I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
Spinach, The Villain test, Hordjedtef my villain, Trembler's excerpt, Tom Speed, Fanged and Confused review, and B2BCycon is coming!
March 26, 2018
March 26 is National Spinach Day. I learned about spinach as an unattractive and overcooked green slop when I was a child. Many Baby Boomers saw Popeye in Saturday Morning cartoons. We saw he was given superhuman strength by downing canned spinach. Lettle did we know that we were being programmed to eat the stuff without complaining. Because I grew up in the South, I preferred Turnip Greens with Vinaigrette. Both are healthful, but after college I discovered the fabulous taste of raw spinach as a great and healthier choice for salads than Iceberg or even Romaine Lettuce.
The spinach plant was introduced into China via Nepal. During her reign as queen of France, Catherine de Medici was well known to have enjoyed spinach so much that it was served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as “Florentine” reflecting Catherine’s birth in Florence.
Spinach is: Eaten raw or cooked and is available fresh, frozen or canned. One of the best sources of iron. An excellent source of calcium, folic acid, fiber, protein, calcium and vitamins A, C and K. Is loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants Believed to help improve cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.
Types of spinach: Savoy: dark green color with curly leaves; usually sold in fresh bunches.
Flat or Smooth Leaf: broad, smooth leaves; mostly grown for canned and frozen spinach as well as soups, baby food and processed foods.
Semi-savoy: a hybrid variety with crinkly leaves: is sold fresh and processed.
Following China, the United States is the world’s second-largest producer of spinach. California, Arizona and New Jersey are the top spinach producing states in the United States.
HOW TO OBSERVE
You might want to have a fresh spinach salad or a spinach pizza or maybe a warm, delicious spinach dip. If one of those is not your choice, perhaps it would be a dish of creamed spinach or spinach lasagna. There are many ways to add spinach to your daily diet and partake in its health benefits.
Use #NationalSpinachDay to post on social media.
Villains - qualities, a test and an excerpt
Many authors tell me that writing believable villains, while challenging is often much more "fun" than writing the hero. I agree. We want the reader to understand why our character is bad or if he is redeemable. Most of the villains I create generate a "Sympathy for the Devil" feeling. There are levels of villainy: bad, un redeemable, bad but learns a life lesson, The bad guy, often a lackey, who turns and becomes a hero, and the anti-hero; the bad guy who may improve on certain points but remains something of an antagonist or a trickster. Marvel comics version of Loki is always a good "go-to" example of the anti-hero type villain.
Working on a villain in your own writing? Here are some pointers and a test for your villain by Jerry Jenkins
Villains What Makes a Great Villain? Your Checklist for Writing a Good Bad Guy
Nothing makes your hero more heroic than a worthy opponent. So don’t shortchange your villain. Spend every bit as much time crafting him as you do your lead character, if you want your story to work. (Though I will use male pronouns throughout, this applies equally if your main character is a heroine or your villain is female.)
Too many novelists give plenty of care to every other element of their story, then create what they consider a deliciously evil villain and wonder why the package seems to fall flat. Often it’s because the bad guy is only that: bad. He’s from Central Casting and might as well be starring in a melodrama, complete with black top hat, cape, and handlebar moustache so we readers can boo and hiss his every entrance. Every other character is real and nuanced and believable, but the second-most important lead spoils the reader’s whole experience.
Motivation: The Secret Sauce for Creating a Great Villain Don’t let the word scare you. Motivation doesn’t have to be some nebulous theatrical concept tossed about by method actors trying to get into character. It simply means your bad guy needs a reason for being the person he has become.
If he isn’t working, it’s because you’ve made him the villain only because he’s a bad person. He does evil things because he’s evil. That’s too easy.
Change your thinking. Try something revolutionary. If you just can’t understand truly villainous people, try this: Put yourself in their place. “Wait!” you say. “I’d rather see myself as the hero, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, rising to the challenge, saving the day.” Wouldn’t we all? Well, don’t knock this till you’ve tried it. You’re writing along, and you’ve come to the place where your villain needs to act in some evil way. Your virtual online writing coach has urged you to be sure he has proper motivation. What does this mean? He can’t be bad, do bad, cause trouble just because he’s the bad guy, so what’s made him this way? What’s behind it? You have to know before you have him do whatever it is he’s about to do.
