My #1 Pet Peeve – Hollywood Heroes

As the series I’m writing is post-apocalyptic, I’ve been studying the genre. Last weekend I watched the 2008, Science Fiction movie, Babylon A.D. (on Shomi) starring Vin Diesel. I enjoyed parts of it, but it left me feeling angry, to be honest. It  hit me between the eyes, as if it were a futuristic migraine, my number one pet peeve – Male Hollywood Heroes.

(Spoiler Alert) At the end of the story two adorable children are left in the care of the male hero (okay, their genetically engineered, but that’s beside the point). Vin Diesel saved the day (with some difficulty) and is now rescuing the future by raising the children. They are mankind’s hope for tomorrow in a dreary, future world. But the question has to be asked: why didn’t the writer let the lead woman take the children in the end. He could easily have killed off the male hero in the last action scene instead of her. She had raised the children’s mother, had been a depicted as a competent and caring parent from he beginning. So why did they give the children to a man who had never shown any inclination to be a father?

After the movie, my husband  asked me if I thought it was odd.

Heck, yeah, it’s odd. But that’s Hollywood. They won’t let a woman be the ultimate hero. They continue to feed us paternal gruel  in the form of entertaining stories. I for one am sick of it.

That’s my number one pet peeve Hollywood’s depiction of the hero. The big man, surrounded by large breasted women with minuscule brains.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying Hollywood is misogynistic, but it certainly is blind. I don’t think that’s fair to men or women. Aren’t we all in this together?

I know there are some things men do better than women, but the reverse is true as well. I hope that my granddaughters will live to see the day when heroes are considered heroes because of their virtues and deeds, not because of what they pack between their legs.

3 Key Points About Alpha Heroes from Eloisa James … (2014 RWA Nationals)


Deconstructing the Alpha Hero: Why and How He is a Bestseller

(speakers: Carrie Feron, Eloisa James and Linda Francis Lee)

This workshop deconstructed alpha heroes, the larger-than-life men women love to read about, but don’t always want to live with <grin>.

One – Characteristics

  • Ruthless (with everyone, but the heroine)
  • Homosocial (i.e., his bonds have been stronger with men than with woman…until he meets her)
  • Implacable  (He is the king of his world. He resists change, but the heroine changes his world the moment he meets her.)
  • Unreadable and Expressionless (He’s a puzzle that only the heroine can figure out and when she lets him know she “gets him” it goes straight to his heart)
  • Protective (He’s willing to die for her.)
  • Wildly possessive (always – once he’s picked his mate, she’s his)

Two – 5 Reader Pleasure Points

  1. The attraction between the hero and heroine when they first meet is strong and primal (my word).
  2. The hero doesn’t want to have the feelings he has for her. He’s used to compartmentalizing his life and she messes that up.
  3. His lack of control around her bothers him.
  4. His responses are enigmatic and the heroine at first has difficulty reading him.
  5. The hero tells the heroine secrets from his childhood that he hasn’t told  anyone else. This is often a plot twist.

Three – Women Love Alpha Males

Enough said.

How about you? Do you have any points to add to the deconstruction of alpha heroes? Love to hear your thoughts. Or share a cover with an alpha hero you love. Let’s have some fun.


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3 Key Points From Allison Brennan About Villains (2014 RWA Nationals)

Allison BrennanI hate to make a sound-bite out of a comprehensive hour long workshop, but I like to think of this post as an appetizer. Check out the tape from the conference to get the full meal deal.

How do you make a really good bad-guy? You need to know:

One – Every villain is a hero of his own journey.

Allison quoted Christopher Vogler (The Writers Journey) who says that every villain believes himself to be the hero of his own journey. When you create villains this way it makes them believable, and far more interesting.

Two – Every villain has GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict)

A well developed villain like every other character in the book has to have a goal, clearly stated motivation and internal and external conflict. Make them real.

Three – Every villain has an epic moment of choice.

Like the hero, the villain has an epic moment of choice in his life. It might come before the story even begins, but we need to know it to understand what makes them tick.

Bottom Line – Make three dimensional villains that have some humanity. Make them real. They will, “make or break your story.”


I love developing interesting bad guys. Maybe that says something about me. I don’t know, but I find cardboard evil villains fall flat. As Brennan says a good villain challenges the hero and the hero needs to be worthy of the villain. His badness is pivotal.

What do you think?

Whose your favorite bad guy? Any opinions on villains?

One of Allison Brennan’s latest releases, Dead Heat, can be be found here on Amazon.


My Clue Master Tournament

Eileen Brennan as Ms. Peacock in the movie, Clue

Do you like to play?

I love games,  and luckily I know some like-minded people. On the weekend I hosted a Clue Master Tournament. Twelve adults (dressed to kill) broke into two groups of six and played a game of Clue (made by Hasbro Gaming).

The game, designed by Anthony E. Pratt in England in 1949 has been popular for decades. (Wikipedia) I’m sure you’ve played it, but in case you forgot the details, it goes like this: A man (Mr. Black)  has been murdered. You have to figure out: who done it, where they done it, and which weapon they used. They left out motive, but that’s okay. To find the murderer you must use deductive reasoning.

At what we called the competitive table sat Mr. Plum complete with a pipe, Ms. Peacock with a lovely hat and veil, Inspector Clueso dressed in a suit jacket and speaking perfect French, and other great nefarious detectives. At the non-competitive table Ms. Plum, the Rope, Jessica Fletcher who decided to go blond for the weekend, myself as Bones with a skeleton around my neck and other detectives matched our wits. Great fun.

Here is the trailer from the 1985 movie Clue

I dream about someday creating my own board game for one of my series.

What about you? What is your favorite board game? If you were to create one, what would it be like?

