Justice (Deck of Lies, #1)

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The Tower (Deck of Lies, #2)

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Death (Deck of Lies, #3)

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Judgment (Deck of Lies, #4)

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Hope's Rebellion

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New Book Release

If you like the Writing 101 tips at this blog, you will love Jade's new book! Jade Varden's newest book will be released this spring and it will be full of all the tips authors need to know to write their books. Stay tuned for more details about Jade's newest, How to Write a Book.


In the meantime, check out Jade Varden's library of books at Amazon:


10 Times Egyptian Pharaohs Straight Up Lied About History

The might of the Egyptian pharaohs continues to resonate throughout history, with many of their names remaining famous and highly revered even centuries after the fact. Egyptians concerned themselves with preserving their bodies, their spirits and their legacies for all eternity…and in many respects, they succeeded. But the legend of the Egyptian pharaohs isn’t so much a gift of the gods as it is the result of very well-thought-out propaganda campaigns, clever lies and positively brilliant marketing.


The Divine Birth of Queen Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut was probably the first female pharaoh of Egypt to rule the kingdom in her own right. And in a patriarchal society like ancient Egypt, this was a tough task. She did many things during her time on the throne to show that she was capable of being the leader of the empire and had many works of art created that would depict her this way.

Many pharaohs linked themselves to the gods in various works of art. Hatshepsut really drove this point home to make it quite clear that was divinely ordained to rule over Egypt. Her temple is carved with many scenes, including a birth scene in which the king of all gods, Amun, impregnants Hatshepsut's mother. This made Hatshepsut the daughter of the king of gods himself. Not a bad lineage.

This clearly made her a legit pharaoh and one with the backing of the gods, no less. Of course, this was all a lie. Hatshepsut was certainly a mortal woman and probably not the result of a divine birth or godly conception.

Amenemhet I Biography

In the real story, Amenemhet was not born royal. He was a vizier, which is sort of like being a prime minister, for the guy who was pharaoh before him. But you know how rumors work. Once you plant the right one and it takes root, it spreads like weeds. Such is the story of Amenemhet, which was quite a clever bit of self-marketing.

The story was written out on a papyrus that begins with a prophecy, which is always a great place to begin a story. According to the prophecy, Amenemhet was going to be a king. The prophecy went on to say that life would be terrible in Egypt but then, a king would come from the south. His name would be Ameny.

According to the prophecy that was written after all these events actually transpired, Ameny would take both the red and white crown of Egypt and unify the Upper and Lower kingdoms. And though he was common-born, or born of the people, his name would cause the people to rejoice.

It's a great story but it's an even greater way to self-promote and it's a great example of how Egyptian pharaohs loved to write their own lie-strewn legends.

Battle of Kadesh

The Battle of Kadesh was probably the biggest battle the world had known up to that point, which specifically was the year 1274 B.C.E. Upon returning from battle, Ramses II ordered a huge mural carved on the walls of his memorial temple to commemorate the great battle.

What a site it is. The mural shows the mighty pharaoh Ramees himself crushing Egypt's sworn enemy, the Hittites, like the bugs they are. The mural depicts the pharaoh, and Egypt, as the grad victors of the battle. It is awe-inspiring stuff. And it's basically all a lie.

The Egyptian and Hittite empires were trading friends and sometimes foes, often battling each other and fighting for the rich Levant region and its natural resources. This led to an all-out war in 1274, when things came to a head in the huge battle of Kadesh.

The artifacts uncovered in the Hittite empire relating to the battle tell a different tale than the story Ramses sold to his own people, and to history. The Treaty of Kadesh, the oldest peace treaty ever discovered so far, shows that Egypt actually made a great many concessions to the Hittite empire. The Hittites gained a number of new cities and lands and the treaty is clearly a better deal for their empire than for Egypt.

There's no mention of signing the treaty on the great wall Ramses commissioned, of course.
Ramses the Not So Great

Ramses II, known in history as Ramses the Great, ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1300. And according to all the art about him, he was an incredible warrior-king. With the might of a god, Ramses led his people to victory after victory as he quelled the Libyans nearby. He claimed their lands for Egypt because he was a glorious pharaoh.

It's a big whopper of a lie, as is a lot of the image of Ramses the Great. Most of his greatness is just for show and in reality, his reign was far more nuanced. One of his biggest lies concerned neighboring Libya, which Ramses claimed to have subjugated. Evidence shows that actually, Ramses maintained a peaceful relationship with the neighboring kingdom and even relied on their knowledge. It was a much more symbiotic relationship, though in Egypt the monuments all proclaimed that great Ramses had basically annexed this land.

Amenhotep III is Favored by the Gods

Amenhotep III arguably didn't have the most stunning reign during his tenure as pharaoh. But you wouldn't know that to look at his fabulous mortuary temple. First, it's decorated with two enormous statues of the pharaoh himself guarding the entrance to the temple.

That's not all. There's also the god, Hapi, bringing two symbols of Egypt together. All this represents Amenhotep III bringing together the two parts of Egypt, Upper and Lower. Amenhotep III actually lost control over these kingdoms during his reign. But as the temple shows, his reign over both was actually ordained by the gods.

Of course, it was just a great sculpture. The fantastic imagery doesn't at all represent the reality of his reign. Which isn't really such a bad way to do things. If you tell everyone you were awesome after you die, it's not like they can really argue with you.

The Battle of the Delta

The Battle of the Delta is recorded in the longest hieroglyphic inscription ever found, at least so far. The battle was waged around the year 1175 B.C.E. when Egypt was under the rule of Ramses III. This is the day the Sea Peoples came to the shores of Egypt.

History is quite unsure who these people were, where they came from or precisely what they were so upset about. What is known is that they burned and pillaged their way across the known world, razing the main cities of Mycenean Greece to the ground. The great city of Troy was looted and burned and the Hittite empire was attacked so savagely that nothing of the great empire remained by the time the marauders were done with them.

This is the terrifying force that descended upon Egypt. Two battles took place, one by land and one by sea. But it was the battle on the sea that proved decisive. And according to the huge inscription Ramses ordered to be created, he totally kicked butt. He drove the Sea Peoples back into the sea, soundly defeating them in the name of Egypt.

And his version of events almost certainly is not true. Historically, the aftermath of the battle does not represent a time of strength and success for Egypt. In fact, Egypt was never the same after that battle and remained greatly weakened for the ensuing centuries. Meanwhile, the so-called survivors of the battle settled in the Levant, the most desirable and hotly contested land in the entire Egyptian empire. That doesn't seem like much of a defeat.

From Zero to Hero

Reigning as pharaoh from 1872 to 1854 B.C.E., Senusret III was an extremely young pharaoh when he first was crowned. Luckily, he reigned over a highly artistic time in Egypt and he had the support of wealthy patrons. Lots of art was created celebrating the young king and in a few years, he had become an idealized warrior-king, with monuments and artwork and depictions of his prowess in battle appearing throughout the Egyptian kingdom.

The artwork essentially lifted him to god status, turning him into an epic and legendary figure even in his own time...in spite of the fact that he was incredibly young and had achieved very little in his reign when this image was first cultivated. That's some seriously good propaganda.

The So Called Hyksos Invasion

It all happened around 1800 B.C.E. But what happened depends on who told the story. According to Egyptian pharaohs, the land was invaded by the awful Hyksos people. They were ruthless invaders, foreigners who wrested control of northern Egypt away from the rightful rulers by force. They created chaos, disaster, terror in the streets.

Evidence strongly suggests that the Hyksos were more immigrants than invaders and may have even invented the Egyptian alphabet. The archeological record suggests that they came to Egypt quite peacefully and ruled their area of the empire in relative quiet until Egyptian pharaohs seized the land...after a rather extensive mud-slinging campaign that painted them as violent offenders.

Cleopatra Was the Descendant of a Goddess

Cleopatra's name has become synonymous with sex appeal, cleverness, seduction and power. But that's the modern version of good old Cleo, Egypt's very last pharaoh. She was not popular in her own time among her people and had to murder quite a few relatives before she managed to reign as pharaoh, more often co-ruling with one of her husband-brothers at her side instead.

The Egyptian people weren't quite sure how to take Cleopatra and they weren't exactly chanting her name when she arrived in Alexandria with Caesar, who forcibly reinstated her as pharaoh over the land. She started to strongly associate herself with the goddess Isis, using images and symbols of the goddess to inform her own portraits. She was incredibly careful about her image and made the association between herself and Egypt's most powerful goddess clear as a way to prove she was a worthy pharaoh.

Though Cleopatra's image and legend would continue to grow, the goddess Isis suffered guilt by association. The Isis cult in Rome became incredibly unpopular after Cleopatra's suicide, particularly in Rome.

The Greatest Pharaoh of Them All

You've heard of names like Ramses the Great and Tutankhamun, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. But who was the greatest pharaoh of them all? If you take a look around Egypt, or if you ever did in the last 5,000 years, you might draw the conclusion that the greatest of all rulers of this land was clearly the guy who built that really massive, really impressive pyramid.

To get specific, that pharaoh was (probably) Khufu. Historians believe he is the one who had the great pyramid itself built, the largest ever constructed in the world and the tallest building in the entire world for thousands of years.

Greatness achieved. But Khufu was far from Egypt's greatest pharaohs by most standards. He certainly wasn't the first, the last, the richest or the most powerful. And while the Great Pyramid is certainly impressive, it's not the biggest building ever built in Egypt.

Most of Khufu's reign can be summed up in that pyramid, which was strictly a monument to him. There are no public spaces for the people to use and no practical service areas provided by the massive structure. It serves no purpose other than to announce to Egypt, and all of history, that Khufu was the greatest of them all.

But today, most people have no idea who Khufu was or know of anything he did other than use up a ton of resources on building a giant monument for his own acclaim.

Brooklyn Museum - Hatshepsut

DBPedia - Battle of the Delta

Gale - Archaeology: Propaganda of the pyramids

Gettysburg College - Androgyny in the Ancient World: The Intersection of Politics,

Religion and Gender in the Art of Hatshepsut

History - Cleopatra

Institutional Scholarship - Isis and Cleopatra in Rome : how one of history’s most famous queens influenced an Egyptian cult in the heart of the Roman Empire

Judith Starkston - Propaganda and Reality: Hittites vs Pharaoh Ramesses

Morehead State - Cleopatra as the Goddess Isis

Osirisnet - Senusret III

PBS - Ramesses II

Penfield - The New Kingdom - Part Two and the Age of Decline

The School For Excellence - Ancient History

Science - ‘Invasion' of ancient Egypt may have actually been immigrant uprising

The University of Manchester - New evidence shows might of Pharaoh Ramses is fake news

U.S. Naval Institute - The Last Great Pharaoh vs. The Sea Peoples

Wondrium Daily - Germination of Effective Propaganda: The Egyptian Dynasty XII

World History Encyclopedia - Senusret III

Secrets Exposed in Justice

     I didn’t know where else to go but my locker. Maybe I could act like I was poking around in there for the next thirty minutes, until the lunch period was over. Of course, I only had two books so far…but no one knew that but me.
    I wanted to turn and run when I saw the back of another student, already buried in his own locker only two doors down from mine. But I really didn’t have anywhere else to go; I definitely wasn’t going back to the cafeteria. So I marched straight to the door of locker 389, wrenched it open and buried my arms up to my elbows inside.
    “New girl, huh?”
    The guy at locker 391 was movie-star handsome. His smile was pearly white, each tooth perfectly straight and even. He had a perfect tan and perfect blonde hair, not a single strand out of place.



    “Um,” My mind went blank as soon as I looked at him, and I felt a flush creeping up my neck.
    “Owen Harper,” he winked one of his green eyes at me. “It’s always tough to be new. Pretty soon you’ll blend right in.”
    “Yeah, right,” I mumbled.
    “Just remember to look down your nose at everyone at all times, and you’ll fit in perfectly.” He grinned, and a smile sprang to my lips in response.
    “I’m Rain Ramey.” Finally, I remembered my name, but he was already closing his locker.
    “Nice meeting you, Rain Ramey.” Another flash of that perfect smile, and he turned to move down the hall. I stared into my locker, wondering if now would be a good time to just crawl inside. After all, it couldn’t be too bad to live in a locker if I could see a glimpse of Owen Harper from time to time.
    “There you are!” I recognized the strident shriek immediately and jerked back out of the locker to look down the hall. The blonde, now garbed in her school gym uniform, was marching purposefully toward me.
    “Oh no,” I whispered to my History book.
    “You’ll never believe what this trashy scholarship girl did to me in the cafeteria!”
    My heart sank. The blonde wasn’t coming toward me -- she was heading right for Owen. “Oh, no,” I groaned again.
    “Carsyn! Why are you in your gym clothes?”
    “Oh my God, what are you doing here?” The blonde -- apparently, her name was Carsyn -- was giving me the same look I once saw my mother give a beetle that found its way into our kitchen from the garden.
    “This is my locker,” I answered.
    “You two know each other?” Owen, poor guy, smiled at both of us.
    Carsyn was annoyed by his cluelessness, or so her dramatic eye-roll suggested. “This is the girl I was telling you about. Look at my shoes,” and she shoved them into his face. They were in her left hand; her feet were now clad in silver sandals.
    “You know, Carsyn, I heard Kate Moore say she thought they were last season. Maybe Rain here did you a favor,” Owen suggested.
    “Last season? Hardly. She probably doesn’t even know what that means. Wait a minute -- Rain? Is that your name?”
    “Sure, she’s Rain Ramey,” Owen spoke up when I only stared at Carsyn. “And I think you look great in your gym clothes.” He moved closer to her, and I felt my stomach flip over. Together, they made a gorgeously blonde, perfect pair.
    Of course they were together. I should have known it the moment I saw Owen. Who else would date Barbie but Ken?
    “Come on,” he had an arm around her shoulders now. “I’ll walk you to your car so you can put those shoes in the trunk. See ya, Rain Ramey.”
    “Bye,” I muttered as they drifted down the hall together.


