The Writer’s Blog

Two Short Stories for Your Pleasure

A YOUNG WOMAN SUFFERS COVID-INDUCED COMA BUT YOU WON’T BELIEVE HER STRANGE EXPERIENCE

When author Stephanie Colbert woke up in the morning, it seemed like any other day. Twelve hours later, she entered the hospital, where the medical professionals diagnosed her with double pneumonia, septic shock, and hypoxemia. Stephanie spent eighteen days in Intensive Care, under the darkness of a coma, fighting for her life.
 
When she regained consciousness, the staff moved her to the Progressive Care wing. Her devoted husband knew something was wrong with her bizarre behavior. Inside her head, she suffered from hallucinations, vivid nightmares, delusions. Psychosis dominated her world. She didn’t know her husband Quinton or her two daughters most of the time. Quinton helped her survive death by keeping her company and talking to her. Now a new struggle began as he fought to save his wife from another danger
 
Later Stephanie learned she had COVID-19. She still endures some of the effects of the virus. Read Splintered Reality to enter a new level of consciousness.

TOUCH OF HEAVEN: FREE AMAZON DOWNLOAD 11th-14th OF DECEMBER

TOUCH OF HEAVEN: FREE AMAZON DOWNLOAD 11th-14th OF DECEMBER
This story takes you on a wonderful Night Safari ride with Siberian Huskies. It captures the essence of the Aurora Borealis and transports you into the magical world of northern Finland.

What a reviewer said: “Rebecka Jager paints a picture with words in her short story “A Touch of Heaven”. I shivered while reading her description of arctic weather while sitting inside on an August day in Florida where it’s too hot to venture outside. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to see the Aurora Borealis, and now I feel I have seen it in my mind’s eye. I especially loved the portrayal of the relationship between the sled dogs and their alpha female human leader. I hope this story is the introduction to a longer work. I want to read more.”

YA Fantasy, Mystery, and Dystopian Books to Read

Flight of the spark – a suspenseful ya fantasy

She never expected lawbreakers to take away her fear. Now she won’t rest until she uncovers all the secrets. Iskra is terrified of breaking the rules. So her world turns upside-down when a supposedly savage outlaw rescues her from a gang of deadly bandits. But as she learns more about the rebellious outsiders’ way of life, the authorities abduct her friend to ensure her silence.

Determined to search forbidden territory for her missing confidant, Iskra finds herself falling for the brave renegade willing to help her cause. But when local leaders catch wind of her whereabouts, they’ll do whatever it takes to stop this rule-breaker from learning the hideous truth. Will Iskra and her forbidden love escape the clutches of a ruthless social order

Reviewers called it “Devastatingly beautiful from start to finish” and “an impressively original, deftly crafted and inherently entertaining read.”


Flight of the Spark is the thrilling first book in The Outlawed Myth YA fantasy series. If you like dystopian worlds, facing fears, and challenging destiny, then you’ll love Evelyn Puerto’s gripping tale.

Buy on Amazon

Read the first four chapters of this book for free:

buried secrets – a family secret creates a mystery

Families have secrets. Some secrets are locked, sealed, and taken to the grave. Others beg to be told. They ooze through cracks a little at a time. You tease them out until an ugly truth is fully exposed. Ella Perri knows there’s something hidden in the family cottage.

In his last breath, Ella’s grandfather reveals to her a startling secret that hints at something sinister. On behalf of her beloved grandfather, she embarks on a dangerous quest for truth. A World War II diary and the 21st century collide as Ella desperately chases every clue in a faraway and unfamiliar setting where the real story begins. Who can be trusted and who has something to hide?

One secret leads to another. Ella must decide: share the secrets and alter the fates of her loved ones forever or become part of the lie that’s been buried deep for decades.

Buried Secrets is a suspenseful mystery with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the shocking ending

The e-book is on sale for $.99 through December 23rd.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

The author’s website: https://krissybaccaro.com/

unholy warrior – a post-apocalyptic spy thriller

If you like resourceful heroines who know their way around guns and how to survive in the arctic, this is the book to buy.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Twenty-five years after the nuclear war, the world is still a harsh, frozen place. Second Lieutenant Rebane Nordstrom, a sniper in the ranks of a Russian elite reconnaissance unit, doesn’t know how to give up…ever. After someone assassinates the president of the European Union, the EU forces capture her and her lover. He soon disappears, but Rebane has no time for grief. She faces her worst nightmare in the form of Major Weisser, a man who commands the European Union counter-intelligence with an iron fist.

Thrust into a world ruled by torture, and constant fear, the battered, weakened Rebane knows her only chance of survival is to escape from the fortress that holds her captive. Faced with certain death, she becomes an unstoppable force, and escapes the womb of hell.  But her battle is far from over. A race across the post-apocalyptic badlands starts, but the man hunting her is a force of nature. Weisser destroys everything in his path. Can the Invisible Zone-the furthest corner of sub-zero Scandinavia-wipe out Rebane’s footprints in the snow?

No woman is an island, not even one as capable as Rebane. She saves a teenager named Liva, and an alliance forms between the desperate women from the opposite sides of the conflict. As the Russian Federation and the European Union head toward the final battle for diminishing resources, Liva proves to have aces up her sleeve.

Spirit animals and ancient Nordic deities have their role in the surprise outcome of this spy thriller. Where arctic weather wipes out armies, heeding an omen can spare your life.

Grab Yourself a Copy of Heir of G.O’D. Books 1-2 by Harper Maze!

A supervolcanic apocalypse, a virtual survival game, and a heroine you will root for…

I know you love to read great books. If you’re a fan of dystopian, you’ll love Harper Maze’s books. The author offers freebies & discounts you want to grab.

Book 1 https://books2read.com/MazeHeir1

Book 2 https://books2read.com/MazeHeir2

Book 1: Reclusive Ana hides her blindness from a society that hunts blind people.

​​​​​​​2044: Ana, a lauded Sol e-games champion, relies on her bespoke visor to see inside the simulation to fund her anonymity and survival. But G.O’D. included a termination date in Sol, and in twelve days, it will self-destruct. Twelve scant days for Ana to identify a visor engineer for a life-changing upgrade. Her desperate search puts her in jeopardy of persecution from the same Corporations she has remained concealed from. Uncovering the hidden truths could change the way Ana sees everything…

Throughout this weekend (4th-7th December), Heir of G.O’D. Revelations is free!

Simply follow the Books2Read link to your local Amazon store, or you can enter B089P1TRJH directly on Amazon’s website.

Book 2: Halley’s comet is careening towards 3arth, and only The Heir of G.O’D. can stop it terminating Sol, forever.

With Realworld in a state of chaos, and the number of hacked True-skin weapons threatening to make Sol just as dangerous, Arena sensation Ana must survive for long enough to escape the Cathedral of lies … and discover the truth.

Book 2 – Heir of G.O’D. Epiphany (B089NC9S6Y) –50% off this weekend (4th-7th December).

Now Live: A New Thriller From Rebecka Jäger

The book is available as an Amazon e-book and paperback. The hardcover will be published on the 14th of December. Google Play e-book coming soon.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced adventure, grab your copy of Unholy Warrior.

A reviewer said: “Miss Jäger’s talent shines through in this dystopian thriller, and Unholy Warrior is not just unstoppable action, it’s a psychological battle as the reader peers into the mind of a woman who survives unspeakable atrocities. I, for one, remained enthralled from the beginning to the unexpected breath-taking end.”

Where to buy:

Buy the e-book: https://www.amazon.com/Unholy-Warrior-Post-apocalyptic-Spy-Thriller-ebook/dp/B08P9L2DVB


Buy paperback (US): https://www.amazon.com/dp/9529437005/


Buy paperback/e-book (Europe): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unholy-Warrior-Post-apocalyptic-Spy-Thriller/dp/9529437005/

Please leave a short review on Amazon, GoodReads or BookBub.

