Building Characters we like, love, loathe, and detest.

man textAbout a year ago, I began a long lasting relationship with my keyboard. Before I locked myself in a room for days on end, I debated over whether to go back to school to learn what it takes, and means to be a writer. Or, to dive head first into the deep-end of the word pool, and to well, start writing.
Being a bit of a doer, I reasoned I’d be happier, and would learn more by getting stuck in and doing.
Choosing the latter, I’ve shown up every day to write my blogs, and e-books. Note here, I’m not counting as writing facebook posts as legit writing! So far the word count is shooting into the 150,000 stratosphere – admittedly I’m probably the only one impressed by this….
By diving write in (yes, that was intentional!) I’ve been busy writing. LOVE IN THE VINES my first contemporary romance has been written, published, and is available in all e-book formats. And, thanks to the inspirational NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November, the first draft of Love Entwined, the sequel to Love in the Vines, has been written.
At this stage I’m a one stop shop – writer, indie publisher, marketer, distributor, PR person, web designer, social media specialist, blogger, cat lady in training, runner, and wine drinker. Everything I didn’t know, and needed to know is only ever a click away. I’m constantly blown away by the amount of online information available – the wealth and depth of it is staggering, and mostly free.
Of late, I’ve been researching about character development, as no matter what genre you’re writing, building credible believable characters is the lifeblood of fiction.
I want to learn tips, and tools to dig deeper and get my hand dirty to create, and nurture the characters I write.

  • What can I do as a writer to invest more into the DNA of my characters?
  • How can I dig deeper to really get to know them, as well as I know myself?
  • What is at the heart of their emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, quirks, likes, and dislikes?
  • What drives their passions?
  • What is it about them that makes them unique, and memorable? Is it the way they walk, their habits, or silence…
  • What’s the twitter sound bite you would use to describe one of your characters? Remember – there’s a 140 character limit!
  • And, the probing goes on, until I guess I have a character dossier that tells me more than the questions found on a consensus form.
  • Unveiling their strengths, flaws, weaknesses, mistakes, sorrow, joy, motives and manipulations builds them into characters to like, love, loathe, detest, or feel only pity and indifference.

There are loads of websites offering all sorts of character writing advice. Completing a character chart is just one of the tools I’ve found useful – for an example, click this Character Chart
Another, is a website called homework tips – this posting on how to write a Character Analysis is loaded with fabulous pointers.
If you already know all this stuff, and are looking for a refresher both are worthwhile reads.

If you have any helpful character tips you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below.

Love in the Vines Cover Master 72Here’s a snap shot of the characters I created for Love in the Vines – Food, wine, love and betrayal. Like wine, love begins in the vines. Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage.

Carla
Married her childhood sweetheart and now stays at home and raise her two children. Bored by domestic routine, Carla is determined to return to work. Serendipity knocked, and the door to a job at a local prestigious winery opened. Her life as she once knew it soon drained like an empty wine glass. Only to be refilled by the irresistible lure of the man with the green eyes.
“Now feeling like a full time appliance, it was plug me in and I’ll do it, with one day repeating into the next.”
“Pardon the pun, you’ve brought me out of my shell. Consider me a lover… of oysters.”
“Time stands still for no one let alone a woman in the……”

The Husband
Happily married to Carla and considered by all to be a loving son, and the perfect husband and father. Handsome, and happy-go-lucky, he is an “easy to please” guy, and is incredibly proud of his family. He’s the guy everyone likes to love. Yet, underneath his kind-hearted demeanor is a calculating man who doesn’t suffer fools.
“If anyone catches you drinking before work, they’ll assume you’ve got a problem!”
“The phone felt like it was burning in my hand.”

Matt – The Winemaker (Vintner)
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 works like a magnetic pull on others. He likes nothing more than to complain about his workload, and is unable to function without his morning coffee. Some would say, he’s obsessive about coffee.
“I’m the first to admit I’m a difficult self-centred bastard who squirms at the mention of being a team player.”
“Matt, go to France and our marriage is over.”
“This is where the magic happens, like great wine love begins in the vines.”

