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For those of you who don’t already know, I am starting something very special at the end of this month.

Teaching.

Yep, in between an already over-subscribed schedule, I’ve joined the team at WANA International and slipped in a few classes on fiction writing.

In the past I have helped writers via email, but find this method extremely limiting and time consuming.

So What’s different about the WANA method?

I’m really excited about WANA teaching. Mainly because of the awesome team on hand, but also because everything is done on-line via Webinar. This means distance between student and instructor isn’t an issue, plus the WANA method enables a much more personal approach. It gives me the opportunity to interact with you guys, verbally. For you, it’s like being in a classroom – only in the comfort of your own home. Perfect!

There will be opportunities to speak to each other and ask questions. Plus, the class is recorded so you don’t have to worry about scribbling down any notes. You can just sit back, relax, drink a cup of coffee, and absorb. And, I may even throw in the odd competition 🙂

On 30th June I’ll be holding a class on ‘Dialogue Only Your Characters Would Say. This will cover common mistakes, basic do’s and dont’s, and all the tools you’ll need to give your character their own ‘voice’.

On 14th July, you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to create your characters. The class, ‘Getting To Know Your Characters‘, will take you through the stages of character creation and show you how to inject them with life. Your readers will love them!

And last but not least, ‘From Idea to Storywill be held on 21st July I’ll be explaining how to take your idea and turn it into the full length fiction novel you’ve always dreamed of writing, with

I am so excited about WANA.

As well as my classes, there are many more subjects available from the crème de la crème of instructors.

So, what are you waiting for? Get over to WANA and book a class.

 

 

If you want more of me, try checking out FacebookTwitterGoogle+,GoodreadsKloutand Linkedin

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James Lipton and the Actors Studio did it for fun with the actors…..Now, I’m doing it for fun with the writers.
 
 
Ooooh, it’s all turning romantic on the 30 Second Interview today.
 
Why?
Because Mills & Boon author, Nicola Marsh, has taken the plunge (all the way from Melbourne, Australia I might add), and answered the famous ten questions.
 
Okay, so as always, let us start at the beginning and find out how one can go from wanting nothing more than a career in Journalism – and ending as a  physiotherapist.
 
During Nicola’s tenth school year, she embarked on some work experience in a physiotherapy department at a rehab hospital. A girl after my own heart, she admits to not even knowing what physiotherapy was up until that point. But she absolutely loved it. And after four years at university, she happily skipped into a career within the health industry…..where she remained for thirteen years.
 
“I’m going to write a book one day”. Ha! How many wannabe writers have that nagging voice sitting on their shoulder? Well, Nicola decided to do something about it.
 
After reading an article on speed dating, Nicola wrote her first book, The Tycoon’s Dating Deal. In 2003, she not only sold this book to Harlequin Romance, but in 2004 it won the CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Harlequin Romance. Not bad going for your first novel.
 
Since then, Nicola has published a whopping 32 novels, selling over 3 million copies. I think it’s safe to say she is a firm favorite with Harlequin Mills and Boon Romance readers.
 
And it doesn’t stop there. Nicola has racked up a mountain of awards, including Bookscan, USA Today and Waldenbooks bestseller.
 
Now, I’ve done my maths. Okay, you guys know when I’m lying – I used a calculator, but I know that Nicola averages four novels a year. That’s a (wait while I hit a few more buttons) book written every three months! Heck, it takes me that long to plot my story and characters.
 
How on earth did this wife of one and mother of two find the time to answer these questions?
 
1.  What is your favorite word?  Mummy
 
2. What is your least favorite word? School-fees
 
3. What turns you on?   Flirting
 
4. What turns you off?    Sleaze
 
5. What sound do you love?   Laughter
 
6. What sound do you hate? Alarm
 
7. What is your favorite curse word?   Damn 😉
 
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?   Hairdressing
 
9.  What profession would you not like to do?  Politician
 
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “Angel!”
 
 
You can purchase Top 5 Best South Asian Fiction 2011, Busted In Bollywood here.
 
