Ten Things I now know as a Newbie E-Book Writer.

I still consider myself to be a certified newbie.
Before I started writing in earnest, there would always be some sort of drama and dialogue going on inside my head. Now, some might say, I have a problem and need to visit the brainy peeps in white coats. But, really it’s just my imagination at play.
Transforming the scenario’s inside my head into stories, and ultimately publishing them as e-books requires more than the “ten things I now know” written below (hello that’s an unintentional rhyme). They are however, ten steps in the right direction.
Please note – if you are looking for a meaty how-to-e-publish post, I’m afraid this post will disappoint. It’s my intention to blog more on this, and e-book marketing in the near future. 
1.  Commit
Make a commitment to write with the intention of publishing an e-book. Commit to wearing more than a writer’s hat. At some stage, and sometimes all at once, you’ll be wearing a marketing, publishing, and a therapy hat. 
2.  Show Up
If you don’t show up to write, not a single word will get written. All you’ll have is a blank screen, or page. Time, focus, and words strung together into creative sentences, are a few of the necessary ingredients of writing. Make, and schedule time to write.
3.  Go with the Flow
As a runner, for me writing is a lot like pounding the pavement. Not one day is the same. Some days I feel like I can run for miles, while the next…my legs feel like I’m lugging around blocks of of concrete. With writing, one day you’re on a creative roll, the next your river of words has dried up to a mere trickle….Frustrating? Definitely. I’m learning, to go with the flow. If you’ll pardon the pun.
4.  Be a Sponge
Soak up as much information from others about writing, and the world of e-book publishing. Follow related blogs, befriend google and ask questions, join forums and groups – Amazon and Goodreads, a great place to start. Take webinars – online seminars cover a load of subjects from publishing on blogging, Kindle, e-book marketing and PR, success stories…they’re free, and jam-packed with juicy relevant information.
5.  Don’t be Afraid
Whether your brazen, über confident, or super shy, you’re going to need bucket loads of courage. To write, e-publish, read reviews, find your readers, navigate your way around the marketing, and dealing with angst and uncertainty. All require a badge of courage, and a willingness to venture into the soon-to-be-known territory
6.  Establish your name
As a newbie author you probably count your Mum, and a couple of good friends as die-hard loyal readers. I know I do. Expanding your reach beyond that precious three, requires a plan to find readers who, over time will like, love, and trust you enough to buy your books, and share the book love with their friends and family. Establishing your writing name/brand is an essential part of the marketing plan.   
7.  Marketing

Writing with the intention of selling requires at the very least, the backbone of a marketing plan. Step one, know from the onset who you perceive your readers are. Step two, know where to find your readers. A healthy mix of digital, with a little traditional marketing is needed to get your name established, readers, and sales. Without going into too much detail – to build a marketing foundation the must do/have basics are:

  • Blog. Create a blog relevant to establish your identity and what it is you want to be known and recognized for. Whatever you do, have a contact me page.
  • Website. At this risk of sounding like an old fashioned fuddy duddy – in this day and age if you’re not online, well let’s just say you risk extinction. Having a digital presence is crucial if you want to have a ounce of e-publishing success. For the budget conscious, like me, my free wordpress blog site doubles up as my website. And I love it.
  • Social Media. Its social, and its media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr connects you with like minded people who are interested in what you do. It’s a platform to interact.
  • PR. Public Relations interacts with social media, your blog, and or website. In fact, they all interact. But, a good old fashioned press release to announce your book, what it’s about, who the market is, how and where readers can buy it from, the price and why people should buy your book is like a one stop shop of information for media, and potential readers.
  • Elevator Pitch. A long lost friend stops you in the street and asks you, ‘so, what are you doing now?’ What’s your 15, ok maybe stretch it out to 30 seconds summary of what you do? By the time it takes you to ride the elevator from the ground to the penthouse suite, is all the time you need to sell yourself, and your book.
  • Be Consistent. Just like you show up for writing, be regular and consistent with your marketing. The key is consistency with relevant and engaging content. It’s not all about sales, don’t be afraid to mix a little sales with social. People want to get to know, like, love and trust you.

8. Accept Not all Reviews will be 5*****
Develop a thick skin. No matter what, getting and reading a review is a daunting task. One, I’ll never quite get used to. The way I survive reading a review and minimizing the possibility of a bad one completely ruining my day, is to allow myself only a couple of hours to think about it. Tops. Then, I have to let it go.
My policy. Focus on the positive, and respect your reviewer’s opinion. If you don’t like what you read, don’t even think about stepping into the boxing ring and going glove to glove with the reviewer. Sure, it’s tempting, but I believe, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Same applies if you get a great review. If you turn around and laud the reviewer with adulation, and praise, you no longer have an honest review.
Whether the review is good, or just plain ugly and brutal, try taking something positive from it. It’s easier said than done. One reader gave my book a 1* rating, and didn’t back it up with a review. Where’s the positive in that I asked? Well, after digging around, I found out the reader wasn’t in my target age group, and more than likely was never going to enjoy my story.
As hard as it is sometimes, I always appreciate the time and effort it has taken the reviewer to read your book, and write and post a review.
9.  Believe
For many self belief is the biggest hurdle. At times I’m plagued with self doubt, and throughout my day I can be heard muttering sound bites of encouragement. ‘Back Yourself’ has become a personal favorite. As Jack Canfield once said “tell people you’re a writer when you think you are.” I now tell peeps I’m a writer. And yes, I believe it too.
10.  Reality Check and Luck
This is a goodie. How do you measure success? By achieving your own goals? Showing up? Sales? Or….is it the little things you achieve, and learning from and surviving the failures, disappointments, dark days, mistakes, crankiness, writers block…that ultimately point us in the direction of “being successful.”
Writing with the intention of selling your book is a magic combo of content, marketing, luck, and giving people what they want at the right time.
Timing is everything. Whether it’s an overnight runaway #1 best seller, or it takes you a few months, or years. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your writing career. Either way…believe, believe, believe in you.

Magdalena has recently written a contemporary romance e-book, Love in the Vines. Food, wine, love and betrayal. Like wine, love begins in the vines. Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage.
Her first e-book was an mage to her cat, Minnie Moo….Minnie Moo The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Cat.
Both e-books are available to buy on Amazon.
Having successfully completed NANOWRIMO writing 50,000 words in 30 days (the month of November), Magdalena is currently working on the sequel to Love in the Vines – Love Entwined.
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Book Reviews. Scary or Not?

I can tell you straight off the bat, I’m one of those authors who can’t feign nonchalance at receiving book reviews.
First of all I’m immensely appreciative of readers who give their valuable time to read my books. Time is a rare commodity, and considered a luxury for most. Writing a review requires a whole other level of extra time, thought, and effort. And for that, I feel readers and reviewers are all deserving of 5 shining gold stars.
Even those who write and post the dreaded one or two star reviews. Good, or bad the feedback is at times hard to swallow, but it’s always invaluable.
I’ve got to admit getting a review scares the pants off me! My heartbeat races, I don’t breathe while reading it, and if it’s bad, my mood will dive faster than the Dow Jones on a brutal trading day.
In my mind, I can rationalize reviews as a reader’s personal, and informed opinion. I read and write reviews too. I respect that. In my heart however, I’m a sensitive softie who is s still coming to grips with the obvious fact that once the publish button is hit. It’s published. End of.
Ah well, one thing I’m sure of is I’ll never feign nonchalance, I’ll always be grateful to those who read my books. Reviews are like receiving an unexpected bonus. Like getting an extra scoop of ice-cream when you didn’t ask for it.
Here’s my latest LOVE IN THE VINES 4**** Book Review – this one was like getting the ice-cream, and the cherry on top.

“Affairsville” 4**** Amazon Review of LOVE IN THE VINES
Carla is bored with her marriage. Looking for something to do during the day – her husband is at work and her children are at school -she takes a job as a clerk at a local winery.
Mat is the vintner. Divorced, introverted, fascinated by his wine, he seldom pays attention to other people, but, on Carla’s first day at work, attraction is immediate; sparks fly between them.
The reader knows what will happen next! We watch as Carla takes each step, first baby steps, then larger ones, on the road to what she calls “Affairsville.” A novice at adultery, she makes “rookie mistakes,” and her husband begins to suspect that something is amiss.
Love in the Vines chronicles the all too familiar story of a woman who seeks excitement outside of her marriage, the feelings she has, the compromises she makes, the rationalizations she concocts to explain and to justify her behavior.
We wonder how far Carla will go and whether she will actually reach Affairsville. Will Mat continue to pursue Carla; will he tire of the chase; or will he go off-course when he meets her husband? We wonder whether her husband will see through Carla’s stories, and how he will react if he does. Will this a fling, or something more?
The story captures your attention in the beginning, and you won’t want to stop reading. It is a fast-moving, sexy story. You will enjoy reading it, and you’ll be asking for a sequel!

For the love of Chardonnay.

Wine, one sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise and taste.”
~ John Milton (1608-74)

Another fantastic weekend is on our doorstep. And if you are anything like me, it’s a great time to relax and unwind while enjoying a glass or two of your favorite wine.
Carla, our LOVE IN THE VINES Leading Lady likes nothing better than to drink a cool glass of Chardonnay.

Here’s an excerpt from Love in the Vines, Chapter 10, Chardonnay and Oysters where we discover Carla’s Chardonnay crush.

…..Studying the wine list, Matt was earnestly deliberately over the choices. I overhead you talking with the girls at work about your love affair with Chardonnay. They’ve got a number of great one’s listed here. How about we start with my Chardonnay?’ Chuckling he added, ‘even if it means that I’ll have to buy one of my own wines at restaurant prices! Then, for comparison we can move on to a French Chardonnay. I see they have a couple of beautiful delicate Pouilly-Fuissé (Pu-Yee Fwee-Say) wines here from Southern Burgundy. These are made entirely from Chardonnay fruit and they will be amazing to drink.’

Never one to miss an opportunity to drink a Chardonnay, I told Matt how my relationship with this wine dated back a few years. ‘For every great one I’ve had the pleasure to drink, I’ve also suffered through my fair share of this wine masquerading as a paint stripper.


So, paint-strippers aside, here’s a few reasons why Carla loves nothing more than chilling on a Saturday afternoon with a cool, crisp glass of Chardonnay.

  • Zing! Aroma’s of pink grapefruit, citrus blossom, and nectarine complement the sharp contrast of spicy lemon and green apple.
  • The surprise of a lingering hint of hazelnut.
  • While some Chardonnays pack a big, bold and buttery punch. Carla prefers her’s understated; rich and buttery with a hint of oak.
  • The exotic French Connection. The birthplace of Chardonnay is Burgundy in France.
  • Back in 2008 when Chardonnay sales slumped in Britain, blame the Bridget Jones Effect
  • Or, as this blogger laments: Did Kath and Kim kill Chardonnay?
  • Either way, Carla defied trends, a bottle or two of “Chardie” always was top of her weekly shopping list.

Love in the Vines is a contemporary romance e-book set in the intoxicating world of wine and food. Out Now $2.99 on Amazon Kindle.
Food, wine, love and betrayal. Like wine, love begins in the vines.
Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage.

Love in the Vines Characters. Introducing our Leading Lady, Carla.

Name: Carla
Occupation: Administration Assistant
Status: Married with two children
Likes: Chardonnay, desserts, gym workouts, and spin cycle classes. Clothes are a constant work in progress.
Dislikes: Early morning alarms, Saturday morning children sports, Brussels Sprouts and Oysters

Favorite Quote: “Time stands still for no one.”

It was only a matter of time before his smouldering gaze would snap me out of the resignation that I was never going to be a domestic goddess.

Now feeling like a full-time appliance, it was plug me in and I’ll do it, with one day repeating into the next. I never felt on top of that ever-present laundry pile. It was always crying out to be washed, folded and put away.

Married to my childhood sweetheart, I’ve been busy as a stay at home Mom, raising our two boisterous and totally loveable children.

Truthfully? I’m bored witless by domestic routine, and I’m desperately wanting to return to work.

I couldn’t believe it when serendipity knocked and the door to a job at a local prestigious winery opened.