Description:

Twenty-five years after the nuclear war, the world is still a harsh, frozen place. Second Lieutenant Rebane Nordstrom, a sniper in the ranks of a Russian elite reconnaissance unit, doesn’t know how to give up…ever. After someone assassinates the president of the European Union, the EU forces capture her and her lover. He soon disappears, but Rebane has no time for grief. She faces her worst nightmare in the form of Major Weisser, a man who commands the European Union counter-intelligence with an iron fist.

Thrust into a world ruled by torture, and constant fear, the battered, weakened Rebane knows her only chance of survival is to escape from the fortress that holds her captive. Faced with certain death, she becomes an unstoppable force, and escapes the womb of hell.  But her battle is far from over. A race across the post-apocalyptic badlands starts, but the man hunting her is a force of nature. Weisser destroys everything in his path. Can the Invisible Zone—the furthest corner of sub-zero Scandinavia—wipe out Rebane’s footprints in the snow?

No woman is an island, not even one as capable as Rebane. She saves a teenager named Liva, and an alliance forms between the desperate women from the opposite sides of the conflict. As the Russian Federation and the European Union head toward the final battle for diminishing resources, Liva proves to have aces up her sleeve.

Spirit animals and ancient Nordic deities have their role in the surprise outcome of this spy thriller. Where arctic weather wipes out armies, heeding an omen can spare your life.

How To Write The Motivated Villain

Compared to the hero, a villain needs explaining on the author’s part. I suggest you design him with care to justify at least some of his vile actions. The villain is the driving force of your story’s conflict. Plain evil is boring, but an unpredictable mix of motives keeps the reader turning the next page. 

I’ll call my villain “he” throughout this article just to make things easier. You can create a fantastic female villain by using the same principles. Some of the most memorable villains are female—femininity coats cruelty with an extra layer or opposites. Remember that not all heroines are kick-ass fighters. Softness on the surface makes the fangs hurt more upon a venomous bite. 

Villain or Antagonist?

Although authors might see villains and antagonists as the same coin’s different sides, they’re two separate things. The antagonist is a plot device, a person, or an oppressing societal system the villain personifies (like O’Brien in Orwell’s 1984). When personified, the antagonist’s sacred assignment is to sabotage and delay the protagonist’s plan. Hell, even mother nature can play the part of an antagonist. Tie the antagonist to the type of conflict you choose as your story’s backbone. 

More information on types of conflict: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-conflict-in-literature-6-different-types-of-literary-conflict-and-how-to-create-conflict-in-writing#the-6-types-of-literary-conflict

The villain is a character type: beast, bully, mastermind, devil, traitor, or tyrant, for example. 

More information on different types of villainy: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-write-different-types-of-villains#4-tips-for-writing-compelling-villains

Having a Backstory

Without a believable, layered villain which you can peel like an onion, your story flattens. Pure evil is a caricature: one-sided and predictable. Think about your favorite books: why do you remember that particular villain? 

“But a well-written villain doesn’t fit neatly into the evil box. The best villains are nuanced. Think Hannibal Lecter, Gollum, Baby Jane. There’s a reason why these villains need no introduction. You remember them because they’re complex. They are evil, but they’re not just evil. They’re disturbing, haunting, and unnerving. You can’t look away from them in much the same way as witnessing a train wreck.”

Source and more information: https://nybookeditors.com/2020/01/developing-a-sympathetic-villain-for-your-novel/

Using a character questionnaire helps. Divide the villain’s traits into negative and positive.

Examples of Negative Traits

  • Who the villain hates, and why? Hate is a driving force.
  • What or who does he fear? Fear can make your villain vulnerable, but also drive him to the most heinous acts.
  • What line won’t he cross to get what he wants? Yes, there is a line even he doesn’t cross!
  • Ask him to define a weak person. Does he despise weakness or feel pity?

Examples of Positive Traits

  • What are his best traits? Perseverance, loyalty, courage?
  • What is his happiest memory? The birth of a son, getting married, killing his first victim?
  • Who are his friends? People he looks up to, peers/colleagues, or faceless minions?
  • Who does he love, and why is that person worthy of his devotion? Because she belongs to the hero? Because she is out of reach?

Source and the entire set of character questions: https://s3.nybookeditors.com/blog/PDF/Interview-With-a-Villain-20-Questions-to-Ask.pdf?mtime=20191230064028

Motivating Your Villain

Below is a list of excellent motivations, but the sky is the limit when you mold a villain that breathes. Design a motivation which you haven’t seen before.

–         Romantic interest: love and sexual desire are among the strongest motivations on earth. A person will cast aside self-preservation, even stop eating or sleeping. Neuroscientists compare love to psychosis; it’s a state of ultimate bliss and chaos in the human brain–consuming. And yes, the sugarcoated and the vindictive views on that special someone are useful for a writer. You see the person you want to conquer as perfect, but if she dates someone else, that ideal view covers with darker, bloodier colors.

–         Duty and honor: at war, your side is the good guys and the enemy the bad. If you have to kill a fellow man, there can be no doubt. But the noblest motivation of doing your duty can turn into the famous last words uttered before a military tribunal: “I only did my duty. I obeyed orders. I had no choice.” Some of the most haunting books and movies deal with this moral question.

–         Revenge: being wronged in the past. Nothing drives a blade through the squishy human heart like revenge. Serve this meal hot or cold; it’s always delicious.

–         Fear: the hero is the real danger to peace and prosperity. The villain cannot refrain from acting when Superman will demolish earth.

–         Family issues: who hasn’t rebelled against a father, or felt like the black sheep? If the king denies your right to the crown, shall you melt into the shadows to plot an uprising? The character of Loki is a famous example.

–         Fame or status: classic movie villains strived for world domination/causing the apocalypse just because they could. Rewrite the worn-out trope with a twist: the villain seeks to develop the society. Think of the most massive human experiment in history: the communist dictatorships. The road to hell might indeed be paved with good intentions and the will of men who could.

–         To fit in—everyone needs to feel accepted, to belong. What if the people around you are crazy and fitting in means losing your mind? This is the question which the hero Winston Smith asks in Orwell’s 1984. In addition, the villain is more crazy and intelligent than poor Winston can ever become.

–         To develop, and not only as evil. What if the villain’s noble goal just happens to hurt other people? 

–         A desire to better humanity: the fate of mankind demands developing a superior mutant race via cruel human experimentation, making a pact with the world-conquering aliens, or surveilling everyone from the cradle to the grave to keep them in line.

–         Desperation: raises the stakes and heightens the conflict—on both sides. What if the villain attempts to keep his family safe? What reader wouldn’t identify with his motive?

–         Loss of perspective. They say the first victim of war is the truth. You can lose perspective when the thirst for scientific knowledge overrides everything else. The advancement of a military or political career causes collateral damage. Hunting a fugitive through thick and thin makes the character ignore his fundamental values.

Being Right

The villain is always right if you ask him, and as a consequence, the protagonist is wrong. Turn the tables: if this were the villain’s story, would good and evil mix with grey shades? Or would he use magic to turn black into white? Right and wrong are perspectives. If Nazi Germany won WWII, the meaning of terrorist and resistance fighter would trade places. The winner writes the history books and no one is a war criminal in his own mind.

Being Charming

Give the villain charm and let him seduce the reader. Thus, he becomes another reason for the reader to keep reading. You also cause a mix of conflicting emotions when the villain rips apart his victim–according to his nature.

Having followers

Create secondary characters and enamor them with the villain. What villain doesn’t enjoy a court of like-minded followers? How scary is the high-school bully without his posse? Remember that the followers see positive traits they admire. No one follows for the devil because they love evil.

A Force To Reckon With

Make the villain equal, or preferably more potent than the hero. This way, you’ll keep the reader on her toes. The villain must do his job so well that the reader no longer believes in the hero’s success (or survival) during the critical plot point called the darkest moment.