Book Reviews, Books and Me

October Reads Round Up

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Nightmare Waiting & Other Stories by Glenn McGoldrick

34363048Not reviewed on my blog.

I gave this book 2/5. Not my cup of the tea. The stories, although original, lacked conclusion.

After Dark by Mikey Campling

34463271Full Review: After Dark.

I gave this book 3/5. This book had an interesting concept. I enjoyed the various POVs and how they linked up at the end of the narrative. It’s not often that you get the POV of an animal. I can’t say I found the story particularly scary.

Three Men and a Maybe by Katie Lovell

32934016Full Review: Three Men and a Maybe.

I gave this book 4/5. An enjoyable, sweet read. Three proposals, three backstories, and one decision. The narrative had a satisfying, believable ending.

The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry

34792318Full Review: Apple Orchard.

I gave this book 3.5/5. A bittersweet story that makes you think about the value of life and who is really rich in this world. The ending felt a little abrupt, but the story is thought provoking.

Out of the Shadows by Dana Fraedrich

6tag_011017-072256Full Review: Out of the Shadows.

I gave this book 4.5/5. The worldbuilding in this steampunk dystopia is extensive and thorough. The characters are well developed, and the sub plots run smoothly alongside Lenore’s story. I enjoyed the way the line between right and wrong is blurred in regards to fighting the ‘good fight’. Rook was a favourite of mine.

Wardens of Archos by Sarina Langer

6tag_081017-065905Full Review: Wardens of Archos.

I gave this book 4.5/5. This book carries on effortlessly from book one. The relationship dynamics are fresh and raw, and new characters have me intrigued. That plot twist was a ‘why didn’t I see that coming?’ moment, and has left me desperate for book three.

Hawaiian Heartbreak by Libby Cole

6tag_251017-060703Full Review: Hawaiian Heartbreak.

I gave this book 3.5/5. A blossoming romance, steamy scenes, and relatable characters. The ending was a little abrupt and had no conclusion for my taste. However, I enjoyed this short read, and look forward to reading the rest in the series.

The Manningtree Account by Becky Wright

6tag_291017-044708Full Review: The Manningtree Account.

I gave this book 4.5/5. A well written blend of past and present. The creepy supernatural element of this book draws on the historical facts of the witch burnings. A quick, halloween read that certainly throws a curve ball ending.

Rising by Brian Rella

6tag_301017-055309Full Review: Rising.

I gave this book 3/5. Perfect for Halloween with lots of gore and violence. Some unbelievable character choices, but this may have been to progress the narrative in a short period of time. More explanation and slower pacing would have helped the believability.

 


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Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: Rising by Brian Rella

book-review

Rising (Second Death Novella 0.5) by Brian Rella 3/5.

6tag_301017-055309When fourteen-year-old Jessie steals a book from the eclectic book shop in her sleepy home town of Beauchamp, Louisiana, she unleashes one of the Fallen, Arraziel, and takes revenge on her tormentors.

But Jessie also awakened an ancient evil imprisoned in the Realm of the Second Death. Now a group of supernatural guardians must stop her and the bloodthirsty creature she has awakened before it can return.

Review:

This prequel can be read in one sitting and takes the reader on an intense, supernatural journey via various POVs. The pacing is fast, and where this is important for building suspense, it needed to slow down a little at the end.

I wasn’t so much scared as I was freaked out by the intense level of gore and violence. I liked Jessie’s character to begin with, and her home life made sense with how she was feeling, but the mild tempered, bullied girl has a one hundred and eighty degree personality twist without full explanation. I would have liked the influence over her to be explained a little more to make the narrative a little more believable.

Baring in mind that this is a prequel to a larger series, I am intrigued to see what characters and narrative the author has carried forward, and hopefully garner a little more insight into Arraziel.

A gory, Halloween read that is not for the squeamish.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: The Manningtree Account by Becky Wright

book-review

The Manningtree Account by Becky Wright 4.5/5.

