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Bob Mayer – Character: The People of your Story

New York Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer gave a great presentation during Craftfest at this year’s Thrillerfest XI. Please forgive my butchered amalgamation of his words and my thoughts. He touched briefly on the industry; and how it is constantly changing. The E-book market, despite claims to the contrary, is alive and well. Bob made a great point for new authors: Discoverability is key. You have to find the means to get you book out there.

The core of his session was on character development. Character, he said, is pre-eminent. While creating your story, remember emotion is more important than logic. Emotion is what draws the reader in and makes them feel part of the story.

When developing your story, what should you focus on: plot or character? The mission or the man? Stories about characters tend to be better stories. Goals are what characters strive for; motivation is why they are striving. Every character thinks the story is about them . . . so what is each character’s motivation? It must be believable to the reader.

Bob also pointed out how an author needs to identify what the pathological need of a character is. This shows how they would react in a crisis. He had a great chart he broke down into traits, needs, and flaws. These three areas need to be shown to have a well-rounded, believable character.


TRAIT                                    NEED                                     FLAW

Idealistic                              To be the best                   Naïve

Understanding where your characters come from is another important component in character development. What is the key point in their life? Flesh out your characters background as much is possible. It’s not necessary to tell the reader everything about your character, however. In fact, less is better.

When developing your protagonist, he should be reluctant, empathetic, and should have some type of negative quality. You also have to identify what’s at stake for this person. What happens if he fails? And know that if he doesn’t change throughout the story arc, he will fail.

How do you build a great antagonist? Your bad guy should be human, even likable. He should also have a motivation such that if the character is removed from the story, the plot collapses.

Thanks for sitting through my brief recap of New York Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer’s session on Character: The People of Your Story. For more on Bob, visit his website:






Today, I begin my breakdown of Thrillerfest XI, that took place two weeks ago at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. I’ll start with Steve Berry’s, “The 6 C’s of Story Structure.”

 I’ll not go in to detail on Steve’s lecture, because you need to see it yourself. But hopefully I'll give you just enough taste to get you there next year. Briefly, the six C’s are: Character, Conflict, Crucible, Complications, Crisis, and Conclusion.

Character: Who are they? Characters are what makes our story interesting. The reader must be invested in the characters.

Conflict: The reader must realize the conflict between the antagonist and protagonist early in the story.

Crucible: This is the event that makes your hero do something he doesn’t want to do.

Complication: The revelation of subplots . . . and how they tie into the main plot.

Crisis: Think of a big explosion at the end. Just kidding, but the visual kind of makes the point. Conflict is resolved, subplots hopefully resolved as well.

Conclusion: All the loose ends tied up and the good guy wins . . . most of the time.

I won’t go into detail on how he relates those and how they relate to each other. That’s the magic of Steve’s presentation. Steve did focus on a problem that many aspiring authors face—backstory. Too many writers try to push the backstory up front (self included) instead of spreading it out over the course of the first two thirds of the book.

In addition to being a brilliant author, the guy is a gifted instructor and orator. His presentation is top notch and highly recommended. So yes, if you were there, you’d say, “Hey, there’s a lot more to his presentation that that.” And you’d be right. I didn’t want to give away the farm here, I’m just trying to show a little of the gift Steve gave us. He’ll be back next year. I suggest you give this one a shot.



Thrillerfest 2016 ended just a few days ago, but I feel like I’m still there. I met so many great people; established authors, aspiring authors, agents, publishers, editors . . . It was another amazing experience. Thrillerfest is divided into different sections, each occurring on different days of the conference. Tuesday is MasterCraftfest. This is a one-day, intensive writing critique session. The small classroom setting of around eight students allows for an intense review of each students ten-page manuscript.


Wednesday starts Craftfest. It’s a day and a half of insight from the top authors in the business of a variety of aspects of writing. Character development, plot, dialogue, creating suspense. There’s over twenty different classes offered; a selection of four different classes each hour. All of them excellent.


Following Craftfest on Thursday is a two-hour section called Careerfest, where industry professionals: agents, publishers, and editors sit on panels and give their perspective on the industry.


Thursday afternoon is Pitchfest, where authors are given the opportunity to pitch their project to perspective agents. It’s about a three and a half hour session of ‘speed dating’ with an agent. I’ve been to several writers’ conferences and I can say there is nothing like this out there. Amazing opportunity.


Friday and Saturday is Thrillerfest. This is designed for the fans as well as the authors. There are numerous panels with a wide variety of authors; from the incredibly established to the first time novelist. One on one interviews with top tier authors highlight this section as some of the best in the industry are highlighted. This year, C.J. Box, Gillian Flynn, Walter Mosely, and Heather Graham were highlighted.


Saturday evening is the banquet. While I must confess, I had to leave before this, I’ve heard it is fantastic and I’ll definitely make it next year. Over the coming weeks, I’ll post some of my experiences at Thrillerfest. See you next time!



Veil of Deception won it's third award since it's release! It is the winner in the Best Thriller category in the 2016 Pacific Book Awards contest. The Pacific Book Awards are operated through the Pacific Book Review organization. From their website:

"Founded in 2005, Pacific Book Review is a recognizable name in the business for publishers, authors, literary agents and the media.  We specialize in authoritative, objective book reviews, written by specialists selected for their knowledge and expertise in each genre.  Our reviews have received accolades from all aspects of the publishing industry, e-Commerce recognition, scholastic recognition, news media and personal praise from most every author.

We review books for well known authors as well as emerging authors; enabling many first time authors to reach the publishers with a recognizable review.  We help you get the exposure you need to market your book effectively. We review published books, manuscripts, eBooks, ARC’s, audio CD’s, and DVD’s.  Pacific Book Review provides additional services for authors including Internet review postings, video book trailers and distribution, professionally written press releases including distribution to the media, and author interviews along with other book promotion services to help gain exposure for your book.  We have the friendliest, old-fashioned customer service on the planet (no phone menus – just real, committed people).   The only wish we have is for your success as an author."

Click on the link below for a list of winners and finalists:






Very excited to announce that on Tuesday, May 24th, VEIL OF DECEPTION was named a FINALIST in the 2016 International Book Awards in the Fiction: Thriller/Adventure Category! (The winner in this category was Jon Land, from Forge, an imprint of MacMillan Publishers. Some of you may remember Jon from Thrillerfest) This is huge! How can being a FINALIST be huge? Because this contest isn’t just a contest among independent authors. We competed with the traditional publishing houses as well and had a great showing! Check out the press release below and click on the link to find VEIL OF DECEPTION!







Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors in the

7th Annual International Book Awards


Penguin Random House, Palgrave Macmillan, Puffin Books, John Wiley & Sons, Crown Business, McGraw-Hill, Tor/Forge, Rowman & Littlefield, American Cancer Society and hundreds of national and international Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!


LOS ANGELES announced the winners and finalists of THE 2016 INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS (IBA) on May 24, 2016. Over 300 winners and finalists were announced in over 80 categories. Awards were presented for titles published in 2014, 2015 and 2016.


Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of i310 Media Group, said this year’s contest yielded over 1,500 entries from authors and publishers around the world, which were then narrowed down to the final results.


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Click on the link below for the Winners and Finalists:



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