Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Art of Lying (aka Creating the Bad Guy) by Connie Vines

A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right.

So, you have your “perfect” hero and “perfect” heroine’s character sketches and novel outline at your fingertips.  What about your “not-so-perfect” villain, aka the bad guy?  He’s just the bad guy.  Ah, but the villain is a key player in your novel.  And, you’d like him to be a compulsive liar.  However, you really want to keep the reader guessing. . .

In law enforcement, these actions are called “tells”.

How do you make the “perfect” liar?  You need to know the rules before you can break them.
What will your villain have perfected?  Why, the art of lying, of course.

Nine Tips your Villain Can Teach you about the art of lying

1. Keep your head up:

“In all shows, there is always that moment when the magician risks being discovered,” explains Jacques H. Paget*, illusionist and negotiations expert. For example, when he makes a ball “disappear” as it remains hidden in his other hand, he may tend to tilt his head to the side, a movement which, however small, may be unconsciously perceived by the viewer as an indicator of cheating. “This is an instinctive gesture that we all do when we are afraid of being caught.”
Conclusion: Your villain knows to keep his/her head straight up. This will prevent the other person from getting suspicious.

2. Use the phone:

Sometimes lying is much simpler over the phone.  Deception makes our voices drop a pitch, in order to sound more stable and assured, but lying also exposes us to three negative emotions – fear of getting caught, shame and guilt – and these may just manifest in our voices.  Your villain knows this.  Your hero/heroine may believe the action was unintentional—the first time.

3. Repeat the scenario:

If you are telling a story, the villain knows he/she first needs to integrate it as a complete theater role. Being an actress does not mean just to learn words. It is also necessary to be at one with your thoughts and emotions. These are the things that will generally reflect your words. And some techniques can better reflect what it feels like:

– Begin and end sentences clearly.
– Take note of punctuation marks, especially full-stops.
– Sustain consonants that make words ring.
– Speak clearly.
– Work on your expressive diction.
Playing your role with sincerity.

 4. Control your actions:

“Our body speaks its own language and never lies,” says Dr. David J. Lieberman, hypnotherapist and a doctor in psychology. If you’re not careful, some little gestures will only end up betraying you.
Embarrassed by your hands, you slip them into your pockets or you lay them on your hips.
You sputter, your smile trembles and cracks as you declare how much you love the gift you received.
You touch your face, you scratch your ear, place a finger on your lips, you rub your eyes or nose to justify your delay in response.

Your face, your hands, your arms punctuate your words belatedly, and in a somewhat mechanical way.

You display a grimace instead of a grin while expressing your joy of learning promoting a colleague.
You pull a folder, a book and computer against your abdomen, as if it were a shield. Without understanding why your partner says there was something wrong with your story…

5. Do not say too much:

You call a friend to postpone a lunch for the third time. Listening to you presenting your perfectly oiled explanations, she begins to find this suspicious, there is just too much justification. To avoid getting caught, you think, better increase the size of your tale: the bigger it gets, the more credible it will seem. Because of its magnitude, it cannot possibly be invented. Your villain knows less is more. . .believable in this case.

6. Put on your sincere face:

Instead of looking your interviewer in the eye, aim for the tip of his nose. It is less destabilizing and you do not have the look diagonally, distant and elusive, whilst you spin your yarn. “Establishing good communication requires eye contact for 60-70% of the time of the dialogue,” says psychoanalyst Joseph Messinger. Also, be wary of your eyebrows wrinkling, your eyes crinkling and your eyelids blinking – they raise doubt.

7. Deviate from the truth:

A good lie always contains an element of truth. “In this case, the truth functions as a decoy.” For example: “I have an appointment with the dermatologist…” is a good primer. Then the embroidery comes in: “… to check my moles,” but you casually omit “…and to complete my Botox sessions.” It’s just a shot you have to take.

8. Do not say I:

Your villain knows to entrench himself/herself behind objective, impersonal, irrefutable facts.  “My company recruits only its sales executives with a certain diploma/certificate” … that your friend’s son happens not to possess, of course.

9. Camouflage:

Sharpen a pencil. Hang a picture. Drink coffee. Practicing an activity to pass the time is unquestionably the best camouflage for a lie. Is what any expert in non-verbal communication will tell you. The ideal situation? Lying whilst you are behind some sort of wall or partition, in order to neutralize body language, which is less controllable than words. It is essentially a way of saying that
those with mowing the lawn or trimming hedges are at an advantage for if they want to lie.

Little lies?  Big lies?  Huge lies?

It’s your story.

It’s your chance to create the “perfect” villain.

Happy Reading & Writing,


Friday, December 2, 2016


(Okay folks! I'm back again and will attempt to Dishin' it Out a la Ginger, our fearless founder!

I write historical novels. Some are romances, some fantasies, some straight out bio-fic, like A Master Passion, which is about Alexander Hamilton and his Betsy. The settings I work in range from the Middle Ages to the American Revolution to 1870's Pennsylvania, just after the Civil War, so sometimes I'll talk writing and sometimes history. Seems my own childhood has lately become "historic" too, so sometimes I'll reminisce and/or grumble  about "nowadays."   :)

Lizzie helping me write    Books by JW at Amazon

Remember when we were little girls, and boys had “cooties?”

Now, I wasn’t a prissy child. I played with frogs, pollywogs, and worms. I did outdoor tasks, such as pulling weeds and mowing, and I knew the correct flip of the wrist to toss dog poop into the acre of weeds which surrounded our house. In summer, when I was little, I made “roads” and built little towns and set my plastic cowboys in the gravel of the driveway and then flooded them with the hose to create a flash-flood disaster upon those dusty plains, like the budding writer I was. Whatever, the point is I was no stranger to grub, grit, and sweat.

But little boys were definitely a level-up gross. They smelled funny, like members of some other tribe—which, of course, they were, especially in the 50's. Hair was cut short in those days, so their big heads and pink scalp was always in view. Lots of them picked their noses. They sneezed and burped and farted—and then laughed about it. Their ears might be full of wax. (A girl’s ears might be full of wax, too, but she at least had hair to hide it.) Boys were rough and loud, likely to start pushing and shoving when they were asked to line up, instead of just stand and wait for the bell sensibly like the girls did.   

Then, the inevitable change. Suddenly those scalped boys—some still not as tall as we were—became, for the first time ever, extremely thought-provoking. Friends started to-- “like” was the euphemism--some of these boys. High School Romances began. The participants traded each other like cards, one by one, entering the lists of drama & heartbreak. Sometimes a girl was popular and sometimes she was not, mostly depending, back in those days, upon how dreamy/eligible her boyfriend was or whether she was a cheerleader. Boys became men and girls became women. The mating game began in earnest, with all those triumphs, tragedies, ecstasies, and Nymph-and-Satyr-Aphrodite-in-her-Nightie lusts and longings.

I’m sure you remember all that—some good, some bad, some bleeeh--so I’ll fast forward, because it’s easy to forget now, too, here in my Crone age. Maybe, in my case, it’s because all the organic bits that made the other sex desirable have been chopped out, for one pretty good reason or another, by surgeons.

Many older women, I know, do not share this experience of aging, but frankly, I'm back to square one. I have looked in the mirror and what I see reflected there is no longer any sort of goddess. The same holds true for my male age mates. Testosterone burns (and burn-out) have scarred these long ago super-cool, motorcycle ridin', guitar pickin', greased-lightning heart-throbs.  

I have one of these senior gentlemen at home, who, despite 50+ years of marriage--Purple Hearts all around--and despite pleading and wiles, has remained steadfastly impervious to domestication. I'm still living with a “Bear with furniture.” I have to sneak his outer clothes, those vests, jackets, and gym clothes into the wash, because little matter that these garments are about to achieve sentience and walk on their own, they "aren't dirty yet."  

His principal lair is a special chair in the living room, around which I may not clean because I’m can't return it to the exact spot. Daily, there are certain paths that he walks, this old caged bear, TV breaks to the fridge, or into his sanctum sanctorum of a workroom filled with sawdust, tools and firearms, and or to his computer, or to the liquor cabinet for a late afternoon libation said to be in honor of a certain deceased uncle of mine who introduced him to this venerable Celtic practice.

Male and female have never been reading from the same instruction manual, particularly when we attempt to express our feelings to one another. Books have been written on the subject of communication between male and female. Even so, on top of the ordinary Mars/Venus thing, for me, the old otherness is back again. We're in hitch--we're used to it--but we're just by nature a tad alien to one another. 

Doesn't mean we can't get along and work together, though, which, I guess, is the change from childhood. Sort of like this amazing old photo:

Kenya, 1929

~~ Juliet Waldron    Books by JW at Amazon

Sisters Series, #2, Pretty German girl hopes to find herself a nice Pennsylvania husband...  Butterfly Bride    B01MEENIRA

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Favorite Holiday Movies

I’ve decided to do a top ten list—my ten favorite holiday movies.  So, in no particular order, here they are, complete with links. 

1.      Three Godfathers: John Wayne in a Christmas movie? You betcha. This one was another of the Wayne/Ford works that stands the test of time. Here’s the description from Amazon: Fugitive bank robbers Robert (John Wayne), William (Harry Carey Jr.) and Pedro (Pedro Armendariz) stand at a desert grave. Caring for the newborn infant of the woman they just buried will ruin any chance of escape. But they won't go back on their promise to her. They won't abandon little Robert William Pedro. Director John Ford's Western retelling of the Biblical Three Wise Men tale remains a scenic and thematic masterpiece. Ford adds color to his feature-film palette, capturing stunning vistas via cinematographer Winton Hoch, who would win two of his three Academy Awards for Ford films. Again, populist-minded Ford asserts that even men of dissolute character can follow that inner star of Bethlehem to their own redemption.

2.      Die Hard: Let’s see, Bruce Willis as John McClaine, the iconic line of “Yippee kiyay, mother-f@^%#r,” and a younger Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. What wasn’t to like? From Amazon: This seminal 1988 thriller made Bruce Willis a star and established a new template for action stories: "Terrorists take over a (blank), and a lone hero, unknown to the villains, is trapped with them." In Die Hard, those bad guys, led by the velvet-voiced Alan Rickman, assume control of a Los Angeles high-rise with Willis's visiting New York cop inside. The attraction of the film has as much to do with the sight of a barefoot mortal running around the guts of a modern office tower as it has to do with the plentiful fight sequences and the bond the hero establishes with an LA beat cop. Bonnie Bedelia plays Willis's wife, Hart Bochner is good as a brash hostage who tries negotiating his way to freedom, Alexander Godunov makes for a believable killer with lethal feet, and William Atherton is slimy as a busybody reporter. Exceptionally well directed by John McTiernan. --Tom Keogh

3.      The Grinch Who Stole ChristmasDr. Suess at his best. Narrated by Boris Karloff (yes, THAT Boris Karloff), this Christmas classic is a perennial favorite in my house, and the grand-daugther and I can often be found watching it any time of year. The songs are catchy—“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…” I mean, seriously, how much more of an insult can you hand anyone than to call them a toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce? 

4.      It’s a Wonderful Life: Yes, George’s disbelief in Clarence can carry too far, but this is a lovely, happy movie full of uplifting messages. Every life touches so many others, in ways that we often never see. From Amazon: Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement. It's a Wonderful Life was not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic. --Robert Horton

5.      Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Seriously, if you’ve never seen this, crawl out from under your rock and rent it. Santa is a bit of a tool (sorry, Santa, just calling them as I see them) in this classic and incredibly mean to Rudolph and his family, but as with so many other Christmas stories, there are excellent messages for kids of any age.  Added bonus, Burl Ives narrating and singing.

6.      The Little Drummer Boy: You may have to search to find this as it was originally recorded because the versions offered on Amazon are not the best quality. However, the story of Aaron, the little boy who refuses to smile after his parents are murdered and is taken in by three kings travelling to Bethlehem to give their gifts to the newborn king, is beautiful. When Aaron’s small lamb is struck by a Roman charioteer careening through the streets, Aaron offers up the only gift he can give to the newborn king. He plays his drum for him and Aaron’s small lamb is miraculously healed. I cry every time I watch this.

7.      Miracle on 34th Street: From Amazon: Delightful Christmas fantasy of a charming old man who believes he is Santa Claus, and the wonderful change he brings to the people around him. This perennial holiday classic is on many short-lists of the all-time great Christmas movies. The film just oozes with warm-hearted humor. Very young Natalie Wood sparkles as Susan, who learns to stop being so grown up, and enjoy childhood, with all its wide-eyed wonder. Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, and lives the role. He totally connects with the kiddies who visit "Santa" at Macy's department store. The brief scene with the little Dutch refugee girl is a definite emotional high point in this movie. The combined reaction of relief and wonder in the child's face as she visits Santa and finds he speaks her language is memorable. Gene Lockhart as the harried judge, and William Frawley as his street-wise political advisor provide the needed comic relief to keep the court-room segments from becoming too overwhelmed by lawyers and their tactics. Even Jack Albertson shows up as an ingenious postal clerk who helps Kringle solve his legal problem. The on-location scenes filmed on the streets of New York assist the viewer in suspending disbelief. An enthusiastic cast, crisp direction by George Seaton, a sentimental holiday message, and great humor make this movie a solid holiday treat for the entire family.

8.      A Christmas Carol: This remake with George C. Scott (Patton) as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is incredible. It is one of the best versions and telling of the tale. From Amazon: George C. Scott gives one of the greatest performances I have ever seen an actor give; he truly becomes Ebenezer Scrooge to the fullest degree possible. Scott can say more with just the slightest hint of a facial movement than many actors can say during the course of an entire movie. All of the performers here are excellent, bringing to life adored characters such as Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge's nephew Fred. All four spirits are remarkable, none more so than Scrooge's old partner Jacob Marley; having Marley's jaw drop after untying the burial cloth holding his mouth closed is an important aspect of the story and certainly does make an impression on the viewer. This is just one example of the moviemakers' faithfulness to Charles Dickens' original story; another would be the inclusion of the two miserable children, Ignorance and Want, beneath the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present. This timeless tale works extremely well on its own, but the unsurpassed acting skills of Scott make it almost more than real. The change wrought in him during the course of the night, as he changes from a man of crass materialism and unkindness to a repentant soul pleading for a chance to change his ways, is powerfully presented and really touches the viewer emotionally. The simple happiness revealed in the lives of Bob Cratchit and others are as heart-warming as the forgotten mistakes and pains of a younger Scrooge are agonizing.

9.      The Bishop’s Wife:  From Amazon: No classic holiday collection should be without this joyous tale. It stars a divine Cary Grant, a lovely Loretta Young, and a "doubting" David Niven. As Christmas approaches, Bishop Henry Broughm is feeling the pressure of raising money to build a Cathedral. The money is out there, a wealthy woman has volunteered to contribute what's needed to complete the task. But...there's a must be done her way…and Henry must decide whether to accept and put his principles aside or decline and have no Cathedral. He is so preoccupied with this problem that Julia, his wife feels she is losing him. Henry prays for guidance...and it the form of one dapper angel..."Dudley". Dudley has got his work cut out for him with this assignment. Henry is a tough case. But along the way of trying to enlighten the Bishop of the joys of life(not to mention all the hungry people the money could feed),Dudley, played by Cary Grant touches the lives of all those around him. Most of the women are simply in awe of his presence, an aging history scholar(played impeccably by Monty Woolley)finds a renewed zest for life and even a cynical cab driver is reformed by the mere presence of Dudley. But can Dudley get through to Henry in time to restore his wonderful marriage to Julia?....Can even an Angel resist the charms of Loretta Young? You'll be smiling all the way through this touching, classic Christmas story finding out. The supporting cast are legends in their own rights, as well.

10.  The Polar Express: From Amazon: Destined to become a holiday perennial, The Polar Express also heralded a brave new world of all-digital filmmaking. Critics and audiences were divided between those who hailed it as an instant classic that captures the visual splendor and evocative innocence of Chris Van Allsburg's popular children's book, and those who felt that the innovative use of "performance capture"--to accurately translate live performances into all-digital characters--was an eerie and not-quite-lifelike distraction from the story's epic-scale North Pole adventure. In any case it's a benign, kind-hearted celebration of the yuletide spirit, especially for kids who have almost grown out of their need to believe in Santa Claus. Tom Hanks is the nominal "star" who performs five different computer-generated characters, but it's the visuals that steal this show, as director Robert Zemeckis indulges his tireless pursuit of technological innovation. No matter how you respond to the many wonders on display, it's clear that The Polar Express represents a significant milestone in the digital revolution of cinema. If it also fills you with the joy of Christmas (in spite of its Nuremberg-like rally of frantic elves), so much the better. --Jeff Shannon

Any of your holiday favorites I’ve missed? 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

"Classic Ginger" It Goes On and On and On - Rerun #multitasking

I used to consider myself successful at multi-tasking, but now I'm beginning to question my capabilities. The more I do, the more I have left to do.  How does that work?

This morning I awoke to 300 emails, even though I'm on digest.  I skim the digests, but all I see in the subject line are: excerpt, promo, contest, new release.  OMG, it seems that everyone who was a "reader" when I first started this venture is now an author.  I spent several hours yesterday on Facebook and anything I posted was lost in the avalanche of book promos.  I pictured authors everywhere huddled at their computers, vying desperately for the attention of a "reader."  Yes, I know authors read, too.  I do, but I'm looking to tap into someone who isn't competition.  Is that selfish?  I don't think so. All who have books available are hoping to find the mother lode of readers and achieve a best-selling status.  Honestly, it's more like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

When I got to my individual emails, I found the usual few word posts: Thank you, I'm sorry, I forgot, I'd like to blog, put me down, happy birthday, happy holidays, condolences, and of course, I'm blogging at ______today, please stop by.

As much as I want to support my fellow authors, if I visited every blog or attend every FB event to which I've been invited, I would never get anything else done. So how logical am I if I expect my fellow authors to visit mine?

I've already given up Farmville and most other games on Facebook, taken a leave of absence from my critique group, gone  digest on most of my yahoo loops, and tried to find a new avenue of promotion on the Amazon Communities, only to be beaten to a pulp by some of the folks there who are very territorial.  It seems there are those who don't like authors who talk about their own work.  What's up with that?  If I don't, who will?  I still crave Farmville, but I'm staying strong.  I imagine my crops have all withered and died, and I've probably been reported for cruelty to my animals.  I'm sure my farm is generally in  bad repair, but there's no way I can have a look without wanting to fix everything.  At least I kicked the habit on my own and didn't even need counseling.

Honestly, the towel is looking pretty good lately.  I've considered throwing it in a few times, or at least waving a white flag, but I'm too invested in my love of writing to quit.  I keep visiting shared links and viewing success stories written by authors who had sold hundreds if not thousands of copies on Kindle. I want to post that announcement just once.

I have several works out now, so maybe one of them will be my ticket to stardom... or at least a few sales.  :)  You can find them all on my Amazon page, and I'm always working on something new.  Coming soon, The Pendant from Books We Love, Sarah's Soul from Books we Love (as soon as I finish it), and I'm working now on Desperation's Bride.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Author Branding—Don’t Muddy the Waters (Part 1) by Connie Vines

I have been researching this topic via workshops, online chats, and discussion with other authors for several years.

The workshop I attended recently wrapped up the final meeting with: author branding was totally unnecessary.  (Well, that was a total waste of my money!)

So, does Connie have a brand?


Does Connie still think she needs a brand?

Yes.  And no.

I know I need a memorable brand for each series that I write.  However, since I write in multiple genres, I don’t know if an all-encompassing brand is possible.  Or even practical.

We all know how much Connie loves to do research, enroll in online workshops, and conduct impromptu interviews with total strangers (to quote my husband, while we are in line at Souplantation, “why were you asking that man about the cost of a sleeve of tattoos?  You are not going there for the sake of research).  I handed him a napkin and smiled.  Now was not, I decided, the time to remind him that I had my eyebrows and eyeliner enhanced with “wake-up with make-up” tasteful, but still permanent ink.

How to Design Your Author Brand

Okay, it’s scramble time.  Find a piece of paper and something to write with.  You can use the note app in your phone, but I think pen to paper works better in this case. (If you write under more than one pen name, just select one.)


Write down what your author brand is.  You have 10 seconds. Go!
Time’s up.

Were you able to write down your band?  Did you use 6 words or less?

Good for you.  You probably have a good idea of what your brand is.
If you didn’t (you are with me) don’t worry.  We will go about fixing the problem.

Brands Need to Be Specific

If you failed, the above test the reasons are likely because:

1. You don’t really know what your brand is yet.
2. You are over-describing your brand and couldn’t write it all down fast/concisely enough.

Now is the time to sit and ponder.  Strip away the contradictions, muddiness, superfluous.
What does a brand do?  A brand is a signal to customers to know what to expect when they see it.
Once they have had experience with a brand, they (hopefully) know what to expect.  Ideally this is a favorable expectation that encourages them to purchase your product, talk to their friends, and take chances on your next release.

How about a brand like this?

“Daring, Thrilling, Romantic, Action Packed.”

What if we change it to…

“Daring, Thrilling, Sexy, Action Packed”

A big difference isn’t it?

I selected very genre-esque words.  This was my intention because genres play a big role in branding. Brands are also about trust.

Remember genres and sub-genres are their own brands.

This is really important.    We already have a mind-set/expectations when we select a genre to read.  If you select a “Historical” novel (unless it is a sub-genre) you do not expect or probably appreciate elements of Urban Fantasy in the story-line.  Riding in stage coach, you prim-and-so proper heroine isn’t going to mesh with a hidden magical world featuring Fae, Vampires, and Werewolves.    So, unless you plan on inventing your own sub-genre (SteamPunk/StoneagePunk) with a limited readership, consider what you are inheriting from your genre.

Following these guidelines, I will attempt to come up with a brand for my current Rodeo Romance Series (BLW, BooksWeLove, Ltd.).

Genre:  Contemporary Romance (Lynx), Romantic Suspense (Brede), Contemporary Romance/Humor (Rand), Romantic Suspense (TBT).

I’ll go with Romance as a genre.

Now to the dictionary and thesaurus.

For part 2, stop by next week.

(Feel free to post idea :-))


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