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Picture Prompt…

September 21, 2018– I love picture prompts! Picture prompts are images that inspire you to write creatively; they’re useful for a couple of reasons:

  1. They get you out of your comfort zone. More often than not, the image won’t match what genre you usually write in. Today’s picture prompt is especially true for me because I’m not a fantasy reader or writer.
  2. They help you focus. Picture prompts force us to focus on an idea, and they don’t allow us to write randomly. They provide the bones for a story and allow us to branch out from there. They give us a bit of structure to get started.

Here is today’s Picture Prompt; Happy Writing!

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So, You Want to be a Blogger?

September 10, 2018– Blogging is a blast! I absolutely love creating blog content for clients and for most, it’s an untapped market for writers to capitalize on!

Blogging is not only fun, but it’s also a great side gig for writers to get paid. Blogging helps us write about different topics and helps us flex our creative writing muscles and sometimes even our non-fiction muscles depending on the type of blog posts we write!

Now let’s say that you’re ready to start your OWN blog! What to write about is the biggest question. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Take a trip to the store. Browse the magazine section and take note of all the types of magazines there are. Which topics interest you? Is it Cooking? Lifestyle? Gadgets/Technology? Parenting? Fashion? Finance? Sports? Home?
  2. Write what you like to read about. Simply put, if we like to read about it, it may be something easy for us to write about. For example, You enjoy reading gardening magazines, why not blog about this year’s crop of cherry tomatoes that you have growing in your backyard? You could blog about the challenges you faced with too much rain, or how you expertly got rid of bugs that threatened your fruit, with a natural insect repellent. You get the picture.
  3. Write about your hobbies or interests. Are you stuck on stamps from the early 1900’s? Do you like to knit things for kids? What about sports, are you into horseback riding? Do you love to travel around the world while staying in Air Bnb’s? Chances are if you’re interested in it, someone else in the world is too and would be intrigued to read about it from your perspective.
  4. What are you an expert in? Maybe you’re a contractor who specializes in custom horse barns, or perhaps you’re a classicly trained pastry chef who specializes in all things sweet, whatever you’re an expert in, is valuable to your readers! Write what you know and write what you’re the best at.

Happy Blogging! But before you go, make sure you subscribe to this blog!

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So You Want to Write a Romance…Here’s What It’s Not.

September 7, 2018– Congratulations! You’ve decided to write a romance. Romance novels have a long and interesting past. Romantic fiction is a genre that explores some of the most powerful emotions ever known to humans. Lust, love, and greed are just a few of the motivators in romance novels, and we all know that we would do just about anything for love (to quote Meatloaf). Myself, I admire people who can write romance because I’m sure as hell not one of them!

What is a Romance Novel?  Here’s how most A romance novel consists of two people who meet, have a problem with building their relationship, but in the end, they live happily ever after while gazing into each other’s eyes while riding off into the sunset. Umm…not exactly!  See? This is why I can’t write romance.

Here’s what a romance novel, IS NOT: 

  1. Always a happy ending. Yes, they must have an optimistic ending, but the characters should deal with trauma and problematic events. Here’s a sample: She stared out the window and watched the rain slip down the cold pane of glass. She knew she’d never see him again, but she knew that she could never forget him. 
  2. Always conflict-free. Come on, seriously? A good romance novel is first and foremost about the characters, and we have all experienced problems in our relationships, life, and work. Why should your characters be any different than real people with real problems? Everyone has had at least one bad romantic encounter!
  3. Soft porn for lonely women. No. This isn’t the case at all. Not all romance novels have sex scenes and not all sex scenes border on pornography. Romance novels encourage women to go after what they desire, want, and need. They’re not for lonely women, they’re for women who enjoy this genre. That’s all.

Now that you know what Romance Writing isn’t you can start writing about what it is.

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What is Stormwriting? Do You Know?

September 5, 2018- We’ve all heard of brainstorming and I’m confident that as writer’s, we tend to do this to a fault. I say to a fault because of how much time we spend brainstorming instead of writing, which is really what we should be doing instead.

Brainstorming, as we know, is where you start with a blank piece of paper in front of you and you’re supposed to come up with new ideas. There’s a problem with the rigidity of this. We think that we’re just supposed to write down ideas, single words, and we are encouraged to think laterally.

What if I told you there was a better way? Enter Stormwriting! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Gather writing materials
  2. Find a cozy place
  3. Write down your idea at the top of the page
  4. Write down EVERYTHING that has to do with your idea.
  5. Use Yes and What if as your guiding questions.
  6. Keep writing, don’t edit! Just get it on paper.

Let’s do an example from one of my own novels set to launch next year:

My Name is Jessica Westlake (is the title so I put this at the top of the page)

  • Her name is Jessica Westlake, why is her name Jessica Westlake? Has this always been her name?
  • She is blonde with blue eyes, tall, trim, married, no children, having an affair with her neighbour
  • Her husband is a high profile lawyer, he cheats on Jessica with the mistress that works for him
  • They are rich in money but poor in morals
  • They have a big house, a maid, and nice cars
  • Jessica grew up poor, her parents were horrible and they did things to her that are inexplicable
  • They live in Boston in a very expensive neighbourhood
  • Her husband is abusive and treats her like garbage
  • What if the husband catches Jessica and the neighbour? What if he seeks vengeance for what they’ve done?
  • What if things were more complicated? What if the neighbour was also cheating with the husband?

See what I mean? It’s pretty easy to go down the rabbit hole on this exercise, isn’t it?

Also, this contains ZERO  spoilers for my next novel:) I wouldn’t ruin it for you! Now get stormwriting!

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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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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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