Let’s Talk About Villains


Happy Cattern’s Day

Harvest Festivals are so much fun especially when you can learn some of the crafts from times past and try your hand at them. Here I am learning to make bobbin lace. Using wooden bobbins and pins, the lace is made like braiding hair. In my pattern, I used one bobbin from the left side over two bobbins and then three over two from the right. Repeat and the pattern emerges.

I’m working with cotton thread but since lace became popular in the 16th century in Europe, all kinds of threads have been used, even gold which must’ve made a handsome decoration on a collar or cuff. The more traditional way to make lace is shown by the bobbins and pins set on the maroon-colored pillow next to me.

I can imagine what it must have been like years ago sitting down in the evening with a pillow in my lap and braiding the threads while a fire crackles in the hearth.

Not only stylish ladies wore lace, but even gentleman and clergyman wore lace. Check out the paintings of wealthy patrons by Rembrandt and you’ll see their elaborate lace collars and cuffs.

There’s even a lacemakers’ holiday which was started in England by Catherine of Aragon. Cattern’s Day is celebrated either November 25 or 26 as a day off for lacemakers.

So happy Cattern’s Day to all of you lacemakers who still make lace by hand!


Let’s Talk About Villains


You know, those nasty characters who bring conflict to the story with their dastardly deeds. The writer can pluck the worst and best emotions from a reader by creating believable villains. Readers will keep turning the pages to find out if these ne’er do wells get what he or she so justly deserves.

I’ve created a list of my Favorite Villains from books and movies. I’m sure you have some hum-dingers of your own. Please share them!


10.) King Edward Longshanks: In Braveheart, how very villainous of the King to invoke Primae Noctis—the right of the a lord to take any newly married Scottish woman to his bed. The injustice is enough to make him despicable.

9.) Snidely Whiplash from Rocky and Bullwinkle: Snidely holds the mortgage to Nell’s home and threatens to evict her if the mortgage isn’t paid. I could never figure out why he tied her to the train tracks, but we children booed anyhow. Also, Snidely has a villainous sneer and is sneaky. More booing.

8.) The Sheriff of Nottingham: The nemesis of Robin Hood, the Sheriff upholds the law not because it’s the right thing to do but because he wants to curry favor with the King. We’ve all known people like him. My favorite sheriff was played by Alan Rickman in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. (1991) Boo. Hiss.

7.) Gordon Gecko in Wall Street: First of all, lovely name. Second, greed isn’t good and if you shuddered when he gave his famous iconic speech, we are of the same generation. The oily hair helped make him a repulsive character.

6.) Fagen, from Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist: He did take in those street kids and he did teach them a trade. However, anyone who hurts children is a surefire villain. Unfortunately, we read about people like him too frequently in modern times.

5.) Boyd Crowder, the smooth-talking bad boy in Justified: (On the FX channel.) This character is taken from a book by Elmore Leonard called Fire in the Hole. Boyd is complicated because he’s so darn likeable and has some good traits, (and is a hunk with great hair) but the bad things he does are really bad.

4.) The Grinch created by Dr. Seuss: We laugh at his antics but the message is clear.

3.) Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum: Again a villain who wants to harm children. Her laugh gave me the chills. Bad dreams are made of this.

2.) Inspector Javert: In Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, no amount of sympathetic backstory makes up for this dude’s obsession with Jean Valjean, the man who stole a loaf of bread to feed his nephew and went to prison for his crime. Even after Valjean served out his prison sentence, Javert won’t give him any peace.

Number 1. Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris: The devil himself. The Master Villain. Nothing redeemable there. A villain to keep us up at night.


There are so many more great villains but these are my favorites!


Sarah Richmond





Sarah Richmond is the author of A Perilous Proposal and its sequel, A Secret Engagement. Two Edwardian mysteries/love stories with plenty of villains, and a heroine and hero working diligently to make sure they don’t win.



One Author’s Journey

I recently asked for my rights back to my first book, Lady in Waiting. The book had received four stars from Romantic Times reviewer Gerry Benninger, was a finalist for an EPPIE, and had been voted ‘Favorite Historical Romance’ at sim-gen.com.

What could I do with it?

C.J. Lyons who writes medical romances and Bella Andre who writes contemporary, recently spoke at my Romance Writers of America-San Diego chapter about self-publishing. Both of these authors are successful in self-publishing and encouraged authors to take this path.

Dare I take the plunge?

First of all, you have to put some money into the enterprise. There are fees for a beta-read, proofreading, cover design, cover art and formatting. Armed with a little capital and the belief that I had a good story, I decided to give self-publishing a try.

Happily, there are several free books ready to download on your Kindle or I-pad. I read all three.

Smashwords Style Guide

Smashwords Marketing Guide

Publish on Amazon Kindle

These books are filled with techno-speak and not for the timid, but they do give the reader a feel for what’s involved. Spoiler alert: Writing is creative and surprising and often difficult, requiring the writer to go out of her comfort zone.

So I polished the book and sent it to former teacher and no-nonsense beta reader Karen Lawson at: theproofisinthereading.wordpress.com. Karen gave me her honest impression of the story, pointed out some inconsistencies (the book is a time travel) and kept reminding me when the book strayed from the path of fulfilling the promise to the reader to tell a believable time travel with a satisfying and happy ending.

I addressed Karen’s concerns with a light rewrite and because the book had changed, I named the new, improved book Past Forgetting. Next I found Dreamstime.com and bought artwork for the cover. When my heroine leaves her stately home, she steps out into Edwardian England. I wanted to show that on the cover. Once I bought some artwork, I sent it to my web designer Shelley at Web Crafters. Bella Andre makes her own covers but I didn’t have the confidence to go out on that limb alone.

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, has a list of recommended cover artists and format designers. Here’s the address to request the list: https:www.smashwords.com/list

Formatting the manuscript for publication can be done by the author using the Style Guide. I sent Past Imperfect to one of the names on Mark’s List, John Low at E-Book Launch to format the book which saved me time.

Once you have a formatted manuscript, a cover you love and a blurb, it’s time to fill out the form at Smashwords. They will assign you an ISBN number for booksellers to find the work or you can buy an ISBN number from Bowker.com. Convert your file to HTML and send to Amazon.com.

Pricing is up to the author and changing the pricing is easy using the author’s dashboard. Both Smashwords and Amazon have promotions which they will email you about so you can change your book price if you want.

Where am I now?

Still trekking. There’s plenty of marketing to do. Self-publishing was totally out of my wheelhouse, but quite frankly, I enjoyed creating something new out of something old!


Sarah Richmond



Blogging with Sarah

What I learned about heroes from Clint Eastwood

I saw the movie “Sully” recently, the story of the impossible water landing of an Airbus by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeff Skiles. The movie follows a classical hero saves the day plot, and these two pilots fit the bill.

I was struck by how their story and the definition of a hero are similar to the director Clint Eastwood’s fictional movies and the men he has portrayed.

Clint Eastwood has been likeable and unlikeable men in the movies. Some have been relatable, others fantastical. The qualities of heroism shine through in all his characters.

His heros are unassuming and modest men. They rise to an occasion with quiet confidence and they do the job required of them. Faced with injustice, Eastwood’s hero doesn’t back down. He’s quick to praise others. The Eastwood hero isn’t self-promoting and doesn’t brag about his accomplishments, and he makes no claims to perfection. Deep in his core, he is the protector of innocence and kindness.

The Man with No Name was a man of action and few words. He wasn’t perfect and made no claim to be. He was an ordinary man who found himself in extraordinary circumstances (The Civil War in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”)

In the “Outlaw and Josie Wales”, the hero sets out for revenge after his family is murdered. He’s a loner who takes a leadership role to protect innocent settlers.

William Munny in “Unforgiven” is a reluctant hero who must do what is necessary to take care of his family. He returns to his past self, a gunslinger, which doesn’t turn out well for those who oppose him.

The Preacher in “Pale Rider” protects a small town from a greedy villain. He provides the balance of the scales of justice when the scales are tipped unfairly for the bad guy.

Walt Kowalski in “Gran Torino” is not a pleasant man to be around. When he stands up to bullies, he protects those who need it.

Boxing trainer in “Million Dollar Baby” is another disagreeable type, grouchy and cynical. When asked to do the unthinkable, he makes a selfless choice.

The Romance Genre loves these kinds of heroes. The reader wants likable/relatable men who deserve the heroine. A man who is confident is very sexy. A man who thinks of others and fights the good fight is a man every woman yearns for.

In the romance genre, the hero/heroine are redeemed by love. A romance requires a ‘happily ever after’ ending which makes it different from other genres, but the requirements of what makes a hero are very similar to the action/adventure genre of Clint Eastwood.