Free Books and an Insider View

 

Fictional Kevin's Insider's List

Cheesy marketing banner aside…

For a while I have been talking to Dr. Meg about starting to collect names and email addresses so we can notify folks of cool things we’re doing, free and discounted books, writing tips, reviews, etc. We even thought we’d use the list to promote some of your books (if you write.)

Starting today you can sign up to receive email updates. It’s simple, it’s free and it’s only mildly annoying.

You can join the list by clicking here (or not, I’m not the boss of you.)

What will you receive:

  • A courier will come to your door and present you with $100,000.00*
  • You will get my thoughts about the pieces I write. Why I wrote them, what inspired me.
  • Free and discounted book promotions.
  • A trained, dancing monkey.*
  • The opportunity to promote your own book – free.
  • Since I own a publishing business I will give tips on how to self-publish and market your own work.
  • Original fiction and non-fiction I don’t post to the blog.
  • Advance copies of stories for your feedback and input.
  • Anything else I think you might find interesting.

All that for the low-low-price of FREE. You can’t beat it.

Click here and join the list. It’s only mildly painful.

(*These offers are only available in Sri Lanka. Please allow 28 years for delivery.)

 


Creating Characters with Personality: The Narcissist

Creating Characters with Personality - The Naccissist

I love narcissists.

Well, let me rephrase that: I love writing narcissistic characters. In real life, they are more than a pain to deal with. Writing a narcissist is fun because narcissists cause problems and problems make for interesting writing.

Narcissists are selfish, use people for their own agenda, are secretive and fly into fits of rage. They cause crises that move the plot along. They have intense sexual needs.

The Primary Traits of a Narcissistic Character

This is not meant to be a psychological commentary. Dr. Shell King has done a great breakdown of the psychology here. What I want to focus on are the common ways a narcissistic character views the world and how it shapes his role in the story.

There are three dominant commonalities in almost all narcissists:

They Have a Mission

Narcissists typically have lots of shame, but you’d never know it. To compensate for their inner feelings of inadequacy they must be “bigger than life.” They can never tolerate being seen as “common.” They must be better than everyone else in at least one area of life. They have grandiose plans.

That’s their mission.

There are a number of ways this works out. Some may become religious leaders. Some, business. Some will set themselves up a “mentors” to you lesser folks. Heck, they might even write tutorials on how to create compelling characters despite being a newbie at fiction. Some will focus on personal improvement.

Your narcissistic character wants to project his superiority. He sees himself as smarter. He may only go to “the best parties” with “the best people.” His way of doing things is always the “best” way. He does not tolerate people who he sees as inferior. He does not take advice and criticism puts him into a rage.

They Have Intense Sexual Needs

To cover their deep self-loathing, they use sex. Often. While just the act is originally fulfilling, they find pretty quickly – like any drug – the initial high wears off and they need “more” or “better” sex to fill the need.

Over time this manifests as seeking what most would consider “aberrant” sexual behaviors. They are not likely to be faithful to a partner. They try new and “better” sexual experiences looking for that high. Something “perfect” to fill their intense psychological need.

As a character it would be “reasonable” for him to move over time into more bizarre sexual activity. Often they are deeply ashamed of their sexual needs and try to hide them from others. Like all addicts, they will eventually seek their fix.

They Exert Inappropriate Control of Others

To the narcissist, appearance is everything. It doesn’t matter if their finances are a wreck and they are on the verge of bankruptcy as long as they appear affluent. It’s more important for them to have an attractive woman on their arm than to have a kind, loving partner.

As such, they see their world as a reflection on them. They control family members to make sure they adhere to a strict (often arbitrary) code. People who work for them often find their demand impossible. They have no respect for other people’s personal boundaries or needs. They have no empathy.

They are masters of manipulation.

Writing a Narcissistic Character

If you’ve ever tried to write any character, you’ve already realized the need to understand how your character came to be BEFORE the book starts. We call that backstory.

It’s important to understand how your character became a narcissist and how they informs their current choices in your story. Here’s how I create narcissistic characters.

Create a psychological backstory

Some things you typically see in a narcissist’s childhood would be a close relationship with his mother and a distant or non-existent relationship with is father. Sometimes it is a mother who sees him do no wrong. He is always right, always her special boy. Sometimes the mother will be overbearing and disapproving.

If his mother “spoiled” him, he likely lacks any kind of long-term self-discipline. His grandiose plans never translate into progress because he lacks the grit.

If his mother was intolerant, he likely will do remarkable feats and have incredible self-discipline. Literally “to a fault.”

Because of his emotional issues, your character will have a string of broken relationships. He will find and use pliable people, then throw them away when they are no longer a benefit. His infidelity and/or deep sexual needs will make romantic relationships hard to maintain. He may no longer have any relationship with his mother or, at best, a strained one.

Create “Honest” Scenes

Your narcissistic character is constantly asking himself: “What’s in this for me?”

In action, he will not truly care about anyone but himself. He may feign compassion, as long as it achieves his goals. His ends always justify his means. People exist only to meet his needs.

If he gets angry, it’s their fault for making him angry. If he fails, it was “the man” or “those corrupt politicians” or…whatever. It will never be his fault. He is perfect, better than anyone else, so bad things happen when other people screw up.

He’s probably vain. He may be excessive in his workout routine. He probably dresses well.

He’s surprisingly charming. Manipulating others all his life, he has learned to charm. To seduce. He appears incredibly confident which appeals to the women around him. He needs adoration and cultivates it from others – especially women.

Let His Mission Move the Story Along

Narcissists create story. They have a goal, a direction and it affects all the other characters they encounter. Their drive might be “caught” by other characters and cause them to do great things with him. Their objective might also put a character or three into situations where they are forced to react.

All of these move the story along and make it interesting. Your readers can fear for the woman caught in the web. They can cheer for the accomplishments.

Now, go write a narcissist…

It will be fun. If you have any questions, be sure to put them below.

 

 

 

 


Double Seduction 11

Double Seduction

Dr. Meg and I are writing a little novella we hope you will enjoy and keep you in suspense. I wrote the first chapter, she wrote the second. The third is here. To read the fourth, go here. The fifth installment is here. Read the sixth installment by clicking here. The seventh is here. Eight here. Nine can be found here. Meg has written chapter 10, go over to her blog to read it. Chapter 11 is below…


Chapter 11 – Revelations

Mel was distracted all afternoon.  The text from Anton had rattled her and the day couldn’t be finished fast enough.  As her last patient left she turned to Andi.  “So Dr. Rivers?”  she began cheerfully.  “I was going to stay and file these…. Um, Dr. Rivers?  Are you ok?”

“I’m fine, Andi. It’s just allergies. We’ve had a long day, let’s just pick it up in the morning,” hurrying Andi out the door.

“OK…Dr. Rivers…um…have a good night” she said frowning.

Mel locked the door behind her and pulled her phone from her pocket, pressing Anton’s number.

“Melody, thank you for calling.” Anton’s deep voice answered in his thick Romanian accent.

“Why are you checking up on David? I thought you were going to drop this.” Mel’s voice was a mixture of anxiety and anger.

“Melody, please forgive, but I care about you and  I felt my talents might keep you from harm. You need to know: David is not who he pretends to be.”

Mel’s breath caught. She wanted to rail against him, release the anger she felt. At the same time his statement seemed firm, it caught her off guard. Before she replied, Anton continued.

“When someone takes a picture with a digital camera or phone, the picture has saved with it additional information. It can be read with the right software. The picture you sent me last week of David on his motorcycle, when did he say it was taken?”

“This is too much Anton, you are my friend and my sparing partner, but you have no right to mess with my life.” Mel fumed.

“Melody, please, just answer the question. It’s important. If you are still angry with me after you learn the truth, then, well, we’ll deal with that. But you must know the truth. When was it taken?” Anton’s voice was calm but firm.

“The truth? You make it sound like he’s an ax murderer. It was taken a couple weeks ago. Why does it matter when it was taken?” Mel’s jaw was firmly set.

“Bear with me. And where?” Anton again seemed unfazed by her tone.

“David was taking a ride. On Sullivan Trail. To the Poconos,” Mel snapped back.

“Melody, you need to know the picture you sent me was taken six years ago in San Bernardino, California. I don’t believe it is a picture of David.”

“You don’t know that! That doesn’t mean anything!”

Anton had never heard Mel so angry.

“So what? So what if he took it years ago? We’re talking. We’ve only met online. Lots of people use old pictures. Anton, if you keep this…”

At this point, Mel’s phone signaled an incoming call. From David.

“I’m done talking about this. I’m getting a call. I have to go.” Without waiting for Anton to reply, she ended the call and switched over to David.

“Hey, beautiful. How was your day?” David was light-hearted. Every time he talked to Mel it gave him joy. It usually did for her as well.

“I’ve had better.” The edge in Mel’s voice was obvious.

“What’s wrong?” David soothed. His voice was calming and sweet, caring. Just like always.

“Nothing, really. Just a meddlesome friend. I’m pretty angry right now. Maybe I should just go. We can talk tomorrow.” Mel was reeling. She didn’t want to talk to anybody right now, especially David. She needed to process.

David persisted, he didn’t want her to go. “What happened? Is it that bad? It will help you to talk about it.”

Mel hesitated, it was hard to resist the urge to pour all this out to David. Over the last several weeks they had become so close. They talked about everything. They knew everything about one another – or at least she thought they did.

“It might make you angry.” Mel said wearily.

“Mel, if someone has hurt you, we can be mad at them together. What is it honey?”

“Well…I sent Anton the picture of you on your motorcycle,” she took a breath,  “I’ve enjoyed all the time we’ve spent getting to know one another, I had talked about you often to him and..well…I guess I just wanted to share.”

“That doesn’t make me mad, I’m glad you’re telling your friends about me – even Anton.”

Mel’s voice trembled slightly as she gradually admitted what Anton had “discovered”: “Anton says the picture wasn’t taken a couple weeks ago, but six years ago, and in California.” Mel wanted to take back the words as soon as she said them, “but he probably just made a mistake, I mean, I don’t really understand how he could know that from a picture. I’m sure that’s not the case, is it David?”

David felt a jolt of anxiety burn through him. If he hadn’t already been sitting in his recliner, his knees might have buckled. He paused, trying to find the words. The silence stirred Mel to fill it.

“Is it an old picture? It is you, right?”

David recovered enough composure to answer. “I’m so sorry, Mel. I truly am. It’s definitely me, but that picture is several years old. I don’t think it was taken six years ago, but it’s not new.”

“You lied to me?” It was spoken as a question, but Mel knew the answer. “You know, David, I need to go. I can’t talk to you right now.”

“Let me explain…” she hung up before David finished his sentence.

David sat there in his recliner, staring at his phone, his hand shaking. He had been caught in a lie. A big lie. He wanted to crawl away.

It was at that moment he knew without a doubt he was falling for her. He realized the only way he could ever have her in his life was to come clean.


Trusting the Reader

Trusting the Reader - How to Write Better

I have trust issues. Goes back a ways.

I have felt for most of my life the need to completely explain a thing – so there is no gray, no miscommunication, no room for error. Thus my often asides.

(Waco hates asides in my writing – but she’s a reader, quite well read, and sees asides as a distraction. Recently read Harper Lee’s new Watchman. Said it was good. I call her Scout now.)

I am trying to learn to trust more. Trust the reader to get it when I am trying to be clever. To fill in blanks because they can. To not worry if they might “miss” the point.

I’m getting there. I just need to believe you readers are smarter than you look.

Addendum

Pondering this morning I realized a huge reason why I use asides. It’s not just for you, dear struggling reader, it’s so you won’t assume I’m not in on my own joke. That’s ego. Not pretty.

 


On Better Writing

Learning to Write

I am learning.

The learning curve for gaining competence in writing goes something like this:

  • Unconscious incompetence – I don’t know I don’t know how to write well.
  • Conscious incompetence – I know I don’t know how to write well.
  • Conscious competence – I can write well if I concentrate hard enough.
  • Unconscious competence – I write well.

Right now when it comes to fiction I am somewhere between the second and third.

 

 


The Incident

A lone gunman

This is an experiment. I am attempting to get the essence of a story without the extraneous. Trust the reader to fill in the blanks. The original (you can read here) was almost 1,500 words. This is less than 600. Feedback is welcome.


James called the FBI tip line 3 months and 18 days before the terrorist attack.

He had never liked Aahil, but seeing him huddled in whispered tones with Farhan and some other sand-nigger from the accounting office, he was sure they were planning something.

So he reported them.

It had been a tough few years, but James was strong. He just needed a fair shake.  Cheryl was a shrew. He would never hit a woman who didn’t deserve it, and she did. She twisted it all in the court and got the kids.

The day she cost him his job, James went home and broke his hand against the wall.

America was in danger, but he had done his part.

As he ran the press, James imagined how the national news would interview him once they were arrested. His kids would see his heroism, realize how wrong their mother had been, know he was a hero.

Days faded into a week, and the week stretched into weeks.

Why is Aahil still coming to work each day?

Maybe the FBI were staking him out. Following his every move. Bugging his phones. That’s probably it.

Weeks turned into a month. Then two.

He called again. Can you give me an update on the investigation? Why can’t you comment?

He began to wonder if even the FBI were blind to the real threat.

He began taking his Ruger to work. After a couple days it occurred to him if these cave dwellers started something, it would take him a few minutes to get his gun from his locker.

He fashioned a duct-tape holster beneath the press. It made him feel powerful. I’m The Protector, he smiled to himself.

Before he left for the day, he secreted it away again in his belt.

James had time to think. Every day the monotonous ca-thunk of the press was white noise. Every night a six pack in darkness.

What would wake America up? Terrorists strike Paris then California. Attacks planned for years. No action.

The Planned Parenthood shooter wasn’t crazy. He simply hadn’t made his point in a reasonable way. He needed a clear message composed ahead of time.

How to protect America? The answer was blindingly simple: Swift, decisive action. Round up Muslims and make sure they have no ability to harm others.

James knew he was smart. Late nights he mapped out a plan. He wrote it in the notebook he kept on his nightstand, next to his AR-15.

His plan was simple and didn’t hurt anyone while restraining the bad guys.

Put the Muslims and sympathizers in camps. The government could buy trailers like they did for the niggers after Katrina. They could leave each morning, through metal detectors. Return the same way after work.

When The Bitch locked him up for 72 hours last year, they told him it was to evaluate whether he was “a danger to himself or others.” The Radicals could be locked up until it was determined they weren’t a danger either.

It was compassionate. Allow the good Muslims to go about their lives with slight inconvenience while hog-tying the bad guys.

His plan would get America on the road to being great again.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots.” He was The Protector. He would be remembered as a Patriot.

He added a final page to his 30 pages of notes on The Plan. It was to his sons and to those who would find it after his death.

 

 


The Incident (Original)

A lone gunman

This is an experiment. I am attempting to get the essence of a story without the extraneous. Trust the reader to fill in the blanks. This is the original at almost 1,500 words. The final draft is less than 600 (you can read it and comment here.) 


James called the FBI tip line 3 months and 18 days before the terrorist attack.

He left his name, phone number, address – they even asked for his Social Security Number. He was calmed by the assurance he had done his part. He had never liked Aahil, but seeing how he had been huddling in whispered tones with Farhan and some other sand-nigger from the accounting office, he was sure they were planning something.

Whenever he approached, they stopped talking and just looked at him. He could feel them hating him. He knew when they laughed, they were laughing at him.

So he reported them.

It had been tough for a few years, but James was strong. Nothing could beat him, he just needed a fair shake. His wife was a shrew who just kept him under her thumb. He would never hit a woman who didn’t deserve it, and she did. She twisted it all in the court and she got the kids.

She was the mental one, not him.

That got him fired from his job. He had to miss work to make the court dates. He got arrested for “violating a restraining order” when all he was doing was picking up his kids. It was only overnight in jail, but his boss told him he just couldn’t carry him any more.

James went home that day and broke his hand against the wall.

America had been great, but it wasn’t great now. When a guy like him – honest, hardworking, patriotic – can’t get a job because of the crappy economy, when all the jobs are being given to immigrants to entice them to come here, when good, white men are prejudiced against in the courts, when even your kids can be taken from you, America was in trouble.

James still believed in the American Dream. He knew if someone just gave him the chance, he would make it. His kids would respect him – even love him. Cheryl would see she was wrong about him.

America was in danger. He couldn’t believe how few people saw it. Our Criminal in Chief – a secret Muslim himself – was actively trying to bring 200,000 new Muslims into the US. Babies are being aborted and sold like spare Ford parts.

But he had done his part. He had reported the radical terrorists plotting god-knows-what at his work.

As he ran the printing press, James imagined how the national news would interview him once they were arrested. His kids would see his heroism, realize how wrong the things their mother had been telling them are, realized he was a noble, honorable, admirable man.

They would finally see the real him and be proud.

But as the days faded into a week, and the week stretched into weeks, James’ thoughts began to slide.

Why is Aahil still coming to work each day? Why hasn’t he been picked up? What does he still give an insincere smile to James’ when he passes him in the hall?

Maybe the FBI were staking him out. Following his every move. Bugging his phones. That’s probably it.

But weeks turned into a month. James’s thoughts grew more urgent, more invasive.

What if today is the day? What if they planted a pipe bomb in the break room? Or, God forbid, they planted one at his kids’ school? Had he mentioned where his kids went to school? Maybe they had followed him, followed them. Maybe their hatred for him caused them to pick his children as targets.

He called the tip line again after a full two months had passed. Can you give me an update on the progress on my tip? You can’t comment? Well, damnit, what is a man supposed to think? These towel heads are running around free, every day, without a care in the world!

He began to wonder if even the FBI were blind to the real threat.

He began taking a gun to work. He bought a lunch box and kept his Ruger hidden. After a couple days it occurred to him if these Allah lovers started something, it would take him a few minutes to get to his locker and get his gun. They might shoot dozens before he could stop them.

While the press ran he took a roll of duct tape and fashioned a holster beneath the press. He looked around to make sure no one could see him, then removed the 9mm from his waistband and slid it in. He pulled it out again just to make sure it wouldn’t catch. He left it all day.

It made him feel powerful. It made him feel like the American hero he was. I’m The Protector, he smiled to himself.

Before he left for the day, he secreted it away again in his belt.

One thing James had was time. Time to think. Every day the monotonous ca-thunk of the press was his white noise. Every night a six pack and time alone. The thoughts became louder each passing day.

What would wake America up? What would it take for people to see the threats looming and even already realized?

When the terrorists struck Paris, lots of talk, no action. How simple, he thought, for someone to do the same here. 150 dead.

And still Aahil and Farhan still spoke in whispered tones in the break room. What if they’re on to me?

He began sleeping with his Ruger beneath his pillow and his AR-15, fully auto after he got the the conversion kit, leaning next to his bed. He started wearing his flak jacket beneath his nondescript sweatshirts to work.

Then a lone gunman stormed into a Planned Parenthood. Killed a couple people. A white guy. Christian. Defending the unborn against the grotesque butchers who chopped up babies for profit.

He was clearly crazy, thought James, but he made the news and his point. People noticed. It had an impact and scared the liberals who were ruining this country.

December 2 saw another attack, but this time in California. James seethed and cried tears for his country, for his children. In the next week the news said they had been planning this attack or even worse for years. Dozens of pipe bombs.

And no one knew, no one suspected. They were “good” Muslims. They went to work every day. They even had “friends.” And because no one suspected, people died.

How to protect America from this tide of Islam? The only proper answer was swift, decisive action. Round up Muslims and make sure they have no ability to harm others. It’s simple enough.

James knew he was smart. Late into the nights he mapped out a plan. A reasonable plan. He wrote it in the notebook he kept on his nightstand. Next to his AR-15.

He was a reasonable man. He didn’t want every Muslim locked up. That would be un-American. What he proposed was much simpler and really didn’t hurt anyone while restraining the bad guys.

Simply put the Muslims or suspected Muslims in camps. Nice camps. Maybe the government could buy trailers like they did for the niggers after Katrina. They could leave each morning, through metal detectors, and go about their jobs. Return in the evening, through the metal detectors again.

When The Bitch had him locked up for 72 hours last year, they told him it was to evaluate whether he was “a danger to himself or others.” The Radicals could be locked up until it was determined they weren’t a danger either. All legal.

They could go to their “churches” as well. Their priests – or whatever they call them – would have to be vetted, but certainly some would pass. Keep an eye on them.

They could have nice playgrounds for the kids. Some common areas. Heck, it would be better than his time in the Army.

It was a good plan. Compassionate. Allowing the good Muslims to go about their lives with slight inconvenience while hog-tying the bad guys.

It could save America. It could get America on the road to being great again. He could turn America around.

He thought about how he could get his plan out. The media was a corrupt bunch of liberals who secretly wanted the Muslims to succeed. Academics? You gotta be kidding me. Even the FBI ignored him.

For the next week, while his fear for his children grew, he pondered as he ran the printer. Ca-thunk. Ca-thunk. Ca-thunk.

Jefferson said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” James had no access to the tyrants, but he could be a patriot. He was a Patriot. He was The Protector. He would be remembered as The Protector.

He added a final page to his 30 pages of notes on The Plan. It was to his sons and to those who would find it after his death.