Take His Place “But I’m not a villain!” you say. “I’m no Dr. Moriarty or Dracula or Simon Legree.” Yes, you are. You have your days. You’ve learned to control yourself, or maybe you’re a person of faith and have found control outside yourself. But you know your true nature, your old nature.
We novelists need to become our characters, from young to old, male to female, blue-collar worker to executive, and illiterate to educated. That’s part of the fun of it. Now take that further. When a friend takes credit for something you accomplished, what’s your first private thought? You get over it, I know. You probably say nothing and let it pass for the sake of the relationship, and that’s great. But dwell on that initial visceral reaction a moment.
Someone you know well and love and trust lies to you, and there’s no question about it. You’re offended, hurt—crushed really. In fact, you’re infuriated. You bite your tongue because you’re a mature adult. Maybe when you cool down you’ll rationally confront the lie and get to the bottom of it.
But for now, entertain that immediate first reaction. Where was your heart and mind then? I’m not telling you to become mean, rotten, and nasty when we’re all supposed to have grown out of that kind of thing by now. But I am telling you to tap into your dark side long enough to know what makes a good villain tick.
What Makes a Good Villain? Villains are real people to whom terrible things have happened. Maybe in childhood, maybe in adolescence, maybe later.
At some point, rather than learning and growing, their maturation process stunted and stalled. Roots of bitterness and anger sprang up in them.
On the surface they may have many, if not most, of the same attractive qualities of your hero. But just beneath the surface fester the qualities you can access in yourself if you allow yourself to. While this may explain the reasons for your villain’s actions, it doesn’t excuse or forgive them. He’s still evil, and he must still be brought to justice. But giving him motivation will make him more than a cardboard cutout. So conjure a backstory for your villain.
Make him real and believable and credible—even attractive in many ways. And while you’re writing your story, see how many boxes you can check off on this list of characteristics that pertain to your villain. The more that apply, the more successful your novel is likely to be. Because the more worthy his opponent, the more heroic your hero will appear.
Villain Characteristics Checklist:
He’s convinced he’s the good guy He has many likeable qualities
He’s a worthy enough opponent to make your hero look good You (and your reader) like when he’s on stage
He’s clever and accomplished enough that people must lend him begrudging respect
He can’t be a fool or a bumbler
He has many of the same characteristics of the hero, but they’re misdirected He should occasionally be kind, and not just for show
He can be merciless, even to the innocent
He’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants
He’s proud He’s deceitful He’s jealous, especially of the hero
Below I have posted two entries about Hordjedtef. Yes, there was a real Hordjedtef, and no I don't know if he was a villain. When I read ancient literature of the period, I learned from stories surrounding the very "Game of Thrones-ish" 4th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, that none of those folks were angels.
The Historical Hordjedtef is a legendary priest and scholar who was mysteriously passed over to be the king after Prince Kawab (the Crown Prince married to his sister Hetepheres) died around the same time as his father Khufu. It should have been Hordjedtef but for reasons unknown, his sister picked another brother Djedephre.
There were rumors of murder. Hordjedtef was even thought dead by some researchers, but reappears as a "wisest of scholars" living through the reign of three more kings and writing codes of Wisdom. His other claim to fame was in Westcar Papyrus where he, as a young prince, is vying for the throne against his brothers and presents a wizard Djedi (Yes, you read that right - IMHO George Lucas may have been inspired by the same legend when he wrote Star Wars) to his father and tells him the old man can show him where the star charts and building plans are located.
Such a plot bunny it was. I now had a backstory from history tailor-made to surround my tales of the Children of Stone. Check below the Hordjedtef interview and the excerpt from Voices in Crystal when Marai (Our Hero) first meets the villain.
1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.
Count Prince Hordjedtef Iri Nekhen of Khufu
2.Tell us where and when were you born.
Ineb Hedj - near modern day Cairo during the reign of Khufu the Great
3. How would you describe yourself? At present I am slim, fit and healthy. I take meticulous care of my health so that I may live long and accomplish much.
4. Tell us about where you grew up.
I Grew up on my estate in Nekhen and part of the time in Ineb Hedj
5. How old are you?
75 sun years
6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
I did have a happy childhood. I had the best of everything as a royal prince being groomed to ultimately be king should something befall my elder brother. I wanted for nothing, had the best teachers and learned many skills of war and politics
7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?