6tag_291017-0447081646 – A time of English Civil War, when life is cheap, death common and superstition consumes the hearts of God-fearing folk. The life of a healer is precarious, dwelling in the shadows of normal society. Ostracised, their time running out as the self-appointed Witchfinder General scours the countryside for the Devil’s whores…

2016 – One dark night, one sleepy town, one family gripped by terror. The EAPI paranormal team are called to investigate dark poltergeist activity. But, as the eternal night finally loosens its grip, it seems that some evil deeds are never forgotten, reaching out from beyond the grave to exact their revenge…

Review:

I’m glad I picked this novella as my Halloween read. I was equally creeped out and intrigued by this ghost story that draws on the historical facts of the witch burnings. Knowing the truth of Matthew Hopkins – the Witchfinder General –  makes this tale all the more chilling.

The flitting between past and present is well written, and the suspense built in intensity over the course of the novella. That ending was something of a curve ball that had me thinking a little more about the characters, especially the outcome for Alex.

Try this novella if you are after a quick, chilling read that blends historical truths with the supernatural.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: Hawaiian Heartbreak by Libby Cole

book-review

Hawaiian Heartbreak by Libby Cole 3.5/5

6tag_251017-060703.jpgWhen do you admit a holiday fling is so much more?

Kayla’s always been scared to push her boundaries and take a risk. But it turns out all she needed was a scumbag ex-boyfriend to send her running to Hawaii, hoping to pull the shattered pieces of her heart back together while sunning herself on a white sand beach.

What she hadn’t planned on was falling for someone new. Especially someone tall, tanned, and distractingly sexy. Soon sparks and puns are flying, and Kayla is introduced to a whole new way of appreciating Hawaii’s beautiful scenery. But what starts out as a fun holiday romance turns into a full-blown love affair, with neither wanting to admit the clock is ticking until Kayla has to return home.

Review:

Kayla holidays solo to fulfil her ambition of embracing life after her break up with her long term boyfriend. Little did she know she’d fall into the arms of a handsome tour guide.

This is my type of romance read: blossoming romance, steamy scenes, and characters to root for. Both Kayla and Jay are relatable, and as the fling turns into something more, you can’t shake that pang in your chest for the moment the holiday is over. I was a little apprehensive to reach the conclusion. Will it end when Kayla has to go home?

My only niggle was the abrupt ending and lack of conclusion. I’m all for cliffhangers, but this felt like neither cliffhanger nor a conclusion of some sort. It just left the reader in the middle of an unresolved row. Readers have to read the next in the series to get a conclusion for book one.

If you like swept off your feet, holiday romances, and don’t mind explicit sex scenes, then I highly recommend this novella.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Guest Post

Guest Post: Sarina Langer on Bullet Journals

book review(1)

Guess who’s back on my blog today? Yep, fantasy author, Sarina Langer. Sarina has taken time out of her busy release week for her new book, Wardens of Archos, to guest post on Writerly Bookish Stuff.

Sarina is a bullet journal (BuJo) advocate, and is here today to explain what a bullet journal is, why she benefits from using one, and how you can get started on your own. I’m all ears for this post. Over to you, Sarina!


Bullet Journals

Chances are you’ve at least heard of the bullet journal, even if you’re not sure what it is, exactly. It’s grown in popularity over the last few years, and sites like Instagram and Pinterest are full of beautiful examples. The bullet journal is a way of organising anything you want, in a way that suits you. I recommend you check out the original website, too.

What I love the most about my bullet journal is the flexibility, the creativity, and the ability to plan and organise everything the way I want. You can imagine it like a planner that does exactly what you need, without limitations. When you buy a basic planner or a diary, you have a page for each day or a two-page spread for each week, but sometimes you just want something… more.

 

If a week is going to be quiet, you can use as little space for it as you think is necessary. If you know one week is going to be busy and one page won’t do, you can spread it out over as many pages as you need.

