Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Does Amazon's Purchase of Goodreads Mean for Authors?

If you follow publishing/bookselling news, you will have heard that Amazon has purchased Goodreads, the huge, 16-million-member, social media site where readers and writers come together to discuss, review, promote, and share a love of books. I’ve been a member for over three years and have found it to be a terrific way to discover writers from around the world.

So, why does Amazon want it? I suppose the obvious answer is to continue building a monopoly. Let’s face it, Amazon has expanded big time in recent years, not only in their bookselling ventures, but in publishing. I don’t have to elaborate on their success with CreateSpace and Kindle. Amazon purchased Shelfari in 2008 and they also own a portion of LibraryThing. Does it sound like Amazon intends to rule the book world?

It’s likely that Amazon will eventually turn Goodreads into one large promotion venture to serve their interests, which may or may not be good news for writers, depending on your viewpoint. Authors whose books aren’t selling will welcome the appearance of a buy button next to their titles.

Amazon’s excelled at book selling on some levels but has also failed authors in others. Kindles have helped new authors gain readers and earn money, yet when Amazon introduced secondhand print bookselling, it pretty much killed print sales for independents and small publishers. Other new policies have also hurt writers and publishers, and for me this is a worry. Will Amazon’s bookselling strategies extend to Goodreads? Will it become an Amazon sales only please, world?

Needless to say, blogs, articles, and discussions about this have sprung up everywhere, so here’s three links to get you started. The Publisher’s Weekly article gives a pretty interesting account. In fact, Amazon is quoted as saying that they “want to improve the user experience of Kindle owners”. So, what about the 75% of readers who still buy print? You can find it at

Another interesting take on the situation comes from Tim Spalding of LibraryThing, who thinks the acquisition is good, even though Amazon’s purchase of Shelfari has left it more or less languishing. He also notes, probably correctly, that once Amazon is running things, Goodreads may very well drop, and be dropped by B&N, Kobo and Indies, which isn’t good news for a lot of people. To read his piece, go to

Meanwhile, Authors Guild President, Scott Turow, sees Amazon’s monopolization as a means of squelching potential competition, given that Goodreads was rumored to be entering the bookselling business. Also, Goodreads is the site people go to for honest book reviews. What will happen when Amazon starts controlling things? You can read his remarks in

What do you all think about this? Is Amazon’s purchase of Goodreads, good, bad, or somewhere in between? Like I said, I’m a little worried.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Special Guest: Paul Rega, author of How To Find A Job: When There Are No Jobs

Today's special guest is Paul Rega, author of "How To Find A Job: When There Are No Jobs." Paul, welcome to The Write Type ~ Multi-Author Musings. Today I'd like you to share just a bit about your book.

Paul: I want to take a moment to thank Cheryl, for inviting me to share some information regarding my career book on this great blog. It's quite an honor to be here.

Cheryl: You're very welcome. We're happy to have you here. So tell us, Paul, what motivated you to write your book, and how long did it take you to write it?

Paul: My book, "How To Find A Job: When There Are No Jobs," is as many are discovering, much more than a job search book. The book took me nearly 14 years to write. I simply wanted to share the knowledge that I had gained as an executive recruiter with the public. It depicts a journey through life that we are all on, or soon shall be.

The book was the result of merging my knowledge of the employment field over the past 27 years, with the circumstances occurring in my own life. A recurring theme throughout the book is that, "As your life changes, so often does your career." I think it is because of this unique combination that the book is resonating with many people currently suffering in this economy.

The book was published in December 2011, and was an instant success, hitting #1 on Amazon's bestseller list for job hunting books in March 2012.

Cheryl: We wish you every success with your book. I am sure it will help many people.

Paul's Bio:

Paul Rega began his writing career while attending Western Illinois University as a staff reporter for the Western Courier. Upon graduating from WIU with a degree in biology and journalism, he spent the next thirty years in business having started his own executive search firm in 1984.

His passion for writing stayed with him throughout his business life and he started writing his first book in 1994. He published, "How To Find A Job: When There Are No Jobs" in December 2011. The book was an instant success and hit #1 on Amazon's bestseller list for job hunting books in March 2012.

Paul currently lives in a small town along the Gulf Coast of Florida where he is working on his next book.

Amazon Author Page:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Latest E-book Sensations

Many writers work hard and long for a number of years before making a name for themselves, or even enough money to pay a few bills. Every once in a while, though, a new writer comes along, publishes an e-book and sells enough to attract the interest of a big six publisher. It’s happened again recently. I’m almost reluctant to share the info because I don’t want to readers to think it’s always this easy, however, the latest e-book star to sign a big contract is a seventeen-year-old high school student, named Beth Reeks.

She wrote a teen romance that didn’t involve vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels, and readers loved it. Not long after Reeks self-published The Kissing Booth she had 40 million hits, and an email from Random House UK, asking if she’d written a sequel. She had. Last October, she signed a 3-book deal and The Kissing Booth will come out in paperback later this year. The article says that she churns out novels while doing all the normal teen things like hanging out with friends and going to school. To read the piece, go to

The other new sensation is 32-year-old writer, Jennifer Armentrout, whose new adult romance, Wait For You, hit Digital Book World’s #1 e-book, bestseller list (the first self-published book to do so), which resulted in a 3-book, six-figure deal with Harper Collins. What’s amazing about this is that she started writing in 2007, has had thirteen books published with small indie presses, and wrote Wait For You in just twenty days, after getting an idea in the shower. She also has more books in the work.

These two ladies are clearly on the fast-track to success, and it’s good to see self-publishers doing well. But for most writers, it just isn’t that easy or simple. Armentrout, for example, had an agent to help her along the way. There’s an interview with her in Digital Book World, which you can read at

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Plotter, Pantser, or Panther

Panther. I made that up myself. See, we were talking about plots at the writers group tonight, and of course we discussed whether we were Plotters (write a plot outline before beginning the story) or Pantsers (writing by the seats of our various pants).

As it turns out, most of us are Panthers. We sort of plot but we sort of don't.

Some of us diligently write out our plot points. Some of us make storyboards, with each scene having its own little square of space. Some of us write the story's through line in paragraph form. Some of us write without a plot until we get stuck, then we work one out.

One way or another, we stalk the wild creativity where we know it's most likely to be and then, when we spot it, we leap! We leap upon it! Fast! Like: LEAP!

Plotting outlines seems to be a way many of us use to creep up on creativity. If we have an outline, we don't have to worry about where the story is going or how it will end. If nothing better comes to us, we've got that covered. We have a story arc. We have a resolution. We don't have to worry about it. With that out of the way, we're free to let character, situation, and randomness carry us along a different arc to a different resolution, if that feels better. If it doesn't work out, we know we already have something to fall back on.

If you're having trouble working your way through an entire story to the end, try hammering out a plot with the heartless intention of abandoning it if a big juicy Bambi crosses your path.

Then, if you're in a writers' meeting, and somebody asks if you're a Plotter or a Pantser, you can say, "I'm a Panther, baby!"

How cool will that be?

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes
Marian Allen is the author of numerous short stories and novels. Her latest is The Fall of Onagros, Book 1 of SAGE, published by Hydra Publications (not associated with Random House).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Author Lynne Cantwell Chats about 'What It's All Been For.'

Age has its advantages.

I mean, it has its disadvantages, too. The other day, I made what I considered to be a hip cultural reference by quoting Darth Vader’s revelation about Luke Skywalker’s parentage in “The Empire Strikes Back.” “Star Wars” is hip, right? With Disney planning to make Episode 7? Yeah, well, then I did the math. “The Empire Strikes Back” was first released in 1980. That was thirty-three years ago. And I was already out of college then (although not by much!).

Since then, I got married and divorced, raised two kids, spent many years working in radio news and a few more in TV news, worked briefly as a paralegal and longer as a legal secretary. I also earned a masters’ degree in fiction writing – which together with three bucks will get me a tall latte, as long as I don’t want syrup.

There were certainly times, when my life and/or my career went sideways, that I wondered what it all was for. I had to learn video editing in college for my degree, but then I never had to use it professionally. What was it for? And why did I bother to get a paralegal certificate, only to move into a legal secretary’s chair less than a year later? And I’d thought the M.A. would put me on a fast track to getting published; if that wasn’t true, and it didn’t appear to be, then why did I blow several thousand dollars on the degree?

But then a group of people I knew from an Internet discussion board decided to put together an anthology of our fiction and poetry. I wrote my first short story in years, and it was accepted (not everybody’s was). Then we did another anthology, and the story I wrote for that one was accepted, too. We made three anthologies in all, and I had stories in each one. When our editor, Joy Calderwood, opened her own e-book publishing venture and asked if I’d be interested in having her publish two of those stories, I said, “Why not?”