My sister Hetepheres ruined my life and everything I ever wanted. My brother died before my father and she as his widow, chose a different Crown Prince, my half-brother Djedephre. My father, too, died before I could persuade him. I believe they murdered them - or that's the story I will tell. I should have been king. Later I courted his daughter Neferhetepes after my first wife died, but the sorceress called it off and went with a student of mine Userre. It was of great delight to me to be able to lure their son away from them (he should have been MY son) to study wisdom at my feet and yo become my trusted assistant. Revenge has a long memory.
8. What do you value above all else in life?
Respect. Those of God's blood must be respected or dealt with. I dearly care for my assistant Prince Wserkaf. I also quite happy with my two wives and my wonderful hounds Hetep and Rowser.
9. What are you obsessed with? Being of control and and a person of great influence over the golden throne. If I cannot be the actual king I will control the one who is.
10.How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about? Better? I am the agent of truth and truth saying. I am wisdom and time. My allies understand I must be obeyed; my enemies never last long.
11. Biggest fear? That I will die forgotten
12. What line will you never cross? There hasn't been one and won't be.
13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst? The best? Perhaps becoming Great One of Five, head of the Wisdom Schools. Taking young Wserkaf into tutelage. The worst? Already mentioned
14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? My ill-begotten grandson Maatkare Raemkai got roaring drunk and murdered his mistress, the crown princess while they were "at pleasure" if you understand what I mean. I had to spin it so if appeared she hanged herself and then get him out of town and into hiding until he could discover another way to make himself indispensable.
15. Biggest secret? That the truth will be known about how she died and about the way I have worked those in power for years.
16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
17. What is your current goal? Immortality, and eternal kingship when I obtain the Children of Stone
My question? In your opinion does he measure up as a well developed villain? Below is the excerpt it isn't the first time we see the villain, but it shows the inner tension. Marai feels the man has cast a spell on him and his wives, and in a foreshadowing of the final book, Lake of Memory (hopefully 2019-20) goes to seek him out and give him a "talking to..."
The morning sun on the plaza cast the form of the old man seated on his dark, throne-like chair in a ghostly light. He sat facing the approaching men while he took in the sun's warming rays. A nice indigo and white striped linen awning shaded him from the direct light this morning. The nuance of his glance sent the peacekeepers back to their posts at the gate to wait until they were needed again.
I wonder if this is what it would feel like, if I were really a god. Marai imagined himself time many years in the future. He saw himself seated on a solid gold throne on a cloud-shrouded mountaintop, as if he had become the god Sin. He blinked and came back to the present. Brave you face me alone this morning. he noticed only two personal attendants coming forward to serve.
They bowed and asked in almost silent whispers, if “his highness” wanted or needed anything before the meeting commenced. The inspector priest who had come to his apartment yesterday, the other attendants and the boy from last night's event weren't present. From time to time, a domesticated cat or hound would appear, then saunter quietly away.
Marai noticed a familiar strength and intelligence hanging in the air that reminded him of something he sensed on Children's vessel. That energy washed about him, but changed into something watchful as Marai remained lock-kneed and standing before the priest.
The old man’s head craned up, like a turtle head emerging from its shell. He gasped slightly, like a reverse serpent's hiss. His blackest eyes widened in odd delight as he contemplated his guest, with bird-like fascination. Marai heard his thoughts clearly:
This, is no bedraggled foreign merchant.
Marai smiled warmly at him from the other side of the pool, noticing his increasing displeasure at his disrespect.
On your knees, Akkad! I know you can hear my thoughts! His cold, stern spirit voice rang like the clash of ancient weaponry. The old man sat taller in his dark stone chair. He looked as if he really wanted to leap out of it, seize Marai by the hair, and ram his head into the floor several times in forced respect.
Marai bowed his head politely, hand at his chest in deference, knowing he had to make some sort of respectful gesture. His knees remained locked in an unbent pose that said:
Why should I? Are we not both free men? And because you began this by sending your lackey with his message yesterday. His own inner protest stirred. Marai knew well enough that the old prince could order him executed with a gesture. Kill me? I know you want to. You could try...he returned. Marai knew he didn't have to worry about that this morning. they both understood any movement on either of their parts would result in a bloodbath. The big man remained standing, somewhat at ease, but watchful.
