Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

AIt’s April and that means it’s the A to Z Blogging Challenge! I’ve enlisted the help of some friends and group members to help me with the challenge. Today’s letter A is brought to you by Melanie Atkins.

Here’s Melanie:

I don’t know if I actually have Adult Onset ADD or not, because I’ve never been diagnosed or even seen a professional to determine if I do have it. I have filled out an online questionnaire, however, and I answered yes to many of the questions.

Has anyone else in my family been diagnosed with this disorder? No.

Do I have trouble staying organized? Yes. I didn’t in years past, but now… yikes.

Am I forgetful and do I misplace things fairly often? Yes to both.

Do I complete daily tasks and chores? Usually, with effort. On time? Sometimes.

Am I easily distracted? Um, yes. What was the question again?

Do I have trouble sitting still? Sometimes, but not always.

How often do I get fidgety and restless? Quite often.

Am I able to follow directions? Yes, usually. I have to focus.

Am I impatient? Always. Sigh. This is not a new problem.

Am I a good driver? I think so, but I do have a heavy foot. See question above.

Do events and even TV shows over stimulate me? Sometimes.

How long have I been having these issues? Just in the past five years or so.

Did I have trouble focusing while answering these questions? Not really.

image1Do I have Adult ADD? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve been having a heck of a lot of trouble concentrating on my writing over the last few years, and it’s getting worse. I’ll write a sentence, then check my email. Write another sentence, and edit three paragraphs. Check Facebook. Get up and put my clothes in the dryer. See that one of the cats wants out, and stop to let him out. Since I have the door open, I decide to go ahead and check the mail, even though it’s not quite time for the mailman to arrive. You never know. He might be early.

I sit back down at the computer and pick up my phone. Maybe catching up on my Words with Friends games will help me settle down. I play, then put the phone away and write another few sentences. I’m like a bouncing ball, careening from one task or chore or game to another, unable to focus on any one thing for very long.

Maybe all the gadgets we use are part of the problem. I got to an appointment early the other day and had to sit in the waiting room for about twenty minutes. I’d brought my Kindle so I could read. I also had my phone that notified me every time someone played Words with Friends. I soon had my iPhone balanced on my Kindle. I’d read a little bit, then play a game. And not just play… I had to open a second app to help me find the right word. Once I played it, I went back to reading… until I realized I hadn’t checked my email in the past five minutes. We’re so busy, so connected, that we can’t seem to stop doing any of it for very long.

Maybe what I need to do tomorrow morning when I sit down to write is to put my phone on silent and either leave it across the room or hide it so I won’t pay any attention to it. Back in the day, before I had a smart phone and a Kindle, I had no trouble sitting down to write. So I blame the gadgets and my addiction to them for my fractured attention span. I must fix this by unplugging, even if it’s just for thirty minutes at a time, and focusing on my manuscript. Thirty minute sprints, without allowing myself to interrupt my chain of thought, just might do the trick. I’m going to set a timer tomorrow and see what happens.

Even with my disorder, I managed to finish a new book last fall. Sealing His Fate, the second book in my Bayou Bounty Hunter series, is out this month at Desert Breeze Publishing:

Melanie_AtkinsMelanie Atkins a multi-published author of romantic suspense, a fan of crime dramas, and an avid reader. Writing is more than an escape for her — it’s a way of life. She grew up in the Deep South listening to tall tales and penning stories about her cats. Now she writes gripping stories of love, suspense, and mystery with the help of her furry little feline muses.

You can read more about her here:


Cindy here again!

Thanks for stopping by the blog. I hope you check in every day this month to check out the guest topics. They will be varied and interesting reading.

Keep writing!


Writing convincing villains

Welcome back to the GWN blog! To end the week we’ve got Melanie Atkins here talking about creating convincing villains.

Here’s Melanie!

Melanie Atkins1Thanks for hosting me today. I really appreciate the opportunity to share with you about some of my favorite characters: Villains.

Villains are characters we all love to hate. They raise our blood pressure and keep us on the edges of our seats. They can also make or break a story. When I hear the word villain, I think of evil, followed closely by vicious and cunning, and I immediately picture Hannibal Lector, the king of all villains, and Ralph Fiennes’ creepy, convoluted character in Red Dragon, a man whose utter brutality puts Jack the Ripper to shame. To me, those two signify the epitome of evil; they are both sick, twisted men with an inherent drive to kill — and in Lector’s case, to taste his victims’ flesh.

Of course, all villains aren’t psychopathic serial killers. Many are mob bosses, drug lords, lunatics, dirty cops, evil co-workers, ghosts, or even demons (in paranormal mysteries or suspense) …whatever works for each particular story. No matter the nature of the villain, however, his or her character must be just as deep and well-developed as that of the hero and/or heroine.

Important points to consider:

  • All characters have a history. Why does a psychopath kill? Did the mob boss takeover the “family” by force, or did he inherit his position? What single event shaped the villain’s life? Does he despise his mother because she locked him out of the house night after night so she could spend time with an endless stream of men? Did he watch his sister die? Or did he find his brother’s body after he overdosed on crack cocaine? One must know the answers to these questions and more before starting to write. Making a villain shallow and lifeless or using a caricature in his place can kill a good book.
  • Do your research. If your villain is a psychopath, make him believable. I highly recommend reading Roy Hazelwood’s Dark Dreams and The Evil that Men Do and Mind Hunter by John Douglas. If your villain is a mob boss, learn about the Mafia — but don’t impart too much information. You want to make your story real, but dropping in too much detail will slow the pace and bog down the plot. Keep it simple.
  • Villains may be inherently evil, but they still possess good traits. The serial killer stocking shelves at the local drug store might love dogs or enjoy watching flowers grow. The mob boss intent on taking over the hero’s business may also love opera. Or the drug lord importing cocaine and funneling it into a major city might be doing so in order to allow his wife to travel once they retire. Don’t forget to make your villain a complete person…it will deepen them and make their character much more interesting to the reader.
  • Evil characters also have principles. The best villains draw a line and refuse to cross it. A serial rapist in one of my books attacks women, but also states that he doesn’t do children. Another villain feels sorry for his captive and gives her water when she’s thirsty. His empathy for her grows even deeper once he learns she’s a rape victim like his sister, and he’s tempted to let her go. Still another kills to uphold his family’s honor and breaks down when forced to shoot his own brother. Villains are people with emotions…just like you and me. Make them real, and reap the benefits.
  • Looks can be deceptive. Evil often wears a pretty face — think Ted Bundy. The handsome, cheerful boy-next-door who mows lawns for extra money might also be a knife-toting, anger-filled serial rapist who stalks women late at night when the moon is full. Or the assistant chief of police could be using his job as cover while importing heroin into the country to sell to the very people he’s sworn to serve and protect. Or the smiling, perky do-gooder in the office down the hall who secretly covets your hero’s job might do anything to get it, including falsifying records and setting your hero up as the bad guy. These scenarios are intriguing and make the villains seem real.


  • Even evil men need a goal. Give your villain something for which to fight, such as a strong desire for notoriety or admiration, a need to right a wrong, either real or perceived, or the urge to gain a feeling of self-worth. He may seem to only be after money, but his need for it must go deep. Give him a good reason to kill, steal, rape, haunt, or stalk.
  • Villains must engage the hero and heroine in a battle of wills. He must be a worthy opponent who grows more cunning as the book progresses. In order to ratchet up the suspense, one must put good vs. evil in an escalating battle that results in the ultimate climax. A shootout, a fight to the death using hand-to-hand combat, or maybe even a frightening car chase filled with chills, danger, and excitement. You and I both know that good will prevail, but it’s important to keep the reader guessing.
  • Romantic suspense requires a happy ending. Make sure that good prevails and that the villain pays for his crimes — maybe even with his life. Be sure to avoid melodrama and make his demise believable. If he doesn’t die, send him to prison or make him suffer in some other awful way. Don’t let him simply disappear. You want to give the reader closure. (Unless, of course, you plan to write a sequel and decide to allow your villain to escape, like in Silence of the Lambs).

Keeping the above list in mind, write to your strengths and do whatever is necessary to keep the action moving and to make your story believable. If your serial killer has no soft edges, so be it. Not every person can be redeemed. Your story is just that: Your story.

Develop your characters, do your research, and create villains worthy of fighting your heroes and heroines — and you’ll have stories people will clamor to read. Remember our friend Hannibal Lector, the villain everyone loves to hate? The man is pure evil. Yet he makes that book all the more believable because he is so real. He’ll never be forgotten, and neither will your villains — if you do your homework before sitting down to write.

I did my best to make the psychotic villain in my latest single title release, Blood Bound, as creepy and realistic as possible. He’s a serial murderer with serious issues, mainly thanks to his not-so-loving mother.


BloodBoundCoverArt72dpiFueled by grief after his fiancée is brutally murdered, Detective Sam Walker focuses on finding her killer — a calculating predator who binds books with human skin.  Dani Barrington, the newest member of NOPD’s Victim and Witness Assistance Unit and a survivor of another frightening attack, helps him discover the terrifying link between the monster’s known victims.  Despite his anguish, Sam is struck by Dani’s strength and determination, especially when her inquisitive  nature makes her the killer’s next target.  He must find a way to protect her or risk losing the one woman who can bring his dead heart back to life.


The book is available at the stores below and at many other online outlets:


Desert Breeze Publishing:
B & N:

Visit Melanie’s website:

Cindy here again!

Great tips, Melanie. The serial killer in my current WIP loves cats.

Happy writing!


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