But there is one downside, and it’s why many people eventually give up on it. Your bullet journal takes time. Why draw a spread for every month when a regular planner already comes with twelve? Why set aside time every Monday morning to write down every day that week and date it, when any planner you can buy already has that? I get your apprehension. There are days when I’m not sure I can be bothered, and it’s on those days that I look to more basic spreads. I’m not artistically creative. If you told me right now to draw a hedgehog, I’d need a reference picture and it still wouldn’t be pretty. I’ve seen some incredibly beautiful bullet journals on Pinterest (my board right here is full of them!), and I assure you mine looks nothing like that.

Our days are busy, sometimes chaotic, and time is precious. I understand not wanting to waste a lot of time on something you can buy with no effort in most shops for little money, and if that’s what you want to do, go for it! But I hope I can show you today that your Bullet Journal doesn’t need to take a lot of time and still look pretty(ish).

These are my basics:

The Key

Your key is usually found at the front (if you want to make it harder on yourself and stick it on page 97, go for it – as I said, you can do anything you want in this thing), and it’s a short, easy summary of how you’ll use your bullet journal.

Kay's Post_BulletJournal_Pic 3.jpg

The basics are your code – the signage you use for completed tasks, started-but-unfinished tasks, priorities, and so on. You can include anything you like in this, such as appointments, important meetings, or research you want to do; your bullet journal is flexible!

I recommend just sticking to the basics if you’re starting your first journal, and leave a bit of room in your key to add to it as you go. Your preferences will likely change as you go, and you can adjust, add, and cut as you need to.

My own preferences have changed quite a bit in my current bullet journal (BuJo #2), so I’ve included an updated version of the key partway through it. I’ve also marked the page with washi tape so I can find it again easily should I need to.

Yearly Spread

Don’t you just love it when a new year starts, and you have all the options? What will you do that year? Which goals will you set? What are your priorities going to be?

I love planning, friends, and your yearly spread is a good place to do that on a large scale.

Kay's Post_BulletJournal_Pic 4.jpg

For 2017, I did something a little more ‘extravagant’ than I usually do. (writing out all those numbers took time, you know!) I have plenty of space for monthly goals and appointments, which I love. What I don’t have is a page dedicated to my goals this year, so when the time comes to create next year’s spread, I’ll include space for that. I do have two double spreads with goals (colour-coded and categorised, naturally) and ideas on how to achieve them, but really I just want a list where I can tick of goals as I hit them.

So, 2018’s calendar is going to be more basic with a year-long list of goals.

Monthly Spread

Kay's Post_BulletJournal_Pic 5

I tried so many different designs for this before I found one that works for me. My monthly calendar is on one side, and my to-do list for each month is on the other. That way I can pencil in important meetings and release dates and things like that, and have everything I want to achieve on the same spread. I’ve experimented with various levels of intricacy and detail, but in the end this minimalistic spread works best. It saves me time, and it has everything I need at one glance.

Weekly Spread

I’ve tried even more layouts here – my bullet journal is a mess of failed spreads, and that’s mostly the weekly spread’s fault. I’ve tried everything from having all the info on one, crammed page (which didn’t leave me anywhere near enough space) to having a double spread, to using four full pages for my weekly goals. Minimalism won again.

 

While layouts with individually drawn boxes and leafs and clouds and little kittens look great, I don’t have the time to draw all that (and, as we’ve already established, I don’t have the skills, either). A bit of washi tape (which I’m addicted to, by the way) and a basic layout is all I need.

My Bookshelf

Kay's Post_BulletJournal_Pic 8.jpg

This was one of the first things I added. My first list was just that, a list, but my second attempt is a little prettier. Every book I buy (books I don’t own yet don’t make it onto this spread) goes on here, and every book I’ve read I colour in.

My tbr is a mess and I’m sure you’re quite aware yourself that it can feel overwhelming, but thanks to this spread I have a good idea of how many books I actually have. Outside the bullet journal, my tbr exists in two places: my actual shelf, and my kindle where the books are in no useful order whatsoever. If it wasn’t for this spread I’d have no idea how many unread books I currently own.

Blog Posts & Guest Posts

This is becoming even more relevant to me now that I’ve started building my freelance writing business. Previously, I’ve used my bullet journal to plan future blog post ideas, make a note of whether I’d written the first draft, whether they were ready and scheduled, which day they’d publish, and so forth. But now I’m also using it to keep track of all my freelance writing jobs and opportunities (like this one!) by writing down who the post is for, what my word count limit is, and when my deadline is.

This way I can see at one glance what I’m doing for whom and when they want it by. Yay for organisation!

Here are some more ideas of what you can do:

Habit tracker

Dream journal

List of films you want to watch

Places you want to visit

Savings tracker

A list of home improvements

Birthdays

Passwords

Gift ideas for your loved ones

Blog post planner

Social Media Exposure Tracker

Content Calendar

Full disclosure: I actually use some of these myself but they’re not in any state to be shown off anywhere! As I said, I’m artistically challenged.

There are so many things you can try and adjust that my main advice is to start small, with the basics, and add to it as you learn what you need from your bullet journal. If you want to be creative and intricate, go ahead, and if you want to keep it simple, like I do, go ahead with that, too. You can try a bit of both, if you like! That’s the beauty of your bullet journal – it’s yours, in every way.

And if you realise fifty pages in that you no longer want to use a specific spread, or try a different layout, good news: you can!

Happy journaling and organising, people!


Author Picture.jpgSarina is the author of the Relics of Ar’Zac trilogy. The first book in the series, Rise of the Sparrows, was released in late May 2016. She’s currently working on the sequel and a new fantasy duology.

She’s obsessed with books and all things stationery, has a proud collection of over twenty notebooks, and squees every time she buys a new notebook, pens (hmmm, fountain pens ❤ ) or highlighters.

In her free time she reads fantasy and sci-fi novels, plays video games, and researches human sacrifice traditions and the end of the universe.

Where to find Sarina & her books:

Website & Blog

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Pinterest

Newsletter


For use of content in this post, permission must be sought from the author, Sarina Langer.

Author Interviews, Books and Me, new release

Blog Tour: Wardens of Archos by Sarina Langer

book-review3

Today, Sarina Langer is stopping by Writerly Bookish Stuff on her blog tour for her new release, Wardens of Archos. I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of book two in the Relics of Ar’Zac series, and what a sequel it was! There is also a HUGE announcement in this post. SQUEEE! I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you on Writerly Bookish Stuff!

36184683Once a despised street rat, now the reigning queen of Rifarne, Rachael is at the centre of everyone’s attention. All she wants is a few peaceful moments to herself—

but her kingdom has other plans.

The Tramuran ambassador unnerves her.

The Krymistian lady is hiding something.

A Mist Woman brings her a gift, and a warning: Aeron’s death has released the Dark One’s shades into the world. And Rachael, as the only living seer in existence, is the only one who can stop him before he destroys everything she’s beginning to cherish. But can Rachael trust the Mist Woman, or is Kaida just another sorceress playing with her life?

There’s a chance that answers are hidden beneath the ancient Krymistian ruins of Archos.

If only she could be sure that her nightmares of Cephy are just that, and not something darker…

Rachael is running out of time. The shadows are coming, and their claws are reaching for her.

Get your copy here: Amazon

Check it out on Goodreads here: Goodreads

I wanted to know a little more about Sarina’s journey from book one to book two, and I’m sure you do too. Guess what? I threw some questions Sarina’s way, and she is here to answer them today.

Congratulations on the release of book two in the Relics of Ar’Zac series. How does it feel to have two books out in the wild?