Very soon life as I once knew drained like an empty wine glass. Only to be refilled by the irresistible lure of the man with the green eyes.

Love in the Vines is a contemporary romance e-book set in the intoxicating world of wine and food.
Food, wine, love and betrayal. Like wine, love begins in the vines. Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage.
LOVE IN THE VINES. Out Now for US$2.99 on Amazon Kindle.

“…I enjoyed the way the story unfolded against the romantic backdrop of a winery with realistically drawn characters. Definitely a story of the easy drinking variety, perhaps a merlot! A great read for summer…” Amazon Review from a reader in New Zealand.

If you already have your copy of LOVE IN THE VINES, thanks! Honest reviews are always welcome.

More about Matt. Occupation. Winemaker.

Introducing Matt, the lead male character in LOVE IN THE VINES,
Name:  Matt
Profession:  Winemaker
Loves:  Wine, Love, Coffee and Food. Designer jeans and t-shirts.
Traits: Driven, Obsessive, Private and Selfish
Detests: Over-chilled wine, team
Favorite Wines: Châteauneuf du Pape, Syrah (Shiraz), Viognier (Vee-on-nay) and French Champagne
Must drink beer: Coopers Ale

Best described in three words: Lover. Of wine.

Matt, a former hard-to-please advertising agency executive, who has since turned his back on the corporate world in pursuit of his true passion.

Now an award winning, gifted winemaker, his moodiness and arrogance is despised by some, and pulls like magnetic attraction for others.

Likes to complain about his workload, and is unable to function without his morning coffee. One cup is never enough.

Love in the Vines is a contemporary romance novel set in the intoxicating world of wine and food.
Out now on Amazon Kindle – click here to buy your copy (if you have, thank you very much!)

…..”I enjoyed the way the story unfolded against the romantic backdrop of a winery with realistically drawn characters. Definitely a story of the easy drinking variety, perhaps a merlot! A great read for summer.” Amazon Review

Love in the Vines. First Amazon Review.

Nervous? You betcha! (did I just write that?).
As a newbie author, I haven’t mastered the art of not obsessing over when my first book review will be posted. I wouldn’t recommend the waiting, as part of any anti-aging routine.
The anticipation, is just as bad as the wait.
Almost one month to the day after LOVE IN THE VINES hit the virtual bookshelves, a reader has taken the time to post a review on Amazon. I’m absolutely chuffed and grateful. Time is a precious commodity.
Now, as much as I’d love to bleat, being a New Zealander, home to 64 million sheep, I can try to make that unique sound, a 5***** shiner, it’s not.
Rather, it’s a very credible, spot-on, and honest 3*** review.
Sure, the higher numbers make for a better marketing story, and believe you me I’ll be out there spruiking mine one day soon, but today, here’s my first ever sparkly dazzling 3*** review to share.
Ok, for all of you who have moved on from Merlot, I’m thinking Mitchell Pritchard from Modern Family ….I’m going to confess. I love Merlot.
Love in the Vines. E-Book Out Now on Amazon Kindle.
For peeps living in the Southern Hemisphere it’s…”a great read for summer.” For those rugging up for fall, autumn and winter Love in the Vines is a perfect fireside read and a warming accompaniment to any glass of wine.
Love in the Vines is a contemporary romance novel set in the intoxicating world of wine and food. Like wine, love begins in the vines. Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage.

Remember, no Kindle device, no worries. Download Kindle to your PC, Mac, Mobile and Tablet. Click here for links.

LOVE IN THE VINES. Getting to know our winemaker, Matt.

This week I’m going to introduce the main characters from my new book LOVE IN THE VINES. A contemporary romance e-book set in the intoxicating world of wine and food. Yum!
Just in case you’ve missed my earlier blogs, here’s a little teaser about Matt, our handsome, yet moody winemaker.
Leaving behind the city lights, casual late night flings, and the shattered remains of his marriage all Matt yearned for was a peaceful life spent among the fruit laden vines sipping his own award winning wines.

With the ink now dry on his divorce papers, the last thing Matt wanted was to fall in love again…
Reaching over to touch the grapes, Matt said with a shy yet knowing smile. ‘Sugar, sunlight, alchemy; I like to think of it as chemistry and magic conspiring together and, with a lot of love, nurturing and attention, it is all that these little ones need.

LOVE IN THE VINES is Out Now on Amazon Kindle. Only $2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle Device. Don’t worry. Simply download Kindle to your PC or Mac. Click here for more info.

Food. Wine. Love. Betrayal. Love in the Vines. Delicious E-Book Out Now!

LOVE IN THE VINES A romantic feast of food, wine, love and betrayal.

Like a great wine, love begins in the vines. Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage.

From the moment I rushed passed her on the stairs, I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before we connected. This time though, the wedding ring was on the other hand. Not mine, but hers, and Carla was her name.

Taking the plunge from the glamorous world of advertising to the intoxicating world of wine, Matt’s dream of becoming a gifted winemaker had come true. Leaving behind the city lights, casual late night flings, and the shattered remains of his marriage, all Matt yearned for was a peaceful life spent among the fruit laden vines sipping his own award winning wines.

With the ink now dry on his divorce papers, the last thing Matt wanted was to fall in love again…

Reaching over to touch the grapes, Matt said with a shy yet knowing smile. ‘Sugar, sunlight, alchemy; I like to think of it as chemistry and magic conspiring together and, with a lot of love, nurturing and attention, it is all that these little ones need.

While hurriedly dressing I thought about that damn quote, “time stands still for no one.”  Well, it definitely did not stand still for me, a woman, having an affair. Time was against me as I raced back home. Checking for any messages before I left. I was dismayed to see a missed call and a text from my husband. He was letting me know his lunch was over and he’d be home within the hour.

LOVE IN THE VINES is my new E-Book. A delicious weekend read, set in the intoxicating world of wine and food. Available Now to buy on Amazon Kindle only $2.99

Enjoy reading and if you love, like or well…….please feel free to write and post an honest review.  Thanks!

A Sneak Peek. Get to Know Magdalena VandenBerg. Author of Love in the Vines

tulips (1)Mum and Dad left Holland back in ’58 for a more promising life in a little far-flung country known as the ‘land of the long white cloud.’ Dad was the youngest of 13 brothers and sisters, so I can only imagine the huge puddle of tears left on the dock as family waved the ship goodbye from the safe haven of the Port of Rotterdam.
My Dad didn’t have any trouble finding his sea legs. After all, his Dad had spent his life as a fisherman, trawling the freezing cold waters of the North Sea on a boat not built with any home comforts in mind. But, Mum was, and still is a dedicated land lover. Spending days staring out at nothing but the endless blue of the ocean waters, was not the romantic life she had once dreamed of.
Thankfully the demands of a young baby, my older sister, mercifully distracted Mum from the boredom and the perils of being at sea.
Docking in New Zealand with only a couple of suitcases and a few hundred dollars tucked away in a tanned leather travel wallet, a new life for the young family beckoned. Despite desperately missing loved ones, good coffee and salt liquorice, Mum and Dad slowly came to grips with the Queen’s English and the Kiwi way of doing things.
Eventually, they chose to settle in Hawke’s Bay, a small province then known as the fruit-bowl of New Zealand. Within a few years, three little ones, including me, joined my big sister, Jacoba, around the dinner table.
As the youngest child apparently I was an oxymoron. A precious mistake. Regardless, we were all showered with a bewildering mix of Dutch-Kiwi love.
Growing up in an immigrant family and hearing all the stories of “back home” it was impossible to escape the overwhelming curiosity about the world that lay beyond our sheep lined shores.
Back then, New Zealand had a tiny population of 3 million, and a staggering woolen sheep community topping 60+ million. By the time I left high school (college), I had seen enough green grass to last me a lifetime. I craved more.
Fast-forward a few years.
Leaving behind a career in small town advertising and marketing, I packed my bags for the dazzling bright lights of Australia’s va-va-voom city, Sydney.
After a few months of doing a bit of this and that, I landed a fabulous job in an ad agency. Just as our department was about to get an upgrade from using clunky old fashioned word processors to computers, a friend suggested I try for a Flight Attendant position with Qantas.
Raymond from the movie Rain Man, had a few years earlier shared with the cinema paying public, that Qantas was the world’s safest airline. With that proclamation there was nothing for me to worry about.
Lo and behold I got in. After weeks of training, and learning a thousand and one different hairstyles to survive long haul flights I was ready to walk the aisles.
Qantas flew me to places I could only ever dream of visiting. Getting a contract to live and fly out of Italy for a couple of years, was in a word, bliss.
Eventually, the lure of serving chicken or beef at 30,000 feet lost its pluck. Even the glamor of occasionally being able to work in First Class wasn’t enough to keep me in my kangaroo covered uniform.
Thankfully my marketing brain still worked and through tenacity, and I guess being in the right place at the right time, I scored amazing jobs in entertainment marketing.
Specializing in live shows I got to work for the most incredible inspiring, hard-nosed, determined and creative people. The pinnacle was working for UK based entertainment entrepreneur, Harvey Goldsmith and for the creative genius of Cirque du Soleil.
From Sydney, Milano, Roma, USA & Las Vegas, London, Amsterdam….I’m now home reconnecting with my family in little old’ Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. This is where my life begun. And, this is where the rest of my life as a writer is just beginning.

 Like a great wine, love begins in the vines.
Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage.

Magdalena VandenBerg
Author of new Contemporary Romance E-Book Love in the Vines
Out Now to buy on Amazon Kindle
Don’t have a Kindle Device – Simple. Download Kindle to your PC or Mac here

The Ecstasy and Agony of Giving Birth to an E-Book.

Black Knights Flaming Heart

Oh my god, the ecstasy and agony of writing my first proper, grown up e-book LOVE IN THE VINES was, and, still is, exhilarating and fantastically excruciating.

If I was wearing a mood ring the colors would change dramatically from the bright optimism of a hi-5 yellow to a sombre dark purple of, uh-oh what the hell was I thinking. In those doubtful moments an old blog post of mine, Back Yourself, became a force field. After all, I reasoned, if I don’t back myself, who will?

Love in the Vines lived for a significant amount of time inside my head, it was like having an imaginary TV switched on 24/7. I could hear the on-going dialogue and my mind’s eye could picture the different scenario’s. The internal conversations going on inside the privacy of my own head space left me feeling a little bewildered, loco even.

The only thing was, unlike real-life, I couldn’t find the remote to hit the off switch. Love in the Vines came everywhere with me. While out running, doing my Spin Cycle classes, shopping, eating, shampooing my hair and, I’m sure it even crept into my dream sleep. My new BHSF (best head space friend) was with me all time.

I’m guessing there’s loads of you who completely whole-heartedly 100% understand. When you’re doing something you love and feel passionate about, you can’t help but feel deeply connected. Like it’s in your DNA. It’s what you do. This thing that you’re doing makes you feel like you’re actually living your purpose.

Transferring the words from my head onto virtual paper was exhilarating. A torrent of words flowed to form sentences, pages and chapters. I’d read somewhere that when writing your first draft, don’t think too much, just do. Loads of writing. That’s exactly what I did.

The same article told me that your first draft would be awful. Chock full of grammar errors, and nonsensical sentences. I can only imagine for an English Teacher, my first draft was   red pen nirvana, with markings, crosses and slashes galore. It wasn’t pretty, I was definitely typing faster than I could think. But, I could see the potential.

What it needed was time, love, nurturing and a truck load of attention. Hours, days and weeks were spent writing, re-working, adding, deleting, changing, agonizing over words, weak spots, sex scenes, you name it. Slowly but surely, I felt more confident in the story I was creating. Until one day, my Mother wisely said, “Magdalena dear, it’s time to let it go.” Code for…publish it, get it on Amazon. Stat.

But, wait a minute Mum, if I do that other people will read my book (really!). Gosh, that means they’re going to love, like or god forbid loathe it.  Oh no, on top of everything else, now I’m going to have to learn the art of wearing a thick skin….

my first contemporary romance e-book is available now for you to buy, read, love, like or…. from Amazon Kindle.

If you already have a copy and, have read it or have it bookmarked to read. Please feel free to post an honest review on Amazon. Thank you.