Thursday, July 9, 2020
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
The essence of a successful suspense story is a great villain. Intelligent and charismatic, plus enough of a sociopath to engage in single-minded pursuit of his or her goal no matter what. In a really good story, the villain is on the page, hiding in plain sight, and yet invisible to both the reader and the protagonist. The villain should also be a chameleon, changing its MO periodically to challenge even the most persistant protagonist.
A great villain leaves the poor protagonist stumbling in their wake. In fact, sometimes litterally stumbling over the ever-growing pile of dead bodies. Nothing can be done to identify the villain, much less bring him/her/it under control.
That was Andromeda's fatal flaw. It's kill rate was too close to 100%. Death was nearly instantaneous, too. It wiped out an entire town withing minutes, leaving only two survivors, an elderly man and a crying baby. Those deaths were enough to make the super-competant US government quarantine the entire area and send in a crack team of scientists. Characters treated a possible pandemic with the respect it deserved. Don't laugh.
The 2020 writers have crafted a superior virus villain. Covid plays with it's victims. Some die within days, others weeks or even months. Some survive with long-term illnesses. Covid doesn't care. It has one goal, to make more little Covids. Writers interested in making a sociopath for a villain would do well to use this virus as a template. It doesn't hate humanity, it simply doesn't care. And it perfectly exploits humans who don't care either.
Like other predators, once the low hanging fruit is consumed, Covid graduates to stronger, more resistant prey. It's not a coincidence that the 2020 writers introduced a mutation into Covid to make it more infectuous. with the vulnerable, eldery and those with preexisting conditions either already infected or isolating themselves, the new and improved virus now infects the young and healthy who once thumbed their noses at the danger it present. It also goes after children, showing new symptoms that made our protagonists, the dedicated hospital staff, fear they had something new on their hands at first. In Jaws, the shark eventually tackles on an entire boat. We still have to wait and see what the writers have up their sleeves for Covid to do next.
The real problem with a villain built on the Covid-19 archetype is figuring out how anyone possessing less than super powers can defeat them.
Oh dear, I hope the 2020 writers' have that part figured out. We don't need a Neverending Story this year.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Monday, July 6, 2020
Instead, I thought I'd rather talk about how things have changed since the discovery of Covid-19. I had several book signings and conferences I had planned to attend this year. They have all been cancelled. Some have taken to the internet. A couple of the conferences are going to try and do some online workshops with the Guests of Honor authors who had been slated for the conferences. With my iffy internet, I'll try one and see how that works.
The only way I can get internet, because I live so rural, is by satellite. Some days it works great, some days it flicks on and off a hundred times a day. The days I'm writing and might need to do some research, it's not so bad. But the days I'm trying to upload a book to an ebook vendor, or a print book website, or listen to audio chapters by my narrator and there are that many glitches, it can be a pain.
The other thing that has changed- many authors are signing up for podcasts with podcasts hosts as a way to speak to readers without going to a book signing event. I've done this twice so far.
Did I mention my internet isn't the greatest? Both podcasts have a lag time between the hosts questions and my answers. There isn't a lot I can do about it other than rethink doing podcasts.
Here is the link to the first podcast with Alexandra Amor on It's a Mystery Podcast; On this one I read a chapter from my book and answer questions. Here is the link to the website were you can download the podcast in several different places like Apple podcasts, Android, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Tunein, and Spotify.
The second most recent podcast was with Cynthia Brian on Be The Star You Are. She highlights writers for 15 minutes on her Wednesday podcasts. She talks about dealing with negativity the first 15 minutes, then interviews me about my latest release Fox Goes Hunting.
While I enjoy speaking with people about my books, I'm nto a fan of speaking on the phone, which is what I had to do for the second one. I figured out afterwards, the computer didn't work correctly because of something I did. At least I will no better if I sign on to do another podcast.
I keep thinking I want to do videos for my blog, but I never take the time to sit down and figure it out.
Do you like hearing from authors about their books via things like podcasts? Or would you rather see them in a video? I know better yet would be in person, but I think it's going to be a while before we can have conferences and book signings.
I hope you enjoy the podcasts if you listen to them.
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 46 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. This is what Books a Plenty Book Reviews has to say about the Gabriel Hawke series: "The blend of nature tracking, clues, and the animals makes for a fascinating mystery that is hard to put down."
Saturday, July 4, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Lately, I’ve been working on a book with a couple of villains, it’s challenged me to work out how to make them believable and unearth their motives. At this point, there’s one that doesn’t change their ways but the other one does when they learn that they are their own worst enemy. This is the character that has me intrigued. I’m even considering the idea of giving them their own book.
The most outstanding facet of a villain’s character is their disconnect from empathy for others. They lack the ability to validate someone else needs, particularly when it is competing with their plots and plans. As this is fairly abhorrent but if there is a human side to them, I find I can be a bit sympathetic.
I can feel a bit sorry when a villain just doesn’t get that caring about others is actually a way to feel really good about yourself. Instead villains chase after self-esteem or approval through underhanded methods that never deliver a real sense of achievement and pride in themselves. But they don’t know any different so they keep making the same mistakes.
When a villain has an epiphany and starts to change, I can feel for them. The bully who learned his behavior from a bullying father evokes sympathy. Of course, it doesn’t excuse the behavior but if I understand it I can connect with the villain. But in the case where there seems to be no human motive, I find nothing to connect me to the character and I cannot feel any sympathy, I’m hoping like anything they get taken down.
In the movie called No Country For Old Men, there are villains galore. I can sympathize with all but one. This killer has absolutely no ability to connect with others. Nothing gets in the way of his job, innocent people are blown away if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This guy doesn’t get my sympathy at all. He doesn’t display any humanity and keeps going like a robot or machine.
Perhaps a villain has been born without the ability to empathize or was so mistreated in childhood that they lost it or didn’t get to develop it. I want them to grow, I want them to find it somehow. In a movie called Hit Man, the villain is raised in an orphanage that raises contract killers. The lead character’s humanity is stripped from him, not even having a name, just called by a number. But he falls in love. He knows he’s ill-equipped to have a proper relationship with her but he uses all his ability to keep her safe. , He turns from a villain into a hero because he loves her.
In the story, I’m currently working on, I have to think about why the villains are uncaring and hurtful. Power is one of the key desires of villains. One of them feels power is his right and uses it selfishly. The other feels powerless and bands with the other to gain it. I want them to redeem themselves and discover that they have had it all wrong and become careful and caring people because this is the kind of villain I love, but only one of them will, the other is too entrenched in his view of how the world works.
A villain that doesn’t care about anyone but themselves and keeps being a full-on villain no matter what the reason is one I can’t wait to see brought down. It’s not easy to admit you’re wrong and accept responsibility for your mistakes. I can admire someone who does. Jamie from Game of Thrones started out an entitled, selfish, killer. Through falling in love with a woman who modeled a virtuous life he came to see his faults and endeavored to be a better person. A villain who tries to do the right thing even though they fail will be one I can love.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, contemporary romance.
Or Visit Dora's website www.dorabramden.com
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
In 2002, I was injured in a rugby accident which left me with quadriplegia. After spending several months in rehabilitation I decided to go to college and after 4 years I emerged with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Evergreen State College. After graduating, I tried to find work with the help of the Department of Vocational Rehab but struggled to find any opportunity for employment.
I found myself floundering and depressed. I sought guidance from a counselor and it was suggested that I start volunteering in order to give me a sense of purpose and community. It worked! I began volunteering at local schools, a local theater, the co-op and finally at the children’s museum. It was there that I discovered there weren't any books which included characters with disabilities. This inspired me to create a book series and share my stories with kids about living with disabilities and using a wheelchair..
My latest book, Monster Truck’n is about when I got to drive a monster truck. I have many more stories and ideas to draw from and plan on continuing to add to the book series of the Adventures of Frank and Mustard for many years to come.
Although my dreams for Frank and Mustard have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus, Arturo and I continue to work on creating more books that represent inclusion, kindness and acceptance.
Learn more about Frank and Mustard's creators: https://www.frankandmustard.com/about-us
Saturday, June 27, 2020
|Susie with Sugar and Curry|
Friday, June 26, 2020
Honestly, this was the fastest blog piece I've ever penned.
On my own blog, Writing in my Oxygen, I've talked numerous times over the years about my number one book for children, the one I always give as a gift to expectant mothers, or when I've been invited to toddler birthday parties.
That book is THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD, written by Watty Piper and illustrated by Dan Santat.
Now, I'm going to be honest and tell you I didn't read this book as a child. In fact, I'd never heard of it until my own daughter was born, 30 years ago. The book was given to me as part of a baby shower gift and when I read it after every one had gone home, I fell absolutely, head to toes in love with the message within its pages.
Self motivation and self actualization flow from this story so effortlessly, that even as an adult I was rooting for that little engine to get up over the mountain. The theme of the book - believing in yourself - is such a wonderful, universal theme that even today in various aspects of my life I find myself thinking you can do it at times when I am questioning myself.
That little engine told himself time and time again, around every twisty curve, up every steep hill, I think I can. The phrase is repeated so many times in the book THAT should be the title! I THINK I CAN.
The best part of the tale - for me - is the ending where the engine, having gone over the punishing mountain, around all the dangerous, twists and turns, and has reached his final destination declares, I knew I could.
As adults, how many times have we felt that we couldn't go on? Complete a task? Even make it through another day of seemingly insurmountable problems? In this day and age and with so many things coming up on a daily basis that require our time, focus, and energy, there are moments when we all feel that we just can't go on. We can't take on one more project, tackle one more dilemma, deal with one more emotional issue. It just gets to be...too much.
The message of The Little Engine that Could is to just believe that you can do anything you set your mind to if you, in fact, believe you can do it.
For me, personally, I would never have tackled a brand new writing career at the age of 55 if I didn't have some of that little engine's gumption in the back of my mind. I thought I could write something people would read. I thought I could get what I wrote published. I knew I'd made my dream come true when my very first publisher bought my book.
Self actualization and belief in yourself are things we should teach our children from the get-go in life. That's why I now give this book at every baby shower I attend, and at most children's birthday parties I'm honored to be invited to.
Believe in yourself...as Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing."
My newest book, a fairy tale redux of Sleeping Beauty, titled WOKE, releases on 7.1.2020. In my version, Aurora doesn't wait for love's true kiss to awaken her...
Waking up each day is a gift….
On her 21st birthday, someone slipped a potent drug combination into socialite Aurora Brightwell’s champagne putting her in a coma for the next ten years. It’s been a long road back, and it’s time to reclaim the life she lost and find out exactly what happened on that fateful night.
Financier Kincade Enright has his own reason for helping Aurora discover who poisoned her, but for the time being he’s keeping that - and his true identity - to himself. What he can’t keep hidden though, are his growing feelings for the one-time paparazzi darling and party-girl.
When this prince of finance joins forces with the former sleeping beauty, nothing can stop them from finding the answers they seek…or prevent the powerful emotions developing between them as they search for the truth.
Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all aspects of life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness, and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.