Pretty good, Kay. Pretty good.
I’m excited and nervous and scared to see what the first reviews made of it, so I’m feeling all the things, but it feels even stranger that I’ll be writing Book 3 in this trilogy next month. This time next year this whole trilogy might be over! I’m so relieved to have reached this point with Wardens – there was a point during the second monster edit where the work seemed never-ending – but that my first trilogy might well be over in another year is what really awes me. I’ll have written and published a whole trilogy. Me! A WHOLE TRILOGY!

You hear writers speak of ‘second book syndrome’. Did you experience this at all? Was the sequel harder to write than book one?

The opposite was true for this one, actually! I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote Sparrows (I expect this will still be true to some extent when I die aged 120 on some beautiful distant planet (science in the future is advanced, okay?) but I learned so much doing it, and I put all that new knowledge into Wardens. By the time I edited Wardens, I’d written the first draft of Darkened Light which I think is my strongest one yet, so everything I learned doing that went into editing Wardens. I’ve put a lot into it and I already knew a few things that needed to happen from Book 1, like advancing Cale and Rachael’s relationship.

What has been the best experience during your Wardens of Archos journey?

Hmmm, this is difficult. I’d say the #bookstagram community has been the most enjoyable part for me, I swoon every time I see a picture of my book. That’s closely followed by the feedback my critique partners and editor gave me during the developmental round. Edits are tough, all the more so on your own books, but their feedback made me realise that I had something good, and they helped me shape it further. It wouldn’t be the same book without them.

Will you share a teaser from book two, Wardens of Archos?

Gladly! This is one of my favourite scenes. Kaida explains the Midokan creation myth to Rachael:

  “Legend claims that, a long time ago when the world was new, magic was in all things. But there was an abundance of it, and it leaked out of nature, for the world could not hold it. This leak created beings strong enough to hold that much power, and it gave them wings so they could watch over the world like no other.”

   Rachael frowned. “You believe in dragons?”

   “Of course not. Dragons went extinct a long time ago, but this is only a legend, remember? Who can say how much truth it holds.”

   Rachael doubted it held any, but didn’t want to interrupt further. Ridiculous as the legend sounded, she became more interested in it the more Kaida told her.

   “The leak supplied the dragons with too much power, and some became greedy. They sucked the magic out of all things until there was nothing left, and nature shrivelled and died. But not all dragons craved more. They fought those who did, and a fierce battle raged for many years. Many dragons died. Those who were content with what they had outnumbered those who wanted more, and finally, after seven hundred years, the last greedy dragon was slaughtered.

   “Their magic leaked out of their bodies once more, and returned to the world. Where the soil had dried up before rivers now ran clear, and where the ground had died new life sprang forth. Eventually, people evolved from the magic that had returned to the world, and therefore everyone holds at least a small amount of the gift inside them. While not all wish to use it, or know how to, magic is in all of us. The dragons fought for peace, and equality. That is what we believe and what we wish to achieve.”

What do you have in store for the future? Is book three in the pipeline?

Book 3 will be a NaNo baby. I participated for the first time last year and loved it so much I had to come back! I’m even hosting prep sessions on my blog this month! I’m hoping to have the first draft finished by the time I go on a long, tea-filled break in December. Then in January, I’ll be writing the prequel novella. There’s just so much history I can’t explain in the trilogy, like why the old sorcerers destroyed their home and all knowledge with it. I’m hoping to publish both late 2018, but at some point before that I’ll be writing the sequel to Darkened Light. And of course I’ll be publishing Darkened Light in Spring.

I haven’t shared this with anyone yet, but since I’ll need to name my NaNo project soon anyway, there’s really no need to keep it a secret – Book 3 will be called (drum roll, please, if you would)…

drumroll1

Blood of the Dragon

Thank you so much for having me, Kay! It’s always a pleasure to stop by.

It is always a pleasure to have you. A huge congratulations on the release of Wardens of Archos, and I shall be seeing you again tomorrow for your guest post on bullet journals. I can’t wait!