Get Justice at Amazon, Smashwords and everywhere books are sold!

Selkies and Mermaids Swim Through the Pages of Song of the Sea

 I always knew who my mother was. I always knew where I belonged. And I always knew I wanted to be on the water, like my dad.

...Until I was forced to go out into the water, anyway. Out there, you feel really lonely. But you’re never alone. There is more life and emotion under the waves than most humans will ever see, more than I could have ever imagined. Down there, it’s an entire world of rage and hate, love and hope. It’s a world of fear.

What Reviewers Say...

"If readers don't know much about under the sea adventures, I highly recommend this book. It's a fun read!"
-Lily Benitez

"This was an original tale of the enchanting world of mermaids and selkies. I loved the way the author brought her characters to life and the way she describes the ocean giving it a unique and magical feel. You will not be disappointed in this captivating heart warming novel."
-Nirri, Readers Club

Find Song of the Sea online at Amazon!

5 Star Reviews for Hope's Rebellion

Here's what reviews had to say about Hope's Rebellion:

"I don’t think I have ever seen a plot or foreshadowing that was so thought out and so perfect in every possible way."
-Book Butterfly

"There were so many surprises, good twists and what I’d call an “Oscar winner” finale."

"It tackles notions of power, discrimination, femininity, and so forth in a highly engaging way."
-Christina Escamilla

"I just couldn't wait to read what it had in store for me."

Hope's Rebellion is available at Amazon, Smashwords and everywhere books are sold!

Lies, Murder and Mistaken Identity in Justice

 Take a look inside Jade Varden's Justice, a book about lies, mistaken identity and murder...


The red BMW was waiting for me as if it had always been mine. I tried, again, to call Aaron and my parents on their cell phones, but when no one answered I threw the car into gear and left the von Shelton estate.

I saw the car parked in front of the blue house almost as soon as I turned onto Sutton Street. By the time I crookedly parked the BMW behind it and stumbled out, the tears were pouring freely down my face. I stood at the front door sobbing and fumbling with my keys for nearly five minutes before I managed to get the door open, and by that time I couldn’t find the breath to call out.

It wasn’t necessary. “Rain!” I heard the startled whisper as I stood near the door catching my breath. The sound of my own name brought a fresh rush of tears to my eyes.

“Aunt Ronnie.” She had me swept into her embrace a moment later, and I laid my head against her shoulder. I didn’t realize how badly I needed a hug until I felt her familiar arms around me.

“Oh, Rain,” she squeezed  me, and for several minutes we stood there and cried together. Finally she pulled away, wiping tears off her cheeks. “Honey, what are you doing here?”

“Looking for you. And Aaron. And my…and…everybody.”

“Rain,” her brown eyes, so much like my mother’s, were filled with pain as she reached out to brush a stray curl behind my ear. “You can’t be here.”

“But you haven’t been answering my calls! I had to come here.”

“Oh, Rain,” she turned away, bowing her head to hide behind a black curtain of hair. “I can’t take your calls. I can’t talk to you, and neither can Aaron. Not right now.”

“What? But Aunt Ronnie-”

“It’s not me, Rain, it’s the lawyer.” She held up her hands defensively.

“Rain? Rain!”

My breath caught in my throat, and for a moment I couldn’t catch it to speak. “Aaron!”

He appeared at the top of the stairs. Aunt Ronnie stepped before me, blocking my view of him just as he came into sight. “No. Aaron, back upstairs. Do you want to make things worse than they already are? Rain, you’ve got to go.” She put her hands on my shoulders and bodily turned me toward the door. “Aaron, upstairs!”

I’d heard her use that firm tone only once before, when I was six. I’d found the birth control pills in her purse and thought they were candy. Aaron was no longer rushing down the stairs, and I had no choice but to let her physically push me out the front door.

“Aunt Ronnie,”  I turned and seized her hand, my eyes boring into hers. “Just tell me why they did it. Just tell me they aren’t terrible people.” I didn’t even know how important it was to me until that moment, that horrible moment when I saw my entire childhood being pulled away from me on the front porch of that blue house on Sutton Street. If the parents who raised me were capable of committing such a terrible crime…then what did that make me? The desperation in my eyes made Ronnie look away; I saw her swallow several times before any words came out of her throat.

“I can only tell you to ask Violet von Shelton. She knows the answers to your questions. I can’t talk to you. I’m so sorry, Rain.” The door closed to punctuate her statement, and I was left standing alone on what used to be my own front porch. I slipped my key ring out of my purse, the one with my house keys and the keys to my Corvair, and placed it on the welcome mat.

There was nothing left to do but climb into the BMW and go back to the von Shelton mansion. It was the only thing like a home I had left…and apparently, it was the place with all the answers.


Justice is available at Amazon, Smashwords and everywhere books are sold!

How Common Are Sociopaths, Really?

You find them all the time in books, lurking around. They are charming, they are sexy, they are dangerous. The hot but scary sociopath has become a common story trope. But how common is this person in life? Do you stand any chance of really knowing a sociopath…and has pop media made this way more of a thing than it actually is?

Devil's Snare

In story, the sociopath is often highly attractive, intriguing, alluring and mysterious. They are here to draw in the hero, to weave a sexy spell and ultimately, to be bested by the hero. Outsmarted and outmatched at last.

It was probably quite titillating once upon a time, but now it has become rather shopworn. Some writers combat this by trying to do something new with their sociopath. Often, a twist is employed where no one, even the reader, knows if this person is really a sociopath.

And from a statistics standpoint, probably not.

What About Your Friends?

Everyone has pretty much met someone they suspect of being a sociopath. If you want to get down to it, millions of people are sociopaths, psychopaths or have some other antisocial personality disorder. However, there are billions of people on the planet. Only about 1 to 4 percent of the entire world population can fit into one of these classifications. That's an extremely small amount of people.

At best, you will encounter a sociopath, psychopath or someone with an antisocial personality disorder at a ratio of 1:100, being very generous about it. Lots of people do not actually know, really know, 100 different people well. The chances of actually meeting and knowing a sociopath are very small…certainly, a lot smaller than all the stories out there that heavily feature such personality types would have you believe.

Fixing the Trope

People with personality types like sociopaths and psychopaths definitely make for compelling storytelling. But they don’t make for very realistic storytelling. Most readers, the vast majority of them in fact, never have and never will encounter one of these personality types.

Most people are not so easy to pinpoint. Often, people don't fit into a diagnosis or personality type. The best characters are highly fleshed out and have many different traits, both positive and others that are less so. Sometimes, it's best to avoid trying to make characters fit a specific disorder and simply write them more like real people...who continue to defy all logic and easy labeling.

Characters don't need to fit a trope or a type, because most human beings don't.

The Simp Best Friend

He's always there to wipe the tears off the heroine's cheeks, the backup date when the dream date falls through, the ear she can tell all her secrets to. He's hot in a low key way and there is no question that he's hopelessly in love with the main female character, who is utterly clueless to his affection. He's the simp best friend and…he kinda sucks. There may be no good way to put him in your story. Maybe he doesn't belong at all.



 Nice Guys Finish Last

He's in the friend zone but he's hopelessly in love with said friend, a girl who is typically under the spell of a much cooler guy. He listens to her, he notices everything about her and for reasons, he doesn't make a move until well after the aforementioned dreamboat cool guy breaks her heart.

On the surface, this all seems pretty romantic. He finally makes his move right at the end of the story and just like that, the girl suddenly sees him for the first time. They kiss at last. What a happy ending.

Except that it's not. Because this character trope is super stale and honestly, unattractive. In the real world, the platonic best friend is very rarely a super hot, totally sweet and slavishly devoted would-be romantic interest. This is something that is far more common in fiction than in life.

So…should this tired trope be retired altogether? Is it time to blacklist this guy from stories or what?

Fixing the Trope 

The simp best friend has become a super common trope in stories, and that means it’s predictable. To make your story feel less boring, some a new way to use this trope. Flip expectations by finding some new way to use this character.

It’s okay to use common story tropes, but if you use them in a new way readers will appreciate it. They’ll think they know what’s coming. If you can surprise them with what actually happens, they’ll love it. Readers like having their expectations subverted. Try it and find out how much better the story becomes when you take those common tropes and change them all around.