Special Ops short story Tag Team is currently free at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, all Romance Ebooks, and Smashwords!  If you like sparks, sizzle & suspense, this read is for you!
 
And, watch out for Not The Marrying Kind, a marriage of convenience story set in Vegas and featuring a desert bad boy made good. Release date to be confirmed shortly (will be within the next 6 months.)
 
Contact Information

For more information regarding Nicola Marsh, please check out her website, Facebook, twitter, blog.

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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I recently read a blog post ‘What Makes a Male Character Swoon Worthy?’, and loved it so much, I asked the writer, Jillian Dodd, if she would like to write more on the actions of the perfect man; for me.

Over to you, Jillian:

In my book, That Boy, the main love interest in the book is a boy named Phillip. Phillip is pretty dreamy. A lot of readers ask me if a man like Phillip really exists. I always have to answer yes. Phillip shares many characteristics with my own husband. In the upcoming sequel, That Wedding, Phillip shares a pros and cons list he made when deciding if he should tell his best friend that he was in love with her.

I got to thinking about my husband’s pros. So many of the things he does just make me melt.

He was so proud when our daughter was born

He’s the best kisser. Ever. We had a scheduled first date. I had met another guy that I was kinda going crazy about and almost cancelled our date*. I’m so glad I didn’t. When he kissed me, I knew.

He rubs my face to relax me.

He lets me pout to get my way.

He’s okay with the fact that our daughter has him wrapped around her little finger.
 
His muscles.

The way I feel safe in his arms.

How he always rescues me; Flat tires, snow storms, big spiders.

I’m horrible to buy presents for. I snoop. I look at our online banking. I try to trick the kids into telling me, but somehow he manages to surprise me every year.
 
He’s always warm.
 
He always gives me his jacket or sweatshirt if I’m cold, even if it means he gets cold.
 
He’s like my very own Ken doll. He lets me pick out all his suit, shirt, and tie combos.
 
When we were dating, we went snow skiing. It was my first time, and it was super cold. I hate cold. He took my mittens off on top of the mountain and blew warm air into them to warm my hands up.

Enjoying life with my brother at a Husker Bowl game

He’s a busy stressed executive, but he always puts our family first.

He lets me wear his sweatshirts when I’m sick.

He always smells amazing. Specifically his neck.
 
He lets me sleep in late.

He supports my wild ideas.

He didn’t laugh at me when I told him I was going to write a book. He made me finish.
 
He brings me real hot chocolate, the steamed milk yummy kind, in bed.
 
He drives me around to see Christmas lights every year, even though he doesn’t get the big deal.

He makes me laugh.

He puts gas in my car. My car is always empty.

He takes my car to get washed.
 

With my daughter at the lake, after she caught her first fish and she wanted to eat it. He talked her into throwing it back after the photo.

He orders pizza for the kids when I’m tired.

He lets me take really long baths with no interruptions.

He spends numerous hours with my son, working on his go kart, so my son can live his dream.

He buys me chocolate.

He looks equally sexy in a suit as he does in a tshirt.

He loves football as much as I do.

He celebrates life.

He never lets a waiter take his order first. Ladies always order first. Same thing for doors.

He is the dish fairy at our house. I hate emptying the dishwasher and love it when I open it up and the dishwasher is empty. He always tells me the dish fairy came.

He folds a perfect towel. Mine are always messy, whereas his look perfect.

With my son, spending lots of time so he can pursue his dream of racing professionally

He cleans out the shower drain.

He sold his race car to buy my engagement ring.

He doesn’t put up with my shit.

We’ve lived in many homes and in numerous cities, but it never matters. Home is where he is.

.

*You can read that story at http://jilliandodd.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/first-kisses/

For more information on Jillian, check out the following:

Website www.jilliandodd.net
Twitter www.twitter/JillianDodd
Blog: http://www.jilliandodd.wordpress.com


If you want more of me, you can also find me on
FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

So, what special things does your partner do for you? How many of the above can you tick off? What qualities do you find attractive in a man? What/who is your ideal partner? Let me know. Let’s see if we can find someone more dreamy that Jillian’s hubby 🙂

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A few weeks back, Karen McFarland asked if I could guest on her blog. And I thought you guys may like to read it, too.

