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Lie to Me…

January 4, 2019– Humans lie. Whether it’s white lies or big lies, or the lies in between, we all do it at one time or another. Lying can be essential for your manuscript depending on the genre! Here’s a really cool infographic explaining how to detect a lie; this is great for implementing into your manuscript if one of your characters is being interrogated by the police, or if a parent in your story is asking their teenage son what time they came home on Saturday night, or if you want to convey some subtle gestures throughout your novel for when your character is being less than truthful. Here’s to your success, and that’s no lie! X LLB

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The 60 Books I Read in 2018…

December 31, 2018– Well friends, it’s been an epic year in so many ways; I started some new adventures, made lots of new friends, traveled, and of course published a few books. But what about the books I read? It would be unfair of me not to mention them as some of them made such an impact on me, that my life and way of thinking will never be the same. 

60 books in a year was my goal, and I’m happy to say that I reached it. For all of you numbers nuts, that works out to approximately 1.15 books per week. Now, remember that not all of the books I read were in paperback format, some of them were audio books, and e-books. This method of “reading” allowed me to listen to books while travelling and while doing mundane tasks. I know that without audio books, it would have been much harder for me to reach my goal of 60 books read for the year. 

Let’s get on with it! Here is my list of books that I read in 2018: (A quick search on Amazon will show you details and the authors)

  1. 5 Thieves of Happiness
  2. Murder, She Wrote- Hook, Line, and Murder
  3. The Million Dollar Blog
  4. Thirteen
  5. Clockwork
  6. Profit First
  7. Murder, She Wrote- Dying to Retire
  8. Never Lose a Customer Again
  9. Mind Over Mind
  10. Outwitting the Devil
  11. Murder, She Wrote- Scared to Death
  12. Hocus Pocus
  13. Google Adwords
  14. Every Breath You Take
  15. The Couple Next Door
  16. You are Not so Smart
  17. The Brain that Changes Itself
  18. Tools of Titans
  19. You
  20. Make Your Bed
  21. Discipline Equals Freedom
  22. The Power of Gratitude
  23. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
  24. To Kill a Mockingbird
  25. Witches
  26. Unmarketing
  27. E Squared
  28. Do the Work
  29. 12 Rules for Life
  30. The Checklist Manifesto
  31. The 5 Second Rule
  32. The Obstacle is the Way
  33. Plum Lucky
  34. The 10x Rule
  35. 33 Strategies of War
  36. Brainfluence
  37. All Marketers are Liars
  38. The Toyota Way
  39. The Magic of Thinking Big
  40. The 48 Laws of Power
  41. Challenge Your Potential
  42. Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
  43. The Positive Power of Negative Thinking
  44. How I write
  45. On Writing (Stephen King) 
  46. It 
  47. Delores Claiborne
  48. The Psychology of Winning
  49. 1 Page Marketing Plan
  50. The Art of War
  51. The Idiot Brain
  52. Screenwriting for Dummies
  53. Nocturnal Animals
  54. I See You
  55. The Woman in Cabin 10
  56. The Sales Bible 
  57. Save the Cat
  58. Book Yourself Solid
  59. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
  60. Holes 

So, there you have it! I look forward to reading another 60 books in 2019. Remember, you can never be overdressed or overeducated. Happy Reading! X LLB 

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Why Two Heads are Better Than One…

December 17, 2018– You’ve seen it on bookshelves across the country; James Patterson and Bill Clinton, Stephen and Owen King, and soon enough, yours truly with an author I have yet to introduce you to. (I’ll talk about this next year because I know how you guys love waiting for surprises;)

Co-authoring is on the rise so let’s talk about how to do it right because there is a whole pile of ways to do it wrong! Here are some ways to destroy your chances of collaborating successfully and how to ruin your working relationship with the author you’ve chosen to pair up with.

  1. Moving too fast. Writing with someone is essentially like getting married; it’s a terrible idea to get engaged on the first date and let’s face it, people who do this aren’t likely to last. Same goes for collaborating with another author; read their stuff, get to know their style and strengths, and allow them the time to do the same for you. Also, be sure to decide if the person you want to work with is a good fit for your personality; you guys will be spending a lot of time together and the last thing you need are major personality clashes. That won’t work for anyone.
  2. Not planning. Planning is quite literally the thing that either supports or inhibits your success while writing with someone else. If you don’t have a plan, you’re screwed. I’m a massive fan of outlines, and I use them always, that’s why I recommend 3 frameworks when collaborating: A) General outline of the book from start to finish, B) An overview of what author number 1 is working on C) An overview for what author number 2 is working on. Your outlines should include deadlines because if they don’t, what’s the point? We both know it will never get finished. This outline had better include what the marketing expectations are for both parties once the book is published or you’re going to have a killer headache sorting things out at the end of it!
  3. Lack of communication. Not clearly defining the expectation of both parties is a recipe for setting yourself on fire. You don’t want to burn, and you don’t want the other person to burn either, you guys are a team; decide how often you’re going to communicate and how the communication will be sent. Also, make perfectly clear who is responsible for what. Communication is key, and if you can’t communicate properly with the person you’re going to collaborate with, how the hell are you going to co-author with them?
  4. No Genre. For the millionth time, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. If you don’t know WHAT you’re writing, HOW are you supposed to write it and market it? You can’t. Pick a genre and stick to it. The writing marketplace is structured by genre; where will you put your book on the shelf when it is finally finished if you don’t know which genre it falls into? Your book isn’t for everyone, and if it is, your book is for no one.

Collaborations on any type of work can be risky, but that shouldn’t deter you from creating fabulous art with your fellow writers. Just make sure you follow the above tips and work with someone who is as awesome as you are!

Here’s to your success!
X LLB

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Fun Facts about Our Books!

December 10, 2018- This is super fun! Each one of our books is very special in their own right. Check out the details below on what’s hiding in our books!

Picture books: 

  • Did you know that in Miranda the Very LOUD Mouse, there is a hidden piece of cheese on almost every page? Can you find them? Also, on the page where Miranda is at the museum, there are some pretty famous art pieces that include Michelangelo’s David statue, Starry Night painting by Van Gogh, The Scream painting by Edvard Munch, and of course, The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The book Pants, by Tamara Botting, has different pieces of fabric that were digitally scanned in to get the colours and textures on the page. This book also contains colouring pages at the back for kids to design their very own pair of pants!
  • Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog and Spiders Wearing Sweaters are both hand painted and then scanned in digitally to an illustration program! That’s why both books have such a unique look. Also, Spiders Wearing Sweaters can be ordered with or without the adorable plush spider that came in your kit!
  • Sammy, the Singing Cat, features some very famous Jazz artists on the wall of one of the music schools; Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra make a cameo, but this time in animal form!
  • The Adventures of Milan and Friends; Trouble with Trolls (A Halloween Tail) has the titles of our books on the spine of the books that are featured in the treehouse! Plus, there’s a tribute to all of our animal friends that we have lost, on the wall of the same page. Also, Milan is a real golden retriever in the author’s life!
  • Phillip Star has the best ending! You’ll have to read it😊
  • Panda, the Very Bad Cat, is based on the author’s real cat named Panda and a smug shot of said cat is featured in the back of the book. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this title is donated to animal shelters to help animals in need.
  • Deer Diary features a sneak peek on an overlapping character! There is a poster on the wall of the last page that features the character Frog from Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog.

 All of the books by Lacey L. Bakker, feature a PANDA in one form or another as a hat’s off to the book that started this entire company and adventure which was Panda, the Very Bad Cat!

Mid-Grade Books:

  • Unfrogged, by Tamara Botting, features a princess named Meredith who is based entirely on the author and how clumsy she is. Tamara let this book sit for ten years before getting it published!
  • The Old Farmer’s Treasure– is based on the author’s husband’s childhood in Northern Ontario. There is also a sequel to this book coming in 2019 where the boys are all grown up!

 Adults Only:

  • Obsessed with Her– Was consulted on by the head of the Toronto Homicide Unit for not only credibility in some scenes, but also accuracy! This book is rated R and had to have a sticker put on the front of it because of the complaints that we were receiving. It has mature themes, language, and violence, and is not for the easily offended or squeamish. Also, the PREQUEL to Obsessed with Her, titled, Becoming James Cass, will be available for pre-order on our site in January 2019 and will be released in February 2019. This book currently has a 4.5-star rating on Good Reads. While the author was writing this book, her husband was away for five weeks, and she had to stop writing because she was scared to be alone! A lot of people think the author of this book is a man, but they are mistaken. And one more thing? The front cover gives away the ending:)

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Happy Birthday, Walt!

December 5, 2018– Ok, so today is Walt Disney’s birthday and I know he wasn’t an author, but he was one hell of an entrepreneur! We talk a lot about entrepreneurs on this blog, and as authors and illustrators, well, we are entrepreneurs. Walt was an artist, producer, and game-changer. To celebrate his birthday, let’s look at some interesting facts about the man behind the magic!

  1. He failed. A lot. Legend has it that Walt failed an epic 320 times before getting the financing for his dream of Disneyland. Imagine if he had of given up!
  2. He helped with the war effort. Even though the Disney Company was not in a good financial position at the beginning World War II, Walt decided it was vital that he and his company help in the war effort.  Walt Disney Training Films unit was created which were instruction films for the American military and propaganda films for the American public.  He won an Academy Award in 1943 for his short propaganda film, Der Fuehrer’s Face.
  3. He learned to draw by doing this. Walt spent most of his time at school doodling. He learned to draw by copying newspaper cartoons, specifically from an American Midwest newspaper called Appeal to Reason which his father was an avid reader of. Walt wasn’t interested in the political editorials, but he enjoyed looking at the front page cartoons. At this time there were no animated films or comic books, Walt found the cartoons exciting and the style demonstrated in the cartoons would later appear in his own!

Happy birthday to the legend that is Walt Disney!

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C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain, Happy Birthday!

November 30, 2018– C.S. Lewis’ birthday was technically yesterday (November 29) but Mark Twain’s is today! Let’s celebrate both authors right now by sharing some interesting facts about them and their works.  We’ll start with C.S. (the beloved author of Chronicles of Narnia)!

  1. C.S. stands for Clive Staples. He was known by his initials rather than his full name because, at the time, it was considered more formal and intellectual to be known professionally by initials rather than first name.
  2. He hated his first name. So much so that he nicknamed himself “Jacksie” after his childhood pet (a dog) that was struck and killed by a car. As an adult, he went by the name Jack.
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien was one of his BFF’s. Both met at Oxford University in England where they were professors. They were life-long friends even after some heated discussions and disagreements about each other’s work!

Let’s talk about Mark Twain, most famously known for writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (two of my most favourite books ever!)

  1. He wasn’t expected to live. Mark Twain, whose real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was very sickly as a baby and well into childhood to about the age of seven. Twain was born two months early and was the sixth of seven children. He was one of three to survive into adulthood.
  2. He almost drowned… nine times. Before the age of thirteen, Twain almost drowned a documented, nine times. I wonder how many times weren’t documented!
  3. He was born two weeks after Halley’s Comet. The comet crosses the Earth’s skies every 75 years. In 1909 Mark Twain predicted that he would die with Halley’s comet the next year. Just as Mark Twain predicted, he passed the night after the comet lit up the sky at the age of 75. It was the second death he predicted, the first being his brother’s.

I hope that you’ll take the time to celebrate both of these iconic authors by reading some of their works! Happy Birthday to C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain.
X LLB

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November 18th is High-Five a Librarian Day!

November 16, 2018– This year, November 18 falls on a Sunday where most libraries are closed, but that’s no reason not to celebrate this super cool day a couple of days early.

Let’s face it, librarians are akin to superheroes…in my book anyway, no pun intended. The amount of help that they have provided me over the years is staggering; from finding reference books for research purposes, or recommending the next best thriller, to having me as a guest speaker at an event that they’ve organized, I take my hat off to them for all of their excellent service and knowledge. Thank you for everything.

It saddens me that where we are, librarians are being phased out in schools and there’s no such thing as a library anymore, it’s been replaced with something called a learning commons. I remember as a student relishing in the days that we got to go to the library to pick our books and the magic that the choosing entailed. Our librarian would read us a story before we chose our books and that was the best part of the day. It’s terrible that kids won’t experience this anymore as cutbacks and the bottom line seem to be the topic of conversation in the school system these days.

My elementary school librarian fostered my love of reading and perhaps subconsciously, she added to my desire to be an author and to be surrounded by books at all times.

So, today, tomorrow, and on Monday, be sure to high-five your favourite librarian! They deserve to be appreciated each day of the year, but especially today.

X LLB

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All About Audiobooks…

November 9, 2018- Ahhhh, audiobooks. There is nothing better than an audiobook, other than a paperback of course. In fact, I pick paperback first, then audiobook, then e-book. So what are the benefits of audiobooks and what place do they have in the literary community?

  1. Audiobooks can bring the characters to life, especially when the voice actor is amazing. Let me use an example; if you’ve ever read the Stephanie Plum series, One for the Money and so on, by Janet Evanovich, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The actor who does the voices for the audiobooks, Lorelei King, is so amazing that she sounds exactly how you would expect Stephanie and Lula to sound like in real life. This can also be a downfall, however! All it takes is a bad voice actor to ruin your favourite book. Like the person who reads the Murder, She Wrote series. Umm…why the hell is Angela Lansbury, not the voice? Exactly.
  2. Audiobooks are perfect for people who are on the go. You can listen to audiobooks anywhere, on planes, trains, and in automobiles. They are totally portable and you don’t even need wifi to use them. I bribe myself with an audiobook when I have to do things that I hate…such as the treadmill, or running. I plug in my earphones, turn on my audiobook and forget what I’m doing as I’m immersed in the story. Using audiobooks, I was able to “read” 60 books last year. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t have audiobooks to listen to while I traveled.
  3. Audiobooks make non-fiction books go faster. A lot of non-fiction books can be utterly boring, especially when they’re about something that you’re not particularly interested in such as sales or the stock market. You can speed up your audiobook, skip to the end, and listen to them while you’re doing the dishes or making dinner. I know that audiobooks are different than Ted Talks, but I put them in the same category. Ask me when I don’t have a Ted Talk on…not very often! I think that we can learn things by listening and I’ve amazed myself more than once with the information I’ve retained by listening to audiobooks.
  4. Audiobook are excellent for auditory learners. I am an auditory learner in that I learn best by listening and not doing or seeing something. I’ve always learned this way and let me tell you, that schools do not accommodate this way of learning which is a shame. I was the kid that read each question out loud while doing homework because that’s how I learned. There are a bunch of different ways that people learn; Kinesthetic learners are people who learn by doing rather than by listening to a presentation or by watching a demonstration. Visual learners are those who learn by seeing something such as a graph, chart, or diagram. And as mentioned before, auditory learners who learn things by hearing/listening. I can’t tell you how much information I’ve learned from audiobooks, but it’s a lot!

So, if you’ve never downloaded an audiobook because you think it might not be for you, I urge you to reconsider! Give it a try, you just might love it.

X LLB

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Authors Born in November…

November 7, 2018– This month we’ll be focusing on authors that celebrating birthdays in November. Most of the authors we are going to talk about are deceased, but they’ve left such a mark on the literary landscape, that they’re impossible to forget.

Tomorrow, November 8th is Bram Stoker’s birthday! To celebrate his birthday and the genius that is his writing, here are some interesting facts about him:

  1. He fought with Oscar Wilde over a woman. Wilde, Florence Balcombe, and Stoker were all part of an intense love triangle! Stoker ended up winning the fight and married Florence.
  2. He got to meet two presidents. Stoker met Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley while he was visiting the United States as part of managing an actor by the name of Henry Irving. Stoker’s trips revolved around managing his client.
  3. He wrote romance novels. Stoker is known and much beloved for his supernatural works such as Dracula, but he also wrote romantic novels, in fact, over half of his works of fiction were classic Victorian romance pieces.
  4. Dracula was inspired by a woman. In fact, it was an essay by Emily Gerard titled, “Transylvania Superstitions,” that inspired Stoker’s Dracula. Oh, and remember Henry Irving, who Stoker managed? He was the physical inspiration for Dracula.

Happy Birthday, Bram Stoker! He would have been 171 years old tomorrow if still living…now that would be really something to write about!

X LLB