Author PictureSarina is the author of the Relics of Ar’Zac trilogy. The first book in the series, Rise of the Sparrows, was released in late May 2016. She’s currently working on the sequel and a new fantasy duology.

She’s obsessed with books and all things stationery, has a proud collection of over twenty notebooks, and squees every time she buys a new notebook, pens (hmmm, fountain pens <3) or highlighters.

In her free time she reads fantasy and sci-fi novels, plays video games, and researches human sacrifice traditions and the end of the universe.

Where to find Sarina & her books:

Website & Blog

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Pinterest

Newsletter


For use of content in this post, permissio0n must be sought from the author, Sarina Langer

 

 

 

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Book Reviews, Books and Me

3 in 1 Review: Short Stories

book-review

After Dark by Mikey Campling 3/5

This book had an interesting concept. I enjoyed the various POVs and how they linked up at the end of the narrative. It’s not often that you get the POV of an animal. I can’t say that I found this story scary, and I’m a big wuss.

Three Men and a Maybe by Katey Lovell 4/5

Three proposals, three back stories, and only one can get a yes. I enjoyed this short and sweet story. There was no competition in my eyes. It was obvious who Cerys should accept, and I’m glad she didn’t give a definite yes. The lucky guy has a year to prove that he means what he said. A feel good, romantic tale that can be read in one sitting.

The Apple Orchards by Veronica Henry 3.5/5

A short, bittersweet read. The narrative follows a man who is down on his luck and how the locals feel about him. There is a powerful message about greed, helping neighbours, and how society treat people living in poverty. Does a lack of material possessions constitute poverty? Are you rich if you’re contented with your little slice of life?


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

 

 

Book Reviews, Books and Me

ARC Review: Wardens of Archos by Sarina Langer

book-review

Wardens of Archos (Relics of Ar’Zac #2)  by Sarina Langer 4.5/5

6tag_081017-065905Once a despised street rat, now the reigning queen of Rifarne, Rachael is at the centre of everyone’s attention. All she wants is a few peaceful moments to herself—

but her kingdom has other plans.

The Tramuran ambassador unnerves her.

The Krymistian lady is hiding something.

A Mist Woman brings her a gift, and a warning: Aeron’s death has released the Dark One’s shades into the world. And Rachael, as the only living seer in existence, is the only one who can stop him before he destroys everything she’s beginning to cherish. But can Rachael trust the Mist Woman, or is Kaida just another sorceress playing with her life?

There’s a chance that answers are hidden beneath the ancient Krymistian ruins of Archos.

If only she could be sure that her nightmares of Cephy are just that, and not something darker…

Rachael is running out of time. The shadows are coming, and their claws are reaching for her.

Thank you to the author for providing me with an ARC copy.

Review:

Langer is back with a bang. I have been patiently anticipating book two after devouring book one. Rachael finds herself dealing with her new role as queen, assassins, prophecy, dark magic, and awkwardness with Cale. I loved the awkwardness, it only heightened my need for them to grow and strengthen their relationship in the long run. I was a sucker for their relationship dynamic in book one, and book two played on that beautifully.

The world building is brilliant, and Langer’s writing style is incredibly visual. I could easily picture battles, the differing Kingdoms, and most importantly, those relentless Mothers. I was not left wanting in all things fantastical.

The relationship dynamics between Rachael and the sub characters were fresh and raw. Not knowing who to trust, following her gut, and developing friendships despite her self-doubt added more depth to the narrative. Kaida was a fast favourite of mine, despite Rachael’s frequent misgivings. I’m also intrigued by Reeve. More from him in book three, please.

There was a little repetition toward the start of the book, but I understand the purpose was to bring elements of book one forward to refresh the reader’s memory. The ending was brilliantly paced, and I was highly impressed with the revelation that I didn’t see coming, but upon looking back, I realised the clues were there all along.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Guest Post

Guest Post: Katie Masters on Creating Well Rounded Antagonists

book review

I am joined today by the talented author, Katie Masters. Katie is here to offer some tips on creating well rounded antagonists, because us writers and readers know there is nothing worse than a flat, two-dimensional antagonist to see a story fall on its face.