Glancing around the open plaza and then back into the three sided niche behind the elder, Marai saw a square-cut white marble chair which matched the dais and was the height of the old man's stone chair. In fact, it seemed the white chair actually matched the dais better than the black one in which the old man sat. A sumptuous embroidered drape had been laid out over the seat cushions and arm rests. The chair had been pulled to one side of priest's chair. The white marble chair had bottom slots for poles so it could be carried like a sedan.
Looks sturdy enough. It definitely appeared more comfortable than the two mats placed by the table in front of the old man's dais. He continued sending thoughts: I respect your noble birth, Your Highness, but I'd rather sit to talk. I really didn’t sleep well last night. We’ve both put ourselves through so much already before this meeting...my head will be lower yours. Marai strode around the pool before his host could do more than shrink backward.
He lifted the marble chair, carried it from the dais and turned it, setting it down and dragging it lightly across the polished floor with an annoying skreek. Moving the drape to the back of the chair, he sat heavily and faced the priest.
The guards, who were still lurking by the plaza door, filled it and rushed forward, ready to throw Marai bodily from the plaza but the old man waved the guards away. His dark slit eyes widened for a moment in surprise.
You have defied me, Akkad! And by that, the power of our gods. Know they allow you life only by my intercession. The spirit voice growled at him.
Marai knew the moment he looked more carefully at the pattern woven into the gold chased drape, that he had chosen to sit in the king's "visiting" throne. He sat quietly for a moment, trying to ignore the tenseness in his gut at the priest's vicious thoughts.
Marai might have paid attention to anyone touting the ability to bring down magical wrath on him or access deities, at one time but He didn't feel respect today. The long awaited meeting with the heir of Djedi was turning into a mystical dogfight. Marai had the creeping feeling that his entire journey to Kemet had been a dreadful mistake. The Children should have realized this high priest could never be the intended recipient of the Children of Stone. They should never have asked Marai to come to Ineb Hedj. He was about to apologize for his intrusion, turn and leave, when he sensed the Child Stone in his brow whispering to his interior spirit:
Listen to his words
He will teach you much.
He will straighten your path
Straighten? Teach? Marai mused... I think not...
A thought raced through him with such a renewed force that it left Marai feeling giddy at it's power. He knew what to do.
It's the pain in your bones, isn't it? I'm sorry I overstepped, Gracious Highness! Marai suddenly rose from the chair and circled behind the old man. If I had to suffer like that, it would keep me cross with the world, too. Poor thing! You’re all worn out from the Shefbedet feasts, the goddess sailings, and before that, your duty. The sojourner plumped the pillows up and helped the priest sit straighter, as if he were tending an ailing parent.
The high priest's dun colored, bony shoulders drained all warmth from Marai's hands the instant he touched them.
Any momentary thankfulness that flickered in his craggy face, faded as if the elder realized Marai was trying to make a curious sort of peace with him.
When Hordjedtef looked up and back at Marai, he flashed a grin eerily full of too many teeth for such an ancient man.
"Marai bin Ahu...” the old man spoke, at last, just above a whisper. “Welcome to my house." he said. "I had not thought we would meet."
Last week we met Raquel Byrnes. Today she has provided us with a blurb from her book Tremblers
Raquel Byrnes Tremblers Blurb:
Charlotte Blackburn—Beautiful, intelligent, a gifted tinkerer—lives in a cloistered world of wealth and privilege beneath the Electric Tesla Dome that shields survivors of The Great Calamity. But when her father is abducted, and a strange sickness starts transforming men into vicious monsters, she discovers that technology is no protection at all.
Ashton Wells has a dire mission: Secure Colonel Blackburn and deliver his research to The Order of the Sword and Scroll. But the plan goes awry, and he is left with nothing but the colonel’s daughter who has a target on her back and is willing stop at nothing to rescue her father—including handing over to the enemy the only means to stop the monstrous plague.
Branded as traitors, Ashton and Charlotte brave the treacherous floating sky ports of Outer City to hunt down the elusive inventor, Nikola Tesla—the only person able to activate the strange device that harbors the secret to their salvation.
With the government closing in, a rebellion brewing in the streets, and terrifying Tremblers attacking the innocent, the two must work together to stop their fragile world from crumbling once more into destruction.