And people actually bought them. Not many people, but a few. So I wrote a novel – The Maidens’ War, and Joy published it, too. Then I wrote another novel. By then, Amazon had started Kindle Direct Publishing, so I self-published SwanSong in order to get it up on Amazon. And then I started working on my first urban fantasy, Seized: Book One of the Pipe Woman Chronicles.

I was having a great time as an indie author. But more than that, I began to realize that I was using all those weird, disparate skills I’d picked up over a lifetime. Video editing? I make my own book trailers. The paralegal certificate? It helped me make the main character of the Pipe Woman Chronicles, who’s a lawyer, sound believable. The years in journalism? I “write tight.” The degree in fiction writing? I learned both how to patch holes in my own work, and how to read novels not as an academic exercise, but as a way to figure out how other writers do what they do. And my interest in mythology keeps showing up in my books, too.

Now I’m releasing the fourth Pipe Woman Chronicles book, Gravid, and beginning the fifth and final book. And the biggest advantage of age, to me, is being able to see all the bits of my life coming together. I really did go through all of it for a reason: it has helped me become an author.

~ * ~

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. In addition to writing fantasy, Lynne is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited and writes a monthly post for The Indie Exchange. She currently lives near Washington, DC.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

More Contract Concerns for Authors

Last week, I wrote about the controversial contract that Random House was offering science fiction writers under its imprint Hydra. Well, it seems their contract has created such a stir that Random House has backed down, in part, and tweaked its contract to offer writers two different publishing models. One is a more traditional publishing option which includes an advance; the other is their profit-sharing model, with no advance.

If you read the contract, you’ll note that under the profit sharing model, the author and publisher split profits 50-50 based on net sales, after production costs have been deducted for both print and digital versions, and shipping costs deducted for the print version! Here’s what they also say:

“Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt acquire rights to every book for the term of copyright, subject to an “out-of-print” clause, which provides for the author to request reversion of his or her rights three years after publication if the title fails to sell 300 copies in the 12 months immediately preceding the request.”

I’m not a lawyer, so if I was signing such a copyright, I would need to know exactly what the publisher means by “term of copyright”. Is it something defined by the publisher, the author, or is Random House referring to the standard lifespan under copyright law, which in Canada and the U.S. is the author’s life plus 70 years.

To read the contract, go to and thanks to Katherine Wagner for sending me the link.

I’m also bringing up the copyright matter because Dean Wesley Smith referred to the Random House issue in his blog, where he focuses on reversion clauses, like the one quoted above. Smith says that it is now standard practice in American contracts for publishers to demand the right to the copyright for its entire life! Smith is so against it that he refuses to sign any contract containing this clause, for good reason.

It means that authors, their children, and even their grandchildren will not be entitled to get the rights back from publishers, who will be able to do anything they want with the book. They could let it go out of print, or sell it to future technologies for mega amounts of money, all without the author’s support. Scary, isn’t it? Smith has much more to say on the topic, which you can find at

The fast lane to the publication of SUBMERGED

The journey to the publication of SUBMERGED has been one of excitement. Nothing has gone quite as planned...and that's been a good thing!

SUBMERGED is a story that was inspired by the battle a friend of mine had with addiction. At first, I just wanted to write a book with a main character who was an addict, but my friend shared so much of his own experiences that my character, Marcus, grew before my eyes. Conflicted by the past and submerged in grief and guilt, he believes he's where he should be--a sort of punishment of sorts, for past transgressions. But a phone call from a woman trapped in a vehicle changes his life forever.

My agent, Erica Spellman-Silverman from Trident Media Group, and I discussed the options for SUBMERGED. We could approach publishers with it, but after careful consideration, many phone calls and weeks of contemplation, we both felt that wasn't the best plan for the book. And here's why...

If we pitched SUBMERGED to the big publishers, we would have to wait anywhere from 1-2 years before the book was published. And I'm not interested in pursuing smaller publishers because they just wouldn't have much to offer me.

After my huge success last year with CHILDREN OF THE FOG, I know what I want career-wise. And after hearing what one publisher thought she could get me as an advance, I realized that I needed to aim high and continue doing what I've been doing until someone thinks I'm worth what I want out of a deal. After all, an author can't take lightly the aspect of giving away her rights to one of her books. It has to be worth it.

Erica's concern was also for my readers. She knows how hard I've worked to get my books out there, to connect with readers worldwide, and she understands that my fans want another book. Today, not in 2 years. So we came up with a plan. I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say, I was excited once I got the ball rolling.

SUBMERGED is now available in Kindle ebook and trade paperback, and providing I do well with sales, Erica is going to take both CHILDREN OF THE FOG and SUBMERGED to a major publisher, armed with sales data, and we'll go after a 2-book deal and foreign rights. And...we may pitch a third book that would also have a tie-in to these books.

An audio book deal is already in the works for SUBMERGED and CHILDREN OF THE FOG, with Audible. And I couldn't be more excited!

SUBMERGED is a standalone thriller with a hint of paranormal. It is not part of a series.

But it does have a cool tie-in to CHILDREN OF THE FOG, and vice versa.

"Submerged will leave you breathless—an edge of your seat, supernatural thrill ride."
—Jeff Bennington, bestselling author of Twisted Vengeance

Learn more about me at and follow me on Twitter.

Enter my March Giveaway – 60 Prizes!

And click on my tour banner to follow me on my Blog Tour...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Contract Controversy for Science Fiction Writers

If you read Publisher’s Weekly or follow The Passive Guy’s blog, you will have heard about the latest brouhaha to invade the publishing world. For those who don’t know, Random House recently launched in imprint called Hydra, created to electronically publish science fiction novels and short stories. On the surface, it seemed like a great opportunity, however, a scathing blog by John Scalzi points out some major pitfalls.

First, Random House offers no advance, which is almost unheard of for a big six publisher. Secondly, the author is being charged for production costs, such as editing and typesetting fees, etc. Third, and most disturbing of all, is that Random House keeps the copyright forever. In other words, authors don’t have a chance to get their rights back to sell to someone who has better terms. Should the author die, he probably can’t bequest those rights to others either.

Scalzi indicates that Random House is primarily targeting newer authors who haven’t had a traditional contract and are eager to get a foot in the door. In many ways, Random’s House new model doesn’t sound all that different from iUniverse or AuthorHouse, or other publishing services. I’m not sure if Random House is pickier about whom they choose to publish than other services, but this new model has created a lot of buzz, and not much of it is positive.

Some might say that Random House is simply adapting to the rapid changes in the publishing world. Others are saying run away as fast as you can. I’ll post the link and let you decide.

Now, an article in Publishers Weekly states that Scalzi, who also happens to be the president of Science Fiction Writers of America, has stated that authors will not be granted membership if they are using Hydra as a credential. As you can imagine, Random House has responded, indicating their disappointment with Scalzi’s stance. They also stated that this new publishing model is potentially lucrative for authors as it involves profit sharing, but that all business ventures have upfront costs. If you want to read Random House’s full letter in response to SFWA, then go to

Boy, these are fun times, aren’t they?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Killer Thriller Book Launch - March 5-7

From March 5-7, check out the Killer Thriller Book Launch, a multi-author book launch featuring 7 thriller authors with new releases.

Want to know who these authors are?

  • Cheryl Kaye Tardif
  • Luke Romyn
  • Consuelo Roland
  • Giacomo Giammatteo
  • Melissa Foster
  • Claude Bouchard
  • Russell Blake

You can follow us on Twitter by going to: #killerthriller.

We will be giving away prizes at the Killer Thriller Book Launch--separate from my own March Giveaway, so you'll have lots of chances to win some great goodies!

I invite you to check it out! :-)

Monday, March 04, 2013

SUBMERGED official book launch - March 4-7

Join me as I celebrate my new release, SUBMERGED, a thriller that I hope will leave you breathless.

SUBMERGED will be on a special new release promo for only $0.99 (Kindle) during March 4-7.

~ * ~

Also, from March 5-7, I am participating in the Killer Thriller Book Launch, a multi-author book launch featuring 6 other thriller authors with new releases.

You can follow us on Twitter by going to: #killerthriller.

We will be giving away prizes at the Killer Thriller Book Launch--separate from my own March Giveaway, so you'll have lots of chances to win some great goodies!