So, give yourself a five minute break and settle down with a mug of something hot. Over to you, Katie.


Creating the Perfect Bad Guy

(who doesn’t wear leather or own a death-ray)

Hello fellow writers! When K.J. asked if I wanted to write about creating a well-rounded antagonist (that’s a fancy-shmancy snoody writer term for a Bad Guy/Villain if you didn’t know. PROtagonist is the main character), I obviously said yes. Because if there’s one thing I love more than ignoring the sensible advice I get, it’s giving it! So strap yourselves in, set your phasers to snark and grab a drink, because today you’re all learning how to make GOOD bad guys!

When a writer—but let’s just say ‘you’, because we all know this’s about you—decides to create a story we’re given 3 options for an antagonist, that horrible thing that is stopping your hero/heroine from achieving glory, love, or an awesome dinner.

Inner demons (aka you’re your own worst enemy)
External forces (aka that damn mountain’s keep you from getting to your beloved cheeseburger)
Actual Person (aka your leather wearing, death ray carrying, changed his named to Butch or Xeno bad guy. Consequently, could also be that bitch Veronica in the office who just took the last donut)

Today we’re going to focus on an Actual Person, because honestly, trying to tell you about the challenge and intricacies of an evil mountain’s thought processes would take eons. And we don’t have the attention span for that right now.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our readers have become more savvy. They want meat, they want blood, the want *gasp* depth. Gone is the mad scientist with a death ray who wants to take over the world for no reason other than ‘because’ who monologues about his master plan for ten minutes. Readers want to know the how and why of the bad guy. They want to understand. Which means you the writer have to know the reasons.

I know. That means more effort and the using of brain cells. I’m sorry. Keep drinking.

Creating a well-rounded antagonist requires, first and foremost, a background story. None of the backstory may come out in the book. Perhaps only a fraction of it will. But if your book becomes a best seller and you go to a Con to face your adoring fans who then want to know what your bad guy’s home life was like—you better know!

Your bad guy (whether a mild one or a truly evil one) needs motive, and for a motive, they need a past. His/Her family life, friendships, social status, and even hometown, all drastically shape the perceptions they have about the world, and themselves. And you need to know all of it.

What I consider a ‘well-rounded human antagonist’ is one in which we can understand why they came to be what they are, but still perceive them as ‘the bad guy.’ Said ‘bad guy’ doesn’t have to want to take over the world or murder someone or take a love interest away. An antagonist is ANYONE who stands in the way of, or thwarts, your main character’s goal.

FOR EXAMPLE: Meet Cindy.

(This is Cindy. Say hi!)

Cindy is in accounting with our protagonist, Betty-Lou (that’s right, I named her Betty-Lou. Deal with it). Betty-Lou and Cindy get along just fine. Until one day an announcement goes up that a new manager position has come up and both Betty-Lou and Cindy are both qualified to apply.

Cindy, who was once just a fellow co-worker is now doing underhanded things to get that job. Mean, antagonist things. Spreading horrible rumors, putting salt in Betty-Lou’s coffee cup, misplacing documents Betty-Lou has to turn in, taking unflattering pictures of Betty-Lou at the company party so Trisha doesn’t ask her on a date…you get the picture.

‘What a bitch!’ you think. Betty-Lou thinks so too. Except what you both don’t know is that Cindy needs the promotion so that she can pay for a medical treatment for her son. She will do ANYTHING to get that promotion and money. So is she really a bad guy? Sure. She’s going about this the wrong way and ruining your wonderful protagonist’s life and love chances! But you sympathize. You don’t like what she’s doing, but you at least understand why.

