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I Challenge You to Challenge Your Challenges…

January 18, 2018-Read the title again. It sounds confusing, I know, but in reality, it’s quite simple. This year I want you to challenge your challenges! But what does that mean? Let me help you with the process:

  1. Make a list of all of the challenges you’ve had in your writing career to date. I’m talking everything. Some of these challenges might include not getting a traditional publishing deal, not meeting deadlines, not getting enough or any speaking engagements, not selling enough books or earning enough income to survive with your work. Maybe it’s not having enough time to sit down and write or scheduling blocks of writing sessions. Perhaps you haven’t been able to join any associations, or you haven’t been able to do any continuing education for your writing. Whatever the challenges you’ve experienced, write them ALL down.
  2. Make a list of all of your writing accomplishments to date. Yes, again, this means everything! Perhaps you’ve been able to read your book in schools, or maybe you’ve had something published in one of your favourite magazines, perhaps you’ve been able to secure a grant for the historical fiction book you’re writing, or maybe you’ve been asked to be a guest speaker somewhere. Maybe you’ve started a blog that has received tons of visits, or maybe you’ve self-published a book on Amazon. Whatever the accomplishment, however big or small, be sure to write it down.
  3. Find the gap in between. This is where challenging your challenges comes in to play; look over your list of accomplishments, look at everything you’ve been able to do thus far, you should be proud of yourself! Now study the two lists you’ve made and find the gap in between, the difference in between your challenges and your accomplishments is ACTION. So, let’s go back to the challenges list and use not having any speaking engagements as an example. Why haven’t you had any? Have you put forth enough action? Have you contacted everyone you know? Have you sent out emails introducing yourself and what your work is about? Have you labeled yourself as an expert in your field and have you knocked on every door to see if people are interested in what you have to say? Now, if you look at your list of accomplishments, do you remember what you had to do to get there? Do you remember the hours you put in? Do you remember the emails, postcards, phone calls, rejections, and getting up and trying again? When you apply enough effort to something, eventually, you get exactly what you want. Apply the same amount of effort to your challenges as you did to your accomplishments, and soon enough, the list of accomplishments will grow, while the list of challenges, changes.

I love the saying, you can do anything you set your mind to, even though I believe something needs to be added to that statement. Here’s what I’ll say instead, “You can do anything you set your mind to and anything can be accomplished with enough effort, discipline, and action.”

This year, I challenge you to challenge your challenges. Happy writing! X LLB

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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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Let’s Talk About Excess…

January 2, 2018– By now, I’m sure you’re sick of Christmas. Ok, maybe not sick of Christmas, but sick of the hullabaloo. It’s been over for about a week and the entire lead up to the special day has been excessive; holiday parties, work parties, get-togethers with friends, kid’s plays, decorating, shopping, eating, drinking, cleaning, spending, rushing, and cooking, it all becomes too much.

It’s time for a break! That’s what I love about a new year; it allows us to regroup and reset our lives and decide what we want for the coming year. I hate the word resolution because I think there are such negative emotions associated with it. I resolve to get fit, I resolve to save money, I resolve to climb to the top of the CN Tower, whatever it is, it’s all been said before. As humans, we are conditioned to want more, do more, spend more, say more, eat more, consume more, work more, pay more, and buy more. I for one, am so sick of it! It’s time to take control in all areas of our lives and use what we have until it runs out. And not to be the bearer of bad news, but most of the time when we resolve to do something, we fail. