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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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Flash Fiction-(What is it and why you should add it to your toolbox!)

August 8, 2018– Flash fiction is something that can be very valuable to you as a writer. I know that it is to me! Writing flash fiction is something that I use when all of my focus has been on a more significant writing project such as a novel or a series of books.

So, what is it? Flash fiction is a concise form short story that is usually between 500 and 1,000 words, but no more. The point of using flash fiction is able to condense your entire story into a tiny space. Compressing your story in this way is an excellent exercise for ALL writers! It helps develop the following skills:

  1.  It gets to the heart of the conflict.
  2. It boils the plot down to its bare bones.
  3. It lets you write without the excuse of having no time. It’s short and sweet and to the point.

Your flash fiction should include essential elements of conflict, climax, and resolution; Also, you should stay in one character’s point of view. As a bonus, writing this way often breaks the dreaded writer’s block. I challenge you to write some flash fiction today!

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Margaret Atwood’s Creative Process

August 6, 2018– As you know Margaret Atwood is the Canadian author of The Handmaid’s Tale. Hugely popular as a television series on Netflix, we thought it would be a fabulous idea to share this Youtube video with you that gets inside of her brain to find out what her creative process is. If you haven’t READ her books yet, do it! What are you waiting for? Here’s some advice from a legend.

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How to Self-Edit Your Writing!

August 3, 2018– Normally, I would advise against self-editing especially if you plan on submitting your work to a publisher. It always pays to send in your most polished writing, and the cost of getting your manuscript professionally edited is absolutely worth it! But what about the publisher? If they like my work don’t they pay to get it edited? Yes, of course, we do, but it’s always a breath of fresh air to have a manuscript submitted that requires less editing, and that is pretty close to almost perfect.

My advice, if you can’t afford to hire a pro to edit your ms before sending to a publisher, can be found in this excellent infographic from our friends at NowNovel.com. Check out the tips below!

How to self-edit - 8 top editing tips for fiction writers

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It’s ALL About Perspective

August 1, 2018- Earlier last week I was chatting with a woman who I’ve become friends with who works at my local bookstore. She asked me if I needed help with finding a book and I told her that I was looking for a psychology book that deals with Borderline Personality Disorder. “Whoa, that’s pretty interesting! Is it for a new book in the works?” She asked with a smile. “You know it!” I said. We got into a discussion about her writer’s block, and she asked me for some tips about getting the creative faucet to turn on. Here’s what I told her:

  1. Change your space. Change your environment. Use your opposite hand to eat, brush your teeth, etc. Change anything! I know I’ve harped on this a million times on this blog, but it can’t be understated! Change your space, and you change your perspective.
  2. Pick up a book outside of your regular genre and read it! Doing this helps to expand your imagination as a writer, and it may give you a tiny glimmer of something new to write about! Do you usually read non-fiction self-help books? Why not pick up a copy of a cozy romance or horror story? It might just be enough to get your creativity flowing.
  3. Think about a different perspective. Ok, everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of the Twisted Tales Series by Liz Braswell! If you haven’t put these on your To-Read list, you have to; they are fabulous! In her book As Old as Time, which is an interpretation of Beauty and the Beast, she explores what would happen if it was Belle’s mother who cursed the Beast! Right? I know. Here is a sample below of what the book is about:

    Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern. But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose; intriguing images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.

Holy smokes right? Why didn’t I think of this? Guess what? You CAN think of something like this! All you have to do is change your perspective. Let me prove it to you. I’ll give you some classic stories and how you can flip the view to write something entirely new:)

  1. Little Red Riding Hood– Write from the perspective of the Wolf. What is his side of the story? What if he was more afraid of Little Red Riding Hood than she is of him? Why should he be afraid of her? What has she done? What if she comes into the forest wearing a wolf-skin cape?
  2. Harry Potter-What if you wrote from Voldemort’s point of view? What happened in his life to make him the way he is? What trauma has he experienced in his life to become so evil? Of course, use this for inspiration only as I am not in the business of recommending copyright infringement. For creative writing purposes and to get the juices flowing, it’s okay to write about this. Just don’t publish it!
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird– Write from the perspective of Boo Radley. What was it like for him to be a recluse and never leave his house? What happened to him to make him this way? Did he watch Scout, Jem, and Dill and think about what he wanted to say to them? What would he say if he could?

I think you get the picture! Here’s to your creativity! Keep writing:) X LLB