What makes a good villain? I am far from the first person to pose such a question. Maybe Darth Vader comes to mind when you hear that word, or maybe a power-hungry wizard. Villains are a huge part of fantasy. Some are the that demons heroes face internally, while others may be opposing factions. The real question may be who is really evil?  In fantasy there is a wide range of villainy, as there should be.

I prefer a villain to have depth, to struggle with things internally that he/she would never reveal outwardly. Hate and anger may be a driving force behind some of his actions, but he never sees it that way. I see a good villain that is someone as good at deceiving herself as she is at deceiving others. However, these traits just scratch the surface because to make an antagonist worthy of a story, he should be someone with whom the reader can identify if placed in a similar situation. I believe the scariest villains are not mindless monsters or those who are evil just to be evil, but they are the ones we can see ourselves becoming.

In the real-world, people often do evil things while believing they are doing good. This happens for a variety of reasons: perhaps the person’s worldview has changed, or maybe that person’s worldview does not line up with the status quo. It could also be that the person was persecuted in some way, and the pain he/she endured manifested after a long period of time. One does not have to go very far to find evil, and most of them did not suddenly wake up and say, “Hey, today I’m going to do something only an evil monster would.” Instead, they rationalize it to themselves. That is the villain that resonates with the reader. That is the type of villain I strive to create in Goandria.

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The Right Way to Write

It seems that there are as many opinions on how to write a book as there are books in the world. Most of the advice out there is generally geared towards those who do not know where to start, and that is fine. Over the years, though, I have found all this information rather overwhelming. I’m terrible at outlining, and there really is no such thing as a perfect formula for writing a novel. The fear of someone disliking our works can easily lead to an author overthinking the writing process.

Of course, there are things that make some works better written than others, but ultimately each writer must do what works for him or her. I have a friend who meticulously outlines all of the plot and most of the details before even attempting to write a manuscript, but someone else I know simply dives right in. Both are acceptable means, and some writers may have stronger opinions about how important outlining really is, but I suppose it depends on how well you can remember your own plot and characters.

If you are reading this and aspire to write, the best thing to do is just write what flows from you. Any aspiring writer will be bombarded with advice. What I have found to be most effective is to simply write and get honest feedback from people I trust. That feedback can then get implemented and help refine my work. Reading about writing and actually doing some writing are very different things, and we all have to learn as we go. There will always be those who dislike what you have written or how you have written it. As hard as it is, we writers have to take the constructive criticism as learning experiences and forget about the rest. There isn’t really a right or wrong way to write, so do what works for you.

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Check out Goandria!

I have blogged about the Goandria series on here, and that is the point to give potential readers a glimpse into what my writings are all about.  However, for anyone who is interested in checking it out for themselves, you can read Goandria: The Schism Part I for free.  If you like it, please leave a review.  I welcome all sorts of feedback and it you would like you can contact me at

So, if you are intrigued by what you have seen here, check out my website: /goandria.  From there you can buy my books, check for updates, or learn about upcoming releases.


A creature advances towards his prey, his sharp, black claws dripping with poison. The man and woman stare up, wide-eyed, as it advances upon them, knowing there is no way out. Their fate is sealed.

Such a scene invokes the imagination, and the human imagination is where fantasy thrives. One of the greatest things about fantasy is that literally anything is possible within the established parameters of the world presented. Most often, fantasy has beings such as elves, dwarves, and dragons, and there can be a plethora of varieties within each race. Even with things that do exist, fantasy has a way of changing and stretching them to fit into any world. Sometimes, the wide variety of peoples, races, and creatures that can be explored is overwhelming. How does a writer incorporate something as common as werewolves, ghosts, or vampires in a unique way? Do they even need to be unique to be effective? Sometimes good, old-fashioned, classical creatures are what a story needs. In Goandria, I try to be as unique as possible, but at the same time I like familiarity.

For example, in the upcoming novel series, the main foot soldiers are a dirty and ugly people, but I have grown weary of orcs being the staple for servants of a dark lord. The soldiers I refer to from Goandria are called thworfs, and they were originally inspired by orcs and other similar creatures, but as time went by, I tried to make them their own race. Orcs in fantasy are typically featured as belligerent and ugly, only capable of getting along on the battlefield. The thworfs may be unattractive by human standards, but other than that, I tried to abandon other similarities. I wanted to explore a race that was coerced but that was also not entirely what they seem to be.

On the other hand, I choose not to tamper too much with dragons. Dragons are perhaps the staple of fantasy. Nearly every form of the genre has its own take on the famous lizard breed. Personally, I like the animalistic dragons that are all about power and terror. There are just some elements of fantasy that do not need a whole lot of tinkering to be effective. Ultimately, uniqueness is difficult to find, and I believe presenting creatures that are believable within the framework of the world is most important. There are occasions in which a typical werewolf is what a story needs. The challenge for the writer is to find what that need is. More often than not, uniqueness is good, and that is generally my goal with Goandria.

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The Strong Independent Woman in Fantasy

This a very hot topic! I have heard complaints from people I know, and I have read online comments that in fantasy women are over-sexualized and/or under portrayed.   It is true when one walks down the science fiction/fantasy aisle in Barnes and Noble that the covers often depict women as culturally ideal. When was the last time you saw a homely man or woman featured on a cover? I suppose someone could give an example since beauty has a subjective component to it, but most images show that are accepted as beautiful by the general culture. I have also seen more and more of a demand for “strong, independent female characters” in my favorite genre. I get that women make up half the population and portraying them in a crude or cookie-cutter fashion is disgusting. However, let me ask you this: what exactly is a strong and independent female character?

In Goandria: The Schism, my goal is to make Evera the light of the story. She has her flaws like anyone, but at her heart she is overflowing with love. However, Evera is dependent upon Lorkai for strength, and Lorkai depends on Evera in the same way. These two characters lean on one another in their fights, when facing the worlox or their own personal demons. Evera is also a very strong character. When challenges come her way, she faces insurmountable odds without backing down. Then, to reiterate my question. What is a strong and independent female character? I could see potential arguments on either side saying Evera is or is not strong and independent. I suppose like many other things in this world, one knows it if he/she sees it, but it is hard to put a definition around it. The thing is, no one is truly strong and independent. No one is an island. No one can function without help in some degree. I’m sure that is not what the term “strong and independent” means, but then again, what does it mean? Sure, as authors we could write characters that are islands and could kick butt by themselves, but how believable is that? Perhaps the term is in reference to female characters that do not need a husband or boyfriend to function. Hey, if that is the case than I am all for it. Marriage and relationships are not for everyone. A woman who chooses to stay home and care for the children is not any weaker than a woman who is career-focused in the midst of having a family.

This topic brings another question: should writers focus solely on the female characters and ensure they are strong to avoid clichés? I’m sure few would actually say that, but this is the impression that is often given. What I feel should matter most is depth of a character, not the gender of a character. Characters drive stories. An author can create a beautiful world, but if the characters are static, the plot will fail. So yes, we should have strong, independent characters, but the expectations need to be realistic.

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