First Draft Edit. Five Things to Ponder.

A worn down building in Mexico sporting a "For Rent" notice in spanish.Oh, the joys of reading through the first draft of your next book.
It’s a little like looking through a dilapidated old fixer upper of a house, then laying out your hard-earned dosh (that’s kiwi speak for dollars) to buy it, before kissing goodbye the next chunk of your life to the mistress of renovations.
Despite some seriously cringe-worthy moments of “did I really write that” – the first draft of my NaNoWriMo inspired “Love Entwined” is not what I would call truly awful. But, there is no denying, it is definitely in need of a truck load of love and attention.
That’s my way of saying it needs work. And lots of it.
Turning the pages, I find myself thinking…“well, the bones of the story is there – yep at least it’s got good bones.”
How many times have you heard a designer, architect or a “move that bus” TV guy talk about the good bones theory? For some reason, if a house, castle, shed, or whatever else is left standing, isn’t derelict and destined for doomsville, it’s all down to its “good bones.”
With that theory in mind, there is hope for my first draft.
It doesn’t need to be knocked down, totally demolished, and rebuilt into a fantastically spectacular book. Rather, it’s crying out for a good old-fashioned dose of lots of hard out editing work.
With careful and constructive renovations, along with what I hope could only be termed creative flair, the good bones will get meat on them while morphing into a story worth telling. And worthy of my reader’s valuable outlay and time.
Along with the never ending search for spelling mistakes, here’s a list of the top five things I’m paying particular attention to while reading/editing my way through the first draft of Love Entwined.

  1. The Characters. Their development, and the cultivation of their personalities and roles, along with their introduction into the story.
  2. Two timing adjectives. To quote The View Outside blog “they don’t need to travel around in pairs.”
  3. Stripping and peeling back the scenes and dialogue to get to the heart of the matter. That’s a nice way of saying “less is more.” Cut, slash, and toss out what’s not needed.
  4. Emotional connection. Does the emotion and tension resonate and strike a chord without going overboard and sounding too cheesy?
  5. Pace. Is the story crawling along at a snail’s pace, or is it sprinting faster than Usain Bolt blitz’s the 100m?

Magdalena’s e-book Love in the Vines is now available on Amazon Kindle. Love Entwined is the sequel, and is due out early-mid 2013.
Love in the Vines
is a contemporary romance novel 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.

 

My Weekend Essentials

Here’s a few of my fave weekend must-haves. Note, these are in no particular order. What are yours?

weekend essentials 2Are you looking for a relaxing e-read set in the intoxicating world of wine and food? Try my new e-book LOVE IN THE VINES it’s out now 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 is a contemporary romance novel best enjoyed with a glass of wine.

LOVE IN THE VINES “a fast-moving, sexy story. You will enjoy reading it. You’ll be asking for a sequel!” 4* Amazon Review

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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I’m Chuffed. Lisa Day Gives Love in the Vines 4 Stars

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E-BOOK REVIEW BY LISA DAY
LOVE IN THE VINES by Magdalena VandenBerg
Magdalena’s story begins with Carla. Carla suffers from what many woman have experienced the what I called the ‘I need to break out of this rut.’ She does a good job making you understand the needs and emotions at play here. I know because years ago I had those same emotional feelings.
‘Love in the vines’ will carry you along the journey. For some readers her openness might be a tad to real. But isn’t that want a good writer should do. To make you understand and still be a little uneasy.
You can see how Matt’s history has brought him to the point where as the grapes ripened on the vine his attention to Carla blossomed.
You might not make the same choices as Carla and Matt, but you’ll see not only how it can happen but why.
If you are a wine drinker Magdalena throws in an interesting array of wine growing and making facts. So whether you drink Pinot Noir, Syah, or wine from a box. Hold your glass up for ‘Love in the Vines.’

For more on Lisa Day, and to read her views, click here

Thank you Lisa!

Food, wine, love and betrayal. Like wine, love begins in the vines. Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage. Love in the Vines is a contemporary romance novel set in the intoxicating world of wine and food.
LOVE IN THE VINES is Out Now and available to buy US$2.99 on Amazon Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle device – download Kindle to your PC, Mac or mobile. It’s easy – I did it!

NaNoWriMo. Say What?


About a month ago I was tweeting away when a mangled unusual word caught my eye. NaNoWriMo. Being always the last to know about most things, I wasn’t surprised by the fact I had absolutely no idea what it meant.
As you probably know the twitter feed moves at a gazillion miles per hour, and if you don’t speed read the 140 characters, or quickly move to favorite your well, favorite tweet, it’s lost in the endless scroll of Twitter soundbites.
Patience, and effort is required to search for the “I blinked and I missed it” tweets that no matter what, you just have to read.
So I spent the next five minutes finding that 70’s disco crossed with someone who might drink out of a brown paper bag sounding word.
This twitter follower of mine had just signed up for National November Writers Month, and was freaking out at the monumental task of climbing the 50,000 word mountain.
50,000 words to be written during the month of November.
1,667 words per day for thirty days straight.
I googled NaNoWriMo. And without thinking it through I signed up too. (Got to love a rhyme).
Doing it backwards as I do, I then began to read the site. Now, it was my turn to freak out. 50,000 words in one month, 30 days. Oh boy.
Apparently though, I could take comfort in the fact that hundreds and thousands of writers from around the world are NaNoWriMo’s – at least I would only be “virtually” alone.
I quickly scrolled down to the “Tips to get from 0K to 50,000k” – and I visibly relaxed at the first line of Point #1 – “It’s ok to not know what you’re doing.” I felt like I was home.
The site offers all kinds of motivating, inspirational and practical stuff to achieve the 50,000 word goal. I was impressed to learn NaNoWriMo is run by the Office of Letters and Light. Really, I had no idea what that meant, other than thinking it was possibly where the highest order of Trekkies gathered.
Now, I know they are a non profit charity, and believe in “Ambitious Acts of the Imagination.” Cool.
I’m stoked my small donation contributes to this… “When you donate to the Office of Letters and Light, you help bring free creative writing programs to nearly 350,000 kids and adults in approximately 100 countries, 2,000 classrooms, 200 libraries, and 500 NaNoWriMo regions every year.”
Our region of NaNoWriMo’s had a catch up yesterday at a local book store. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it, and was disappointed not to get to know other WriMo’s. From the stats, it looks like our region – New Zealand Taupo and Hawke’s Bay has 69 members, and today we’ve collectively written about 400,000 words.
I’m proud to say, I’ve contributed 35,500 of them. 12 days to go. 14,500 words remaining to finish the first draft of my Love in the Vines sequel.
I’m so close, I can already see my ending. Let’s see if I detour along the way.
The hardest thing about being a WriMo? Resisting the urge to edit. It’s driving me crazy.
If you like to write, or always wanted to have a go at writing, and haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo – go to their website and check it out.
I’m loving the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month. Sure, there is a deadline looming, but it’s not so daunting knowing thousands of others have hit the wall too, and are working through the pain to type and write their way to the finishing line.

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 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.