Three years ago, I made a decision. To step away from writing articles and write that ‘book’ I’d always planned to write.

Okay, that wasthe easy part sorted out.

I sat down, and for a couple of months scribbled in my note pad and tapped away on my laptop. I gave my finished story to friends, all of who liked it, and began plotting the sequel.

Then I met Kristen Lamb.

Kristen stumbled upon the first chapter, which I’d posted on a blogger site, and proceeded to hunt me down. She pointed out where I was going wrong and offered to help me. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

We stripped back my story to its very core, and I wrote a background for my antagonist – something I had never done before.

Kristen’s reply, after I nervously emailed it across to her. “Crap, do it again.”

And again I did. Several times in fact. Until, finally everything clicked into place and I created a psychopathic alter-ego.

  Be wary if Kristen invites you over for dinner.

I’m very good friends with Kristen now. She has the most amazing way of making you pay for her kindness (see picture). I’ve since written two teleplays and currently adapting one into a novel. I’ve plotted my second book, and lead WWBC Team Delta. I apply the Warrior Writer method to every story I plot and wouldn’t consider doing it any other way.

So, without further ado, here is the way to write – Warrior Writer style.

Your Story

First and foremost – you must have an idea of what your book is about. Knowing the genre is extremely helpful, and what your protagonist wants and who’s trying to stop he/she from getting it will also make things a lot easier for you. 

Log Line

Once you know the basis of your story, you can write that log line. Now, don’t be scared. They are easier to write if you follow this simple rule:

An ADJECTIVE NOUN (protagonist) must ACTIVE VERB the ANTAGONIST before  SOME REALLY HORRIBLE THING HAPPENS (stopping the protagonist from reaching her goal).

See my post on Log Lines

Backgrounds

A background is a little like a biography. Imagine you were writing your own life story. You’d start from the moment you were born and take the reader up to the current day. Well, a background is the same thing. Write all about your character from the moment they were born, right up to the moment you are about to start your story.

This is a fantastic way to get to know your character, and give you time to flesh them out. Once done, you will have no trouble writing them, or writing their dialogue.

Backgrounds – Who To Start With?

Antagonist – Why? Because they are the biggest problem. Without them in our story, we have NO story.

Protagonist – Yep, you’ve guessed it. Now do the same for your protagonist. Oh, and don’t make them too perfect. Flaws are good! Flaws make us human.

Love Interest and Supporting Cast – Mentors, Minions, Allies and Love Interests all fit under this section. Note: These are characters that aid your main characters. I’m not talking about the guy who shows up in one scene and delivers the post.

Your Story

You need to ‘bullet point’ your story from beginning to end. Walk yourself through your story step by step. It’s better to hit your dead ends now so you can re-plot, rather than get 40k words in and realise you have to axe 10,000 of them.

Start with:

Normal World
Inciting Incident
Turning Point Act I into Act II
Turning Point Act II into Act III
Darkest Moment
Dénouement 

Get to this point and voila! You have a story to write.

I know most of you may read this and think “Huh? What a waste of time.”

I’ve met people like this and guess what? They are still at the same stage they were a year or so ago. My team mate Piper Bayard and I are living proof this method works. Agents have requested fulls on both our manuscripts.

It’s like building a house. Do the prep-work: dig footings, add cement, lay bricks, and your building will be standing for decades to come.

Good luck with your writing.

Now, let me know if you are a ‘plot and plan‘ writer, or if you just ‘make it up’ as you go along. What works best for you? Have you ever written yourself into a corner?

Want more? You can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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Be aware  the next time you go to dinner or have a drink with someone. You may just be telling them exactly how and what you feel without opening your mouth.

How? Body language. Let’s take your arms, for example. They are chatty little things.

Usually, I have to do something stupid to catch a guy’s eye. Then I flutter my eye lashes and curl my index finger towards him. Then, I get out the lasso and drag him towards me. Now, it appears I don’t have to consciously do anything! My arms will do it all for me. How cool is that?

So, how do we do these unconscious acts? I’ll tell you.

Touching Your Arm

So there you are, standing at the bar when a guy (or girl) approaches you. Then, while chatting, they touch your arm. And, just to be clear, were not talking about them wrestling it behind your back (like I often do before forcing said person into my trunk). No, I mean the more subtle way they accidentally brush their hand against yours.

What does it mean? Well, if they do this, then it means they like you and want your full attention.

Stroking Their Arm

What if, while talking to you, this woman (men don’t usually do this), begins to stroke their own …. arm? (Come on, lets keep this out of the gutter). If you’re a guy, then congratulations – you’ve scored because it is the womans way of subtley letting you know she wants you to touch her.

Arm Around The Chair

A classic for that first date at the cinema. I think it has happened to everyone at some point or another and doesn’t really need an explanation. But did you know if the arm is kept there, especially after a conversation has finished, it is a sure sign that the person is ‘marking his territory’. And we all agree it’s a much better way than a dog does it.

Leaning forward elbows on knees

By this, we mean from a sitting position; the person leans closer to you and rests their elbows on their knees. It’s another sign that someone is flirting with you. Only, with this signal you have to be careful they aren’t just hard of hearing.

Elbow Touching

Hmmm….Not quite exactly what I meant.

Being touched on this area means you’d better have ex-foliated all that hard skin away!

The elbow is a safe way for someone to show they like you and want your attention. Because the elbow isn’t classed an intimate part of the body, it is a subtle sign and if a stranger did it, we probably wouldn’t mind – unless it were in a darkened alley at the time.

Showing The Wrist or Forearm

This is a soft and vulnerable area of the body and classed as erotic. Usually a sign shown by the female when she is interested in dating.

So, what arm signs do you do when trying to show a person you like them? Are you even conscious you are doing it? Have you ever been aware of someone showing these signs to you? Let me know.

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Er, yep. I’ve got the ‘ump big time and my arms are tightly folded in front of my chest. There is no way I am budging on this one!

Or, are my arms folded tightly to my chest because it’s ten below freezing and I look like an icicle?

What exactly do the actions of our arms reveal about us?

How can we tell what someone is thinking by what their arms are doing?

Confident people sit and sprawl their arms out to make themselves a ‘big’ as possible while, when we feel bored or low we try to make ourselves seem ‘smaller’ by hiding our hands and keeping our arms tight to our body. Seems simple, right?

But is it?

Here’s one example where a movement can mean two different things.

Arms Crossed

Above we have two men, both with their arms crossed… And yet both portray a different ‘feel’.

Crossing arms is one way a writer could show a character as being upset or angry. Afterall, isn’t that the image we really conjure up when told someone has their arms crossed?

The man on the left looks how a reader may envisage this. But, the man on the right looks the complete opposite and appears very happy and relaxed.

If we take in to account ALL the other body language signs, smiles, eyes, stance, we can see two very different images.

Arms Crossed, Fists Clenched

Photo from Sapientology

Anyone feel like they’re about to be punched? No? Just me then.

Steven Aitchison puts this down to a behaviour mostly used by children who do not get what they want or are in trouble for something. We grown-ups tend to carry this trait through to adult life.

Hugging Yourself

Probably doesn’t come as much or a surprise that women often hug themselves and men usually don’t.

But why do we do this? Because we all want to feel comfortable and secure just like our parents made us feel when we were children?

Photo from Forbes

In public, or in large groups of people, we try to make our sense of unease or vulnerability less obvious. We do this with a partial hug: leaving one arm at our side while the other arm crosses our body to hold it.

One hug I think we all find distressing is seeing children hugging their knees. It depicts being scared, insecure, frightened….probably why it is so successful for charities.

Arm’s Behind The Head

Photo from Superstock

How confident and relaxed are you!

