Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: dessert- Peach Bread Pudding

Hi Everyone!
Welcome back to Tasty Tuesday! Once again it's time to taste a kid friendly, super easy dessert to try. Since it's December I wanted something to warm up up on those cold days and nights, something that would fill your home with a light delicious scent and still be super easy and kid friendly since they will be home for the holidays. Enjoy!

Peach Bread Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce 
Peach Bread Pudding with Warm Brown Sugar Sauce:

  • Bread Pudding:
  • 1/2 a loaf of day-old unsliced bakery bread
  • 3-4 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste
  • 4 tsp. white sugar, for topping

  • Brown Sugar Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. and grease 4 individual dishes or an 8x8-inch baking pan. Set on to a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Peel peaches and cut in to slices. Set aside.
  3. Slice bread in to thin 3/4-inch slices or cube. If using slices, you'll want your bread pieces to be about an inch higher than the height of your baking dish, so figure out how tall they should be and cut off the bottom of the slices to that height. (*You won't need the part you cut off the bottom, but you can use them by cutting them in to cubes and making some croutons with them!). Then cut each of the trimmed slices in half from top to bottom to make two pieces. Set aside.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup white sugar, cream, milk and vanilla.
  5. Place your bread slices in to your baking dishes (or dish) by slightly overlapping them (crust side facing the side of the dish) and allowing them to tilt back a bit. If using cubes, place in your dish or dishes. Place some peach slices in the gaps between the bread. Pour some of the egg mixture over the bread and in to the dishes, just until it reaches the top edge of the dish or until it nears but doesn't cover the top of the bread. Allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, then top up with remaining egg mixture, just until it reaches the edge of the dish again or near the top of the bread. You may not need it all.
  6. Lightly brush the top of the bread with a bit of the egg mixture, then sprinkle a heaped 1 tsp. of white sugar over the top of each dish, especially on the top crust edge. Place dishes on baking sheet (to catch any overflow!) in to preheated 350° F. oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden and set. (*You may want to check at 25-30 minutes in case it's browning too quickly, in which case, just lay a sheet of aluminum foil over top while it finishes baking.
  7. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before eating. If not eating right away, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.
  8. While puddings are baking, make the brown sugar sauce by melting butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, cream and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Allow to come to a boil, stirring regularly. Once it comes to a boil, cook another few minutes, stirring regularly, then remove from heat and pour in to a bowl or pitcher. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away. Can be re-warmed in the microwave/saucepan to serve.
  9. Serve puddings at warm, at room temperature or slightly re-warmed in the microwave, topped with warm brown sugar sauce (*You'll want to place your small dishes on a plate, as the brown sugar sauce will most likely spill over the sides when poured on top).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: dessert- Pumkin Snickerdoodles

Hi Everyone!
Welcome back to Tasty Tuesday! Once again it's time to taste a kid friendly, super easy dessert to try. Since it's November I decided on these delicious cookies. 

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles:

  • 6 tbsp Pumpkin puree

Baking & Spices

  • 1 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar, packed light or dark
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract


  • 1/2 cup Butter, unsalted


  • 1/2 cup (90g) white chocolate chips or chunks

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thursday Tips: vivid language

Hello everyone!
Welcome to another Thursday tip day! Today we will talking about vivid language. Our job as a writer is to paint the picture in the readers mind so they can see your story unfold before their eyes. Vivid language is very important to descriptive writing.
Let’s look at the sentence:
"I took a trip to the mountains."
Does this paint a picture for your reader? Assuming that the reader has ever seen a mountain, the reader is able to somewhat visualize what you meant. However, the picture the reader has may be very different from what you actually mean. After all, there are many different types of mountains.
Is this one better?
"My last trip was to the quaint mountain village of Helen, Georgia located in the foothills of the evergreen Appalachian mountain range."
Does this paint a more clear picture for the reader?
How about this one?
"I visited the snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rocky mountains, where I stayed at a skiing resort."
Does this paint a clear picture? Is it different from the image evoked from the first example?
There are many different types of mountains. Just saying that you took a trip to the mountains is not sufficient to paint a clear picture of your experience to the reader. Vivid language consists of the descriptive adjectives that bring your experience to life for the reader.
Remember when describing something look at what you have written and see if the words are sufficient to put your reader in the moment with you. 
Hope this helps! See you next week!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: dessert- Apple Pie Bites

Hi Everyone!
Welcome back to Tasty Tuesday! Once again it's time to taste a kid friendly, super easy dessert to try this Fall. Apple pie bites will give you all the flavor and deliciousness of eating an apple pie with only 1/10th of the total calories! It's like eating the whole pie without any of the consequences.  

Apple Pie Bites made with crescent rolls, apples & pecans.

EASY Apple Pie Bites made with crescent rolls... these taste better than apple pie!!:

  • 1 Granny smith apple, small

Baking & Spices

  • 1 tsp Apple pie spice
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar, packed light

Nuts & Seeds

  • 1/3 cup Pecans

Bread & Baked Goods

  • 1 (8-ounce) can Pillsbury crescent rolls, Original


  • 3 tbsp Butter

Monday, October 3, 2016

Me Mondays- Avenging the Donnells

Hello everyone!
Hope your weekend was great and your work week starts of  great as well. As the title implies, today is dedicated to my updates: where I'll be virtually and in real time, what's new with me, my new releases, what I'm working on and so forth.

My monthly newsletter is live and doing well. Everyone who gets the newsletter is automatically entered in the drawing to win an original item from my craft shop. (This craft shop tab on the website) The newsletter is also your vehicle to ask me questions. When you send in your questions you are entered again into the monthly drawing. The answer to those questions will be posted here as well. What is exclusive to the newsletter is the free reads. Sign up for the newsletter on my website

Book ISeven Year Switch was about Kyle and Sonja Winters, a mid thirties, childless couple, together 10 years, married 7 and happy. Sonja discovers a secret that rocks their marriage to the core. It will either destroy them or they will have to restructure to survive it.
Available now

Book II: The Right Choice, is about Christian and Andrea Cooper. They have a long term marriage, 20+ years, are in their 40s and are new empty-nesters. Basically this book shows how you could get caught up in doing the right thing and push someone away unintentionally. Even after being together for years you can still make mistakes. 
Available now exclusively from my website in print and all formats of ebook

Today I am spotlighting my completed work, Avenging the O'Donnells, a wolf shifter, urban fantasy romance. 
I love to put folklore and magic into my stories. Avenging the O'Donnells has it all, folklore, tragedy, redemption and destined love. It is waiting for it's cover and to be edited.

The beast of the lake massacred the O’Donnell family leaving only Ian to avenge his clan. During the long wait to them he met Nadine and fell in love. With love in his life again, Ian is distracted from his duty after waiting over a hundred years for the chance. Will Nadine be the loophole that will allow him to have love and revenge?


“Wait! Listen…do you hear that?” he asked in a hushed voice.
Sean joined him at the doorway. He looked left then right, before closing his eyes. Suddenly he gasped and turned wide eyes to Ian. Ian’s heart filled with the fear he saw in his friend’s eyes. He returned to the pantry with Sean close at his side. Opening a cabinet he tossed Sean one of the swords that were hidden there, took one for himself and they left the kitchen again with a sense of urgency.
They walked through the house, but came across no one. None of his brothers or servants seemed were about. As they approached the great room, muffled screams reached his ears. Ian and Sean looked at each other and ran to the steps, taking them two at a time. At the top of the stairs they found the missing servants. Their broken and abused bodies lay along the hallway with all sorts of weapons lying nearby.
The sight froze them in place, but another shriek shook them alert. Ian pushed through his fear to hop through the small spaces between people moving down the hall. Following the sounds, he and Sean burst into a bedroom. A monster, taller than any man he’d ever seen, black as night and dripping with what looked like loose mud, plunged his fist deep into his brother’s chest. His mouth dropped open as he stood horrified.
“No! Leathan!”
The monster flung Leathan’s lifeless body across the room. Ian watched his brother’s body hit the wall and slide to the floor to land on top of his other brothers disfigured bodies and turned toward Ian. The monster moved in his peripheral, but he could not tear his eyes away from his brother. Tears streamed down his face. His breath caught when he was abruptly yanked away.
“Come, Ian! We must flee!”
Sean dragged him from the room toward the back steps. The obvious thud of bodies hitting the walls followed them. The terror in Sean’s eyes woke Ian from his stupor fueling an urgency to get back to the kitchen. Ian leaned on the door closing it behind them. He snatched his hand away from Sean and held it up.
“Wait, Sean, stop. I cannot run away. I must fight!” he told him trying to catch his breath.
“Ian, don’t be daft! Think man! Live today, fight tomorrow!”
Ian shook his head. “My family is dead. I must avenge them.”
Sean pointed up the stairs. “That was the demon from the lake! You cannot defeat it on your own! You must go to your guardian and pray for help.”
Ian shook his head. “Listen to me, Sean. I cannot leave my family. I must fight with them or die with them. You must go to the glade and summon the guardian for me.”
“What? No! I won’t leave without ya, Ian.”
Ian grabbed Sean by the shoulders and shook him hard. “Sean! Do as I say! You are my servant!” he snapped choking on the words as new tears fell down his face. “And my friend,” he added in a softer tone. “Now please, go to the guardian and beg for her help.”
Sean stared at him for just a moment longer then pulled him into a hug.
“I pray that the guardian hears the pleas of one that is not an O’Donnell by blood. Now go,” Ian said.
Ian took a deep breath and returned to main house. Halfway up the stairs muffled screams and doors slamming reached his ears. Images formed in his mind of the monster going room to room dispatching all he found hiding. His distress magnified when he realized they came from his father’s bedroom. Standing in the doorway he could see his father broken body across the room. He moved inside at the sound of a door being torn off its hinges. The monster pulled Emma from the closet and lifted her from the floor by the throat. He knew his horror matched hers when their eyes locked, but for a brief moment he saw relief in her gaze before the light of life faded from them. 
Howling his rage, Ian charged the beast with his sword extended. With all his might Ian shoved the blade deep into its back. The monster screamed in apparent pain. Swirling about trying to dislodge the weapon, the beast slung Emma’s body one way then slapped Ian haphazardly across the room the other way. His body crashed to the floor landing on discarded and broken furniture. Pain radiated through his body from head to toe. It was unlike anything he ever felt. He could barely draw a breath.
The monster had managed to remove the weapon. It turned toward him with the blade in his hand. Ian closed his eyes bracing himself as the beast walked to him. The blade pierced his gut swiftly stabbing into the floor beneath him. Surprisingly it did not add much to his discomfort. The monster stood over him just a second the shuffled from the room.
A visual of his father and brothers came to mind. Ian could not avenge them, but he was at peace to die with them. Closing his eyes he prepared for death. His head lifted and rested on something softer than the floor.  Conscious thought slipped away and the pain began to ease.
“In here! He’s in here! Oh my God! Fairy! Quickly!”
Ian gasped and let out a moan when the blade was removed from his body. His eyes flickered open, but closed again.  
“His heartbeat is very faint, but he lives. The O’Donnell’s are good and kind people. Don’t let their line die this horrible way. Heal him, please,” Sean begged.
Fingers touched Ian’s forehead. They were so light he barely registered the sensation, but a rush of heat rolled over his body like a wave at the slight connection. Immediately he drew in a deep breath and his eyes popped open. The pain ceased and his heart beat with new vigor. He felt stronger than he ever had. Sean smiled down at him.  
“My God Ian. The bleeding has stopped. The fairy has healed you.”
Ian scrambled to his hands and knees rushing over to his father’s body. Cradling his father’s head in his lap he looked toward the fairy.
“Can’t you save him too, fairy? He is my father, leader of our clan.” 
She shook her head. “No, Ian O’Donnell, I cannot. It is fate to end here.”
Ian cried rocking his father’s head close to him. Sorrow and frustration filled his screams. After a while he stopped and he laid his father back on the floor, retrieved his weapon, and moved toward the door. 
“Ian, where are you going?” Sean asked.
“I’m going to avenge my family’s deaths,” he replied calmly.
“Ian, no! The fairy has given you a second chance to live. You cannot squander it!”
Ian turned and opened to his mouth to argue his point with his friend, but the fairy’s calm voice stopped his retort.
“Ian O’Donnell, your family line will not die here, but if you chase the beast now you will erase what I have done. I can give you the means to avenge your family, but it will not happen today. The beast thinks he has destroyed your blood line, he must continue to believe it is so. All must believe until the time is right.”
Ian looked at his father’s body again and then to the only mother he ever knew. His heart was heavy with his loss. He was exhausted with grief. Turning tear filled eyes to the fairy, Ian dropped his weapon and fell to his knees beside it.

