Reading books. Reviewing books. A Fantasy Blog.


Guest Post

My Approach to an Antagonist by Linda Ferreri

‘My Approach to an Antagonist’ by Linda Ferreri

As part of the Blog Tour for A Matter of the Crown by Linda Ferreri, and thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources I have been fortunate enough to be given a little insight into the creative mind of the woman behind the words…

My approach to an antagonist is slow, that is gradual. I think it is important to bring this person onto the scene, i.e. the reader, such that we are not certain about him or her. The uncertainty of the character adds to the tension. So I would say that the arrival of the antagonist on the scene is subtle in my writing, at first. My writing does not usually involve a “bad guy” who jumps right out at the start.


We have to get to know the antagonist, i.e. to learn about him or her and so why s/he does this or that. We have to wonder, and of course to worry. Is s/he bad or a problem? Is the deed a problem? What might s/he do next and how will the protagonist cope? For that to work, I have to come up on it slowly and offer the reader choices about who really is an antagonist and who is not.

Possibly all of this is that I myself am an overly trusting person, I have found. I’ve often given people in my own life too much rope, only to learn late that they were antagonistic. So the protagonist becomes an even more engaging character when the reader uncovers the antagonism slowly, in horror, as I have had to do at times. The reader starts to worry early, but has to go through it with the protagonist and then pray to God that s/he finds a solution. Might I say, then, that the antagonist’s mischief has to play off of the protagonist’s character? I think it does, in my writing.

Of course, I cannot spoil the plot of The Matter of the Crown for the reader. Its predecessor book, One Sacred Crown, had a more obvious antagonist than this novel. In some ways, that antagonist was easier to shape than this one, but this one is much more delicious when s/he is unveiled and fully at work. The Matter of the Crown is possibly a more “entertaining” story because I studied the antagonist “out loud” for the reader. We both, the reader and I, have to come to understand this person and then determine whether or not there is a problem and just how big it is. Ultimately, what s/he does is quite natural for such a person.

In working on a fresh novel here as I write this, I am struggling again with the timing of the “pounce.” That is what I might call the moment when it becomes absolutely clear to one and all that the antagonist is just that. For the pressure to mount, time has to pass. For the problem to become acute enough to spin the story, it has to jump out at the right moment and carry the story beyond it.

I should add this: I do what many writers do. I study people when they aren’t watching me. And sometimes, modeling an antagonist on a person I have met and studied works beautifully. In The Matter of the Crown, that was a tremendous help. The psyches of people are mysterious until they aren’t.

Where to find the Blog Tour:

blog tour - crown

More on Matter of the Crown

The Crown of the Andes, one of the world’s most precious and beautiful sacred objects, has been stolen right off the stage at Satterling’s Auction House in New York City. Five pounds of magnificent baroque gold that ransomed the Inca Ruler Atahaulpa, and hundreds of perfect Colombian emeralds, all gone without a trace! Will this legendary treasure be destroyed for its gold and emeralds? Claire, the heroine from “One Sacred Crown,” braving danger and emotional turmoil, is in hot pursuit.

Where to find Matter of the Crown;


About the Author

Well known lecturer, art historian and international art lawyer, Linda Ferreri is the author of several books. Her most recent is the mystery The Matter of the Crown. Like One Sacred Crown, it involves the famous and real Crown of the Andes, now in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Where to find the author;


Twitter: AndesCrown

I hope you enjoyed this insight into creating an antagonist. If you did, please like, share, and comment 🙂


Featured post

A Great Way To Conquer Writer’s Block

A Great Way To Conquer Writer’s Block

Do you ever find yourself sitting down at your computer with the will and determination to write something but not being able to actually type, well, anything?! Instead of creating the next bestselling novel, you end up watching funny videos of cats falling off things or the latest ‘fails’ compilation and wondering where the last three hours of your life have gone. Writer’s block hits everyone at some point, hell, it hits me every other day! Sometimes a little advice is needed on how to get yourself over that big bloody wall that is in front of your screen. Well, this may just be the answer…

Embrace Imperfection…and Say “No” to Writer’s Block!

by Mark David Gerson

“Embrace Imperfection” is the fourth of my seven surefire ways to unblock your writer’s block. You’ll find all seven in my book Writer’s Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow. 

