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Come support the Soroptimist International of Elk Grove! Live music, comedians, martinis, appetizers and raffels!
You’ll even have a chance to win an autographed hardcover set of my first three books from their raffle!
Don’t miss out!
For more information about this amazing organization, please visit their website at http://www.soroptimistelkgrove.org
R. J. Machado De Quevedo
Have you ever wondered how can you make your readers identify with your character(s) or sympathize with them? Here are 7 tips you can use! Earlier last year I went to a Sisters In Crime writer’s conference and one of the presenters was James Rollins. He listed seven fundamental tricks to accomplish just this. he himself, had learned them from another author. It is only fitting that I too, pass them on to any aspiring writers out there!
What I’ve done here is incorporated my own experience and expertise into the seven basic principles and expounded upon them to bring more depth and understanding to the these ideas. I’ve even rephrased the principles.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to incorporate all 7 into your book(s) to be effective! Two or three should be sufficient. You can of course, mix a variety of them up into a series of books if you wanted to. In other words, try not to use the same tactics in each book so as to not become predictable or ordinary. And remember, your first priority is to be able to engage the reader. These tips will help you do that. Your second priority is to carry out the plot.
Seven tricks to building a bond between your character(s) and your readers:
- You can have other characters in your book like your main character(s) or express love, affection, respect or goodwill towards them.
- When the reader encounters these positive attitudes and opinions from other characters toward your main character(s), it attaches to the reader and influences their own feelings toward your characters.
- Much like in real life when we hear high praise and the “good gossip” about a person before we’ve even meet them for ourselves, we might often find that we already “like” them by the time we meet them because those feeling have already been established. It becomes easy to develop a relationship and much quicker as well.
- If we hear negative comments (like the “bad” kind of gossip), we tend to not have good feelings toward that person, even if we never meet them and even if they have never actually done anything bad or rude to us. It is simply human nature to develop an offense or negative impression of that person, even if we don’t intend to. It colors our trust or initial judgment of them.
- On a side note, this is also why it is so important to always try to portray yourself in public the way you’d wish your professional reputation to be known. Because people do talk. A lot. And you never know who is watching, listening or the one you are being rude to. They may know someone who one day, you wish you knew. And if that person gets an ear full of negative tid-bits, chances are, you just shot yourself in the foot.
- If possible, try to write your character so that they come across a little funny or humorous. Whether it is slap stick humor in a scene or adding some flippantly delivered or sarcastic remarks or response.
- Everyone loves a good laugh or a chuckle from a witty remark.
- Not everyone is a comedian. But almost anyone can be flippant or sarcastic. Even dry humor can be entertaining to the right crowd. Find what you’re good at and add a touch here and there.
- And studies show that when a person laughs, stress is reduced, anxiety and tension subside, and the mind opens up. Laughter even helps the learning process. So if you can bring some good feelings to your reader through laughter, they will find your books all the more enjoyable and maybe even therapeutic in a sense.
- Demonstrate your character showing kindness to someone else in your book.
- This can also be done through a minor character if you don’t want to have your major character acting as humanly.
- Everyone likes to see someone do the right thing. It makes us feel good. It’s how we might secretly wish we were all the time.
- Demonstrate in the story that they are really good in their field or even an expert in their field.
- Readers like the feel confident in their favorite characters.
- Do your research properly so it is believable.
- If possible, set up a one-on-one with a real-life expert in that field to talk to about it.
- Allow your main character(s) to treat their pets well, show respect to the elderly or show kindness to kids or have fun with kids.
- For the animal and pet lovers, they will appreciate the warm relationship between the character and their pet(s). If you make your character hate animals and do bad things to them, you’re going to turn a lot of people off, except if that is your intent.
- And unless the elderly person is a real crab or creep, treat them respectfully by your “good guys”. Have them treat them the way you want someone to treat your parents (assuming you don’t hate your parents either – which is another conversation all together).
- Little hint: Even if you don’t have kids or particularly really like them much, pretend. It’s a fictional book after all, suck it up and do the right thing – for your audience. No one needs to know you dislike kids.
- If there is any way for your character to be the underdog, it will endear your reader to them.
- Readers tend to like the stories about overcoming the odds or overcoming obstacles.
- Examples of an underdog include:
- They were an unwanted or unloved child
- They were the ugly duckling
- They have a mental or physical handicap of some kind
- They are from a poor family (not raised with wealth or inherited great wealth)
- They live in an underdeveloped, underprivileged area (Examples: ghetto, red neck hick country with poor education, third world country)
- Allow your main character(s) to experience a relatable misfortunate event.
- The readers will start to develop sympathy with your character because they may have experienced something similar or know someone who has. If they can relate to your character, they will grow to like them and/or sympathize with them.
- Some examples of common struggles a reader might identify with but are often overused, so be careful. Try to find your own unique but relatable events:
- Loss of a loved one
- Unrequited love
- They catch their significant other cheating
- They lose their job to unfair circumstances
- Their kids got mixed up with the wrong crowd and got into trouble
- They went to Hogwarts
If you’re looking for a meaningful year-end donation for tax write off purposes or simply want to give to an organization that truly acts out selflessness and kindness, please consider giving to Irondale Evangelical Free Church located in Port Hadlock, WA. This church has personally impacted my family in a way that can only be described as a DIVINE MIRACLE. The following article written by reporter Allison Arthur from the PT Leader, sums it up nicely.
These two pastors, David and Colleen Hodgin, have a pure heart of service and genuine love for their hurting community. Without them even knowing it, they were answering my prayers and those of my family.
Please read this powerful article on the link below. If you feel your heart stir and feel so disposed to donate to Irondale Evangelical Free Church, please send your donations to PO BOX 959, Port Hadlock, WA 98339. They are a non-profit organization.
Blessings to you and yours!
Article link: Kindness saves church soup program
My oldest sister Esther is on the right with the long braid. I am on the left in the scarf.
Esther Died on August 25th, 2015.
RIP my Beautiful Sister.
I’ll see you and our dad in Heaven when I’m about 102.
I love you eternally and will miss you every moment we’re apart.
Please check out my article in the latest issue of The American Woman Shooter Magazine found on page 22-23! (November/December 2015)
Featuring a byline on GunLady, Mandy Autrey!
R. J. Machado De Quevedo
Being an author, I do a lot research. All authors do, or at least they should. I spend almost as much time researching and digging into things as I do writing some days. It’s important to learn about those things I’m writing about if I want it to sound believable and authentic. Since I love learning, it’s fun for me too which is a big plus. I don’t ever get bored with the process. Whether I think I know what I’m taking about or not, I still study up on the current facts and try to understand how the things I write about work out in the real world. Especially when it’s something I haven’t actually done before.
If you’ve read my books, The Deceiver Saga, you know there’s lots of adventure, action, strong real life themes and also some content of a spiritual nature. There is also a lot of things of a practical nature as well. And sometimes some deep digging and immersion is in order so I get it right.
In my effort to thicken the plots and webs of my storytelling, I must lay foundational knowledge. I’ve talked with Sheriff, PD, Correctional officers, Highway Patrol, SWAT, Psychologists, Attorneys, Pastors, an Ex-Military Colonel, even a U.S. black ops military helicopter pilot, and other sources, all in the pursuit of research and getting it right. But it wasn’t until recently that I got some real hands on training in one particular area that my books will have plenty of – the gun play. Okay, so “play” isn’t necessarily the right word per say. More like, weapons being drawn and training about to commence at this stage in The Deceiver Saga. Yet more is a come ’in folks and that is one of the reasons I wanted to get my hands gritty with some professional hands on weapons training.
Now, I wasn’t about to just go to anybody for my firearms training. After all, I might write fiction but I am also a realist. I don’t want some macho crackpot shoot’em first ask ‘em later cowboy or cowgirl teaching me how to shoot so I can learn their bad habits. So, I did what I’m good at; I did my research.
I looked up several of my area’s highly recommended Firearms Instructors. I read their reviews, looked at their websites and read their bios. I even did google searches on them to see if anything of interest popped out be it good or bad. After a thorough search, I ultimately decided to contact Mandy Autrey, A.K.A. The GunLady. I met with Mandy one on one and we chatted for about three hours. Interviewing her you might say to see if she would be the right choice. She was definitely the Instructor for me. I liked her attitude, her professionalism, how she carried herself, her humility, qualifications, and of course her intelligence. Oh, and I loved her sense of humor. Thank God she was as sarcastic as me! Maybe even more so :o] Again – If you’ve read my books you’ll understand how important humor and sarcasm are to me. My books are full of it! I’d found my perfect “instructor match”.
Mandy Autrey is the founder and primary instructor of GunLady Defensive Firearms Training here in the Sacramento area. And no, just in case you’re going there in your brains, I didn’t choose her because she was a woman. Oh no…Her Yelp reviews did the bragging for her! Men and woman of all ages were raving. Her clear and precise instruction coupled with nearly 30 years of her law enforcement experience and eighteen years as an instructor, said volumes. When I sat down to talk with her I wasn’t disappointed. I soon found out that she’s been up close to the criminals and knows how they think and behave. Her students reap the the unique benefit of her experience and insight, and her extraordinary certifications and knowledge go far beyond the standard textbooks or manual type of instruction.
I signed up and attended Mandy’s CCW training class. For those who still haven’t read my books (shame on you), a CCW is a Carry Conceal Weapons permit. It was a two day, 16 hour class as required by California law. Mandy not only met my expectations, she exceeded them. In fact, I ended up going back for one more day of training during the next month’s class to certify an additional firearm and get more hands on experience and instruction. I will definitely be taking more of her other classes to learn all I can. I’m particularly interested in the Combat Focus Shooting class, the 360StreetSense4Women, and the Fundamentals of Home Defense classes!
I shot several different types of guns before I ever went to GunLady Defensive Firearms Training. But what I hadn’t ever really had before was the proper training. That much was perfectly clear to me within the first few minutes of her class. I mean, I do what a lot of people do nowadays when they want to know more about something; I read about it, watched instructional videos on YouTube, I asked people who grew up around guns, even asked other law enforcement officers to show me their grip and stance. Yet I can honestly say, all that went straight to the crapper in her class.
Come to find out, the ‘ol weaver handgrip is outdated and behind the times. There are more efficient and scientific methods to handling your firearm that use the body’s natural mechanics and startle flinch, all of which is incorporated into well-choreographed techniques. She taught our class those steps and encouraged us to practice them repeatedly in order to develop the muscle memory we’d need so that we can respond on instinct and won’t freeze if that dreaded battle over life or death should ever come. Not only did she teach the mechanics of the weapons, but how the body reacts and how the mind perceives things, bringing the two together.
With almost thirty years in Law Enforcement behind her, I felt like I was in expert hands, literally. In fact, one of the certifications that makes Mandy Autrey stand out from her peers, is her certification as a Combat Focus Shooting Instructor. There are roughly only about seventy-five CFS Instructors in the world. However, only about fifty are active; an estimated four of which are women, including Mandy Autrey. Even with her advanced skill set and training qualifications, I quickly learned that The GunLady provides a complete training experience for anyone seeking to learn how to defend themselves. Whether you’re new to firearms or an experienced shooter looking to refine your skills, she has something for everyone.
We all might think we’ll do the right thing in a crisis, but the only way to stack the odds in your favor of survival is to practice and get the proper training from a qualified instructor. Several of the students I meant felt they had found such an instructor since I came to find out that many of them had be taught by her before. They’d attended either her Fundamentals of Home Defense class or had sent their kids to a Private Handgun lesson and were so impressed with the training their kids received that they wanted some themselves.
That’s what happens when you find an instructors who makes training about actual real life situations and not about some supersized-macho-prove-who-has-the-biggest-gun (if you get my drift) type of class where they spend more time talking and bragging about themselves than shooting. Mandy keeps it about the science, the mechanics, the proper technics, keeping a cool head, the laws you need to know as a gun owner and/or CCW permit holder. She stresses over and over again the importance of practice. I got to fire nearly 500 rounds in my first two-day 16 hour CCW class. The second time I went for another 8 hour day, I got to fire nearly 350 rounds. Most CCW classes I’ve researched tell you to just bring 50-100 rounds for practice during their “two-day class” and 36 rounds per gun to certify with. How is that proper training?
Mandy, A.K.A. The GunLady was even recently featured on our local ABC Channel 10 news about self-defense planning for women. You can watch that segment by clicking here. Also, I had the honor of writing a couple of articles about Mandy’s expertise that will be featured in the next few issues of The American Woman Shooter magazine. It’s a two part article, so I can’t wait to share those links with you once they post.
For those of you who live in or near the Sacramento area and you want high quality, realistic training from an expert in her field, I strongly recommend you check out Mandy’s website for a full listing of her certifications and self-defense and firearms training classes at www.gunlady.net. And if you’re an author or aspiring writer and you want to sound authentic and knowledgeable about guns, then you have to go to the real deal or you’re just going to sound like you’re making stuff up.
Growing up I never thought I was beautiful. In fact, most of my adult life I’ve battled with the ideals and condemnations from men and society. Whether it was from memories of my childhood, my awkward and invasively humiliating teen years, being spied on by horny teenage boys and then publicly mocked afterwards, or social medial and their unrealistic expectations that prey upon women every day of our lives, it took me years to fully accept myself for who I am and as God intended me to be. I even carried a painful burden in my heart from believing I was a failure because I hadn’t developed into what I was taught to think a woman “should look like”. Ideas that took seed and drove deep roots into my heart at young age.
My father who died when I was 14, told me the year before he died, “Your body is too hard, girls are supposed to be soft and voluptuous.” That was his response to my daily workouts, running track and cross country, and doing pushups and pullups to try and become stronger so I wouldn’t feel weak or be an easy target. Sadly, I thought about such things as a child.
Later that year, I rebelled and chopped my long hair off to my shoulders which had been down to my butt. His reaction was devastating, “You look like a butch.” He shook his head with a look of disgust and I walked away in tears. I don’t think he even thought about what those words would mean to me, a young girl trying to find some confidence in who she was. I don’t think he even considered that those words would hurt me. I’m sure it wasn’t his intention. Perhaps it was his own internal compulsion to try to make me turn out the way he thought a lady should be. Knowing him, he probably felt it was his duty as a man’s man to make sure his daughter didn’t embarrass or shame him.
I think that is why I grew my hair back out. I kept it long or at least past my collar bone until I was thirty-one years old. Then, one day I realized, why am I letting what other people think of me keep me from trying something I’ve always longed to do? So I chopped it off! Not just to my shoulders this time. I cut it ALL off. Short like a pixy and I’ve loved it ever since!
Let me clarify something here. My insecurities and self-doubt weren’t all my father’s fault. It was a combination of having an impressionable heart and an open mind to the negativity and judgment of others in my life, as well as other family members, friends, those mean girls at school, even my oldest sister had belittled me and made me feel less than. I saw the models and actresses on television and in magazines and thought how beautiful they were, how elegant, how perfectly feminine. I felt like I was built like a boy. Straight hips, flat chest, bulky muscles, wide shoulders like my father, red hair, freckles…Ugly even. When I’d wear makeup I felt like a fraud. A masquerade to meet social expectations.
It took me years to realize I could wear makeup for me; to make me feel good and to make myself feel pretty. But even then, when I wouldn’t wear it, jerks at work would say, “You’re so ugly without makeup, why aren’t you wearing it?” I don’t know how some people think they have any right to say that to someone else. I wasn’t their sister, girlfriend or even their friend. They just wanted to be mean and act like a pig. So I would say a few choice words back to put them in their place and I’d walk away, all the while resisting the urge to punch them in the throat. They’d just smile or laugh as I’d walk away proving that they’d had fun making the young nineteen year old girl feel bad about herself. Those men could be mean. And I felt myself begin to hate men. I really had to fight it. I even had to pray and ask God to help me not hate men in general for always making me feel like a joke my whole life. I had to let it go and not give their coldhearted words penetrate my heart anymore. I knew not all men were that way. Unfortunately, from my young woman’s hurt and insecure perspective, it just felt like most of the men I’d met were like that.
It wasn’t until I met my husband, the first man who ever truly made me feel beautiful, attractive and even sexy, that I honestly began to see myself as acceptable as a woman. The others just made feel slimy or mistrustful, players just looking to score. I despised being hit on and being looked at like a piece of meat at the market to be chewed up and tossed afterwards. I wasn’t going to be anyone’s entertainment. But Luis wasn’t like that. He was so sincere, a gentleman, admiring and affectionate in a way that didn’t make me want to cringe away or vomit. Slowly with his love, kindness and encouragement, I began to feel feminine and sometimes, even a little sexy.
It’s amazing how having someone love you so purely can help heal so much hurt and pain. But it isn’t up to that other person to fix you. It just helps to have them there. The real fight was in my mind and in my heart. I had to let God heal me and learn to love myself. It was hard. Sometimes, it still is. But it’s been getting easier. When you take the weight of the self-criticism off and refuse to give it power, it is liberating and you’re free to be you.
Recently I went to a painting class taught by an amazing woman named Athens Abell. She is also a photographer. Last year she put out a Calendar called Banjo Beauties and was in the process of shooting for her 2016 Calendar A Sentimental Journey Calendar and asked me to be in it! Never in my life did I think I would even be a model. Me—The redheaded, now slightly overweight, not quite so hard-bodied, woman who still doesn’t like makeup. I’d always wanted to be a model but didn’t even put a wish on a star for such an unrealistic desire.
It amazes me how God works to give us the desires or our hearts. Even the ones we don’t share with anyone. Well, I mentioned to my husband earlier this year that I thought it would be fun to be a model, but I’m too short (just under 5’ 6’) and not a size negative 2. He reassured me that I was beautiful and that I could be a model. I laughed it off and hugged him for his sweet love.
Within a month after meeting Athens, we had two photo shoots scheduled for her upcoming 2016 calendar. She decided to make me her Miss April (I’ll be featured as the month of April) and she’s also doing a “One and Only” with twelve months of just me! Unbelievable!
What I loved about doing the calendar with her, is that she looked for women who represent the real populous. We are all different races, ages, heights, and sizes. She saw the beauty in who we were and brought it out. Coached it out one shot at a time with laughter, good humor and her honest humanity. We are all women with substance, pasts, careers and even hidden talents! We are real women. Creatures of beauty, strong, independent and yet feminine.
Knowing I’m also an author, Athens decided to make a special set for me for my second photo shoot (yes, she even makes her own sets!) She did an incredible job setting up space to feature my writing, even including my books in the background. I was blown away! How thoughtful and professional of her to consider doing that for me. And what a blessing!
Here are some photo teasers of the coming calendars! Please order yours today! She ships these around the world so don’t let distance stop you!! I am so excited but also still a bit shy. This is a huge step for me. I hope you enjoy them and can see the beauty in what a real woman is. Not some unrealistic social expectation that demands perfection and anorexia.
To order My One and Only 2016 Calendar:
To order the full 12 model 2016 Calendar: A Sentimental Journey:
She is even doing a 2016 Banjo Babies Calendar: