When Your Villain isn’t a Villain #writerslife #amediting

Villain: wicked or evil person; someone who does evil deliberately; principal bad character in a film or work of fiction (WordWeb). I’d like to add to that: character who refuses to cooperate with your plot.

When Your Villain isn't a Villain #writerslife #amediting @kayelleallenI started with the definition of villain so we both speak the same language. Mine was named Pietas and he was the bad guy in a book I’d written, edited, rewritten, re-edited, and restarted nine times since 2008.

I picked it back up, considered it, and set it aside again multiple more times before I realized my problem was not with the plot, the hero, or the concept. It was the villain.

My problem was with my immortal Ultra, Pietas.

He would not do any of the things I thought a bad guy should do. Seriously? A villain who doesn’t even swear? What kind of bad guy is that? Although he had used a “bad word” in a book no longer in print, that was me badly writing his character to fit my “vision” of who he was. It felt wrong at the time but I didn’t listen to my gut. I should have.

Like any proper scoundrel, Pietas was cold and inhuman and his followers obeyed him without question. But unlike the usual dastardly-deed-doer, the minions of Pietas followed him out of loyalty. I’d missed something in creating this villain of mine and I didn’t know what it was. I figured I had to either put the book away forever or find a way to make Pietas behave.

Those who know the Bringer of Chaos are laughing right now. Make Pietas do what? Right!

Talking to a writer friend, I lamented about this frustrating villain and how difficult it was to write about a narcissistic sociopath. She laughed in my face and informed me I couldn’t be more wrong. He was not a villain at all, but a passionate, honorable, and humble man who’d been put in a position of being the heavy.

To which I replied, “No, no. I’m talking about Pietas.” Turned out, so was she. Obviously, I had missed far more than I suspected. But what?

With her help, we set up an “interview” where she would ask me questions and I would answer as Pietas in a free association format. This is a thought process in which ideas, words or images suggest other ideas in a sequence. Using what I already knew about him, I would try to figure out how he’d answer. I’d role play. Why not? Pietas was not only the king of the immortals in my story, he was the Gamemaster in the role-playing game they all obsessed over: Peril.

We agreed to record it so I could go back and listen again. She would ask open-ended questions that couldn’t be answered “yes” or “no” which would elicit conversation. We talked for well over an hour. She asked “Pietas” about his father, how he felt about his mother, why he did not get along with his sister, and why he was so hung up on a previous lover. What had happened to him as a child that made him angry now? What did he hope to accomplish?

By the end, I had a far deeper understanding of the immortal king. I got to know the real person and not the superficial character I’d written. What showed up in other books was the person he presented to the world. In reality, the psychotic front he showed to others was not at all who he was.

That insight changed everything.

I got to work writing his story instead of the one I’d wanted. When I finished Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas and released it, one reviewer said “He’s painted as a complete psycho in other books. It’s really great to get some insight into who he truly is.” Readers told me they felt Pietas was a real person and I was channeling his energy. My heart sang. I’d accomplished my purpose and revealed the true person to the world. Although, now I had to deal with Pietas, who wasn’t all that happy about the big reveal! I’ve sweet-talked him into bringing his truth into the light, so we should see several more books in his series.

I’ve been busy writing the sequel to the Origin of Pietas. I’m on the last few pages now. Here’s the blurb for the new book, Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire. (updated cover on the way)

Reviving after death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and wounds of the heart take forever.

When Pietas reunites with the immortal Ultra people he was born to lead, they reject his human friend, Six, a member of Ghost Corps. Ghosts, their most feared adversaries, are resurrected special ops soldiers who possess enough strength to perma-kill Ultras.

Six is taken hostage, and Pietas must free his friend, deal with the brutal father he’s detested since childhood, make amends with his sister, and rescue his ailing mother. Meanwhile, the tempestuous affair he rekindles with a beautiful, telepathic warrior he’s adored for centuries lays bare long-held and deadly secrets.

The gift of telepathy he’s always wished for activates at the worst possible time, but it gives him one huge advantage. He bonds with an ally who harbors every bit as much hatred for his father as Pietas does: a tribe of genetically enhanced panthers. As much as he loves these noble creatures, connecting with their feral bloodlust threatens to undermine his legendary self-control.

How can he even hope love will withstand the unstoppable berserker rage within the Bringer of Chaos? If it can’t, Ghost Corps will be the last thing Ultras need to fear.

To know when this book is released, join the Romance Lives Forever Reader Group.
Pick up Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas

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Character Flaws: Narcissism, Writing Pietas #amediting #scifi

Character Flaws: Narcissism, Writing Pietas #amediting #scifiOne way writers allow readers to connect with a hero is to give him serious character flaws. In  Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas, Pietas begins as an arrogant narcissist with a superiority complex. He is sooo above puny humans… but in this book, his immortal life could end when he winds up at the mercy of one.

Character Flaws

In this scene between the immortal Pietas and his father, the two are arguing a familiar topic: humans. To establish the main character’s chief flaw, it’s important to reveal it as close to the opening as possible. This conversation begins on the first page, but we join it here a few pages later. Pietas is speaking.

“You want us to treat humans as equals. They never treated us as such. Even now, we’re hated and reviled. Putting them on the council will make them haughtier. I want nothing to do with humans.”

“Then you want nothing to do with me, Son. Humans are all I care about.”

And wasn’t that the naked truth of his father’s betrayal? He had turned his back on their people. He had turned his back on his son.

“You’re right, Father. I want nothing to do with you. I care nothing for mortals. They all die.”

“You were elected by the council and you serve at their pleasure.” He jabbed a finger at the ground. “They want this treaty. Remember that.”

“I never forsake duty.” Pietas twitched his fingers, dismissing him. He waited until Mahikos reached the door. “Did it never occur to you?”

His father faced him. “What?”

“The council elected me to head these talks and removed you. You want to bring in humans. I do not. Perhaps the council hates humans more than you think.”

A wave of aggravation emanated from Mahikos. Licks of emotional flame scorched Pietas’s skin. Accustomed to the pain, he did not flinch.

“Son, surely you realize they elected you to keep you close and control you.”

“To control–” Pietas broke into laughter. “Did they? How unenlightened.” He shrugged. “Well, they can try. I must say, your annoyance today is a refreshing change from your usual indifference. I’d begun wondering if you had any emotions regarding my takeover. It must nettle, knowing your lowly son succeeded your rule.”

“No one would consider you lowly.”

Pietas lifted his chin. “Except you.”

“I’m surprised you even bothered to show up, as much as you hate humans.”

“It’s nothing personal. I hate humans no more than a physician hates germs yet still takes time to eradicate them. Humans are dangerous.”

“Humans are the reason we exist.”

“Perhaps that was true in your reality. Humans have abused, misused, and betrayed their creations throughout their history. This peace everyone clamors for comes from concern about humans. I care less than nothing about them. As for their good graces? I have no faith they exist.”

“You know, Pietas, one day you’ll rely on the mercy of humans.”

“You think humans show mercy? How amusing.”

Head down, Mahikos rubbed a spot between his eyes. “I hope I’m there to see it. When you realize even humans have value, that will be a good day for all of us.”

“How well you preach love.” If only his father gave it half as well.

“Son, when the conference starts tomorrow, all your mother and I ask is that you try to be gracious.”

“I’m certain I already am.” He toyed with the circlet. “Just this morning when I knocked on your chamber door, I heard Mother say, ‘Oh gracious. That must be Pietas.'”

“Why can you not be serious about this?”

“I consider these talks of utmost importance. It is you I do not take seriously.”Character Flaws: Narcissism, Writing Pietas #amediting #scifi

Okay — now tell me, aren’t you irritated with Pietas right now? If I’ve done my job as a writer, you will be. However, as you walk in his shoes (or lack of them) through the rest of the story, you’ll gain an insight into his arrogance and his hate-love-hate relationship with his father. One reviewer wrote that by the end, she loved this man (Pietas) she had been driven to hate.

Writing a character with serious flaws is like buying a diamond in the rough. You know the gem is in there. It takes time to grind and polish down to the good part.

Writing a character with serious flaws is like buying a diamond in the rough. #amediting Click To Tweet

Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas is free on Kindle Unlimited.

The sequel to this book, Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire is almost complete! To learn when it will be released, join the Romance Lives Forever Reader Group or follow me on Amazon. Joining the reader group provides immediate access to four free books, including one beautifully illustrated with quotes from Pietas.

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The Honor of a King #pietas #scifi #MFRWhooks

The honor of a king is more valuable than diamonds. As the about-to-be-king of his people, Pietas is zealous of his honor above all things. Strongly tied to that is his name. “Pietas” fits a king whose honor is his sole remaining possession.

The name comes from Latin and has a two-part meaning. The first is conscientious, duty, dutiful conduct, and scrupulous. The second is kind, gentle, and compassionate. Those who know lord Pietas ap Lorectic believe the first definition without hesitation. But the second? Well…

From chapter one, Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas

The announcer mentioned the upcoming peace talks on Enderium Six. “We hope Chancellor Pietas can be reasoned with at the talks this week.”

At her mispronunciation of his name, he gritted his teeth.

“Human families,” she continued, “have been evacuated from the station to protect them from possible violence.”

“I’ll show you violence.” Pietas cut off the video. “And my name is pronounced Pee-ah-toss, thank you. Not Pie-ah-toss. Pee-ah-toss. It’s six letters. How hard is that to get right?” He stormed away from the podium.

He cast off the heavy silk brocade of his robe of state. Silver threads flashed among teal and white as the supple garment billowed to the floor. He tore off the unadorned silver circlet denoting his rank, and tossed it onto a table. It clattered across the wood and knocked over a small ceramic statue of a six-headed dragon.

Pietas righted it. “These peace talks will end in disaster. Why can’t anyone else see it?” He massaged his temples. “This headache is proof. An Ultra doesn’t suffer pain, unless it’s due to humans.”

Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas
Immortal. Warrior. Outcasts. Traitors took everything. Except their honor.
Immortal. Warrior. Outcasts. Traitors took everything. Except their honor. Click To Tweet

Available free on Kindle Unlimited
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When the World Unravels #scifi #romance

When the World Unravels #BookHooks #scifi #romance A snippet from BroBookHooks is a blog hop where authors share only a small snippet of a story, an enticement to read more.

Today’s snippet is from Bro, the Story Behind the Antonello Brothers. Other books in the series include At the Mercy of Her Pleasure and For Women Only. Bro is free on this website. The other two are free on Kindle Unlimited.

Khyff Antonello is off work for the day and heading for a well-earned rest. When his client mentions he knows someone with the same last name as Khyff, it gets his attention. Then he hears the person is a HalfKin like the brother he thought was dead.

“No, never mind. He wouldn’t be related to you. I just remembered. He’s a HalfKin.”

Half-human, half-feline humanoid Kin.

All the air left the room. Khyff fought to drag in a breath. “What’s his name?”

“Seth, I think. No, Senth. Yeah, that’s it. Senth Antonello.”

The light grayed around the edges.

The guy took a step forward, concern on his face. “Hey, Khyff, you okay? You look a little pale.”

Hearing the name Senth Antonello catapulted Khyff back into the past. To the point in his life when his world had unraveled, torn itself apart and dumped him into hell. He hit the floor with a smack that stung his hands and knees and he crumpled.


Bro, the Story Behind the Antonello Brothers
When you can make yourself invisible, invisible truths are revealed.
Senth and Khyff, the Antonello Brothers from At the Mercy of Her Pleasure and For Women Only, did not grow up together. They were separated at Senth’s birth. Bro shows how and why, and what event reunited them.
Join the Romance Lives Forever Reader Group and get a free copy of Bro, the Story Behind the Antonello Brothers https://kayelleallen.com/bro plus three more books at the same time.

When you can make yourself invisible, invisible truths are revealed. Click To Tweet

At the Mercy of Her Pleasure
He’s a thief. She’s a soldier. Do opposites attract? Oh, mercy!
Amazon https://amzn.to/1f7FQ2h

For Women Only
His secret truth is her people’s darkest lie.
Amazon https://amzn.to/1f7Ge0P

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5 Exercises and 5 Excuses for Writers #writerslife #MFRWauthor

5 Exercises and 5 Excuses for Writers #writerslife #MFRWauthorYou might not be aware, but writing can be hazardous to your health. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome affects millions and is a serious threat to many writers. I had surgery (called a carpal tunnel release) on each hand, one after the other, many years ago. I’m completely recovered but it was a long haul. Here are some exercises that helped me recover.

These five exercises are ones my physical therapist taught me. After those, I’ll pass on five excuses for the author who likes less of a challenge. Any writer can do these hand exercises. They are pleasant, and simple. Performing warm up exercises for your hands can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other maladies.

I am not a doctor or a trained physical therapist, but I am a writer who has dealt with carpal tunnel and lived with the pain it causes. These are suggestions based on what I do myself and what my therapist gave me to do. As with any exercise program, check with a medical professional before beginning, or if you have concerns. I personally do all the exercises below and they work for me. I hope they’ll help you.

Exercises for Writers

Exercise 1

Spread your fingers as wide as possible, hold the stretch to a count of five. Make a tight fist and hold that to a count of five. Repeat. Do this at least twice per hand before beginning your day.

Exercise 2

With right hand open, place fingers in the palm of your left hand. Press with the right while resisting with the left. You might feel this all the way to your elbows. That’s okay. It means there’s a good stretch. Hold for a count of five. Reverse hands and repeat. Do this twice per hand. I credit my fast recovery from surgery with this kind of therapy.

Exercise 3

Holding your hand straight up, keep fingers together and bring your thumb across your palm. Try to touch the base of your little finger. Stretch for it. If this is difficult it likely means your hand is tight. Repeat five times. You can do both hands at once.

Exerci5 Exercises and 5 Excuses for Writers #writerslife #MFRWauthorse 4

Use a small stress ball. Here’s one available on Amazon that is safe, non-sticky, and is said to last a lifetime. This one claims to be safe around children, but use your own judment.  http://amzn.to/2tEhEOi Place the ball on a firm surface and place the palm of your hand atop it. Keeping your fingers straight, roll the ball beneath your hand. Stress balls often come with their own suggested exercises.

Exercise 5

If you have twin sinks this is easy. If you don’t, try two deep bowls. Fill one with hot water. Make it cool enough to hold your hand in comfortably, but still be considered hot. Fill the other side with cold water. You can float a few ice cubes in it. Plunge your hands in the hot water and hold for 30 seconds. Then put them right into the cold water for 60 seconds. Repeat five times. This makes my hands feel wonderful! I hope you enjoy it too.

Excuses for Writers

We all have days where we just can’t seem to cope. Days when good enough is good enough. For those days, try these excuses. Because we’re writers, these are writing-related.

Excuse 1

You’ve worked hard on marketing and writing so take a break. Play Spider Solitaire, Mahjongg, a word search puzzle, or other game. Alternate option: read.

Excuse 2

The submission process is stressful, so write in a pre-formatted document. To create, open a blank document and save it as Chapter One. Double-check the formatting. Set a new format to indent automatically five spaces when starting a new paragraph, format it for double lines and name it Editing.

Excuse 3

You should be well hydrated before beginning any exercise. Fill your coffee cup, lift, sip, and put it back down. Repeat with the other hand. Do this until the cup is empty. Refill so you can repeat again later if needed.

Excuse 4

You should keep to your schedule as much as possible, so check your email and calendar for any upcoming events. Because these tasks fall under marketing, this is an acceptable writing activity.

Excuse 5

Writers should use good equipment, including things used for exercise. Double-check the exercise equipment you have on hand to be sure it’s high quality. You might try comparison shopping online. While you’re ordering new items, stock up on coffee, creamer, and sugar. This might be a good time to consider the meal plan for the week.


There you have it. Five exercises and five excuses. Which you use depends on you. Have you faced similar issues with pain when writing? How did you deal with it? Feel free to leave a comment.

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Joss and Pietas meet (from Forged in Fire, a sweet scifi romance) #excerpt #Scifi

I’m writing the sequel to book one in the Bringer of Chaos series. The first was Origin of Pietas, the second is Forged in Fire. In it, we get a lovely flashback of his first love. When Joss and Pietas meet for the first time, he is young, isolated, and alone. This is from the work in progress. May have final edits before being released. Currently, it’s on track for Sept 2017.

Joss and Pietas Meet (Excerpt)

Joss and Pietas meet (from Forged in Fire, a sweet scifi romance) #excerpt #MFRWhooks @kayelleallen

Pietas didn’t sleep with Joss until he was twenty, but he fell in love with her at first sight.

He was sixteen. She was ageless.

The older woman had plucked him off the streets, fed and clothed him, given him a job and dignity. That wasn’t why he’d slept with her. It had taken several years to become her lover because he didn’t know how to ask. She told him later he’d been too young to know what he wanted and she’d promised herself she wouldn’t make the first move. This time, he knew how it was done, he had no intention of waiting, and he knew exactly what he wanted. Her.

As he hiked beside her, he recalled that first meeting. He’d been starving, standing in lines to join work crews. For days. No one would hire him. He had no identification. No money. His father had thrown him out with nothing. Obtaining his own weapons hadn’t been difficult. He’d wagered his skill to gain those. But a job? He had no war campaigns to claim and no ID to acquire passage for one. He was too proud to steal and far too proud to beg. He refused to buy falsified documents. He’d either earn his keep the right way or he’d starve.

Once you sell your honor, nothing else has value.

Once you sell your honor, nothing else has value. -- Pietas #Quotes Click To Tweet

The day had grown late and it had started raining. He ducked into a covered alley and huddled against the wall for protection from the wind. The greasy food cooking at the diner across the street had started smelling good two days ago. Skinny Ultras stopped by the diner’s back door every night and accepted a handful of scraps. A few picked through leavings. He would bear stomach cramps forever before he’d do that.

A female soldier passing by slowed, looked him up and down, and then stopped. She wore an officer’s uniform: simple black jacket, white blouse, black skirt, shiny shoes. “Hello.”

He stood taller. Finger-combing his hair, he smiled at her. “Hello.”

“Are you looking for work?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She entered the alley, gesturing for him to accompany her.

He turned to follow, staggering with dizziness. No matter what kind of work she needed done, he would find a way to do it, hungry or not. Once they reached the alley’s deepest end, she pulled up her skirt and held out paper money.

It took a moment for it to register what she expected him to do. He’d never been around any women other than his mother and sister. Did people…do that…in an alley? Surely not. He must be mistaken. Surely she needed something else and he had misunderstood.

When he just stood there, she gestured with the money. “I don’t have all day, do you want this or not?”

He turned and fled and didn’t slow down until he reached the Ultra’s union hall. There, he dropped onto the ground in the drizzling rain, back against the wall. Arms resting on upraised knees, he hung his head, sopping wet, cold and miserable.

“Hello?” called a gentle voice.

“I am not for sale!” He clenched his teeth and glared up at her.

“That’s good to know.” The woman looking down at him was not the one who’d offered to buy him earlier.

Pietas clambered to his feet.

Unlike his platinum blond, her hair held tones of gold. Kind blue eyes seemed to look right through him. The rain had ceased and a beam of sunlight illuminated her. Seeing her, a man could believe in angels.

He pushed hair out of his face. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be. Are you Pietas?”

“I am.” Was this someone who could hire him? It wouldn’t do to look sloppy in front of her. He drew back his sodden hair into a tail and tossed it over his shoulder. Wiping wet hands on wetter clothes, he held himself in militarily correct posture. “How do you know me?”

“From your mother’s description.”

“My mother?” A wave of homesickness arose in him so strong he lost his breath. He might be new to the greater Ultra world, but he hadn’t been raised a fool. He kept his distance. “How do you know her?”

“Helia and I were created at the same time. She was scientist class and I was warrior, but we became friends. I introduced her to Mahikos. Thankfully, she doesn’t hold that against me.” A wry smile tilted her mouth. “She called me, told me she had a son named Pietas and a daughter named Dessy. She said you and your father had a fight and asked me to look for you. She sends her love.”

“You must be Joss!”

“That’s right.”

“Growing up, Mother told me all about you. She said you were the sister she never had.”

“Did she?” Her amusement came through the aether, as warm and embracing as his mother’s had ever been. “I’m glad to know that. I wish she’d told me about you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. That isn’t your fault.”

“Is Mother here? Have you seen her?”

“No. But she was worried so I said I’d try to find you. Looks like I did. She said to try the work halls. This should have been the first place I looked.” Smiling, she spread her hands. “But I finally found you.”

Surely it wasn’t wrong to fall in love so fast. Mother had said not to trust strange women, and from his experience with the one earlier, she’d been right. But this was Joss. Her friend and sister. Pietas took two steps toward her, stopped himself and stuck his hands in his pockets.

Joss offered her hand. When he shook it, she clasped both of hers around his.

The moment she touched him he knew he would survive. He could do anything. His life was not over before it began. He’d had no idea then she was using her gift of Clarity to help him see his path. All he knew was this amazing woman cared about him.

“Thank you for looking for me. Finding me.”

“My pleasure.” She slid her fingertips down his jaw, out to the dimple in his chin and released him. “Now, let’s get you off these streets, into some dry clothes, and find you a meal. If you want to, you can call your mother.”

(download a pdf of the Joss and Pietas meet excerpt taken from Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire, sweet science fiction romance – coming soon)

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