Frankie
Carla’s boss, and has worked at the winery for a number of years. Bright, stylish, and a hard worker she is highly attuned to everything that goes on around her. Frankie will stand in the way of anyone who tries to cross her. The one person she despises the most is Matt. Frankie is not married, but has a boyfriend.
“Sorry, I feel like we’ve just interrupted a moment…”
“…..If she thinks I’m going to buy that story……it’s so riddled with holes you can see right through it.”
“Maybe I’ll wade right into their murky waters and do a little fishing for trouble.”
“Oh God I’m doing this, because I hate being lied to.”

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.

End.

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. 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.

Positive Power Surge.

By nature I’m an eternal optimist; not quite Pollyanna but definitely a borderline Ollyanna. Despite always looking for the proverbial silver lining occasionally a shadow of doubt tries  to cast aspersions on my otherwise positively cloud free day.

Usually loud and obnoxious, negative thoughts aren’t known to be shy. These big bad words forming as sentences are on steroids and show no remorse when muscling in to bulldoze flat any chance of a rosy positive healthy outlook. Open the door and negativity will barge in to take over any precious thinking space and never leave.

With negativity you’ve got yourself a guaranteed life long frenemy.

Sound familiar?

Switching the pesky and persuasive negative whiney conversation threatening to settle inside your head to positive thinking takes no more than a conscious effort to change.

You have to want to replace negative with positive.

If you’re quite happy wallowing in shallow negatively charged waters or love the cool embrace of “I’m not good enough or I can’t” – I’m pretty sure this post isn’t your cup of tea.

This snippet of a typical power struggle may sound familiar. A simple dose of will and conscious desire swings the balance of power back into the warm fuzzies zone. Note, in my world, the positive always gets the last word.

-ve: You’re no good vs +ve I  am excellent.
You can’t do that vs Yes I can. I will try.
Other people are better than you vs I learn from others who are more experienced. I am interested in being the best person I can be.
You’re a loser vs Sorry, the L word is not in my vocabulary.  Every day I strive to reach my potential. If I fail. I learn.
Don’t be silly, you’ll never make it vs I’m already on my way.
Who’s going to believe in you vs Well for starters, I am.
So, you’re feeling a tad insecure today? Well, I’ll make you feel worse. vs For a moment I had the wobbles but right now and for the rest of the day I’ve decided to feel great.

With most of us spending our days navigating through choc-a-block schedules backed up by a page long to-do list we need every ounce of positive energy to bolster us through the demands of everyday living. Negativity is quite happy to sit for days on end eating away at your progress, self confidence, spirit and overall sense of well being, its definitely baggage we don’t need. Why indulge it.

The last thing negative thoughts want is you on the podium of success. They’re happiest when squashing dreams and aspirations. Disconnect from the negative. Switch to positive connections.  It’s a no brainer.

Having just written and self-published Minnie Moo The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Cat, I’m onto my next Minnie Moo story as well as Love in the Vines. Negativity can often be found lurking on my – my life my way doorstep. It’s still sitting out there languishing in the cold. My door remains firmly closed.

My life my way takeaway for; Positive Power Surge, “Plug into positive thinking”

Living my life my way

Not wishy washy but real and definitely not the next one hit wonder song. My life My Way is me saying sayonara, arrividerci, good-bye to my old working life and opening the door to the possibility I can live my life my way while pursuing my dream of becoming a self published author.

Sounds simple huh? Well, so far it’s been a hair-raising-white-knuckle roller coaster ride,  and, I love it! I wouldn’t trade places for the world. With bucket loads of self determination, focus, commitment, passion, friends & family and a true desire to kick any shady whiny thoughts of ‘I want to go shopping, I can’t do this anymore’ to the curb I’m getting there bit by bit, day by day. Slowly but surely.

This blog is a way of keeping me honest while I do the hard yards required to live my life my way and not run away to hide every time it gets too darn hard. Hopefully you’ll be inspired along the way.

Follow my ups and downs as I peel back the layers of what it takes to make the most out of our every day and visualizing dreams into reality. No matter how big or small taking the first step to live the rest of your life is well, the first step.
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