text, click here for an HTML cheat-sheet. If you want to embed your links in your text (like my “click here” links) instead of just pasting the link into your comment, click here.

  • What book(s) did you finish reading (or listening to) in May and June?
  • What are you currently reading and/or listening to?
  • What’s the next book on your To Be Read stack/list?

Writing-Series Review—Bad Guys: The Villains and Antagonists We Love to Hate | #amwriting

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bad Guys: The Villains and Antagonists We Love to Hate | KayeDacus.comOriginally published August 2009

With help from The Power of the Dark Side (Pamela Jaye Smith) and Bullies, Bastards & Bitches (Jessica Page Morrell), we’ll analyze the bad-guy characters in our writing and reading. And for those of you who aren’t writers, we’ll be looking at the antagonists in books and movies for examples.

Bad Guys: The Villains and Antagonists We Love to Hate

    the heart of telling a good story is conflict. And while that conflict doesn’t have to come from an antagonistic character (a bad guy/girl, villain, whatever you want to call it), some of the most iconic characters across storytelling venues have been bad guys: Darth Vader, Professor Moriarty, Voldemort, Sauron & Saruman, the Wicked Witch of the West, Nurse Ratched, all of the evil queens and stepmothers from fairytales, Captain Bligh, and so on.

Bad Guys: Breaking (Down) Bad

    We must first start off with defining what the protagonist/main characters believe is bad—bad behavior, bad beliefs, bad ethics, bad spirituality, bad culture, bad politics, etc. Through this process, we can start to see that a “bad guy” in a story might not necessarily be “bad” (or evil) in and of himself.

Bad Guys: Everything I Need to Know about Bad Guys, I Learned in Childhood

    When we create bad guys, we want to play upon our readers’ fears—we want to tap into that primeval part of the brain and make our readers squirm, make them connect with the characters emotionally because they’re actually experiencing some of the same feelings/sensations the character should be feeling.

Bad Guys: The Allure of the Dark Side

    What is it about the “dark side” that can be so alluring? Actually, what is it about human nature that makes the dark side so alluring?

Bad Guys: Antagonist or Villain?

    Then there’s the role of the antagonist-who-isn’t-the-villain. As I’ve already discussed at length, an antagonist needs to be someone (or something) whose presence is necessary to try to thwart the protagonist from attaining his goal for the story.

Bad Guys: Does a Villain Have to Be Evil?

    Villains are always antagonists, but antagonists aren’t always villains; and the difference is motivation/intent. An antagonist can be in opposition to the hero without meaning to; the villain sets out to be in opposition to the hero. A villain willfully chooses to try to stop the protagonist from achieving his/her goals.

Bad Guys: What Is Evil?

    In many fantasy books/movies, the most evil characters, the worst villains, are usually a non-human entity at which we can take one look and know that they are evil. The Shadow in Inkheart. The Balrog and Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. . . . But what about in those stories in which the characterization is more subtle, in which the lines between good and evil aren’t so clearly drawn? How, then, do we figure out if a character is an antagonist, a bad guy, a villain, or truly evil?

Bad Guys: Is He or Isn’t He? (Dark Heroes)

    A con man stranded on a strange island. A cold-blooded assassin with a memory problem. A vampire in a small Louisiana town. A billionaire playboy wanting vengeance for his parents’ murder. What do these characters all have in common?

Bad Guys—Creepy Cartoon Caricatures (Caricature or Creepily Sympathetic?)

    There’s creating “Bad to the Bone” villains—the creepy cartoon caricatures; and then there’s creating Bad Guys (antagonists, dark heroes, villains) who have just a little something about them that makes them sympathetic to the reader.

Bad Girls: The Scorned Woman

    We’ve talked about our favorite Disney villains, which includes a large number of females. But when it comes to creating believable female villains—Bad Girls, in other words—it takes a totally different skill set than it does to create a male bad guy.

Bad Girls: From Vixens to Villains

    What is it that makes us sympathize with Bad Guys and hate Bad Girls? Is it because men secretly want to be that kind of guy and women want to save him?


Other posts about Bad Guys/Villains:

Writing-Series Review: Becoming a Writer | #amwriting

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Published January/February 2009

Becoming a WriterHow do you become a writer? Where do story ideas come from? How do you cultivate creativity, imagination, and inspiration? These and other questions are explored for those who are thinking about starting a journey in fiction writing—or who just need a reminder of why you started writing in the first place.

Becoming a Writer: Why I Write

    How does someone “become” a writer? That’s a question I get a lot when people find out I’m published. I’ve heard of people who’ve sat down with the companion workbook of Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel, following all of the steps in it and “writing” a novel. Some have even gotten published that way. I also know a lot of people who didn’t start writing until they were adults, and many of them have had great success as well. But if you talk to these folks and really dig deep, you’re most likely going to find that two things are true . . .
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Becoming a Writer: My Road to Publication

    Light broke through the darkness of secrecy in my soul. I wasn’t the only weirdo in the world! Other people did this, too, and talked about it! Not only talked about it but were proud of what they were doing.
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Becoming a Writer: So You Want to Be a Writer?

    In my mind, what separates true “writers” from those who “want to write” is the compulsion to actually put words on the page. This goes for every type of writing there is: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, essay, memoir, etc. If you truly are going to be a writer, there must be somewhere within you the drive, the desire, to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and actually write.
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Becoming a Writer: Where Do Stories Come From?

    Answering the question, “Where do story ideas come from?” is very much like answering the baby question. There’s the stork-like answer we give to non-writing friends and then there’s the full disclosure we discuss among fellow writers.
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Becoming a Writer: Imagine That!

    I cannot define where imagination comes from any better than C. S. Lewis did. But I do know that the more I pay attention to those “pictures” that come into my head, the more I allow myself time to think about them and let them ferment and develop, the more frequently and clearly they come.
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Becoming a Writer: Creativity & Inspiration

    Well, the biggest difference is that imagination is passive while creativity is active. Just look at the root of the words: image and create. One’s a noun, one’s a verb. With our imaginations, we form images in our minds; with our creativity, we do something with those images, whether it’s painting, acting, composing music, or writing poems or stories.
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Becoming a Writer: How Do I Get Started?

    There’s a huge difference between “getting an idea” for a story and actually beginning to write that story. So there are two issues we need to examine: how to choose the story idea and how to get started writing it.
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Becoming a Writer: Advice from Best-Selling Authors

    Writing tips from Meg Cabot, Catherine Cookson, Garrison Keillor, Roald Dahl, Stephen King, James Herriot, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jeffrey Archer, and Tom Clancy.
    more . . .

Becoming a Writer: The Best Advice I Ever Received

    Back at the beginning of this series, I mentioned attending the 2001 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers’ Conference at Ridgecrest, NC. Up until that time, I’d been writing and writing and writing for years. I’d even majored in creative writing (and hated it) many years before that. At the conference, I took the Fiction 101 track, taught by author T. Davis Bunn. It was pretty early on in the first day’s workshop that I heard the piece of advice that had the most profound influence on my writing career of anything I’ve learned since . . .
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Becoming a Writer: How Do I Know When I’m Finished?

    I met a fellow writer for coffee and dessert the other night, and we talked about our experiences with finishing manuscripts. And I realized: there is a certain euphoria, a certain feeling of accomplishment, of fulfillment, that comes from finishing a manuscript.

    But once you’ve written “The End,” does that mean you’re “finished” with that manuscript?
    more . . .

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