I invite you to check it out! :-)

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Every Week Should be Freedom to Read Week

You may or may not know that last week was Canada’s annual Freedom to Read Week, a project started by the Books and Periodicals Council. The project “encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

Despite this declaration and that we live in a democracy which encourages freedom of speech, there are people who appoint themselves gatekeepers and want to decide what everyone should or shouldn’t read. Canadian border officials have been notorious for refusing to permit certain books and magazines to enter the country. Other self-appointed gatekeepers approach schools and libraries and demand they not carry a certain title.

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about the type of writing and photos that are illegal in Canada, but books such as The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter (described as a “moving tale about one of the most hotly disputed pieces of land on earth”), Takes One to Know One: An Alison Kaine Mystery by Kate Allen (a mystery novel with a lesbian theme). You can check out to read the complete list of challenged books and more about the Freedom to Read project.

Although Freedom to Read week officially ended yesterday, I write about this now because I believe that every week should be freedom to read week. We need to pick up a book, especially a challenged book, to read. After all, where would we be without the right to choose? So please, borrow a book, download a book, or buy a print book to share with others. You have millions of titles to choose from. Heck, you even have a long list of challenged books to choose from. I wrote a blog last year about the top 100 challenged books in America; titles that include the Harry Potter series and Charlotte’s Web, among many others. So, go ahead and read, then tell me your favorites.

Special guest: Russell Blake talks about 'When Bad is Good'

I’ll admit, a lot of my favorite characters are bad guys. Don’t know why, but for me, those are the most memorable. Sure, I remember Bond and Bourne and whoever the hell Tom Cruise plays in Mission Impossible, but the ones that really stick in my mind are always the villains – in the movies, like the books, Hannibal Lecter/Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, David Carradine in Kill Bill, Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, Lawrence Olivier in Marathon Man (“Eees eet safe?”), Kevin Spacey in Se7en, Gary Oldman in just about every role he’s ever played. I could go on and on.

I don’t know why a compelling bad guy sticks with us with such vividness, but there’s no denying that they do. Consider a great movie like The Usual Suspects – I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what any of the characters’ names were, save one, and he’s a doozy: Keyser Soze. The baddest mofo of crime ever conceived.

Many books and movies try to build a hero you can root for, and a villain you can hate – but where it gets interesting is when innovative thinkers discard that formula and blur the lines. I think one of the fascinating things about the film Pulp Fiction was that everyone in it was basically bad, and yet you liked the characters. Hit men? Generally agreed to be bad. Robbers? Bad. Kingpin? Super bad. The down on his luck boxer? Somewhat bad, although redeemable. Even the women were sort of bad. Maybe not 100%, but close enough to where you knew they weren’t all that good.

And yet people respond well to bad, when it’s done well.

In books, much the same as in films, although a lot of the aforementioned villains are drawn from books. And literary baddies like American Psycho’s main character, or Red Dragon’s serial killer, or The Stand’s Randall Flagg, or even smaller villains like that piss-ant guard in The Green Mile. They stay with you.

That’s the way I was thinking when I first conceived my ultimate bad guy, the cartel super-assassin known as El Rey, The King of Swords, in the first book of my Assassin series, King of Swords. From that kernel has sprung a slew of books, culminating with my new release, Blood of the Assassin, where El Rey plays a central role in stopping a German assassin before he can kill a visiting dignitary and destroy the world order.

But Blood of the Assassin is different than any of the other books in the series, in that it was written so it could be read as a stand-alone book by folks who have never read any of the others, and yet be every bit as enjoyable – sort of like Da Vinci Code was the second in the Robert Langdon series but you didn’t have to read the first one to have a satisfying time. Blood takes that same approach, giving new readers a chance to sample the best of my work to date without plowing through the other four in the series.

And boy, does it have memorable villains. El Rey is the character I get the most fan mail for – some even send in photos of guns they think would be ideal for him (that’s not a lie). People seem fascinated by his combination of genius IQ, nerves of steel, zen-like calm under any sort of pressure, and his almost preternaturally efficiency in terminating his targets. If an actor was going to play him, it would have to be Johnny Depp – he’s got that vibe, that dancing on a razor’s edge, I don’t give a sh#t willingness to go to the brink and balance on the edge, daring the world to blow him into the abyss, taunting it to steal his soul. El Rey is larger than life, coldly efficient, remorseless, relentless and an island unto himself, and he has no hesitation about killing some of the most dangerous men on the planet, as well as politicians, if the price is right. He’s a bad man. There’s little that’s good in him, and almost nothing to warm to...and yet, readers do. They love him. And they want to know what he’s up to next. I get probably three to four e-mails a week from readers asking when the next El Rey book will be out. That’s wild, considering that I sort of envisioned any series built from King of Swords would revolve around the protagonist, Captain Romero Cruz of the Federal Police. But things have a way of taking on a life of their own, and that’s not how it played.

