Jennifer Johnson

JenniferJohnson

Today we welcome Jennifer Johnson, author, speaker and editor, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) Do you watch reality television? Why or why not?
Jennifer: I don’t like most reality television, because a lot of the shows focus on glamorizing dysfunctional families or situations. However, I used to enjoy watching 19 Kids and Counting, and I currently watch Duck Dynasty. Both of those shows have a positive plot. Interestingly enough, both families are Christians.

(2) What are your thoughts on e-publishing?
Jennifer: A terrific thing about e-publishing is that many writers who have been unable to attain agents and/or contracts with publishers have had the opportunity to make their stories available to people all over the world. For that reason, e-publishing has been a terrific tool for many people.

(3) Which do you prefer? Facebook or Twitter?

Jennifer: Well, there are things I like about both of them. On Facebook, I enjoy the ease in reading comments from my friends and family on my status updates. However, on Twitter, I like that I can read through Twitter comments quickly. I really like Instagram. If you don’t have one, check it out. It’s essentially social media that allows you to upload pictures and add captions to the pictures. Comments and “likes” by friends are easy to read as well.

Thanks, Jennifer Johnson, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday!

91JUrRCZUXL._SL1500_Jennifer is giving away her latest book, A Family Reunited, to one commenter–just leave us a comment on this post to be included in a drawing for the book.

Jennifer Johnson and the world’s most supportive husband have been married for over two decades. They’ve been blessed to raise three amazing daughters and recently added a terrific son-in-law to the crew. Jennifer teaches 6th grade writing at her local middle school. She has seventeen published novels and one novella. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys shopping and watching movies with her family, going to dinner with her best friend, and brainstorming slumber parties with her writing buddies. She loves to hear from readers. You can reach her at jenwrites4god@bellsouth.net or http://jenniferjohnsonbooks.com. You can also find her on Twitter at Jenwrites4Jesus, on Facebook at /jennifer.c.johnson.353, and on Instagram at Jenwrites4God.

Winner of Bible Study is…

June Foster! Congratulations June! You’ve won Maria I. Morgan’s first devotional Bible Study on the fruit of the Spirit to be released early in 2014.

Don’t forget, in November, our topic is writers and research. And tomorrow’s 3 Questions Wednesday’s guest is Jennifer Johnson, author, speaker, and editor. She’ll be giving away her latest Heartsong Presents book, A Family Reunited. cropped-109361863_1fb9556fea_z.jpg

The World’s Greatest Villian

montesa_alteredvibrance_squareIt’s Halloween this week, a perfect opportunity to write the ultimate post on villains! I mean, Freddy Kruger, Jason, Saw, and their like – you can’t get any worse than that. Forgive me for inserting an emoticon at this point –> :-/ . Seriously, as far as villains go, these characters are caricatures.  Not only are they totally unbelievable as biological units, they have about as much depth as a politician. Yes, there’s a place for these ‘characters’ but they are not true villains. They are really much more part of the setting than they are characters and, outside the mind of an adolescent, uninteresting.

So who really is the world’s greatest villain? For one thing, the world’s greatest villain is not fictional. I’m reminded of St. Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God. It goes like this:

God is that being, than which nothing greater can be conceived.

Okay, to break that down: One can conceive of all manner of wonderful things about a being, powerful, eternal, perfect, etc… but unless it actually exists, it’s nothing. So Anselm’s argument demands that God exists. The idea is that God created a universe in which the logic that is part of his universe proves his existence. (Think about it, it’ll tie your brain in knots!) Not that I’m calling God a villain, but by the same logic, the World’s greatest villain must also exist. In other words, the World’s greatest villain is a real person.

Vlad The Impaler, looking stylish.

Vlad The Impaler, looking stylish.

So who is it? Hitler, some may say, or Stalin? Maybe some of the Roman emperors of the past? Vlad the Impaler – he is a pretty scary dude if you read about him, no joke. The Nazi’s in general? The Communists? Again I say, the World’s worst villain must exist and all of these folks are dead. Except for the Communists, and where they are now makes my blood run cold. But they can’t touch the guy I’m talking about no matter how hard they try. At least, not yet.

The world has plenty of bad guys, right now. Any number of African dictators or guerrilla leaders are truly horrible people. Middle Eastern dictators can be single-mindedly ghoulish as well, and I’m talking the rebel leaders as well. But for the most part, their reach is limited. The World’s worst villain should pose a threat beyond his borders. After all, if he’s not threatening us in some way, how scary is he? It would be nice if the world didn’t even have such a person, but sadly, it does. A person who is also embodied as a place.

This is pretty much the mood of the place.

This is pretty much the mood of the place…

Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw, and stuff like that is just stupid. True horror is Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption. Locked up for life for something you didn’t do. That is horror. That is terror. Flying loaded airliners into buildings. Creating mountains of skulls. Holding an entire nation hostage. Peddling hate to infants in the crib. Threatening the world with attack. All held together with an iron-fisted bureaucracy. There is such a place. A place where things like this happen every day. It’s a place we make fun of. A place where we don’t understand the people so we just write them off as crazy. It’s a long way off so we ignore the atrocities afflicted on her tortured citizens. How we can focus on Africa while the World’s worst villain goes unpunished and largely ignored is a problem I grapple with daily.

... and their fearless leader who recently has his ex-girlfriend executed for being his ex-girlfriend.

… and their fearless leader who recently has his ex-girlfriend executed for being his ex-girlfriend.

Where is this place? I wrote a novel about his Hell on Earth. It is The Killing Fields x50… years! This person, this place, is where all elements of the true villain come together in perfect harmony – much the same way, by some twist of our universe – a host of physics principles all come synergistically together, as if by design, to give life to the thing we know as the hydrogen bomb. Where is this place? This place is North Korea. This person, is Kim Jong-un. True terror. True horror. True villain. An entire people who are part of a real-life, low-budget slasher flick. A place where information is so tightly controlled that the seemingly psychotic actions of it’s beleaguered citizens make perfect sense – to them. A leader who believes his own propaganda and who has no more consideration for his subjects than a dog for its meal. A world where society is shaped by intimidation, torture, and death.

No laughing matter.

No laughing matter.

Amazingly, it is this true villain who is portrayed as a caricature while fictional caricatures are held up as villains. Maybe it’s a human defense mechanism against an evil so monstrous it is hard to hold in our head. As a species we do this from time to time. The child’s poem, Ring Around the Rosy, for instance, has an equally gruesome genesis – Black Death. Regardless, not understanding this villain, not understanding this villain’s desire and motivation, have allowed him, have allowed it, to persist for over sixty years. If you want to understand this villain better, and understand why it is not psychotic, I encourage you to learn more about it. There are a lot of non-fiction books about North Korea but surprisingly few novels: my novel, The Silla Project, and Adam Johnson’s, The Orphan Master’s Son are about it. They take very different approaches to dancing with this villain but both are good reads. And of course, his won the Pulitzer Prize and mine didn’t (even though mine has a higher rating on Goodreads, Oh YEAH!)

John C. Brewer is a novelist, physicist, rocket scientist, lifelong soccer player, motorcycle rider, husband, father, and the author of Multiplayer, an adventure for young adults, and The Silla Project, a North Korean nuclear romance. Find out more about what he is doing at johncbrewer.com.

– John C. Brewer

Writing Villains

By Christina Rich

We’ve been talking a lot about villains this month and as I was going back through our posts something really resonated with me from one of John’s posts:

But honestly, what’s the appeal of Quaritch? In the end, it is the same appeal as Darth’s. The same appeal as every great villain – certainty of purpose.

When I first started writing with the goal of publication in mind I didn’t understand this concept. Villains were bad, some were very bad. The only examples I really had were those in horror movies. We’re talking Jason, Freddie Krueger and Michael, not that I watched more than a few stolen glimpses of these movies when I was a kid because they were a huge no-no in our house and for good reason. By the time I was an adult I didn’t have much interest.

The kind of movies I did watch were ones like Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Top Gun, The Outsiders etc. Looking back I can define an antagonist, but not what my idea of a true villain was.

In that first manuscript I wrote way back in 2007 I had a villain (actually I had several villains) that I now know to be called a cardboard character. There was no depth to him, no goals. He behaved badly just for the sake of behaving badly. By the time I hit the middle of the book a tragedy hit our family.  My villain began to do unspeakable things. The father of my heroine who was based off a real character in history from a Border Reiver family known as the Graems was a pretty nasty dude and I ended up having the villain disembowel him. And remember that scene from The Patriot where Col. William Tavington locked all those people up in the church? Yeah, I had one similar. It was pretty gruesome.

gmcThere was no rhyme, no reason to why he did what he did, he just did it.

It wasn’t until about half-way through my second book that I realized what it was my villains were lacking–certainty of purpose. Also known as goals and motivation.

Yes, our villains need to have goals, motivation and conflict too, but I won’t touch on conflict in this post.

The villains goals need to be realistic, believable (although oddly enough I’m finding things happening in real life that would never be excepted in fiction).

What’s more important though is the motivation behind the goals.  Tune into one of the news channels. People are always searching for the whys, the motivation, of tragedies caused by human hands. They want to understand, they need to understand and I believe many want to find empathy for real life villains, if only they can find a good motivation behind their actions. A just because doesn’t work and it’s not going to work in fiction

Betty told us in one of her posts that Javert from Les Mis was one of her personal favorite villains and I agree, he is one of my favorites as well. Javert, like Quartich (John’s favorite) from Avatar, is just doing his job. Javert’s goal is to capture the bad guys, every lawbreaker under the letter of that law. He does so with an iron fist.

Why? What is his motivation?

Because his job is to enforce justice under the law and he wants to be the best so that no one can question his goodness.

Again, why?

Could it be that Javert’s merciless pursuit of justice is caused by his need to erase his past? After all he was birthed in prison.

Goal.

Motivation.

Today’s writing prompt: Think of a villain you can empathize with, what is his/her motivation behind his/her goal?

When thinking about creating a villain consider his/her back story. Consider their goals. Consider the whys of their actions, make them believable, realistic like Javert.

Maria I. Morgan

 maria

Today we welcome Maria I. Morgan, inspirational writer and speaker,to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) Do you watch reality television? Why or why not?

Maria: Please don’t laugh – I actually had to look up the definition of reality TV! When I watch television, you can typically find me viewing something on HGTV or the Food Network.  But I DO wander over to the History channel occasionally, to take in American Pickers, American Restoration, and Pawn Stars.

These are all reality programs that prove the point: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure! Although I’m certainly not a collector, these shows have given me an appreciation for the value of the items that are picked, restored, and pawned.

(2) What are your thoughts on e-publishing?

Maria: How about if I answer this question as both a reader and a writer? As a reader, I have to admit I had a hard time getting used to e-books. I really enjoy the feel of a traditional book and the opportunity to turn real pages.

Here are the things I like about e-books:

*They are less expensive than their physical counterpart. I love to save money wherever I can!

*I can order an e-book and receive it in seconds. It’s wonderful to eliminate the shipping charges.

*They don’t require a bookshelf. I can store literally thousands of e-books on my reader.

The things I’m not so crazy about:

*Because I don’t regularly see the cover of the e-book, it’s pretty common for me to forget the title and author of the book I’m reading. Not a good thing.

*Sometimes the formatting can be a little off, making reading a little less enjoyable.

As a writer, I love e-publishing. It gives me another avenue to get my work out to the public!

Oh, and by the way, I’ve written a short, devotional e-book called God Speaking. It contains 10 devotions that highlight how God uses ordinary things in our lives to teach extraordinary things about Himself. You can download a free copy to your computer here: http://www.mariaimorgan.com/books-such/god-speaking/)

(3) Which do you prefer? Facebook or Twitter?

Maria: Although I use both of these social media tools, I’m more of a Facebook gal. I enjoy the flexibility of having both a personal page and a fan page. I can post family news and humorous happenings to one page while keeping my fan page more professional.

I have to share a funny story! I was a late-comer to Facebook – I didn’t join until the end of 2008. No one could convince me to sign up because I had heard how addicting it was. But I received an invitation I just couldn’t refuse: it was from my 73-year old mother! Let’s just say I’ve loved Facebook ever since!

You can follow me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WriterMariaIMorgan

And on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariaimorgan

Thank you, Maria, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! Maria is completing her first devotional Bible Study on the fruit of the Spirit. It will be available early in 2014. Leave a comment along with your email address to be entered to win a signed copy! Winner will be contacted via email.

Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker. She loves to share the truths of God’s Word with today’s generation.

Maria contributes regularly to My Forsyth, Jewels of Encouragement, and Women Behind the Scenes; hosts Living by Grace on Tuesdays, and posts weekly to her blog, Life Lessons.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, playing the piano, and baking. She makes her home in sunny Georgia with her husband Steve, daughter Riley, two dogs, and a cat.

Visit her on the web: www.mariaimorgan.com and download a free copy of her devotional eBook, God Speaking.