My Review of Fanged and Confused - 5 stars
What if you just realized you're a vampire....
Kedah of Fanged and Confused didn't know much but the hype about vampires when she was turned and abandoned. Starving, but unwilling to go out and take a victim, she steals blood and meets Jensen and later Doran.
Together they offer her refuge in a vast alternative safe house where she can come to terms with immortality and feeding herself. They have a "no kill" policy.
Her sire "Max" is a standard nasty vamp who controls and tortures his victims.
The story moves from one of her learning her survival and her vampire skills as she discovers herself, to love, and to ultimately battling her own sire. There's drama, tension, humor and danger on every page...really no slow moments. Usually I don't like YA books because many are thin on characterization.
This one was well developed and the visuals of Kedah's surroundings were skillfully detailed. I was captivated and will be waiting for Briarberry Estate #2 whenever this talented author brings it forth.
Alert: The author writes Erotic Romance. Adult descriptions & situations
Now I'm introducing Tom Speed - Erotic Romance Author
1. Who are you as a person? (brief bio paragraph)
I’m a husband, a father and a Fire Captain. I have been into BDSM since I can remember and over time, I embraced it instead of feeling alone.
I had so much guilt and shame, after self-tying that I was very shy and introverted. Later, Google came along and so did the learning. I got to meet some wonderful people online and that helped ease my tension. I quickly embraced my love for my kink and started to write a little. When I had a few friends tell me to write books, I wrote Katie’s Journey into Submission, back in 2013. It took years before I felt like it was good enough to publish.
2. How long have you been a writer?
I have been a published writer for almost a year now.
3. Are you Traditionally or Indie published? If not yet, what are you considering?
I’m an Indie Writer.
4. What writers inspired you? Favorite Authors?
R. J. Castille, Stephen King, & Dakota Trace
5. What is your book/series about?
The series is about a young woman learning about the lifestyle and finding her role within it.
6. What is the setting and genre?
The setting is Florida and Maine. It’s a more real life BDSM than a fantasy. It’s erotica, BDSM.
7. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Mike as he has so much of me in his personality.
8. What character is most like you?
9. If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?
10. Would you say your book has a message or underlying theme? What is it?
I want my readers to know that being kinky isn’t a bad thing. I want them to understand how it can feel and why they should embrace their desire. That’s why this series is more real-life situations and less fantasy.
11. How are you marketing your book?
Facebook mostly. I’m trying to find new ways all the time.
12. A wonderful thing has happened! Hollywood wants to make a movie of your book! You get to pick the actors & actresses. Who do you want to play your lead character(s)?
I’d want a new up and coming actress who is shy
13. What music do you hear (what songs) remind you of your story?
14. What are your favorite foods?
15. What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: A lot can make me laugh. I live in a fire station. Cry: Only a few things can make me cry
16. What do you want written on your head stone and why?
17. Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Not lately, as it seems to consume so much of my time.
18. What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Action, Kinky and drama
19. If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
20. What are you working on right now?
Edits for my final book in the series ‘Flame of Submission’ which will release in March. Next is the 2nd book of Bound to Love
21. How much research do you do for your novels?Bonus –what’s the weirdest thing you have Googled?
I’ve done so much research in my life, not too much needed for my books and I don’t find anything weird now. I felt so weird and strange as a child, I’ve learned to embrace my kinks.
22. What’s the scariest thing you have ever done, and did it end up in a story?
As a firefighter, there are probably quite a few, but can’t think of any off hand
23. Name 5 fictional characters you would invite to a dinner party. Where would the party be?
Mike, Katie, Diana, Sydney, and one that will come out in book 4. I’d have the party at a dungeon or play room
24. What links or website do you have? List them below.
Katie’s Journey into Submission
Katie’s Broken Trust
Tom Speed’s Facebook Group
A Free BDSM Story by Tom Speed ‘Bound to Love’
More next week on this fourth installment !!!
and also April 2 National Ferret Day - Hopefully more about ferrets
Wserkaf a Villain turned hero - another character drawn from the pages of history Katie Moore Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi Party Hat winner for March Recent releases
So til then - pun with a vague reference to two characters from Children of Stone
5 Points given to the first person who tells me about the picture. 1 point for anything of interest afterward. Lost? READ THE BOOKS.