I think in this day and age of writing, understanding the bad guy is ultimately human (or Klingon, or whatever), and that there are infinite shades of gray in the definition of ‘bad guy’, is important. You don’t have to make them likable, but you have to make them and their reasons understandable. So here’s some tips on how to do that. And no, I didn’t put them in order of importance because I’m fair like that!

1. Write a summary of the Antagonist’s past. Where did they live? Do they have siblings? One parent or two? A suburb or the city? Vegetarian or om-nom-nomnivore?

2. Write their likes and dislikes. It doesn’t have to be an extensive list. But try and get in their head. Do they like movies or concerts? Do they watch YouTube? Do they like the color pink and wear the color on their person every day?

3. Write a scene in your antagonist’s point of view. It doesn’t have to make it into the book. It’s not as hard as you think. The thing that makes writers so unique is our ability to generally be sympathetic because we naturally (in general) tend to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and see their point of view. Do the same for your antagonist.

4. Use pictures and make them a profile. Now, this advice comes back from my time as a former artist, but I find I do this when I’m creating characters too. Find a picture on the internet that looks like how you imagine your antagonist then write below (or next to) it, their likes/dislikes, their height and weight, and then their ‘bio’. That’s where you put the summary I told you to writer up there in tip one. See how helpful I am!? Less work to do down here!

Well you’ve made it! Congratulations! I’m sure you’ve refilled your cups half a dozen times at this point, and you’re a real trooper for making it this far! At the end of the day, your antagonist is as important as your main character—sometimes more so, because they have a very important role: to make your character change. So make sure that your antagonist gets the same amount of treatment at your main characters.


KatieMastersKatie Masters’ books include Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key, and The Bone Dancer.

I’ve been making up stories since I could talk, writing them since I learned how to properly put words together, and when I’m not doing that, I’m reading obscene  amounts of books, manga, and comics. Sorta in that order. 

Where to find Katie and her books:

Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key: Book One

The Bone Dancer: Novella

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Permission to use the content featured in this post must be sought from the author, Katie Masters.

Writing and Me

Update 03/10/17

book-review8

Last month, I was relieved to be able to get back to editing after an unproductive summer. This month, I’ve been lazy. I am literally a writing sloth at the moment. In fact, I’m just a sloth in every aspect of life. You know what? I’m not even ashamed.

EVO Ghost

I’m about 60% through the structural edit. I wanted to be finished with this edit, well into the line edits, and much closer to finalising a release date. If I release this year, I’ll be surprised… extremely surprised.

However, here’s what I have been listening to when I have sat my bum down to edit. This song could have been written as the EVO Nation theme song!

Zombie Playlist Paperback

The end of September goal would have been realistic if I did any formatting. In truth, I haven’t even opened the file this month. There’s always October.

On a different note, Zombie Playlist is on a price promotion from the 5th until the 12th. Get your ecopy for 99p.

Social Media

You know those months where you can’t be assed with the internet? I had that month. Instagram in particular was annoying me. I gave up on my September reading challenges because it felt like it was becoming a chore. I have over ten tags to catch up on, and other than blog related posts, I haven’t been actively posting like I normally do. I’m sure a break from daily posting will help. I’m quite happy to sit back and peruse everyone else’s posts.

Blog Guest Posts

The guest posts are the highlight of my September. Did you catch the posts by Dana Fraedrich and Faith Rivens? If you need advice on world building or beating procrastination, then follow these links:

Dana Fraedrich on World Building.

Faith Rivens on Beating Procrastination.

Katie Masters is stopping by on Friday to offer some tips on creating well rounded antagonists, and Sarina Langer is joining me on Friday 22nd to educate us in all things bullet journals. Keep your eyes peeled.

What’s Next?

Next, I do everything I didn’t do last month… or at least attempt to. There’s a lot going on at the moment, and juggling everything is hard. Even finding reading time is proving difficult. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a sudden surge of motivation.

I hope you all have a productive month whatever your goals may be.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman