Monday, March 27, 2017

Dear Literary Villain: The Truth Is, I Love to Hate You by Nicki Bishop

Dear Literary Villain,

 How could you? I was simply trying to enjoy the top novel on my TBR pile (it’s gotten a bit out of hand), and there you appear—a dark blot on the crisp, white page. Surely the clean, descriptive writing of my favorite author would have been absolutely flawless if it weren’t for you. I mean, after all, aren’t books supposed to transport you in time and space, lead you to try new things, and leave you with an overall enjoyable experience?

Not so, it seems. For you, Dear Villain, have spoiled the story entirely.  Your manipulative, divisive actions have put my protagonist in quite a predicament. Truly. You insist on making it increasingly difficult for my favorite character to find a happy place in this newfound story world, and I may be so inclined as to close the volume altogether. I hope you’re satisfied with yourself.


Discontented Reader


Do you ever feel this way? I know I do. I’m not one of those people that enjoys the pain and suffering of the characters I love. I want to see a happy ending, and I just can’t take the pain and heartache! There. I said it. It seems like every time I get attached to a main character in a brand new novel, the villain makes his way onto the page; and all I want to do is skip to the next triumphant moment for my girl.

Really. Villains. Who needs them?

*Wouldn’t Lucy be better off if there was no White Witch?

*Couldn’t Scout be happier if there were no Bob Ewell?

*What would Sarah’s life look like if Duke had never named her Angel?

*Where would Adele von Braun be if she had never crossed paths with the Third Reich?

*How free could Nym be if she were never sold to Adora?

*Would Carrington Hale be content with her status in life if there were no Isaac Knight?

*What could have happened if Havah never answered the compliment of a serpent?



Now it’s starting to make sense to me. Do you see it too? Villains are always going to be there.  There’s always going to be evil in the world—real or literary—but in the dark, the light shines brighter. In the midst of evil, the truth is easier to see. I love this truth that prevails in Christian fiction—God’s Word and God’s people always win over the enemy. Yes, we may lose a few battles, but God always wins the war.

 In the process, every main character becomes stronger, more determined, and dearer to our hearts.  It’s like that Scripture that says,

“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” 
(Romans 12:9b,

I love, love, love my evil-fighting, truth-bearing main characters (even if it takes them a few chapters to find the right path). They make me love them even more when they’re up against an enemy—it makes the story deeper and the truth shine brighter.

So guess what, Literary Villain?
The truth is, I really love to hate you!

Now, how about you? What characters do you love more because they had to face an enemy? What stories do you love most because of the light shining against the darkness? Let us know in the comments below!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gillian's SONGKEEPER blog tour.

Explore Leira Blog Tour: L is for Langorian Pirates

Thanks, Deanna, for hosting me here and helping me celebrate the (almost) one year book birthday for Songkeeper! It is the second book in the Songkeeper Chronicles, which tells the story of a girl who can hear the song that created the world.

If this is your first encounter with the #exploreleira blog tour, we are continuing a series of alphabet posts looking at the world and characters and magical creatures of the Songkeeper Chronicles (follow the tour at and find a list of all the stops at #exploreleira tour). And we have an awesome giveaway that you can enter below!

Today, we’re looking at the letter …

L is for Langorian Pirates

Because who doesn’t love pirates! Confession time. I used to be slightly obsessed with pirates. The good kind, you know. The swashbuckling, charming, roguish sort that you run across in Pirates of the Caribbean and—one of my favorites—Wayne Thomas Batson’s novel Isle of Swords. I may have held a pirate birthday party for five or six years running, in which everyone was required to show up in appropriate pirate garb and we devoured pizza by the pound (because all good pirates love pizza) and chocolate cake. (Pirates also love cake. In case you were wondering.)

So naturally, when young-writer-me decided to write a fantasy novel … guess what wound up on the page?

That’s right.


Did I ever tell you guys that Orphan’s Song went through five substantial rewrites and lost nearly 30,000 words before I even tried to get it published? Yep. That happened. In that time, the pirates morphed from something slightly Pirates of the Caribbean-esque into pitiless raiders from Langoria whose ships plague the coasts of Leira. They pillage villages, burn fishing ships, and carry off the typical plunder of gold and weapons and household goods.

But their main trade is in slaves.
Tales of the Langorian pirates had been a common subject of travelers’ tales at the Sylvan Swan. The tales spoke of a brutal people who valued strength above all else. Pity was a thing unknown to them, for pity was weakness, and slaves in a hold were considered little more than cattle, worth only what they could bring on an ever flooded market. With a fast ship, a brisk wind, and a crew of swordsmen, new captives were ever ripe for the taking.

The island of Langoria lies off the edge of the map, south of Leira. It is a nation of sea-faring raiders—somewhat like the Vikings, in that regard. (Though without the dragon ships, Norse mythology, and round shields.) Each ship is captained by a pirate lord who sails under the flag of their ruler, the Korsakk, and pays tribute to him.

In Orphan’s Song, we get our first glimpse of the pirates on the beach of Bryllhyn:
A motley assortment of people milled around the fire, all clad in strange bright tunics and sagging breeches, arms and necks glittering with gold jewelry. They held overflowing tankards in their hands and were surrounded by a ring of broached casks.
Just off the shore, a long, low ship, painted red and gold, with two masts and sails tightly furled, rocked on the washing tide. A massive iron prong stuck out from the prow like a giant spear. Three longboats were pulled up on the beach.
Orphan’s Song

That pirate ship changed quite a bit in the rewrites too. Originally, it was a black ship with black sails. It still had the iron ram and was long and low and propelled by oars, so not a complete rip-off from Pirates of the Caribbean, but I eventually decided that the Langorian pirates would choose something with more color.

Within the story, over the years leading up to Orphan’s Song, Langorian attacks on Leira’s coasts had become more frequent and violent. Most dismissed it as just another sign of the dark world that they lived in, but there were some of a more suspicious nature who wondered if something more might be at work … There are rumors that the Langorians have a treaty with the Takhran and that they supply him with a tribute of slaves for his camps in exchange for full rein to wreak terror on the coast.
Of course, they are only rumors.

While I still enjoy a good pirate tale or movie, you can bet that I won’t be inviting the Langorians to any pirate parties any time soon. (I’m pretty sure they don’t like pizza or chocolate cake.)

Do you like your pirates to be of the “good” sort (i.e. roguish and charming) or “evil” (cruel and despicable)?

Check out the links below for a place to purchase the books.

Barnes and Nobles: Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper

And before you leave, don’t forget to enter the giveaway! One lucky winner will take home a copy of Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper, and a gorgeous handmade mug. Two lucky winners will take home copies of Songkeeper! Enter through the Rafflecopter below and be sure to visit to continue following the blog tour. You can earn new entries for each post that you visit along the way. Winners will be announced after April 15th.

Bio: GILLIAN BRONTE ADAMS is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist. She is the author of Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper, and Out of Darkness Rising. Visit Gillian online at her blog, Twitter, or Facebook page.

Songkeeper Blurb: War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent.
Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran’s fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cover reveal: SPARK by J.M. Hackman

(Due to technical difficulties, I wasn't able to post this on the cover reveal day.)

We have a cover reveal today on our blog.
Spark by J.M. Hackman

Look at the gorgeousness! 

We're in love. It's such a brilliant and vivid cover by Sara Helwe

We bet you love it as much as we do.

This is the lovely J.M. Hackman. She is the sweetest lady, and we hope you enjoy her debut novel Spark, out with Love2readLove2Write Publishing this spring.

Join Jill's street team, The Pyromaniacs to help spread the word about Spark.

The Pyromaniacs

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Make your Villains Really Come to Life by Lani Forbes

My favorite Disney villain of all time has to be Mother Gothel from the movie "Rapunzel". At first, she seems to be one of the more mild villains (she doesn't want to skin puppies alive or turn into a fire-breathing dragon), but watching the way she treats Rapunzel is enough to raise the hair on anyone's neck. And here's why: she's a narcissist. We've all met someone like Mother Gothel...and it makes us cringe!

Mother Gothel isn't just obsessed with herself and being young and beautiful, she mentally traps Rapunzel as easily as she physically traps her. She uses manipulation, guilt, and emotional abuse to convince Rapunzel that the world is a scary place. Even when she leaves the tower, Rapunzel battles with the mental snares Gothel still has on her.

Villains are not supposed to be one-dimensional, classically "evil" characters that twirl their mustaches as they tie our protagonist to train tracks. They are not "evil" just to be evil. Even Voldemort from Harry Potter is a classic sociopath that suffered from a bizarre magpie-like tendency to collect trophies, believed himself to be better than everyone else, and suffered a disabling fear of death.

To give our villains real dimension, they need to have real personalities! Real fears, real painful histories, and real personality defects and disorders. Personality disorders often take real characteristics and magnify them to an unhealthy extreme. For example, we can all feel insecure at times, but extreme insecurity becomes damaging to both ourselves and others around us. By studying actual personality psychology, we can draw inspiration from a myriad of established "unhealthy" characteristics to give our villains, well, character!

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (The DSM-5) there are three clusters of personality disorders:

Cluster A

(Odd, Bizarre, Eccentric)

Example Disorders: Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypal

Common Characteristics: Suspicious, untrusting, strong sense of personal rights and superiority, projecting thoughts and feelings onto others, lack of empathy or bonding, lack of emotional responses, may retreat to an internal world, avoid social interactions. odd appearance, speech, or tendencies.

Example Characters: Voldemort (Harry Potter), Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair), Iago (Othello), The Joker (The Dark Knight)

Cluster B

(Dramatic, Erratic)

Example Disorders: Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic

Common Characteristics:  Emotionally unstable and erratic, prone to outbursts or rages, deeply insecure, acts impulsively, can appear charming, turbulent relationships, overly dramatic, obsessed with attention and approval of others, demanding of others.

Example Characters: Joan Crawford (Mommy Dearest), Mother Gothel (Rapunzel), Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmations). Gilderoy Lockhart (Harry Potter), Miranda Priestly (Devil Wears Prada).

Cluster C

(Anxious, Fearful)

Example Disorders: Avoidant, Dependent, Obsessive-compulsive

Common Characteristics: Deep fear of rejection and abandonment, helplessness, idealizing unhealthy individuals (especially cluster B people), naive or child-like views of the world, perpetual victims, obsessive preoccupation with lists, details, rules, order, schedules, perfectionists, humorless, overly-controlling, seeing things as very black and white.

Example Characters: Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter), Two-face (Batman), Syndrome (The Incredibles), Captain Hook (Peter Pan), Loki (Marvel Universe)

For more information on (not so) fun personality disorders check out this great source: 

Monday, March 6, 2017

3 Types of Villains You Can't Get Out of Your Head. By Robin Scobee

(Deanna posted for Robin because when Robin moved, her computer changed to Korean. Say a prayer that she can get this fixed! No fun at all.)

Blogger confession: I don't like villains. I don't get villains. I lost interest in the Walking Dead when Neagan was introduced. I find myself squelching yawns when the next Apocalypse-inducing bad guy threatens the Marvel universe. I watch Disney Princess movies with my daughters and wonder why those evil step-mothers even want the responsibility that comes with the power they crave.

It's not that I like my stories to be all "Pollyanna," innocent and sweet. On the contrary, Pollyanna had that awful neighbor, Mrs. Snow (an ironic name that brings to mind another popular villain!), trying to thwart her happiness.

I think what bores me is the simplicity of good/likable character versus bad/obviously wicked character. Life is seldom so black and white, and art should reveal something distinctly authentic about real life, shouldn't it?

Since we're talking about our favorite villains this month at quillsandinkblotts, Jebraun: Literary Villains I love to Hate, I had to scratch my head a little to figure out what villains I actually like, and to figure out why I like them. I came up with three types of villains who have affected me long after the reading (or watching) for more than simply being bad.

The Archetypal Villain 

You may know of my undying and sometimes irrational love of Les Miserables 4 Fictional Characters, led by the Everyman, Valjean, and his lifelong nemesis, Javert. If you know the story well, you may think, "What's so complex about that? It's good vs. evil, right?" Well, at its most superficial level maybe, but it becomes so much more interesting when you study Javert alone. Without Valjean to pursue and destroy, he could be seen as a man of integrity. He's devoted to the welfare of the innocent. His duty, as he sees it, is to take criminals off the street and make sure they're punished in accordance with the law--and he's remarkably competent at what he does. He never goes outside the bounds of the law in his pursuit (obsession) of Valjean. Have you ever noticed that?

What makes him a villain is our love for Valjean. Valjean is guilty, and we know it, but we also desperately want him to escape the clutches of Javert. We cheer when Valjean, by his brute strength, cunning, or pure luck, gets away in the classic "cat and mouse" that keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Though Javert is by no means wicked, we hate him, and rightly so. He's a Pharisee, a man who loves the law more than his fellow man. A man who shows no empathy, sympathy, or compassion. He's a man without grace. 

Though his demise is shocking to us whose compassion swells as the story of Valjean unfolds, it's also a relief. This archetypal villain must not win the day if there is such a thing as justice in this broken world.

The Non-human Villain

Sometimes the characters we love never face a nefarious, wicked personage whose sole purpose for existing is to thwart said character's big goal. What is it that keeps us reading stories like these? Why do we care what happens if there is no literal bad guy making things difficult? 

We care because the villain is present, still getting in the way and threatening ruin, just not in the form we expect.

My favorite example of this type of villain is found in the memoir Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. Frank's story begins when he is a toddler, roaming the streets of New York (and later Ireland) with his brother. He is hungry--constantly hungry--and lacking in every material way. His family is barely surviving (three children don't survive, probably due to malnutrition) with an alcoholic father who can't help but spend what little he has on "pint's." 

As the story unfolds, the reader aches for him to "win the day" as she did with Valjean, but against what? What does it even mean for Frank to "win?" It means he finally sits down to a table with enough food to feed his family--and that there will be more tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. It means he will grow up into a young man with teeth in his head, and medicine for his poor red eyes, and books to read. It means he will find work. It means he will be able to look forward to a promising future. 

What threatens that outcome? What keeps us turning the page, worried it won't happen? 

The villain, of course: poverty. It's written plainly on every page, every bit as hateful and compassionless as Javert, but without a face or a body.

The Innocent Victim

This is a rare and supremely complicated villain. This is the one the audience roots against but feels guilty for it, because the villain did nothing to earn that role.

This describes the villain in Director William Stephenson's 1997 film, "Firelight." It's a complicated love story to begin with: landowner's wife is in a coma following an accident, and he needs an heir; poor single girl needs money to pay off her father' debts. An agreement is made, a child is conceived, born, and given by her mother to the landowner. But the mother is unable to forget about the daughter she bore. Seven years later she finds the child and the landowner. In this incredibly tense and secretive time, love grows between the landowner and the woman. The audience aches for them to be together, but there's just one huge obstacle: the wife in a coma. 

In this sense, the wife, innocent and pitiable, becomes the villain because she is the only thing that stands in the way of our characters' happily ever after. Though compassion for the innocent should compel us to hope for a just outcome, lovers of love stories will find themselves rooting against justice, against the comatose wife, because we yearn above all for love between the man and woman who've overcome so much, and who we've come to love ourselves. 

Villains come in so many shapes and sizes, don't they? Do you have any unconventional villains you love to hate? Please share in the comments!

Willoughby and The Terribly Itchy Itch, by Pam Halter

We are excited to present to you the amazing Willoughby!
Pam Halter has an adorable new kids book out and we wanted to share it with you. Check it out! Look at that cuteness!!!! 

Every time I see the title all I can think of is the Raffi song that goes, "Willoughby Walloby-Woo, an elephant sat on you." :) 
Makes me smile. 
I can't wait to snatch up a bunch of copies of Willoughby and hand them out at kids birthday parties.
Here's the link if you'd like a copy or two of your own:

Here's the back: 
Follow Pam on Facebook:  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

My favorite Villains

Villains. You know why I love them? Because they're so complex. Well, the good ones are.
I dislike villains who don't have layers. Layers are what makes them interesting. People don't just become villains because one day they wake up and say, "Hey, today I'm going to become a bad guy."


It's a process in the making. Years of cause and effect. Bad choices, bad circumstances. A compilation of things that lead them to finally 'turn to the dark side'.

Sometimes this can be an overnight thing, but usually, it's an accumulation of preceding circumstances, that ultimately force the person in question to make a choice.

"Will I choose to do the right thing or not?"

Then that choice leads them down into a snowball of bad choices which ultimately turn their hearts black. Is it possible for a villain to redeem themselves? Sure it is.

Just not likely.

My top favorite villains:

Catherine de Medici

At the beginning of the show Reign, it seems Catherine is simply an overprotective mother who loves her son so much, she's willing to kill to save his life. Later on, you realize that she only wants to save herself. She schemes and plots her way to the top-killing anyone who could ruin her plan.

As the series goes on we delve deeper into Catherine's warped mind. You see how ruthless she is. We hate her because she threatens Mary, Queen of Scots. Just when you really despise Catherine, they throw in a wrench that tears your heart out. You find out she'd been brutally gang-raped as a young girl, forever shaping her distrust and utter contempt for everyone around her. Especially men.

Her lover, Narcisse, admits to a confidant that the only thing worse than being hated by Catherine de Medici is being loved by her. She must force people to love her, by any dark means necessary. I would never want to cross paths with her.

Eventually, Catherine bites herself in the buttock and devises a plan where she hides her son's baby away for her own selfish benefit. Staging his death. Her son mourns bitterly, and later it's revealed that she was behind the plot. Her son banishes her forever.

This is the kind of villain I love to hate. She does horribly despicable things, yet you have compassion on her, because of the way her mind is twisted by past events.

Kylo Ren

I absolutely adore him and all his hissy fit, angsty drama. He's just the type of villain I love.

He tries so hard to be wicked, and yet he's so bad at it.

He wants to live up to Darth Vader's legacy, but there's too much good in him to make it work properly.

His temperamental attitude makes for some hysterical scenes, throwing fits that would match a three-year-olds tantrum. He's such a big baby, and you either want to comfort him or slap him silly. Sometimes both.

That hilarity and compassion come to a quick halt, toward the end of the movie The Force Awakens, when he actually kills his own father. You have to take a step back and go, "Dude! You're pretty awful! How could you?"

I cannot wait to see where they take his character with the next movie. I'm guessing it's going to get darker before it gets better.


My #1 favorite villain of all times is Rumplestiltskin from Once Upon a Time.

He is the best of the best. He makes every other villain look weak and stupid.

His cunning and wily ways are beyond fantastic. You hate him, love him, and hate him again. You can't help but flip flop your emotions for this crazy man.

He plays the "Dark One" in OUAT and does an excellent job of it. Sometimes you are rooting for him and sometimes you're booing at him. He's so sneaky and cruel, and yet you can't help having a little crush on him just because of his pure brilliance.

As a man, Rumple is weak,-a coward even- but as the Dark One he has power and uses it with manipulation, bribes, charm and stealthy deals that sometimes even the smartest of characters can't pass up.

When Belle finds good inside of him I wanted him to turn away from the bad side, and yet, I almost didn't because he's just so darn good at being bad, and you know he'll be boring as just a man. I can never take my eyes from the screen when he's on it.

He's disgusting and vile, and yet I can't help but feel for him and want him to win.

It's a terrible conundrum.

One I will gladly have over and over as I watch OUAT if that means I can spend more time figuring out Rumple's multiple, colorful personalities and what he's scheming to do next.