“What must I do, Fairy?” 

Keep an eye out for a cover reveal! All Dana's books are available on her website

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Tips: Using all 5 senses

Hello everyone,
Welcome back to another Thursday tips to help you be a better writer. As writers we want to be aware of the five senses. We use the five senses to transport our reader into the scene we are describing. The five senses have a power to connect with our readers in a deep way. So remember,engaging them all helps bring your fictional world to life.

Write With Sight
Don’t simply tell your reader how you feel or what is going on. Show them. There is more to writing with sight than green trees and blue skies.
Ask yourself, “What am I seeing?” and as you start with the mundane white car driving by I challenge you to look further. Beyond the man walking by with tattoos covering his arms, watch the way he walks. Does he stare at the ground as he walks or does he confidently stare forward? Practice with photos. Try to describe a picture to someone who has never seen the photo before. Show them what is there in detail so they can build the picture in their mind's eye.

Write With Taste

Describing taste can be a fun way to keep your reader intrigued in the details. So often we neglect or even simply forget to describe the way something might taste or what that taste means.
This might be awful, but comparing the flavor and taste of Krispy Kreme donuts to “eating a baby angel” does bring a picture to ones mind. Or, the taste of tomato soup is like, "coming in from a blizzard, kicking your boots off, and sitting in front of the fire.” 
The metaphors we use have the power to transport our readers to places that evoke memories and emotion from their own life, allowing a deeper connection to be made.

Write with Smell

Generally  smells are categorize into two options: good or bad, but smells can help tell stories, too. When you begin to describe a scene close your eyes and envision all of the possible smells that surround you. Smells do not only describe food and body odor, they can be used to describe the weather, a room, or a situation.

Write With Sound

There are noises all around you. Have you unlocked what the sounds are really telling you?Sounds are not always external buzzes and bangs, sometimes they come in the form of thoughts and voices. Some of those sounds are truths and some are lies. Some sounds tell the reader where you are or what you are doing without actually having to tell them.

Write With Touch

Describing the way things feel is just plain fun. The number of adjectives available are endless. Temperature and texture great to use and so much fun!
For example: “Her fingers skimmed the cool, silky water.”
When writing about touch, the physical is very important to describe, but even more important is the invisible. The different aspects that are “touched” but not with your hands.
As you have probably noticed by now, the key to unlocking the five senses is the question behind it. The question of why you are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or feeling something. Once you’ve established the sense, ask the question, 
“What does this mean?”
Hope this helps! See you next week!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: dessert- Mini Pineapple Upside Down cakes

Hello everyone!
Since I've reactivated my blog I noticed I haven't posted a single dessert! Me! Someone who has to have dessert with my final meal of the day. Well. with Fall now upon us and the "dessert season" here with it I will be posting a "sensible" dessert for you to try and possible have for holiday time too. So, for my first dessert I'm posting a very easy, kid friendly and one of my favorite desserts. the mini pineapple upside down cakes.

