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WHAT? SECRET NOTEBOOK?!

August 31, 2018- Oh. My. Goodness. You have got to be kidding me! Agatha Christie apparently had SECRET Notebooks. This book, by John Curran, lifts the lid on Agatha Christie’s writing and unearths two Poirot stories never before seen. WOW! Watch below.

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Writing Prompt…

August 29, 2018- I love writing prompts and today’s prompt is especially fun! This works really well when I have writer’s block and when I want to start the creative juices flowing.

Happy Writing! X LLB

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How Well Do You Do This?

August 27, 2018- You are a self-published author. I want to know how well you do this one thing. It’s something that some of us shy away from, it’s something that can be uncomfortable for most, but it’s something that is imperative to your success.

Some of you may be saying, “Of course I do this!” But, for others, death is more welcoming than completing this task.

What is that one something that is imperative to your success as a self-published author? It’s self-promotion! Here’s usually what happens:

  1. Author writes the book. Edits are done, cover designed, etc.
  2. They get someone to print it.
  3. Hundreds of copies of their book sit idle in their garage.

I’ve broken this down to the simplest point. Of course, there is much more that goes into the in-between of writing to print. So, let’s get to the meat of the conversation and talk about the hundreds of copies that just sit idle in the author’s garage and what to do about it! Self-promotion is the key to your success. If people don’t know about you and your book how the heck do you expect them to buy it? Your biggest problem is obscurity. Once people start to take notice in what you’re saying they’ll take notice of what you’re selling.

  1. You MUST create a marketing plan BEFORE your book comes out. Why? Because you need to know where you’re going to know when you’ll get there. Set goals, but develop a comprehensive marketing plan. Author platform is also crucial, but that’s a whole other blog post:)
  2. Self-Promote. Yep, I said it. Get used to talking about yourself, your book, and your work. Get ready to start promoting your book to everyone you come in contact with. Get ready to pound the pavement, have doors slammed in your face, and get ready to be told NO a thousand times. You have to develop a thick skin. There are a lot of haters out there and do you know why? Because they can’t do what you do.
  3. Believe in yourself and your work. You must believe that what you’ve written is valuable and that people want to know about it!  I remember reading the 10 X Rule by Grant Cardone, and one thing in the book stuck out in my mind, it went something like this: “I don’t want to push my product on people!” and Grant Cardone said, “It’s a shame you have a product you don’t believe in.” This hit me like a ton of bricks, and I NEVER hesitated again to approach someone with my books. Do you believe in your words? Do you believe in yourself? If not, don’t bother writing another word. If you don’t care, neither does anyone else. Stop, go get a different job, and chase another dream. Let me tell you something though, believing in yourself is the only way to make your dreams come true. It starts with that. The second thing is taking action. That’s it. It’s that simple.

So, how well do you self-promote? How much do you believe in yourself? How much action do you take?

X LLB

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Are You Up For The Challenge?

August 24, 2018- Are you up for the 30-day writing challenge that I’m about to propose? I promise that if you complete all 30-days, not only will you be more inspired to write, but you’ll accomplish a ton of writing, and you’ll become a better writer because nothing beats daily practice.

Ready? Here we go!

Day 1- Your favourite place
Day 2- What the world needs more of
Day 3- The best day you’ve ever had
Day 4- Dear Future YOU
Day 5- What are you proud of?
Day 6- What are you ashamed of?
Day 7- If you could meet one famous person alive or dead who would it be? Why?
Day 8- One Moment that changed your life forever
Day 9- Your biggest fear
Day 10- Your biggest accomplishment
Day 11- A life lesson and how you were taught it
Day 12- A surprising turn of events
Day 13- The worst day of your life
Day 14- If you could invent something what would it be and why?
Day 15- Describe the person next to you, in front of you, or behind you
Day 16- Who are you?
Day 17- What is your earliest memory?
Day 18- What does friendship mean to you?
Day 19- Who is your best friend and why?
Day 20- Your bucket list
Day 21- If you had one super power what would it be and why?
Day 22- Describe a place you want to travel to but have never been
Day 23- Describe your lunch as if you were a restaurant reviewer
Day 24- Write about time travel either forward or backward 1000 years
Day 25- You’re on a desert island, who do you bring and why?
Day 26- What is your weakness?
Day 27- If you robbed a bank what would you do with the money?
Day 28- Who do you love and why?
Day 29- Your arch enemy
Day 30- If your pet could speak what would they say?

Happy writing! X LLB

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The Importance of Research…

August 22, 2018- Research when writing (even/and especially fiction) is very important. As fiction writers, we’ve all been given the advice to write what we know. Well, we can’t possibly know everything there is to know about any given situation, so that’s why we research!

People often assume that  because you’re writing fiction, you can make everything up! This, of course, isn’t true. Research comes in handy when we are writing about things we don’t know about and about things we’ve never experienced. For example, if your main character is a brain surgeon, and you’re not, I suggest that you do sufficient research before you embark on your novel. There are so many questions that you need to ask yourself and that’s why it’s imperative to make a list of what you need to know.

Let’s assume that your main character is a mechanic for example. Here’s a sample of questions that you need to research:

  1. Where does my character work?
  2. What does he look like?
  3. What does he wear to work?
  4. What does his work entail?
  5. What is the vocabulary he would use?
  6. What tools does he use on a regular basis?
  7. What does a mechanic’s shop look like from the inside?

You’d be amazed about the places I’ve been able to visit while researching my book! I’ve been taken on private tours of locations, colleges, hospitals, emergency rooms, jails, schools, countries, and countless other places! I’m so fortunate that people are willing to help with the research and I thank them by acknowledging them in my books.

You get the picture. Research, research, research ESPECIALLY if you are writing about locations!

I do caution my crime/thriller authors to write about cities that they HAVE visited before. It’s hard to write about a location accurately if you’ve never been there. Let’s say that they’re writing a thriller that’s based in New York; if they’ve never been to NYC it will be hard to mention landmarks and to get the locale just right, not to mention they’ll miss the essence which is huge. Anyone who lives in New York that reads the book, will be ticked off by the inaccuracies and may stop reading as soon as the author’s credibility is shot.

If you do choose to write about a place you’ve never visited before, you need to research the hell out of it. What do the streets look like? Where do they intersect? What is the population like? How is it segmented? What is the weather like? Are there major landmarks that you need to be aware of? Does the entire town shut down at ten in the evening or is there amazing nightlife, is it the city that never sleeps? And the list goes on and on. This is why it’s much EASIER to write about places you’ve been.

Writing fiction is fun, but it is a lot of work! Don’t lose your credibility because you didn’t do your research; this is the fastest way to lose readers forever.

X LLB

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Memoir Writing 3 Tips…

August 20, 2018-  Memoir writing is difficult and time consuming. That said, there are a lot of authors that have been successfully published in this genre. Memoir writing is not for the faint of heart, so if you’re bold or insane, here are some tips!

  1. Is your life interesting enough? This is a question that you must answer truthfully. When authors submit their manuscripts to me that are memoirs, I ask them if their life is interesting enough to anyone other than themselves and their friends and family. Everyone thinks their life is great, and we all think that we have riveting stories to tell. More often than not, this is not the case, unfortunately. Celebrities often write memoirs because they have lived an exceptional life in one way or another. They have lived a life that most people never will and that’s what makes us want to read their stories.
  2. Remember what it isn’t. Your memoir is NOT an autobiography. A memoir focuses on a SPECIFIC time or theme, such as the summer of 1972, for example. This helps your readers get to know you better and that one experience in your life better and on a different, deeper level.
  3. Tell the Truth. Especially if people in your memoir are still living. I’ll never forget an episode of Oprah where she was interviewing a man about his book. He told the story of being detained in a concentration camp during the war and that he met his future wife when she gave him an apple through the fence. It turned out that the story was completely fabricated. There’s no need to lie, being honest and genuine is your best bet.

Memoirs explore the truth of your life through your eyes. No one can tell your story and that is your power. Happy Writing!

X LLB

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As a Self- Pubished Author, Are You a Bad Decision Maker?

August 17, 2018- This is for all of my self-published author friends and colleagues! I want to know, are you a bad decision maker? I know that in the past, I certainly have been. It is imperative to be a good decision maker when self-publishing because so many things require your attention! Here’s what I’ve learned along the way in my own publishing journey:

  1. You base your decisions on ego. If you think that you know it all, you’ve got a problem. Let’s say that your an expert in a specific field like illustration, you may assume that your expertise in that field will translate to every other area in bookmaking such as marketing, advertising, and writing. Well, my dear friend, you would be wrong. Instead, assemble a team of people whose expertise rounds out your own and reap the benefits of multiple perspectives.
  2. You rely on the momentum effect. Yes, I do believe that some past events can predict future events, BUT this is not always written in stone, and there’s a problem with thinking this way! The world is continually changing and evolving. If you’re only relying on your tried-and-true methods and are blind to other options, you’re going to be in trouble. It’s important to learn from the past, but to keep your eyes on the future. Know what’s going on in your industry so that you can continuously pivot and be on top of your game.
  3. You’re Lazy. If you’re a self-published author, then I have news for you, you’re an entrepreneur whether you like it or not. Entrepreneurs have to be curious and hungry and always on the lookout for new opportunities. If you only make decisions based on how comfortable you feel and refuse to try anything new, this industry will chew you up and spit you out.
  4. You’re indecisive. Ugh. Nothing makes me cringe more than people who can’t make a damn decision. Yes, there are some decisions that need to be thought about carefully, but let’s face it, most decisions can be made in a matter of seconds! If you can’t decide where you’re going on your self-publishing journey, then why would it matter when you get there? You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Make a decision and stick with it whether it’s right or wrong. You’ll find out eventually and remember that indecision is a decision!
  5. You see the trees and not the forest. Take a look at the big picture! Good decisions are always made with the big picture in mind, but if you’re always worried and focused on putting out fires and solving minor problems, you’ll never be able to properly plan ahead. Don’t Major in Minor things. You get me? Delegate the smaller decisions to those who are in your corner. You don’t need to worry yourself with minor details that don’t really matter in the long run.

So, the good news is that if you do any of the things above, you can choose to stop doing those things immediately and become a better decision maker! It’s not always easy, but it can be done. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Here’s to your writing success,
X LLB

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What Do You Have To Say? Why Morals Matter

August 15, 2018– We’ve all been in awkward situations when we meet someone or where we’re at an event and the person who corners us, has nothing to say. What do we talk about? Where can I escape to? Where the heck is my husband to rescue me? Usually, talking to people is easy for me because I like to keep informed about a little bit of everything that’s going on in the world, however, there are times where I find myself with nothing to say because the conversation has run its course or perhaps the other person and I have nothing in common.

Guess what? The same holds true for everyone who reads your novels. It happens. There are novels out there with nothing to say, and fiction readers have high expectations of being engaged on a deeper level when they pick up a book.

Here are some interesting facts that you should know before you write your first or next novel.

  1. All stories have underlying morals. If they didn’t then no one would bother to read them. Morals are the glue that holds us together. For example, in my novel, Obsessed with Her, there are a TON of morals. Some of the questions that the reader must ask themselves while reading my book are pretty dark. What would they do if their child was missing? How far would they go to find out what happened to her? Would they do the same thing if they were in the main character’s shoes? Every novel must possess some kind of moral fork in the road; if it doesn’t, your reader will be disappointed, snap your book closed, and hurl it across the room.
  2. Readers seek out stories that are on par with their own beliefs. For example, romance readers are largely female, mystery/thriller readers are somewhat conservative with a longing for justice, and techno-thriller readers are most often military personnel. Every reader believes in something, and it’s our job as writers to make them question their beliefs…which leads me to my next point; the number of fiction readers who deliberately seek to have their morals changed are slim to none. This does not mean that they don’t want to be stretched or see the world in a different light, they do! They just don’t want their own beliefs and morals converted.
  3. Readers are not looking for what is comfortable, familiar, or politically pleasing. Fiction is most interesting and unputdownable when points of view and beliefs are different, engrossing, compelling, and detailed. Take your reader to the edge of what they believe, and you’ll make a long-term connection. Plus, they’ll love your book, hopefully, and become a life-long reader of your work.

The moral of this post? Have a moral in your story. Make it interesting. Push the limits.

Happy writing, X LLB

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Do Author School Visits Matter?

August 13, 2018- I do a lot of school visits as an author, and someone once asked me the question, “Do author visits make a difference in kids’ lives?” I took a second to think about that. “Yes, they do. And let me prove it to you.” More on this in a second.

I love, love, love going to schools as a visiting author with the opportunity to read my books to young people! It is such a unique and wonderful experience that no two schools are the same. I leave with a sense of gratitude for the young minds that allow me their attention for even a brief time and for the teachers and librarians that welcome me with open arms, into their schools and their spaces. The questions that the children ask are fun, funny, and sometimes very personal! But, enough about what we as authors get out of school visits, what do the children receive?

According to a recent study that was conducted in 2013, by California State University, children receive the following benefits from author school visits:

  1. Author visits motivate children to read more. Kids passion for reading is ignited before, during, and after an author visit. They get excited about things that they can relate to such as an in-person visit from someone who is real! I often hear them say that they too want to be authors when they grow up.
  2. Author visits inspire creativity and expression. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a school where the kids have created a comic book for me, complete with illustrations, or how many times they’ve created a poem or handmade card.
  3. Author visits motivate children to write more. Children often hurry home after an author has visited their school because they’ve suddenly caught the writing bug. They want to write about anything, and everything, plus, author visits can also spark ideas to write about.

It is always beneficial to have an author visit your school! There are so many reasons why you should book a visit for the upcoming school year. Not only is it fun, but it’s also educational and entertaining.

I do in-person school visits, but I also offer live Skype visits and readings with schools that are abroad. Please contact pandapublishing8@gmail.com for more information.

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What is Your Definition?

August 10, 2018- What is your definition of being a successful author? This is the question that I ALWAYS ask the authors that I work with; whether self-published or traditional, it’s important to be able to answer this!

You are the only one who can define success and everyone’s definition and idea of success is different. Here are some answers I’ve received over the years after posing the question:

  • If I sell $1 million dollars worth of books
  • If kids read my book in their school
  • If I have a huge house, and an in-ground pool, and a convertible
  • If people line up to see me at book signings
  • If I become famous around the world
  • If someone tells me I’m their favourite author
  • If my book helps one person
  • If a celebrity reads my book and gives me a shout out on social media
  • If I’m a bestseller on the NY Times list
  • If I get a tv interview
  • If my book gets turned into a movie

So, as you can see, there are a lot of DIFFERENT versions of success and it’s all dependent on how you choose to define it! Write down your version of success and start working towards that goal. There are no wrong answers! Remember, you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. Here’s to your success, whatever that may be.

X LLB

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