My People – Smell

hemingwayWriting Quote for the week:

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” Earnest Hemingway

Living Quote for the week:

“Be kind when ever possible. It is always possible.” Dalai Lama


About the Smell…

I’m trying to nail the smell of “my people.” Seriously.

It’s not easy. Every man can’t smell manly. Nor every woman, delicate. In the real world people smell distinctly different. Describing those distinctions and having them not only identify the character, but also tell us something about them is an art, one that I’m scratching at the edges of and would love to master. For example Bob can smell of stale cigarettes, last night’s party, cheap wine, chalk board dust, sauerkraut and beer, salt and vinegar potato chips, gunpowder, embalming fluid, moth balls or…

Part of defining body odor is recognizing perfume fragrances. When I started researching them I found a plethora of fun names for cologne, which also add to the character. I have one naughty lady wearing “Black Dahlia” and a cop sporting “Guilty.”

On my to-do list for my Seattle trip is finding out what these perfumes actually smell like (that and looking for Glocks in pawn shops). The life of a writer.  I digress.

My point is that perfume names are wild.

Here’s a little list for women: Body Tender, Candy, Knowing, Bandit, First, Obsession, Opium, Joy, Spellbound

And for men, a quote from Esquire magazine:

Scent triggers memory. Science says so. Which means that cologne can be more than just a way to smell nice. It can be an olfactory scrapbook carried around your neck, each element reminding you of some aspect of who you are, what you’ve been through, or how you feel about babies. So don’t choose a cologne because it’s what you want to smell like. Choose it because it smells like you.” (Esquire Magazine on-line)

And some of their names: Eros, Gentlemen Only, Le Beau Male, The Game, Black
Anyway that’s what I’m up to this week: smelling people and trying to find the words to describe the experience. So if I hover near your neck, fear not. I am not a vampire, just a writer.
Have a great week.

Perfecting the Pitch – Part 2 – Selling the Character

villain large

“There has to be some intrinsic interest in the character, plus visible potential for conflict, interact, and growth shown in your characters.”

“…be prepared to talk about a few of the characters in your book, definitely the protagonist and villain.”

(Pitching in Person, Thrillerfest Site)

My task today is to prepare information about these topics:


Maggy Malone is thirty three and desperate to make it in the Blues business. By day she does odd jobs, by night she sings in the Black Cat Blues bar to support herself and her dying mother. Recently divorced from a cheating cop, she’s piecing her life back together amidst friends in the houseboat community on Granville Island, in the heart of Vancouver, Canada. Her hourglass figure, long curly red hair, and husky voice attract men, but it’s her big heart that captures them. Just when her singing is beginning to get noticed she finds a man dying in an alley and he leaves her a secret that threatens her life.


Gilbert Harrison is a fisherman swamped by life. He’s forty-five and lives on his fish boat with a cat. The fishing industry’s tanking, his mother nags him for money, and he never gets a chance to have the good things in life. When he hears there’s new information about Brother XII’s hidden treasure, Gilbert believes finding it could answer to all his problems. The first murder was sort of an accident. But after that, killing people becomes an easy way of dealing with nasty details. His love of gold takes care of the bitter aftertaste of his guilt.

Maggy’s Men:

Logan Daniels is a button-down businessman who likes his life neat and organized, but his brother’s death and the enigmatic redhead Maggy Malone turn it all upside down.

Hunter is a modern day knight errant who would do anything to protect Maggy and his boating community from harm.

 Other Points:

  • 80,000 words
  • strong sub-plot involving a love triangle and sabotage in Maggy’s dock community.

Tomorrow – Part 3 – Selling Yourself.

Cult Leader Brother XII


Brother XII’s life is a story of:  black magic, deception, embezzlement, intrigue, sadism, and most of all greed.

Born Edward Arthur Wilson in 1878 in England, Brother XII followed the ancient esoteric philosophy called Theosophy, which has three main beliefs: the unity of all life, immortality of the soul and law of karma. Theosophy became popular at the beginning of the twentieth century because many people felt threatened by all the changes in their world. Brother XII claimed to commune with spirits from another plane, the Great White Lodge, through visions.

In 1927, he created the Aquarian Foundation to create a new world order. His charismatic lectures, and his Theosophic books and pamphlets drew people from all over North America. At the height of his popularity there were two thousand in his group: wealthy businessmen, lawyers and heiresses who gave up their life savings to follow his creed and live and work in a commune in the Canadian wilderness.

They started out meeting in Cedar by the Sea near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, then moved to land they purchased on DeCourcy and Valdes islands, a few miles away. As the Great Depression took over the world he warned his followers that others would come for their money. Chaos was looming all around them.  His commune became a fortress and he converted their money to gold bars which he then sealed with wax in mason jars and buried on the islands. As time passed, he kept digging it up and burying it again.

Brother XII’s fortress like community on DeCourcy was called the City of Refuge or the Ark. He claimed that his disciples could survive the coming Armageddon there.  Towards the end, his sadistic mistress, Madame Z, ruled over the workers with a leather whip, sequestering individuals, and isolating women.

Life in the commune slid from idealistic to dangerous. Members of the group took him to court three times with charges that ranged from misappropriating their money to sexually abusing minors, but in the end he escaped.

Some say Brother XII left with Madame Z in a tugboat. Some say he later faked his death in Switzerland. Some say his money is still buried on the islands…DSCN2149[1]

One thing is certain—the Islanders have many stories about the notorious Brother XII. In my book Black Cat Blues, I bring him to life through the journal of one of his many lovers.

Oh yeah – did I mention Brother XII once worked as a merchant marine, and brought back sexual practices from the Orient that shocked and  pleased many a woman?