A classic cake gets individual!  Perfect for parties and easy to make, 5 ingredients is all it takes!  The combination of mouth-watering caramelized sugar, sweet pineapple and cherries on buttery cake is sure to please.:

  • 2 cans Dole (20 oz. each) dole pineapple, Slices


  • 1/3 cup Butter or margarine

Baking & Spices

  • 2/3 cup Brown sugar, packed
  • 1 package Yellow or pineapple-flavored cake mix


  • 9 Maraschino cherries

Monday, September 26, 2016

Me Mondays: HEA-Book II, The Right Choice

Hello Everyone, 
Me Monday is here again! Today I'm talking about Book II of the Happily Ever After: By Any Means Necessary. The Right Choice is live!

Book II of the Happily Ever After: By Any Means Necessary series. 

Andrea Cooper, a stay at home mom, was out of a job when her sons went off to college. She turned to her husband Christian for companionship, but he had his hands full with an expanding company. Andrea is alone for the first time in years with nothing to do and no one to care for. In search of a new life she ran into her first love, Raymond Reyes. Christian spends more time away from home as she renews her friendship with Ray. After a while Andrea can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice in marrying Christian after all.

Andrea laughed between bites of chicken. She and Ray slipped into an easy conversation reminding her how easy it was to talk to him.  
“Oh, by the way, I talked to LaTonya and she said it was okay. I can be in your book club,” he said pushing his empty plate to the side.
“Thats good. It should be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
“I agree, and I get to spend more time with you.”
Andrea looked up from her dessert. “This is not about me and you, Ray. Im married.”
“I know that.” He paused for a moment to sip his drink. “I heard you married right after I left.”
“It wasn’t right after. A while had passed.”
“Did you miss me while I was gone?”
“Miss you? Youre not serious, right?”
“Yes, Im serious. I heard that I wasn’t even gone a year before you and that guy from the track team got together.”
Andrea shook her head. “It wasnt like that.”
Ray put his drink down. “Well, what was it like?”
She heard the change in his voice and knew he would continue to push the conversation. Her anger rose.
“You want to talk about this now? Twenty-five years later?”
He shrugged. “We’ve always been able to talk about anything that was on our minds. I think that conversation is unfinished business between us.”
She wiped her mouth and threw the napkin into her unfinished bowl of ice cream. “Okay, fine. Lets get it out in the open.”
Ray sat back and gestured for her to continue.
“When you left you broke my heart, Ray. You dropped me like a hot potato without a word. I cried for over a year wondering what I did that was so wrong that you would just leave me and never come back.” 
Ray’s eyes gaped and his jaw dropped. “Andrea, I—”
“No, you want me to talk about it so hush up and listen,” she told him in angry hushed tones. Her heart raced as she attempted to control her breathing.
Ray nodded. “You’re right. Im sorry, please continue.”
She took a slow deep breath. “Ray, when you left I was devastated. I was young and in love and you flat out broke my heart. You were my first real boyfriend. We dated all high school, my first year in college and you were my first lover. You knew that, but you left with so much as a goodbye anyway. How could you think you leaving wouldn’t affect me? That it wouldn’t hurt me to my core?” she asked palming her chest. “Of course I missed you.”
Ray lowered his head. “Andrea I swear none of that was my intention,” he said with a soft voice.
Andrea folded her hands on the table. “You told me you loved me and then you went to the Army and I never saw you again,” she told him staring at her thumbs.
“I wrote, Andrea. Didn’t you get my letter?”
She shifted her gaze to him. “The letter that said you wanted to see the world so you could grow?”
“Well yes, but it also said that I loved you. Not coming back to you was the biggest mistake I ever made.”
Andrea scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Well, apparently it was a mistake you had no intention on rectifying either.”
“It wasnt like that, Annie.”
The sound of the nickname he gave her so long ago made her gasp and her pulse race. His voice filled with emotion sent shivers down her spine. He took her hand and she looked up at him.
“I had every intention on coming back to you, I swear, but I couldnt come back a boy. You deserved more than that. I wanted to give you the world and so much more.”
“So why didn’t you?”
Ray’s shoulders slumped as he dropped her hand and leaned against the booth. With a heavy sigh his head falls back.
“The years went by so fast, Annie. Just as I thought I was ready something else held me back. I tried to write you again, but I felt like a failure and I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the pen. Believe me, I have been kicking myself ever since.”
Andrea wrapped her arms around her chest. “I gave Christian all the grief and anger you left behind in me, Ray. He didnt deserve it, but you know what? Christian stayed with me. He comforted me and waited for the pain to pass while showing me every day how much he wanted to be with me,” she told him leaning on the table. “I often wondered about you, even after a married. If you met someone and just forgot about me. If you were okay or even alive. How my life could have been different if I had been with you rather than him. I even wondered if I still loved you.”
“Do you?”
Andrea look at him. There was a hopeful tone in his question and undeniable love shining in his eyes. She couldn’t help but smile.
“You seem like the same guy I loved back then, but I sense something has changed in you, too. I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore, but it would seem that even after all these years my emotions still go haywire when you’re near.”
Ray beamed at her.
“But, not having answers left a lot of pain in me, Ray. I need of some type of closure.”
 His smile faded as he leaned on the table resting his arms beside hers. “I thought joining the Army would help me see the world and grow up and it did. I saw the most wonderful things, but I also saw some stuff that I still have nightmares over.” He let out a sad laugh. “Even the worlds most beautiful sights cant erase some horrible things that lock themselves into your mind.”
Ray fell silent for a moment. Andrea saw the pain he tried to hide from her in those beautiful brown eyes of his and fought the urge to comfort him.
“All those years went by and no matter what I saw, or what I did, it never filled the void in my heart of not having you in my life,” he continued. “I tried to fill it with adventure, food, drink, even other women, but nothing could hold a candle to the way you made me feel.”
“If you felt like that why didn’t you come back to me?”
He paused to sip from his glass and continued staring at the table as he spoke. “I dont know what to say. Time flew by. When I did think I was ready and could do all the things I wanted to do for you it was too late. You were married and had children.”
“You knew about me and Christian?”
He nodded.
“Years ago. Your boys were just youngsters. My parents still see your mother from time to time. I didn’t want to mess with that. So I stayed where I was.”
“You never married or had children?”
Ray shook his head. “There was no one I never wanted to have children with except you.”
She sighed. “It was so hard not knowing what happened to you.”
“I know. Please accept the apology I should have given you so many years ago.” He took her hand. “Can you forgive the man for the biggest mistake he ever made as a boy?” he asked, giving her fingers a squeeze.
Andrea gave him a small smile. “Yes, you are forgiven. I probably forgave you a long time ago, Ray. I just needed to know.”
“Excellent, so where do we go from here?”

“Well, how about we just leave the past in the past. We started as friends and we can be friends now.”

Available in ebook and print, on Amazon in a few short days, but you can get yours now exclusively from my website via Creatspace 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday tips: how to build a bad guy!

Hello everyone!
Welcome back to another Thursday tip day! Today is a fun one. How to build a bad guy. Nothing makes your hero more heroic than a worthy opponent, right? 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 male pronouns will be used throughout this tip, 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 is only a caricature—spoiling the reader’s whole experience. 

Motivation: The Secret Sauce for Creating a Compelling 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.

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.

Your Bad Guy 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’s persuasive
  • He’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants
  • He’s proud
  • He’s deceitful
  • He’s jealous, especially of the hero
  • He’s vengeful