Friday, 25 May 2018

73. Villains and Cake

Hello everyone! This month I attended a workshop on Heroes and Villains, but the group displayed such evil tendencies in our writing exercises, we focused more on the villain’s segments. LOL

The workshop was run by a wonderful author who delights in torturing her characters, yet to speak to her, one would swear butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, she’s that lovely. :)

Ms Carolyn Wren took the group through details of what makes a great villain, a hero worth remembering, and all the variants in between. For instance, is a hero who kills someone for a good reason technically a villain? And is a villain who inadvertently saves the life of another whilst working through their own nefarious plot now a hero? There’s more than one kind of villain too.

The evil villain – the one who takes control, has no remorse, and seeks no redemption.

The bad villain – the nosy neighbour, bullies, interfering relatives, stirrers – anyone who is there to create conflict between the characters.

The Red Herring – their sole purpose is to make the reader think they’ve discovered something before the writer reveals it. It must be plausible and believable, but the red herring character is not the true villain.

The redeemable villain – the bastard hero – someone who turns out not to be the main villain. Again, their turnaround must be plausible, and the writer must convince their reader the character has grown, especially if it’s a character in a series.

The ultra villain – plays the long game – they appear to be helpful or incapable of committing a wrong deed, but they are the true villains and they almost always get away with it.

The most important note Ms Wren gave us was to remember it’s easier to show a redeemable villain visually than it is to write it.

We then worked on a suspense scenario where we were given five characters - a single mother and her daughter, a man new to the street but acting suspicious, an older woman who hates single parents with a passion, and an almost retired postman who is acting out of character, a crime scene - the mother's house was burned down, and various clues with which to create their story. 

I don’t know what this says about my suspense writing skills because the person I thought was the villain turned out to be innocent. It also revealed how much I like paranormal stories. I mean, no one suspected the little girl was really a demon in disguise, and a junior pyromaniac who tried to burn her mother’s house down to keep her from seeing her new boyfriend. ;) Ms Wren’s version showed us not to immediately suspect the obvious villain, but not to discount them either, to work out who the red herring was, and to notice all the details before discovering the identity of the true villain. I suspect I may have missed a clue or three there. :)

We did another exercise using story prompts to show examples of the different types of villains. My prompt was 'I regret nothing.' Can you guess which villain is shown here? :)

‘I regret nothing.’
The phone drops from my right hand to land on the blood-soaked carpet. Beside it lays my tormentor, his breath whistling as his lungs deflate. I stabbed him there. One strike for each time he slapped me, broke a bone, or left a bruise. Each time he took another piece of my soul.

I can feel the warmth of his blood sluicing through my fingers. The blade drips with my vengeance and twines down my wrist in a sanguineous river.
‘How does it feel?’ I say in a voice I barely recognise. ‘How does it feel to know you’re the one who’s helpless? You’re the one who is weak?’

He moves and my grip tightens on the knife. He slumps back though, the light dulling in his eyes, his mouth slack with disbelief, and I feel strong again. I step closer and admire my handiwork. The white shirt I never seemed to iron ‘just right’ is a burgundy canopy. The dinner he says I burned lays smeared across his jacket. My jaw hurts and I remember he punched me because I ruined yet another meal – stupid, useless bitch than I am.

The door opens and a policeman enters. I turn to him and say it again.
‘I regret nothing.’

Book Reviews

In contrast to the dark, suspenseful vibe of Ms Wren’s workshop, I read one of her novelettes, which was sweetness and light. :) The only villains here were cupcakes and a bit of wayward frosting.

Angel in the Baking by Carolyn Wren

Angelo Hart decides to spread the news of his new bakery, but ends up crashing into Kyle Waters, smearing him with lashings of squashed cupcake. 
Kyle was already having a bad day. His chance to debut his designs in a fashion parade had been thwarted by a catering disaster, so when the universe throws him a baker, Kyle hires him on the spot.

Angelo’s as reserved as Kyle is austere, so it’s a big deal for him to put himself out there, especially since he’s donned a pair of angel wings to help advertise his bakery business – Angel Heart Bakery. Then the unthinkable happens – he crashes into tall, dark, and handsome, and all Angelo can do is let out an embarrassed ‘sorry’ and run in the opposite direction as fast as he can. 

But the universe has other plans because tonight Kyle is showing his first clothing collection and when the caterer he booked cancels at the last minute, he knows exactly who to call – an earth angel who’s been heaven sent, just like his baking abilities. Now all he has to do is convince the sexy baker to let go of his nerves and take a chance on Kyle too.

I loved this. Their first meeting was so sweet, (pun definitely intended.) For a character who seemed so unflappable, especially when he’s in the business of designing fashion, I loved how Kyle was instantly taken with Angelo. After all, it’s not every day you crash into an angel, complete with wings. It was a beautiful portrayal of a fledgling romance. Now I feel like cupcakes. :)

You can find more of Ms Wren’s stories, both sweet and suspenseful, but always romantic, here. :)

Wolf Bound by Leisl Leighton

One pack, one coven, a destiny intertwined...
Five hundred years ago, facing extinction, a group of powerful witches united to create a pact with the Were to save witch–kind. The pact expelled an ancient evil, known only as the Darkness, that was blocking the Were from their wolves. With the Darkness destroyed, the Packs and their Covens grew strong as they thrived beside each other in their brand–new world.
But the Darkness was not destroyed.
Skye Collins has been brought up to fear her magic and shy away from witch and Were alike. But when Jason McVale, the Alpha of Pack McVale, comes in search of her, she is intrigued and tempted. Her mistrust of magic and wariness of the intensity of passion she shares with Jason threatens her control–and if she loses control, she just might turn into the weapon the Darkness intended her to become all along.

Not even skiing down the beautiful snow-filled valley allows Skye Collins to be free. She’s always ‘running’ from something, but it’s impossible to escape the powerful and evil magic that dwells inside her. She’s a danger to everyone, especially those she loves – almost killing her twin brother when they were children is testament to that. Fortunately, her grandparents weaved a protection spell to warn Skye in times of trouble, their whispered words combining with a powerful headache whenever her magic stirs. So, when Jason McVale crashes into her on the slopes and offers his hand to help her, those voices scream at her not to touch him. With no warning headache to stop her, instead of obeying, she does the opposite, and an explosion of desire and the elusive thought she knows this man, this stranger, envelopes her.

Alpha wolf, Jason McVale has been searching for his pack witch, who was stolen from the pack as a young child. He’s certain Skye is that witch, but he had no idea she’d mean so much more. What happened to her the night she was stolen? What did her captors do to ensure not only won’t she use her magic, she doesn’t seem to recognise him either? If anything, she seems to fear him, especially when he shows her his wolf form. And why is she denying him the possibilities of a relationship and the magic he needs to help the pack because where they’re concerned, he’ll do anything it takes to ensure they’re safe.

But now there’s so much more at stake, for there are those who would do anything to possess Skye’s magic and turn it against not only his kind, but hers as well. Skye and Jason need to trust each other and their magical bond if they’re going to get through the horrors to come.

Magic, witches, werewolves, oh my! I’m in paranormal heaven. The magic of Ms Leighton’s writing is seamlessly woven through this story. Believable characters, high stakes, suspenseful moments, great action, and the kind of sensual scenes that will have you waving both hands on front of your face in some vain attempt to help you cool down. :)

I also loved how well the secondary characters worked in this story, and it’s these characters whose adventures we follow in the series, each playing their part to restore the balance of magic ‘The Darkness’ threatens to destroy.

You can find more about Ms Leighton and her stories here. :)


Besides being halfway through MOONBOUND, the second book in Ms Leighton’s series, and eyeing off my growing TBR pile, I’m still busy writing. I pressed ‘SEND’ on a competition entry this afternoon after stressing over the synopsis. They’re not one of my strengths. The short story isn’t going the way I hoped, but I’m working on it. The looming deadline is certainly making things interesting. :/ And I’m rewriting a story I began a couple of years ago. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...

Ah, back to the cake - the bakery delights haven’t stopped this month. Not only did I read a story about baking, I also attended the successful book launch of a friend’s first published novel. I helped Ms Georgia Tingly celebrate in style as she shared the release of her story – Justice – and would you believe it? she had a cake that was a replica of her book cover. It was brilliant, both the cake and the event. :)

Yes, this masterpiece is really a cake. :)

The other cake I had was to celebrate my birthday. I didn’t bake it, so there’s no danger of me sharing a photo and showing off my lack of decorating skills. But for a store-bought cake that oozed chocolate and cream atop its fudgy, muddy base, it was delicious and didn’t last long at all. :) I’m also keen to get to the movies – Deadpool 2 and Star War’s Solo are on my list, so to outrageously plagiarise, and perhaps butcher a popular saying, until next time, ‘may the words be with you,’ because the colourful vocabulary for which Deadpool is known may be a little too intense. :)


  1. The workshop sounds awesome. I have a redeemable villain in my current WIP. Hope I get him right as he will be the hero in the last novella in the series. I loved your response to the writing prompt and that cake looks fantastic.
    May the force keep the writing spirit going.

    1. Hi Shelley. The workshop was indeed awesome. :) I'm looking forward to reading your next story. :) I'm sure you'll have the perfect redeemable villain.

      I had fun with the prompt too, and that cake was fabulous - edible art at its finest.

      And yes, more of that force stuff. LOL

  2. Happy Birthday D.D.! Your cake sounds like it was finger lickin', choccy yumminess to eat. The book launch with a book cake was a special slice of inspiration. Congratulations to Georgia Tingly.
    Best wishes for your competition entry, I hope the judges feedback helps you step further along the writer's journey. xx Ashlyn

    1. Thank you Ashlyn, the birthday cake was yummy. Georgia's daughters sourced the cake decorator, but it's a brilliant idea. I loved it too.

      Thank you for the competition good wishes. :)

  3. Hi Danni, How lovely to reprise the workshop via your post. Would it be okay to share it to Armadale Writers Group? I read Angel in The Baking before I met Carolyn and yes she is every bit as delightful as her writing suggests. Gorgeous idea to have abook cake- well done Georgia Tingley and so happy that you got a delicous cake for your birtday too xx

    1. Hi Sonia. I'm pleased you enjoyed the post. Of course you can share it with the Armadale Writers Group, although they may look at me funny the next time I attend one of your group's workshops. LOL

      Wasn't it the sweetest little story? And yes, she certainly is. :)

      I'll pass your good wishes (and Ashlyn's) on to Georgia. Now to hold off on any more cake until the next birthday... wish me luck. :)

  4. Happy birthday, busy girl! Carolyn's workshop sounds villainously good :)

    Synopsis writing is painful. You have my complete sympathies - and congrats on sub'ing the story.

    I can't get over that book cake - so gorgeous.

    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes, Jenny. :) Carolyn's workshop was villainously good. :)

      I don't think I did the synopsis right, but it's been sent now. All I can do now is wait and see what comes of it.

      That book cake was really something else. Everyone was in awe of it and poor Georgia didn't want to cut it. I don't blame her one bit. :)