In Blood, however, Cruz is in the mix in a very big way, and the story gives us a real sense for his depth, as well as more insight into his relationships, his frustrations and the obstacles he has to contend with in his career, and the thankless, dangerous job he performs hunting the most vicious cartel drug lords in the world. But when you add El Rey into that stew, and have them forced to reluctantly cooperate in order to stop a German hit man who is intent on taking out the Chinese leader on his Mexican visit, you have a bad-guy fest that plays out at hyper-speed – a high octane rollercoaster that makes Day of the Jackal read like Wuthering Heights.

What makes Blood of the Assassin one of my favorite efforts are the villains – we get to really know them, and whether we like it or not, they’re fascinating, just as a Keyser Soze was fascinating. You didn’t want to find him that interesting, but you couldn’t help yourself. El Rey and his cast of miscreants is much the same way, and anyone who is a fan of Harris, Forsyth, Child or Ludlum will find Blood of the Assassin to be a welcome addition to their bookshelf. I’m so certain that readers will like it, I’m dropping the price for a few days during its launch, to reduce the barrier to purchasing it about as low as it can go without paying readers to read it. My bet is that once a reader gets 10 pages in, they’re hooked, and there’s no turning back as they delve into a controversial, forbidden underbelly populated by miscreants, killers, narco-traffickers, scheming intelligence agencies and a few good men and women trying to keep the world safe.

As one early reviewer said, this isn’t a book for folks who want to read a few chapters and go to sleep.

True, dat.

If a little titillation and a breakneck-paced story are up your alley, I’d encourage you to give Blood of the Assassin a whirl. Who knows – you might just find that you’ve discovered your very own, personal Keyser Soze, hiding in the pages of your kindle.

And he wants out.
~ ~ ~
Russell Blake is the bestselling author of twenty novels, including the thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, Blood of the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher, Silver Justice, JET, JET II - Betrayal, JET III - Vengeance, JET IV - Reckoning, and JET V - Legacy. Non-fiction includes the international bestselling animal biography An Angel With Fur and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related. Blake lives in Mexico and enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Special guest Melissa Foster says "Let's Play Villain."

How fun would it be to throw caution to the wind and do all the naughty things you have only thought about or worried over? Wouldn’t it be fun to tell off those that anger you without any need for restraint? How about pummeling the bullies who are bothering your kids? Bank robbery could be fun for some. Or maybe you want to dress the part, too. Throw on leather and chains and pull up on your Harley, smokin’ a doobie and drunk off your butt? To each his own, right? Obviously we cannot go around doing all of those things…but our fictional villains can. And where are villains born? In our clever little minds. So, let’s play villain.

What do you wish you could do? Who do you wish you could be? Would it be cool to be as cunning as Hannibal Lector? How about as badass as the Terminator? Or maybe your villain would go all Shades of Gray and their whip might be used for other things. Whatever your pleasure, don’t fret over being a hated villain, try being an empathetic villain! Maybe you’re misunderstood and you’ve gone over to the rough side of town because of that. When I create villains, I always give them some redeemable qualities. I like to be conflicted over my hatred of their evil doings. How about you?

Readers are so precious to writers, because you are the ones we try to entice, excite, and surprise. Your enjoyment is a writer’s motivation and inspiration. So share your fave villains with us! Who did you love to hate? Who could you simply not get past?

Here’s a fun (and weird) game for you to take away with you. Find a close friend and play VILLAIN. No, don’t go out and rob banks or pummel people in real life, but come up with who your villain might be, what they might look like, then combine them with your friend’s villain and see what you come out with. I think you’ll be surprised at how complex a villain can be, and brainstorming with friends only makes the villain more interesting.

My villain in TRACES OF KARA was derived from many sources and conversations with friends and readers—and I adore him.

Ready to play? Ready? Set? Go!
Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of three International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary CafĂ©. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. Melissa also hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC.