Monday, August 28, 2017

How and Why to Write an Anti Hero

To wrap up August's theme of heroes, I want to talk anti heroes.

Why should you write an anti hero?

Short answer: Anti heroes are fascinating. Their moral compass definitely doesn't point true North. But even though they break laws and leave destruction in their wake, these dark heroes are on a mission to do the right thing. Even villains are doing the right thing according to their own story, though, right? So what separates an anti hero from a villain? It's all in the way you write them.

My favorite anti hero is a popular one. Walter White from Breaking Bad. He's an excellent example for how to write an anti hero.

1. The anti hero starts off as a good person.

Walter White starts his story as a straight-and-narrow family man, high school chemistry teacher, and on top of that, he works another job at a car wash to provide for his family. There's nothing villainous about this guy. Even when we see him get irritated, he responds with compliance.


2. The anti hero begrudgingly compromises his morals in response to an impossible situation.

Every protagonist should face an impossible situation. The hero will stand their moral ground and find some way through their mess. They'll stick to their morals even if it means losing because above all, they don't want to lose themselves.

The villain will manipulate, destroy, and do whatever they have to do to get what they want as quickly as they want. It doesn't matter to them who gets hurt in the process.

The anti hero will struggle with what to do to overcome the impossible, but in the end, he compromises his morals for the sake of the goal. Walter White finds out he has lung cancer, and that even with his two jobs, he can't come anywhere close to paying for medical treatment without leaving his family in horrible debt. So when he learns how much money meth dealers make, and he finds a former student in the business, he sees a solution to his problem. Make meth and go into business with his former student. Walter isn't happy about this at all, but he justifies his illegal actions by saying he'll only make enough money to pay for his treatment.


3. Amp up the internal struggle. Make it juicy. Blur the lines.

Without giving anything away for those who somehow haven't watched Breaking Bad, there's a scene where Walter White really crosses the morality line, and I mean more than making meth. He crosses the line to right a wrong and make sure his illegal hard work isn't for nothing. And when he crosses that line? Ohhhh, he likes it. He's turned on by it. The dark side of this former straight-and-narrow is unleashed.


4. The anti hero needs to be feared by the right people.

Villains and heroes need to be equally matched so that there's tension and excitement in a fair fight. You'll know you have an anti hero and not a villain when the anti hero opposes a villain and they both fear each other. Walter White went up against rival meth cooks and dealers, even opposing the Cartel. And when he crossed the line to the dark side, he became a force his rivals feared. And here's where things get muddied...there are heroes in the story too: the DA (Walt's brother-in-law). In the eyes of the DA, Walter White (they don't know his identity) is no different or less villainous than the other drug dealers. But remember, Walter sticks to a certain level of morality, and he does it for the sake of his family.


The reason anti villains are so interesting is because no one person is completely good or completely bad. We've all wondered what it would be like to bend or break the law, haven't we? We've wondered what would push us to cross our moral line. Think of the classic scenario of stealing bread to feed your family. The anti hero satisfies that dark side we all have, no matter how tucked away we keep that part of ourselves.


Jessie Mullins is married to her highschool sweetheart, and together they have an awesome son. She's a mommy blogger and writes YA. You can find bookish things on her writer Facebook page.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Win an eARC of BREAKING THE RULES OF REVENGE by Samantha Bohrman

My book Keeping Her Secret is part of the multi-author Endless Summer series from Entangled Teen. Today, I'm giving away two eARCs of the third book in the series (each book is entirely standalone and they don't need to be read in order), Breaking the Rules of Revenge by Samantha Bohrman, releasing September 11th!

Mallory Jones is tired of being the girl who stays home and practices French horn while her identical twin, Blake, is crowned homecoming queen. So when she has the opportunity to pretend to be Blake, she takes it. At Camp Pine Ridge, she will spread her wings and emerge a butterfly. Or at least someone who finally gets kissed by a cute guy. That is, until bad boy Ben Iron Cloud shows up, ready to get revenge on Blake—aka Mallory.

If it weren’t for that infuriating girl, Ben wouldn’t even be at camp. Luckily, he now has six weeks to soak up some rays and get even with his nemesis. But the more time he spends with Blake, the more he realizes she’s nothing like the girl he thought she was—she’s kind and innocent and suddenly way too tempting. And soon enough, revenge is the last thing on his mind. Unfortunately, the girl he’s falling for is keeping a major secret…

Disclaimer: This book contains a super-hot bad boy out for revenge, all sorts of camp hijinks, and a girl who realized she’s been a butterfly all along.

Read the first chapter at Samantha's blog!

Goodreads | Amazon | NetGalley

About the Author

Samantha Bohrman lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and three children. As a kid, she attended every summer camp imaginable—gymnastics camp, French camp, biology camp, architecture camp, debate camp, band camp, and the list goes on. Sadly, as a teen, Samantha was too shy to ever attend a camp dance. She is making up for it now with plenty of fictional summer camp smolder.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


Use the rafflecopter to enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Top Ten YA Heroes / Love Interests

My Top Ten YA Heroes / Love Interests

As our theme this month is heroes, I thought I’d indulge in one of my favourite past times – thinking about fictional men. So, here’s my top ten heroes/love interests from YA. You might notice most of these are from SFF novels, so I apologise for the lack of genre diversity, but it’s the genre of which I read the most. Also, anyone who knows me knows that Snape will forever be my favourite male character invented, so for purposes of giving other characters a chance, I’ve left him off this list.  (Snape, my love – “Always.”)
Let me know if you agree with my list or not in the comments below, and add your own favourites!

10. Raffe - Angelfall - Susan Ee
A personal favourite, Raffe is on his own mission in Angelfall and doesn’t become so completely eclipsed by his love for the main character that he forgets his own agenda. He’s strong but not invincible, and has no objections to Penryn saving him once in a while. Go get them wings, Raffe!

9. Jack – Blood Red Road – Moira Young
Although at first introduction it may seem at first that Jack has popped up to provide the romance element of Blood Red Road, by the end of the novel Moira Young has made it clear Jack has his own path, which doesn’t necessarily follow the same of that of our main character. He resists a system which very possibly could treat him well because of his morals, which is a great hero quality.

8. Peeta – The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Ah Peeta, I still remember falling in love with him for the first time during Hunger Games, and somehow even the thought of him covered in cake icing hiding in a ravine was cute (not so much in the film though eh?) His thoughtful, caring nature was so out of place in that cruel world that he became an unlikely hero. His love for Katniss is a quiet, unassuming love, and doesn’t try to dominate to book. Ten out of ten points for Peeta the perseverer.

7. Jace - The Mortal Instruments - Cassandra Clare
OK, so Jace is typically good looking and with sculpted cheekbones and great mouth, but everyone knows it’s not physical looks which make a hero. Jace has a troubled past and a hard relationship with his father, making him more than just a 2D love interest. He’s powerful, strategic and his wit is as sharp as dem face bones.

6. Simon – Carry On - Rainbow Rowell
Simon is the perfect way to invert the Chosen One trope. All his life he’s been hailed as the hero to save all others, but Simon feels like a failure most of the time. Despite that, and all this unsolicited responsibility heaped at his feet, he keeps going - that makes a true hero to me. Add to that a killer sense of humour and a riveting romance, and Simon more than deserves his place on this list.

5.  Micah – Pantomime – Laura Lam
I don’t want to say too much about Micah in case I give away any spoilers, but they are talented, clever and totally motivated by clear goals. The character development in Pantomime is sublime and really takes the reader alongside the hero’s journey.

4. Otieno – Shadows on the Moon - Zoe Marriott
Shadows on the Moon is one of my favourite books. It shows that heroes and heroines come via all personality types, and don’t have to be unflinchingly brave or with all the right answers and actions. Otieno is not just a loyal, long-lasting love interest, he has also had to deal with his own tumultuous past and an uncertain future. He supports the main character but doesn’t try to take over her story or alter her quest. I’d love to read a book just about him!

3. Valek - Poison Study – Maria V. Snyder
First of all – Valek has a beard! Yey for love interests with beards! Secondly, Valek again has his own agenda and moral compass that exists outside of his love for Yelena (can you notice the common theme here?). The fact that Yelena knows his loyalty to the Commander will always come first makes him more than your standard do-anything-for-my-love love interest. He also can climb down buildings like a spider in a black catsuit – awesome.

2. Jaz – Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo
Cunning. Clever. Deadly. This is one guy you don’t want to be on the wrong side off, and that makes me want to be on the right side of him. (Minds out of the gutter, please.) His backstory is poignant and you can realistically see why he is the way he is today. He also cares about those who are in his inner circle, despite not trusting anyone. Jaz is a brilliant example of a complex character who can want and chase after conflicting ideals.

1. Akiva – Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
Akiva has all the assets I would list as a MUST HAVE if I were to place an ad in the lonely-hearts column.
a)       A killer backstory
b)      Undying, loyal love
c)       Complicated familial relationships
d)      Can fly
e)      Made mistakes but wants to rectify them
Seriously, Akiva makes a brilliant hero. As lots of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is from his POV, he is as important as the main character to bring us through the action, and subsequently we really get into his head. His story is mesmerizing, and I love a character who has their own family and friends to deal with, instead of living in isolation as a love interest to the main character.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Releasing September 11, 2017 Entangled Teen - Crave
Pre-order today!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble (coming soon) Add it to Goodreads
About the book ...
One strike will bring them together.
Stevie Moon is least to the subscribers on her comic review vlog. At school, she’s as plain as the gray painted walls in the cafeteria. So when Blake, the hot new guy at school, shows an interest in her, she knows trouble when she sees it. Been there. And never doing it again. As the son of the god Thor, Blake Foster's been given an important mission—to recover the Norse god Heimdall’s sacred and powerful horn before someone uses it to herald in the destruction of the entire universe. But while Blake is great in a fight, the battlefield that is a high school’s social scene is another matter. Blake knows his only choice is to team up with the adorable Stevie, but she's not willing to give him even the time of day. He'll need to woo the girl and find the horn if he hopes to win this war. Who better to tackle Stevie's defenses than the demi-god of thunder? "Every page brims with captivating Norse mythology and deliciously creative worldbuilding." Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author

About the author ... Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2), and Thunderstruck releasing September 11, 2017. She hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). She’s represented by Peter Knapp at The Park Literary Group. Save Save

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Real Talk About Heroes

The theme for this month is heroes. It’s a topic I have already thought about in writing. Writing a good hero in YA fiction is challenging. It’s important for characters to feel real and be complex even if they aren’t actually real. However, writers also have to ask themselves how strict of a moral code a hero has. Some writers might be comfortable with having their hero always being a perfect citizen while other writers might have their hero be morally ambiguous. But the most important thing for a hero is a happy ending. Because there’s nothing worse than the audience being cheated.

Sure. Life might not always be fair. But there’s no law that says pop culture must be realistic. This is a television example, but I’ll write about it anyway. YA writers can still learn from it. One example of a hero from television is Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. The show fell flat with its series finale. Stefan sacrifices himself so his brother Damon Salvatore can get a happily ever after with Elena Gilbert. The Vampire Diaries ultimately gets it wrong. Stefan should have gotten the happy ending; not Damon. People talk about villains needing to be complex and not caricatures. Well, it’s the same for heroes. They should be able to make mistakes without losing their hero status. That’s why it baffles me when fans complain about Stefan’s flaws, but ignore Damon’s flaws to prop up the misogynistic and toxic ship Delena. Stefan even props up Delena by saying Damon is the better/right man when having his goodbye with Elena. The point is, there’s an implicit promise to viewers. Stefan is the good brother and Damon is the bad brother, and the show did not deliver. And that’s one mistake I’ll never make in my writing. The bad boy trope ceases to be impressive if the bad boy keeps acting like a jerk over and over again-like Damon-without learning anything from the behavior.