More about Antagonists and Choosing a Killer

I’ll continue with my talk, But first–

Last Clichés:

Silver-tongued Orator—A persuasive and eloquent speaker. Term around since 16th Century, when applied to a preacher Henry Smith (c. 1550-91) and to Joshua Sylvester (1563-1618), a translator. Silver is equated with something fast-flowing and dazzlingly bright, and is a natural metaphor for eloquent speech. The best-known recipient of the “silver-tongued orator” was William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), who not only was a wonderful speaker, but advocated the free coinage of silver; he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2896 as a result of a speech in which he said, “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

Get to the Point—to address the main issue, speak plainly. This term, which in British parlance is usually phrased come to the point, dates from Chaucer’s time. Chaucer himself wrote in the “Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales, “This is the point, to speken short and pleyn.”

Get up and Go—Vital energy, enthusiasm. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary (1987) hyphenates this term and lists it as a noun, originating in the U.S. in the early years of this century. It has numerous precedents—most common—get up and get, still used in some parts of the U.S. Lady Bird Johnson used it in the early 60s.

So, how many did you find?

Now don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but here’s the rest of my speech from Nov. 1, 2016:

The best antagonist is someone who already plays a part in your protagonist’s life. All my characters are connected in some ways; therefore, the killer is too.

A great antagonist believes that his motivations are valid and his actions justified. He is the hero in his story. My killers know they are doing what needs to be done “in their own mind.” And when you read my books, you’ll see the killer’s thoughts and know they know they are doing the “right” thing.

Create a character whose motivation for opposing the protagonist’s story goal is as strong and logical as the protagonist’s reason for opposing the antagonist’s goal. Of course, my killers are demented in a way and “logical” is in their own mind. They also need a story arc, a change of character in some way. Do my killers change? You decide.

Make an antagonist your readers will love to hate. Let him win occasionally and give him a “kick-the-cat” moment. We need to see why he is the antagonist. I also like to give him at least one endearing quality. I want my readers to make a connection with him. Even if he’s a complete jerk, find one point of connection, one point of contact, between your readers and the antagonist. Find the last surviving ember of his humanity. Fan that ember to life and show it to your audience.  In Night Terror, my first book, the arsonist will not hurt an animal. Always saves the pets. To tell the truth, I’m not sure about the killer in Vanity Killed. Let me know what you think, but I think it has to do with love.


(At this point I read from my Book, Night Terror, Chapter 17.) excerpts as examples I’ll place here.

The dog is heavy, but I manage to lift it up, carry it outside, and set it down onto the grass by a bush. Before walking away, I pat the sleeping form.

The car door squeaks as I shut it with agonizing slowness not wanting to attract attention on this street. As I pull slowly away from the curb, a cat darts in front of me. I slam on the brakes, barely missing it. Trembling, I sit at the wheel as I watch it race off into the dark. Tears roll down my cheeks and glancing heavenward, I mutter, “Thank you, for letting me miss the cat. It might have been Sheba.”

I stay for a minute longer, getting my emotions under control.


Never create an antagonist who exists merely to obstruct the lead. You will end up with a shallow stereotypical character.

Now, with all those tips in creating an antagonist, how do you choose your killer? Not really sure, but I can tell you how I do it.

As I’ve said, I write from the point of view of the hero and the killer.  I write my book and the characters tell the story. Even though I’m writing in the killer’s POV, in the beginning, I’m not really sure who my killer is. Unconventional, yes. Does it work? For me it does. At least in my two books, Night Terror and Vanity Killed. And so far, working in my third book, which has a working title: Birthmark. It’s about a woman who goes shark fishing in Baja, and her shark has a body part in it with a birthmark on it. She’s determined to find out who was in her shark.

When I wrote Night Terror and Vanity Killed, I had an idea who the killer might be.  It was one of three different characters. Little did I know there was a fourth one lurking in the background. This doesn’t work for everyone, but I finally come to a spot in my story, where I have to decide who the killer is. After I decide that, then I finish the book.

When the rewrite comes along, I make sure that the clues are in the story that Could lead you to who the killer is. Hopefully I’ve done well, and you won’t know until the killer is revealed.

When I wrote Night Terror, I had a detective read it. He came to me every day with a different character in mind for the killer. When the killer was revealed, he said, “Naughty, naughty, the clues were there.” I considered that high praise coming from a professional detective.

When I wrote, Vanity Killed, I thought I knew who my killer was. However, when the ending was nearing, the real killer popped up and changed my idea.

Right now, my third book, Birthmark, I’m at the juncture where I must decide which character is the killer.  I’m sort of at a standstill, trying to make that decision. I have it narrowed down among three characters. The other night, I thought I’d decided, But, then there’s this one character who keeps yelling, “No it’s me!” I never know who’s lurking in the shadows that will present him or herself. That’s the fun of writing my stories. Sometimes I’m shocked at who the killer is as much as I hope you are.

I hope this helps you decide and choose your killer.

I had a captive audience that day. Hope you read to the end here and enjoyed.

Until next time,

Keep Writing,



Writing during the holidays

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc., and a very Happy, Healthy New Year!

First, last clichés:

Have one’s hands full—To be very busy, be completely occupied or to have more than enough to do. This dates from the 15th century, maybe earlier. See Thomas Malory’s Morge d’Arthur.

Day in, Day out—Regularly constantly, all day and every day. This expression was so defined in a dialect book by W. Carr in 1828. It was widely used by the end of the century. A cliché by the time C. Day Lewis used it in describing his school days in his autobiography, The Buried Day (1960).

To be one’s Own Worst Enemy—To be the major source of one’s own difficulties. The Greek philosopher Anacharsis (c. 550B.C.) stated this idea: “What is man’s chief enemy? Each is his own.” Cicero said it of Julius Caesar (Ad Atticum, 49 B.C.). More recent times, cartoonist Walt Kelly used it through his main character, Pogo.

So, how many did you find?

How do you write during the holidays? What to do with your writing during that time? Most of the agents during this time do not take submissions. But that doesn’t mean you can take to your heels and not write. You may not be able to submit during this time of the year, but you still need to write, even if it’s your holiday newsletter.

At this time of year, you need to stay on the beam and keep writing, editing, and doing what you love. Carry a small notebook and write in it whenever you can. That’s how I started my first novel, Night Terror. You can change your tune, and not write on a computer, but write by hand. That way you don’t have to carry a laptop, i-pad, etc. with you, but use a little notebook that fits in your pocket or your purse.

So during the holiday season, you have no excuse not to write.  Enjoy the music, food, family and friends, but….

Keep Writing,


Traveling and Writing

another Traveling and Writing

Life gets in the way

Can’t believe my last post was January 8, 2015! No excuses, but was sick, mother-in-law fell and broke hip, and now I’m back to work for a bit after being retired for a very long time. But have to work for our business.

Last clichés:

I don’t think so—Don’t agree with what was just stated. Usually pronounced with an emphasis on think. A 20th century expression and started as I don’t think, with the emphasis on don’t, in the 19th century. Dickens used it in Pickwick Papers (1837).

The old boy network—Social contacts among a group of insiders who help one another advance. Old boy, originally British, refers specifically to a former pupil at one’s own public school, signifying a common background (upper-class male) and therefore a mutually beneficial interest. The practice of fellow alumni helping each other is much older, network was added only in the mid-20th century, when the idea began to be transferred to members of a social club, professional organization, business corporation, and other groups. In 70s women maintained it gave men an unfair advantage in the workplace.

Round peg in a square hole—Someone not suited for the job or position at hand, a misfit. This image was transferred to individuals unsuited for various tasks by 1800 or so. Sometimes used as a square peg in a round hole. Historian Albany Fonblanque used both (England under Seven Administrations, 1836).

So, how many had you found?

Unfortunately, things ran amok: I had vertigo, ended up in hospital twice and finally came home to my ENT in California and he fixed me. It took a few weeks for my brain to function correctly again, then had other problems and haven’t hardly written or read a book since end of January. Now, I’m in Northern California working at our mini storage business for awhile.

But I’m going to get my act together and start writing on my blog again. Next week, I’ll tell you how my cover art is or isn’t going.

Until then, know that I’m getting off my duff,

and Keep Writing,


Attending workshops is important

I just attended the 2014 Arizona Writing Workshop in Tucson on Nov. 22nd. It was a great experience, and writers should attend classes and workshops and conferences.

But first, last clichés:

Racking my brain – To strain to discover a solution or to remember something. Rack refers to the medieval instrument of torture where the victim’s body was stretched until it broke. The idea is old and comes from 1530. “Rack” came into use about 150 years later.

Make no Bones about it – To say or do something without hesitation, evasion, or formality. This saying is so old, it’s original meaning is lost. Nicholas Udall used it in Apothegms from Erasmus (1548). One writer suggests this phrase comes from a diner who makes no fuss if he finds bones in his food. Others relate it to dice, so called because they were originally made from bones, and suggest it meant simply throwing the dice without make any prior fuss about it.

Cat got your Tongue – Why are you silent? Eric Partridge says this term dates from the mid-19th century in both England and U.S. and was one of several phrases used in addressing a child who, after getting into trouble, refused to answer questions. The literal meaning is quite far-fetched, so it must come from the grown-up’s invention of some weird circumstance that prevents the child from speaking. There is a French idiom: “I throw my tongue to the cat,” meaning “I give up; I have nothing to say.”

So, how many did you find?

At the workshop by Chuck Sambuchino, an editor and an author, I learned a lot. The all day workshop was from 9 – 5 and we had speeches on –  book publishing options today; everything you need to know about agents, pitches and queries; a chapter 1 critique fest by agents; how to market your books: platform and social media; and 10 tips on how to get published.

I won’t keep my lips sealed about this workshop. I will pass on some of the knowledge I learned. It will be taught in a few blog posts, because there is so much information. Writers need to attend workshops to not only learn, but to get energized about writing. All cats are grey after dark and it’s important to keep learning new things, especially about our craft.

The first session was about publishing options today and Chuck Sambuchino explained the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing. There are pros and cons for both. The best idea for an author would be a hybrid of the two. If you have a book that is small, meaning has a limited reader range, try self-publishing. A global book—try traditional. Of course, self-publishing will give you higher royalties, but your book can be invisible unless you have a great platform and can sell your book well. With traditional the money flows to you and with self-publishing you pay up front for costs. Either way, it really depends on you.

There’s a mine of information out there for writers, and by attending workshops, you receive much. For more insights from Chuck Sambuchino see his websites or

Keep Writing,


For more information on writing visit:


writing groups






Traveling and Writing

How do you handle your writing when you are traveling?

First, last times clichés:

Win Brownie Points – Earn credits to one’s good standing, advancement. This term comes from the system of awards used by the Girl Scouts of America, junior division, known as the “Brownies.” Mid-20th Century was used figuratively to good deeds or worthy accomplishments in any area. Term calls up images of a hunter quietly concealed in the brush, waiting for game. See Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories.

To risk Life and Limb – To take a serious chance; jeopardize one’s life. This hyperbole for courting danger has been used since the 17th century, even though it makes little sense (life, after all, comprises one’s limbs as well). See James Howell in a letter (1623) and Thomas Burton’s diary entry of 1658.

To speak volumes – To be very expressive on a subject or say a great deal about something. It dates from about 1800 and continues to be current. M. Wilmot used in a letter of May 3 1803.

So, how many did you get?

When you are traveling, how do you write? Do you have a computer? Tablet, such as an I-Pad? Or in a pinch, do you use a pen and paper?

If I’m going to be gone for a long time I bring my I-pad and computer. Of course, I have my manuscript printed out and with different colored pens, edit on it. With the I-Pad do you know there are several apps to use such as Evernote, penultimate (which allows you to handwrite) and many more available?

My novel Night Terror was started with a pen and handwritten on a little 2 x 3 notepad that I carried in my purse. It’s not that I jet set around, but my husband loves to travel, so we’re on the go a lot.

Writing while traveling can be challenging, but it is manageable.

Keep Writing,



A Nightmare is a scary dream where when you wake up, it disappears.
A Night Terror is a scary dream where when you wake up, it continues!

First let’s learn about last clichés:

Too Many Irons in the Fire – More projects than you can handle. This term comes from the smithy and has long survived the profession of blacksmith. The blacksmith who tries to heat too many irons at once is probably going to spoil the forging of some of them. It’s been used since the 16th Century.

Stubborn as a Mule – Singularly obstinate. No one knows why mules have been singled out for this quality, but they have, for centuries. “Obstinate” and “contrary” are other adjectives used in the simile, which started in the early 1800s and remains today. You could also use “mulish.”

A Good Egg – A trustworthy, agreeable person. This expression outlived “bad egg,” which it actually implied in the 16th Century. Started out referring to birds, then morphed into people. See The Athenaeum, 1864 and Rudyard Kipling used it in Traffics and Discoveries (1904).

How many did you find?

Why are titles of your book so important? I think you can win brownie points with a good title. A title should grab the reader’s attention. My title Night Terror reflects that it will be a scary book, but if you know the meaning of “night terror” as explained above, it gives you a real clue as to what the book might be about.

In using a title, you don’t want to lie low. For example in my next book Vanity Killed I’m giving you a clue about the book. My character will risk life and limb to discover how her friend died. Is the book about a person so vain who kills, or are the victims killed because they are vain?

Your titles should speak volumes, so really put some thought into them. If you self-publish, you can use your title. However, a publishing house might want to change your title. You have to decide which the best title is for you.

Keep Writing,


Links to Useful Sites

Well, I want to thank those of you who are following me and to apologize for not blogging once a week. Hopefully I can get back on track, now that the holidays are over and …

First, last Clichés:

Piece of the action- a share -usually financial. From 60s on, it was meant with other actions. See Emma Lathen’s mystery Murder Without Icing (1972).

Cut to the chase-Get to the point or get on with it. This comes from the film industry also in 20s – edit “cut” to get the exciting chase sequence-which was important in early movies. Later became more general.

On a roll-enjoying a series of runs of good luck or successes. This alludes to the rolling of dice dates from second half of the 1900s. Brian Fremantle used it in Dead Men Living (2000).

Play the game-To behave favorably and honorably; and to go along with a particular set of rules. First meaning applied during Chaucer’s time. Wide use began in late 19th Century. Rudyard Kipling The Maltese Cat (1898). Became obsolete in America, but another version of the term appears in the poem “Alumnus Football” by American sportswriter Grandland Rice (1880-1954) which gave rise to a different cliché: “For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks–not that you won or lost–but how you played the game.” This play games or playing games means to act evasively or deceitfully as in:”Her ex-husband is playing games about child-support payment.”

Ins and outs – Is used this back in Jan., 2011, but used again – means all the intricacies or ramifications of a situation. originally referred to those in favor and out especially in political office.

How many did you find?

Today I’m going to do helpful links day. Thought I’d pave the way to help others. I belong to Redwood Writers a branch of the California Writers Club. Without them, I probably would never have had the courage to publish my book, Night Terror.Their motto is: “Writers helping writers.” Check them out.

My web pages are the result of a great guy named Blake Webster from Media Design Services  and You can kill two birds with one stone by checking his book out on how to use CreateSpace. If you need help with web design, he’s there and does a great job. Check him out.

My novel Night Terror was edited by various critique groups and mainly by Ana Manwaring from JAM Manuscript Editorial Services. She does similar writing and is also an excellent teacher. Check her out at: or

My cover designer for my book Night Terror was done by Mary Ames Mitchell, Mitchell Design. She has a heart of gold and is easy to work with, not to mention great ideas for book designs and also helped with the interior set up. Check her site out at:

Now, how do you sell your book with out Social Media?  Well if you’re at a loss you must check out Frances Caballo. She has two great books out that will help, and is my guru for social media.

Other links: Research the internet for what you need and check out blogs and decide what will help you with your work.  I also have links on my site to help you.

Until next time, Keep Writing,




How important is Social Media?

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. I’m going to let it all hang out and let you know that I haven’t written here because I’ve been too busy helping take care of others when they were ill. No excuse, but that’s the sign of the times, taking care of loved ones as they grow older.

First things first: Clichés from last time:

Pleased as Punch- which means delighted. If you’re as old as me, then you’ll remember Punch-and-Judy show from the past. The character Punch was always greatly satisfied with the success of his evil deeds. By the mid-19th century, the simile was in common use for any kind of extreme satisfaction. See Dickens, Hard Times (1854)

Pan Out- To succeed. This terms refers to the pan used in gold prospecting -washing the gold from the pan in streams. What was left in the pan was the ore. In late 19th century, the terms was used to other kinds of success. See Bret Harte, Drift from Two Shores (1879)

Make their hair stand on end – To Terrify. The Book of Job (4:14-15) states: “Fear came upon me… and the hair of my flesh stood up.”  This refers to goose bumps caused by fear (or cold) on your flesh and the hair around them stands up. Centuries later this is now called hair-raising, a synonym for terrifying.

How many did you get?

So how many of you use Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or other similar sites? I know the road to hell is paved with good intentions-which I have vowed to use these social media outlets. However, I’m finding some of them difficult to do. Maybe I’m just too old to figure some of them out. Or it might be that I don’t take the time.

I barely have time to write on this blog! It’s possible I just need more time.  I know Social Media is very important, especially if you have  a book out. Night Terror is out and doing okay.  I’ve sold some ebooks, some POD books, and have sold the ones I’ve had sent to me to sell.  However, I’m sure I’d do a lot better if I could figure out how to use Social Media more.

Guess I’d like to pick your brains to figure out how to use these places. Have you been successful with them? Maybe with a little work, I can figure this out. I think it’s very important, so will give it a try again.

Keep Writing,


Book Design Covers and Workshops-how important are they?

It’s been awhile. First things first–

Last clichés:

Heart’s content-To one’s complete satisfaction. This expression was fondly used by Shakespeare in several plays.

A word to the wise- This is good advice, you’d do well to pay attention to this. Roman writers such as Plautus, Terence would say: “A word to the wise is enough.” Ben Johnson (c.1600) used it in his play The Case is Altered. Also overused is words of wisdom now.

Ego Trip- A vehicle for self-satisfaction; a display of self-importance.Ambrose Bierce defined as “A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.” (The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911)

Did you find them?

Well, I’ve been working on my book cover design for my arson novel.  Different ideas are forming and I learned there are three different ways to think about your cover: 1. Image, 2. Title, 3. Author, and you can have them in any order you deem important.
I have my work cut out for me on this one.  Since I don’t have a name for myself yet,Author name is not that important–Yet.  Sooner or later I’ll have to bite the bullet and decide whether I want to go with image or title. Right now I’m leaning toward most important is image and then title.  I’ve gone through several photographs looking for the correct one.  I will spend some money and work with a book designer so I may learn about it.

On Saturday last, I went to a workshop put on by Redwood Writers Branch of the California Writers Club called The Art of Character.  It was presented by David Corbett.  What an awesome day.  I learned so much about how to create a character, and not like we’ve been taught in the past.  I highly recommend if you can ever attend one of his presentations, go at the drop of a hat.  He is funny and entertaining, yet gets the point across so you don’t forget, and has you so inspired, you’ll go home and write great prose with interesting characters.

Are workshops and books designs important? You bet they are.  One can never learn enough about anything.

Keep Writing,



After the Book is Written, then what?

First last clichés:

Easier said than done-This describes something that usually is talked about rather than accomplished. Date back to 15th Cent. even in Bible. See John Heywood’s 1564 proverbs.

Think twice – Consider before you speak or act. Old idea used more in late 19th Cent.  See Eugen F. Ware’s poem “Think Twice” (c.1885).

Ball in your court – your turn. Comes from sports, current in U.S. and Canada in mid-20th Cent. Sometimes said as “It’s your ball.” See Countdown (1990) by David Hagberg.

Let’s talk turkey. Writing the story is the easiest part of the book. Then you have editing, re-editing, and re-editing. First, you have to know when to finally quit editing. I believe that even after a book is published, writers will still edit their book. After it’s been edited by a professional and you’ve made the corrections, at this point, one should probably say it’s ready for publication.

Now what? Are you going to self-publish, e-book, or look for an agent to sell you book to a publishing house? That’s a key decision. Book publishing is not a bed of roses. Once you’ve made your decision, if you go traditional route — some aspects you don’t have to consider.

However, if you’re going to self-publish and/or e-book — then you have to think about font type, looks of printed book, size of book, front cover design, back cover and write a back cover copy, and even the side cover-how it will look, not to mention giving your book a title that will not be quite the same as the picture on the cover, but jump out and say –Buy Me!

So, give it your best shot. Write your best story and then publish it.

Keep Writing,