Saturday, October 18, 2014

FNN Report: New Reality Show Revealed

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FNN entertainment reporter Mia Diversion had an exclusive interview with independent TV producer, Pom Posity. Mr. Posity told Mia he had a new reality show in production called "The Widower". In it, a dozen widows peruse a widower and try to win his hand. The youngest of the contestants is seventy-two. The oldest is eighty-one. The entire show is filmed live in Atlantic City.

"This is great stuff," Mr. Posity said. "Hilarity breaks out when the 'girls' get feisty and competitive. One of them uses her walker to stomp on another's instep. A second uses her cane to trip other contestants. And to top that, two of the widows imitate the knights of yore by tilting with each other using their powered wheelchairs instead of horses and canes instead of lances and swords. The jousting takes place in the hallway of the hotel."

Ms. Diverison asked Mr. Posity what happens after the widower picks one of the widows.
"Everyone will love this ending. After the widower picks the winner, the two of them will retire to the honeymoon suite to take a nap and rest up for their big night. It starts off with an Early Bird Special in a four-star restaurant followed by a few rounds of cut-throat bingo at a local church. Finally, their action packed night concludes with two hours of free play at the penny slots at the casino of their choice.

Mia Diversion caught up Amy Bigelow, one of the widows who said, "I don't give a fig about the old geezer. I'm in it for the free slot play."

Ms. Diversion will issue a follow up report with the name of the winner.

Hank Quense is the author of 50 published short stories along with four novels and three collections of stories. All of these are humorous and/or satiric scifi and fantasy. In the non-fiction area, he has over a dozen articles published on fiction writing and he's the author of the Fiction Writing Guides series and the Self-publishing Guides series. Both series consist of a number of ebooks. The Fiction Writing Guides and the Self-Publishing Guides are an outgrowth of his lectures on both subjects.
Strange Worlds OnlineHank's Amazon PageHank's Blog PageSelf-publishing Guides

Friday, October 10, 2014

How to Write a Good Villain

by A.F.Stewart

Like with all characters, when I write villains I strive to create well rounded, relatable constructs with sound reasons for their actions. Those reasons may be awful, but they have to be plausible. Villains need to be complex, like any character, with flaws and quirks, weakness and strengths, but they do come with a built-in problem:  how to make evil seem personable.

I find that’s the core of writing a good villain, connecting to a reader, and—in my opinion—the number one thing a villain needs is motivation, the rationale for why he does all those dastardly things. Does he feel wronged by the world, and is out for revenge? Does he feel he’s doing some kind of service by killing certain types of people, or trying to take over the world? Is he wicked for profit and in the game solely for money? Or does he simply enjoy being bad, and gets a thrill from spewing his evil into the world?

Take my character, Balthazar, who appears in both Killers and Demons, and the new sequel. He’s a horrible murderous demon from Hell, who chases after escaped souls of the damned, and truly enjoys his job. But job performance isn’t his only motivation. His actions are also driven by the selfish desire to stay on the good side of his boss and not return to Hell. He’d much rather remain topside where he can sip fine wine and wear dapper clothes (he’s a bit vain about his appearance). He’s like many people, in that he just wants the good life, the only difference being he does it demon style with a side order of murder and mayhem.

Another example of how I humanized the villains in Killers and Demons II is Hannah. She’s young, a bit cynical, and she’s had some hard breaks in life, but is trying to get by in the sometimes cruel world of Victorian London. I introduce the character as a sympathetic, used and abused woman, then flip a switch to show the rather nasty way she’s decided to deal with her circumstances. I think this ambiguous juxtaposition makes her a very fascinating character despite her wicked ways.

In my experience, the crux of writing a believable antagonist is to appreciate that even bad guys need understanding, and what makes a good villain is the emotional correlation to a reader. They may loathe them, fear them, even somewhat sympathize with them, but on some level a reader has to recognize their emotive mayhem. It’s the little touches, these emotions people identify with, that help ground a villain and bring him (or her) to life on the page.

Come one, come all, to a festival of murder and mayhem.
We have killers, demons, witches and more, with bloody exploits galore.
Evil is back, with a greater appetite for death.

Sample what is offered, but be careful. What you nibble on may turn out to be somebody’s fingers…

A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home.  The youngest in a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, sword collecting, and oil painting as a hobby.

Ms. Stewart is an indie author with several published novellas and story collections in the dark fantasy or horror genres, with a few side trips into poetry and non-fiction. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG - Ask PZM - book covers

It's that the first Wednesday in the month again, which means Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, it's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which. 

If you'd like to join, click here.

Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

IWSG's awesome co-hosts for the October 1 special anniversary posting of the IWSG will be Kristin Smith,Elsie, Suzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue!

  Be sure to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

The IWSG Team is putting together an eBook that will benefit all writers -The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. And we invite all IWSG members, Facebook members, and followers to contribute. 

Here are the details: 

The three topics will be writing, publishing, and marketing. 

Each contribution needs to be between 200 and 1000 words. Focus on one of those three aspects and give us your best tip or procedure. The essay can include bullet points, top ten lists, and recommendations. (Websites, software, books, etc.) 

You can either post it for your October 1 IWSG post or email it directly toTheIWSG AT or alexjcavanaugh (Since the length can go over the standard IWSG post length.) Include a one sentence byline and a link to your site. Also state that you give us permission to use it in the book and which topic it falls under. (We will only edit for misspellings and grammar mistakes.) 

All submissions need to be sent or posted by October 2, 2014. We will compile them into an eBook and aim for an early December release. The book will be free and available for all eReaders. 

Here's an important reposting from Ask PZM, March 2010

How important is my book cover?

The front cover of your book is very important, and it is even more so in this age of Internet book buying.

Let’s think about this. You’ll be promoting your book online and linking to its Amazon page or a page on your website where the book can be bought. The cover is one of the strongest emotional connections you can create with a prospective reader.

Look at the size of book covers on Amazon. How clearly can you read the title, the author’s name, “register” what the cover image projects?

That’s how small your book cover will be. And this is why you can’t look at a physical book cover and determine its effectiveness based on that size.

If you doubt this wisdom, think about billboards you’ve driven by. How many times can you barely read the main tagline? Have you wondered why the company and the advertising agency didn’t notice the type was too small or too fancy to read quickly as you drove by?

The answer is that those people looked at the billboard prototype while standing still and not at the distance from which a driver sees most billboards.

The same with your book cover. You have to forget about how you see the cover and put yourself in the mindset of how someone with the attention-span of a half a second will look at your cover.

If you want expert book cover advice, check out John Kremer’s website – he offers book cover consulting. And on a recent book marketing teleseminar for which I was his guest, he rightly noted a problem with the cover of my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant.”

(The words “A Sharon Gold Novel” should not be shoved up right under “Mrs. Lieutenant.” I’ve had advertising design training and I should have noticed this problem but didn’t.)

Cautionary warning: Yes, I know that self-published authors have much more control over their covers than do authors whose books have a traditional publisher. Still, if you think your cover won’t “read” well online, ask your agent to discuss your concerns with your publisher.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a fiction and nonfiction author who blogs on book-related topics at

If you have a question you'd like to ask Phyllis for her ASK PZM: November 2014, email it to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and I'll pass it along.