Guest Post: Villains, antagonists and more— oh my! by CB Lee

 

In my novel Not Your Villain, Bells’ alter-ego Chameleon is the country’s most wanted villain. While he’s been framed, it’s interesting from a writing perspective to think about what people think about villains and how the people in power in this series direct attention to what they believe is good and bad.

Writing the antagonist in your story one of the most important ways to keep your novel engaging and move the plot forward. Memorable villains often capture the imagination of readers and their dynamics with your heroes will help build your conflict. Depending on what you’re going for, having your antagonist have a compelling backstory and motivation helps them from being over-the-top. Unless, that’s what you’re going for— my antagonist Captain Orion takes a lot of cues from classic cheesy comic book villains, which is part of the fun of the Sidekick Squad series, but we meet a new antagonist in the second book, Lowell Kingston, who is cool and calculating.

The difference between Orion and Kingston is that while Orion is all physical strength and power, Kingston’s shrewdness makes him dangerous  and you don’t know what he’s planning or what to expect, and he has a vast number of resources.

Motivation

A good way to think about your antagonist is what their driving force is. What are their ambitions and reasonings for what they want? What are they willing to do to get it? Are they relatable? I think what makes a truly scary antagonist is that fear too, for readers to examine themselves and think how this person got to where they are and where they crossed the line.

Power

There are different types of power and different ways you can give your antagonist resources. Captain Orion can summon lightning and can fly, making her a formidable opponent, while Kingston is a central figure in a corrupt government. What kind of background do you want to give your antagonist? Do they have vast knowledge and expertise in a certain area? Are they only ones who know an important secret? Do they have the command of admirers or a military? Do they hold sway over the press? These are all great things to think about when crafting your antagonist.

Opposition

The most important thing about your antagonist is that they oppose your protagonist in some way. It doesn’t have to be a clear cut hero-villain route, and it isn’t always a person. Is it an institution, or a system that your main character is striving to change? Is the antagonist themselves? The forces of opposition are what really come into play; your antagonist can even be a close friend or family member and care about your protagonist, but doesn’t see eye-to-eye on what your conflict is.

Villains are so much fun to write, and I hope these ideas help you move forward in your writing! Thank you for having me here on the blog, and I hope you have a chance to check out Not Your Villain, the second in a series where LGBTQ+ teenagers  take on corrupt government agencies and uncover the truth about the hero-villain dichotomy in their superpowered world.

If you’re interested in more writing resources as well as updates and exclusive extras from my books, check out my newsletter!

Thank you again!


C.B. Lee is a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese American writer based in Los Angeles, California.

NOT YOUR SIDEKICK was a 2017 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in YA/Children’s Fiction and a 2017 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist in Speculative Fiction. SEVEN TEARS AT HIGH TIDE was the recipient of a Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Fantasy Romance and also a finalist for the 2016 Bisexual Book Awards in the YA and Speculative Fiction categories.

CB has been featured at literary events such as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Lambda Litfest’s Celebrating the Asian American LGBTQ+ Experience at the Chinese American Museum, YALLWEST and Pasadena Litfest as well as a guest at  popular panels and discussions such as DragonCon’s “LGBTQIA in YA” , “BiScifi: Queer Heroes in Science Fiction and More”, “The Craft of Dystopia”,  “Magic and Worldbuilding,”, WonderCon’s “Sisterhood of the Self-Sufficient,” Emerald City Comic Con’s “Diversity in Publishing,” and San Diego Comic Con’s “Super Asian America” and “Into the Fanzone!”


NOT YOUR VILLAIN: SIDEKICK SQUAD, BOOK TWO—

Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. 

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.

ORDER NOW: Interlude PressAmazonBarnes & NobleMysterious GalaxyTarget


 

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Bargain Book Review: The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

Hello everyone, welcome to the bargain book review! The concept is simple: to find out if those dollar store books are ever worth the purchase. So today, guest reviewer, Morgan, is going to review one such book she found in the bargain section: “The Shambling Guide to New York City” by Mur Lafferty.

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Guest Review: Romantic Thrillers: Playing with Fire by G.J. Phoenix

 

A too-good-to-be-true job opportunity. A mystery of life and death proportions. Help sought from the most unlikely of places. All of these are what makes the beginning of a thriller. Then, person meets person, and sparks fly. You just found yourself in a romantic thriller, let the magic begin.

I think my love of romantic thrillers began when a friend gave me Iris Johansen’s Wind Dancer series. In typical romantic thriller way, it snuck up on me. Starting with a historical, Wind Dancer moved from the Italian Renaissance to Revolutionary France straight to modern times. I didn’t realize just how much I loved it until I immediately went online and tracked down the rest of Johansen’s work. By the time I finished the Eve Duncan series, I was a goner. Tess Gerritsen, JD Robb, Catherine Coulter, and so many others became staple in my TBR pile.

Most people know Gerritsen as the momma of Rizzoli and Isles. I recently read Playing with Fire, released in 2015. This book was dark, twisty, and all kinds of thrilling goodness. When Julia finds an unpublished waltz in an old book of sheet music at a sketchy antique dealer in Italy, I had no idea how dark Gerritsen was going to go.

Then Julia goes home to loving husband, Rob, and adorable toddler Lily and things got pitch black. (trigger warning: animal violence almost made me put the book to the side, but this author is usually worth it, so I kept going).

Julia plays the waltz she found, and her daughter instantly changes from a beloved doll to … well, Annabel. As she fights for herself, her family and mostly her child; Julia flies back to Italy determined to find out why the music transformed her baby into a demon. Or did it? Playing with Fire is two stories which are eventually brought together in the end. Told at the same time, is the heartbreaking story of Lorenzo and Laura, who meet and fall in love just as World War II turns their homeland into a place of nightmares. Gerritsen, a musician herself, writes about other musicians with passion, insight, and understanding that really can’t be faked. She even composed the waltz Julia found and had it recorded. You can listen to it on her website!

Both of these stories are told at a fast clip, you will get paper cuts from turning pages to keep up. Seriously, Tess Gerritsen makes you feel like you’re sitting next to the characters on a roller coaster and the next plummet will either be epic, or everyone’s going to die. The ending isn’t typical for most romance readers, but I still really enjoyed it. The combination of mystery, horror, historical, and romance is a strong one and will definitely place Playing with Fire on my favorite Gerritsen list.


About G.J. Phoenix: As a child, I got to ride the lightening and a dreamer was born. I stood on the top of the world, and traveled to the lowest point that can support life. I got to swim with dolphins and sharks, some of which were on dry land. I didn’t shoot the Sheriff but I definitely knifed the deputy–he looked at me funny. My life has taken me to many exotic places, and I was honored to meet some truly amazing people. I learned about God and religion through the stories people were kind enough to share with me, and the books I read.

The truth is, in one way or another, most of my books are based on real people, facing hellish problems, involving intriguing legends or myths, and finding solutions through the power of hope.

I’m G.J. Nice to meet you. Please spend some time and get to know me as well as my family-the characters in my books. My newest romantic thriller, God Remains, third installment of my Ethiopian Chronicles series, is due in stores before the end of the year.  Let’s see if the prince of Ethiopia can steal the heart of the queen of thieves. Cheers!

Connect with G.J. Phoenix: Website  |  Books  |  Book Trailer  | Twitter  |  Facebook


 

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Glamour Thieves Release Guest Post: One-Handed Writing by Don Allmon

 


The idea for my debut novel started that time when I tripped over my dog’s leash and fell and broke the scaphoid bone in my right hand which made it hard to write and hard to do other things arguably more important than writing so I sat around daydreaming about sex a lot and made up this story about an orc trucker who picks up an elf hitchhiker while driving through post-apocalyptic America and they had a lot of really rough sex like you’d imagine an orc trucker would have.

What? Tell me you don’t tell yourself comfort-stories at night when you’re lying in bed and can’t sleep.

And this other time I was whining about being out of ideas, and a friend of mine asked me what I wanted to read but couldn’t because no one was writing it. (That’s good advice there, btw.)

I said, “I want to read ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ except Marion is a guy named Michael and everything else is the same.”

I thought about it some more and said, “And I want to read ‘Supernatural’ except that part at the end of each episode where they sit on the car and drink beer and get weepy? Instead of that, they get drunk and fuck. On the car. Every episode. Oh and they ain’t brothers because that would be weird, but everything else is the same.”

“So write that,” she said.

“No, that would be silly.”

So nighttimes I told myself the trucker/hitchhiker story because I’m an insomniac and I had to wear that cast for six weeks and that made it worse. I’d embellish it up each time to keep it fresh, adding bits here and there, and I started wondering what that elf was doing hitchhiking in the middle of a desert. I decided he was on the run from the mob because he was a grifter and he’d conned the wrong guy. No, “mob” was too Don Corleone and kids these days don’t even know. So ninjas. Ninjas chased him out of town, but he didn’t have a car, so: hitchhiking.

Daytimes I wondered if not-Sam and not-Dean weren’t going to be brothers, then what were they? Old friends with benefits. And if they weren’t brothers who’s the dead mom? Some manic pixie dream girl who brings them both together then dies (except she can’t be manic or pixie or a dream). And they can’t be monster hunters because that’s everyone these days. And they can’t be private investigators because that’s everyone else. So what are they? Dean was always forging the worst IDs, so….

Failed grifters. Thieves.

Like that elf on the run looking for an orc with a car.

Didn’t take long for that orc trucker to become a retired car thief, that truck to become a Corvette, and that manic pixie dream girl to become the leader of their gang (still dead though). And yeah it was silly but no more silly than Nazis trying to recover the Ark of the Covenant or two monster hunters with an adorable angelic sidekick. And my hand was freaking broken so I couldn’t write anything “serious” anyway, so if I wasted six weeks on this, that was okay. (Yes, there are lessons there.)

So I pecked it out one-handed (left-handed), and six weeks later my hand wasn’t broken anymore, and that story didn’t feel quite so silly anymore. It felt kind of real. Three months later it felt like THE GLAMOUR THIEVES.

And if you choose to read it one-handed, I hope it’s for a good reason and not because you tripped over your dog.


Meet Don Allmon:

In his night job, Don Allmon writes science fiction, fantasy, and romance. In his day job, he’s an IT drone. He holds an MA in English literature from the University of Kansas where he wrote his thesis on medieval werewolf stories. He’s a fan of role-playing and board games. He has lived all over from New York to San Francisco, but currently lives on the prairies of Kansas. His debut novel, THE GLAMOUR THIEVES is the first in a cyberpunk/fantasy/romance trilogy. It is currently available for pre-purchase through your favorite e-tailers and releases on August 28.


About Glamour Thieves:

JT is an orc on the way up. He’s got his own boutique robotics shop, high-end clientele, and deep-pocketed investors. He’s even mentoring an orc teen who reminds him a bit too much of himself back in the day.  

Then Austin shows up, and the elf’s got the same hard body and silver tongue as he did two years ago when they used to be friends and might have been more. He’s also got a stolen car to bribe JT to saying yes to one last scheme: stealing the virtual intelligence called Blue Unicorn.

Soon JT’s up to his tusks in trouble, and it ain’t just zombies and Chinese triads threatening to tear his new life apart. Austin wants a second chance with JT—this time as more than just a friend—and even the Blue Unicorn is trying to play matchmaker. 

Order the book now: Publisher | Amazon


 

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A Russian Feast: Liz Jacobs talks her book, Abroad, and Russian Delicacies…

Today we are joined by debut author, Liz Jacobs, whose first book is an amazing New Adult look at growing up and discovering oneself while abroad. We highly recommend it! She joins Binge on Books to talk a Russian Feast (with pictures!) Read More

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Historical YA Review: A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Published by: HarperCollins

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Format: e-ARC

Genre: YA historical fantasy

Reviewed by: Moog

What to expect: Queer historical YA full of simmering heat, loads of pining, and an irascible main character you will both love and be exasperated by in equal measure.

Bonus: Check out our exclusive interview with Mackenzi Lee and enter to win a paperback ARC of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue!
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Guest Post: Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers talk their favorite books featuring bodyguards

  1. Today we welcome new co-writers, Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers, to Binge on Books! They’re here to talk book recs in conjunction with their newest release so please welcome them!

Hi, Annika and Joanna here!

We’re here to celebrate the release of our exciting new forbidden-bodyguard-spy-romp ENEMIES LIKE YOU so we thought we’d talk to you about about five of our favourite reads in the spy and/or bodyguardish genre.

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Binge on Books Best of 2015: Judith’s Top Picks

BeFunky Design judith big

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Paranormal Romance review: Stygian by Santino Hassell

StygianStygian by Santino Hassell

Published by: Dreamspinner Press

Format: eARC

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Order now: Amazon

Reviewed by: fabulous guest reviewer, Anna

Get ready for: In Santino Hassell’s Stygian, rural Louisiana serves as the backdrop for four young musicians who are forced to confront conflict both with one another and with the [SPOILER SPOILER] vampires who’ve made them their prey. Read More

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Publisher:  May 15th 2012 by Hyperion

Format: Hardcover borrowed from the local library

Reviewed by: Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide

I’m not usually one for historical fiction, mostly because, well. I’m not usually one for history. All throughout my school days, nothing ever fascinated me about the subject so I always get nervous when I tackle books that entangle their fiction with factual events. I was pleased to find that even if you know nothing about World War II (my knowledge of the whole event is shameful), Code Name Verity is a fascinating and emotional read for anyone.

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