Whether in writing or in life, many of us are addicted to getting it right. Being perfect, we believe, guarantees that we won’t be criticized, won’t be judged, won’t be humiliated, won’t be rejected. On top of that, we hope that a perfect first draft means fewer revisions…or none at all.

Being perfect is, well, just a good thing to be. Isn’t it?

I have bad news for you: Your writing will never be perfect. Never. Ever. Ever. It may be excellent, accomplished, creative, innovative and insightful. But perfect? Not possible.

It’s not possible because there is no exact or perfect way to translate the intangible (ideas, thoughts, visions) into the tangible (words on a page).

There is no exact or perfect way to describe a brilliant sunset or a profound emotion in a way that ensures each reader an experience identical to yours.

That isn’t a bad thing. This “approximate translation” gives your readers the space to have their own experiences of your words, to paint their own pictures from your descriptions.

Just as there is no way to control the words that flow from you onto the page and, at the same time, write from an authentic place of depth, there is no way you will ever be able to control your reader’s experience of those words. Nor would you want to.

How often have you been disappointed by a film portrayal of your favorite literary character because your inner director cast the role more astutely than the movie director did? How often have you read meaning into a novel that the author never knew was there?

Empower your readers to have their own experiences and recognize that all you can do is translate your experience as heartfully as you are able into the little squiggles on a page that we have agreed to act as imprecise outer symbols of our inner world. Begin by recognizing that most of the time you are only going to come close. Continue by knowing that it remains within your power to have your words incite revolution, topple dynasties, overthrow “reality.”

Do your best. Be aware, though, that if you remain intent on making it perfect, you will likely find yourself stuck on the same story — or sentence or word — for the rest of your writing life, never growing into something new.

As Salvador Dali once said, “Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.”


Can you let go of your natural human perfectionism long enough to let your story tell itself to you on the page? What are you waiting for? Pick up your pen. Describe what you see, what you feel, what you yearn for, what you love. Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t try at all. Just allow. And know that from that place of surrender, you are cre-ating perfection.

Adapted from Writer’s Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow. © Mark David Gerson

Look for Writer’s Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow in paperback from Amazon and other online booksellers, and in ebook form from the Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and Nook stores. You’ll also find it, along Mark David’s other books and recordings for writers at


Mark DavidMark David Gerson is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books whose readers span the globe, Mark David Gerson electrifies groups and individuals around the world with his inspiring stories and motivational talks, seminars and workshops.

Mark David’s books include critically acclaimed titles for writers, including Birthing Your Book, The Voice of the Muse and Organic Screenwriting; award-winning fiction, including The Sara Stories and the Q’ntana Trilogy of fantasy novels; and such compelling memoirs as Acts of Surrender and Dialogues with the Divine. His screenplay adaptations of the Q’ntana books are on their way to theaters as a trio of epic feature films.

Known as The Birthing Your Book Guru, Mark David works with an international roster of clients to help them get their stories onto the page and into the world with ease. Having overcome his own writing challenges, he is uniquely qualified to fire up novices and seasoned professionals in any genre to unleash the power of their creative potential and get their books (or other writing projects) done.

Passionate, inspiring, insightful and intuitive, Mark David Gerson is popular with readers and book clubs and is a highly sought-after speaker, media guest, coach and editorial consultant.

So, what did you think of ‘A Great Way To Conquer Writer’s Block’? How do you cope with writer’s block? What’s the biggest ‘block’ that you have? Please comment and let me know, oh, and please, as ever, share on whichever social medium you prefer to use 🙂

Thanks for reading



Guest post: 5 Useful Principles When Self Publishing (Or The Only One That Matters)

Guest post: 5 Useful Principles When Self Publishing (Or The Only One That Matters)

Hi, my name is Timandra, and I’m a self published writer. Just a few weeks ago I published my debut fantasy novel Touch of Iron which Dan reviewed here. And today he’s being so kind and letting me take over his blog. So, strap up your boots, and let me march you through self publishing; what works, what doesn’t, plus 5 useful principles I learned along the way.

TW picture PotC

So let me get my teacher hat (and chalk) and write on the blackboard of your mind a truism you’re gonna have to deal with when self publishing: a lot of self published books out there are shit. Shit nobody wants to read. So how do you get people to read your awesome book when there’s so much sewage out there?


Enter the indie writer gurus. These are the people who have been in the scene for years now, have carved out a living from their writing, and teach others how YOU CAN DO IT TOO. Our heroes. The people we look up to, listen to, want to emulate.

Baseline? Your self publishing strategy should look like this:

  • Write your first book.
  • Publish it. Set the price to zero $.
  • Distribute it as widely as you possibly can.
  • Advertise it over Facebook Ads.
  • Do giveaways to get even more people in front of your book.
  • While doing this, write the next book in that series.
  • Keep doing this for at least five or six books (two trilogies for example).


So, last year I was determined to do exactly what my gurus were telling me. Until suddenly, caught up in the middle of publishing, I found I wasn’t. Why?

First up, my credentials: at the time of writing this guest post I’ve been published 6 weeks. In that time I’ve sold 84 ebooks, and 4 print copies. And I’ve given a number of books away for free in exchange for reviews. However, Touch of Iron ranks pretty consistently in the 300/400’s (fluctuates a bit) in the category Dark Fantasy in the Kindle Store on It has 16 reviews, averaging on 4.4 stars. Is that any good? I dunno really. It’s my first time. I think so. Here’s how I deviated from the Self Publishing Formula™

I started out like all others do: I wrote a book. Only I didn’t write in the preferred money-making genres of Romance or Thriller. Instead, I wrote a fantasy story. Grimdark even. In my defense, it was the story I wanted to read, needed to write. But, sheesh, fantasy? Ain’t no one got time for fantasy. Audience is too busy watching Game of Thrones.


So I wrote and tweaked until I was sure I couldn’t improve it anymore on my own. I didn’t publish it, though. Professional authors, the big names you love to read, well, the publishing houses that pay them … they also pay for editing those books. So I got myself an editor and listened to him.

Then I rewrote.

Then I paid for beta readers who weren’t related or befriended to me. At all. I randomly picked a handful of beta readers on

Of course Mummy loves your book, sweetie. Here, have some coffee.
Of course Mummy loves your book, sweetie. Here, have some coffee.
Then I rewrote.


You know what other service publishing houses pay for? Copyeditors. These are the people who check your manuscript line by line for your grammar errors, typos, and language glitches. Got me one of those, too.

I made changes accordingly.

But see, I still hadn’t hit that publish button. A weird compulsion drove me to diverge from the pattern the gurus had laid out so neatly, and instead adopt a marketing strategy as though my book were traditionally published.

You know who else publishing houses hire? A proofreader. Someone new to the project to read over the entire body of work and check everything. Every-fucking-thing. So I paid for one of those.

I made changes accordingly.

So, I’ll stop here, but I hope you’re seeing the pattern: I paid for quality control. In fact, I’m paying a lot for quality control. On what should be a free, scatter-it-to-the-wind kinda book. Why? Remember that foolproof marketing strategy, Timandra? It really does work, you know.

Yes. It worked three years ago, and probably will work for a bit longer. But not forever.

It’s pointless to follow guidelines when everyone is still making it up as they go along. So maybe you too have to make it up as you go along.

There are two basic ways to market your self published book.

One is quantity.

This is what has become the Self publishing Code. You produce the best book you can as fast as you can. You’re gonna give it away, remember? Besides, you can easily upload an updated, typo free-er version later on. Change the suck-y cover. The point is to get your shit out there fast. Outshit the others, so to speak.

But …

I can’t. I have one demanding day job, two lively, young kiddos to parent, a husband who does occasionally yearn for my attention, and I already sleep less than 5 hours most nights (it’s 00.03 AM and I’m jittering on my 4th cup of coffee as I write this). There’s no way I can outshit the others by writing quantity.

So what else could I do? The gurus had no answer.

I was in the middle of publishing and realized I had to figure it out on my own

Scary, but it boils down to this: quality.

Granted, the product I’m selling won’t appeal to everyone. I don’t want it to. But it is the highest possible quality I could pay for, and I believe there’s an appreciative audience out there waiting for those kind of books. Sure, I’ll have to wait longer for my single book to earn me back the cost. I’ll have to take longer writing the next book in the series, because it too must attain to my set standard of quality. I’ve involved a lot of other professionals in my venture. They each have their own schedules and can’t work faster than they already are. Also, I want to keep this writing business up for a long time, my whole life preferably. There is no (Kindle Gold) rush.

Summing up, I’m not doing it according to the Self Publishing Formula™. I messed up the guidelines. (I’m sorry, guys. It’s not you, it’s me!) I improvised, I binge studied the night before, and frankly, on some days simply bluffed my way through it all. So …

5 Useful Guidelines When Self Publishing:

#1 Write the book you want to read.

#2 Make it the best you can. Get an editor already.

#3 Nothing beats word of mouth. You need reviews. So … hustle with the book bloggers out there. Hustle hard.

#4 Most of all in self publishing: you ALONE are responsible. Take the advice out there, but make things work for you. The industry is ever changing. No one even knows what’ll be the deal next year, let alone in five years time.

#5 Write the next book you want to read. No one will do it for you.



My gurus:

Sean Platt & Johnny B Truant with Dave Wright: Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success) (The Smarter Artist Book 1)


Nick Stephenson, Supercharge Your Kindle Sales: Simple Strategies to Boost Organic Traffic on Amazon, Sell More Books, and Blow Up Your Author Mailing List (Book Marketing for Authors 2) amazon

Mark Dawson, Facebook Advertising for Authors


My beta readers and proofreader:


My editors:



About Timandra Whitecastle

Tim Whitecastle

Timandra is a self-confessed nerd and a writer of fantasy. She is a mother to two children and balances this with her writing AND a day-job!. Her debut novel Touch of Iron was released recently and is also an entry into the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) hosted by Mark Lawrence. The book has already been voted into second place for best cover by the adjudicating bloggers (it is seriously cool) and it’s easy to see why!

11 random things about Tamara:

  1. Best ISTJ of all times? Batman.
  2. I was born in Germany, but on British ground. (Interesting 1980’s legal technicalities.)
  3. I hate pizza. It is known.
  4. My favorite reading genres are Fantasy and Cook Books.
  5. In my class, I was the geek. (We were over twenty girls and only six boys. No one ever dated.)
  6. I used to play Everquest II online, but then … (wait for it!) I took an arrow to the knee.
  7. I sometimes use the TV as a babysitter AND promise my kids dessert if they eat their dinner.
  8. My goal in life is to leave behind as little as possible that my children have to throw away.
  9. I mostly eat a paleo diet. Except when I’m on the stuff-your-face-with-chocolate-diet. Then I don’t do paleo.
  10. I studied Literature at University. Finally I got to read as much as I wanted. And more. It was great.
  11. Now I’m a teacher for English as a Foreign Language. Basic principle? Message before accuracy!

My book: Touch of Iron (Click the image for the link)

touch of iron cover









Finding Tim (in a super non-creepy way. No, you can’t have her address)


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