Lean back in that chair and watch as the others around you squirm and panic. Or, while sitting, stretch your arms out along the backs of the seats. How intimidating and amost always a stance adapted by men. But, is it a sign of being cocky or just feeling at ease?

In front of a group of strangers, then arguably ‘cocky’ springs to mind. But, if in the company of friends, this looks no more than a man feeling comfortable and at ease with his mates.

Raised Arms

This picture says it all. Hunky men are found on the beach….No, oh well.

We all throw our arms in the air when we have no worries, no fears or concerns, and basically are very, very happy with life.

Of course, some people do it when frustrated, but they usually have a pile of ripped papers in their hands at the time.

Now, throw your arms in the air and take a deep breath. See how you feel straight afterwards.

Next week, we’ll continue this and look at the arm signals used when flirting so you guys can head down to the nearest bar and try them out.

But for now, I want to know if you threw your arms in the air and how it made you feel. What other arm signals do you use (email all rude jokes to me directly) for your characters when writing? What do you feel are the obvious arm signals? What is your favorite arm signal? Jeez, I really am setting myself up for some naughty comments.

If you want more of me, try checking out: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramYou Tube, and Linkedin.

Join my email list and be first to hear about upcoming releases and offers.

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Last week I was listening to Heart Essex Radio and the realisation that many traditional names we once used are being abandoned for much more ‘funky’ ones.

For example, David, Jean, Margaret, Sally, Theresa, John and Tracy are a thing of the past and being replaced with names such as Mercedes, Chantelle and River.

This got me thinking about the names we, as writers, choose for our characters. Does the traditional ‘us’ stick with traditional names for our heroes, or like the totally normal named David and Victoria Beckham,  do we take this opportunity to go a little crazy and name our little darlings Brooklyn, Cruze, Romeo and Harper?

Maybe he just found out what his name is.

According to the Bounty Parenting Club, children nowadays are being named purely because their parents feel the wackier the name, the more their children will stand out.

I gues that does have an element of truth to it. Afterall, look at movies such as the Step Up franchise and its leading men. Tyler, Chase and, okay, Luke (I’ll let the last one slide), are not what you would call traditional names. Or are they?

75% of parents who choose traditional names for their children, such as Jennifer and Robert believe these ‘extreme’ parents who insist names like Armani are cool are setting their children up for a school life of misery and bullying.

But, if you watch shows like Disney’s ‘Suite Life on Deck’, you’ll see characters named London, Bailey and Woody. Again, not the normal names you usually see on a school register, but also not characters who are tormented by their peers.

The 1995 film ‘Clueless’, shows the protagonist as a school girl named Cher and someone who is not only caring and popular, but also who proves to be extremely smart.

But, back to Bounty’s poll. Six in every 10 people reckon a good strong name is sensible and the best way to go, and parents which proceed to use these outrageous names are nothing by selfish and not considering their children at all.

Disagree?

Hmmm…. Bruce Willis’ portrayal of John Mclane in Die Hard. Now you don’t get much stronger than that. Well, okay, James Bond played by Daniel Craig.  All traditional names which conjure up handsome features, rugged jaw line and muscles to die for – *slaps face* quick, change the subject before I pass out.

And, just to prove how wacky they are getting, here Bounty’s “Most Unusual Names of the Decade” list:

1.  Shy
2.  Unity
3.  Bean
4.  Zowie
5.  Puppy
6.  Ice
7.  Victory
8.  Porsche
9.  D’Andre
10. Denim
11. Diesel
12. Armani
13. Rooney
14. Bowie
15. Cobain
16. Stone
17. Gift
18. Echo
19. Heaven
20. Maroon

So, what do you name your characters? Do you go for the traditional, strong names, or do you take a more unusual and exotic stance? Do you think that traditional names are more stronger? Do you take into consideration the era your character was born and the most popular names at that time? Do you know anyone who has named their children Romeo, Cruze or Levi? Let me know. I want to find the most wierdest name EVER!

You can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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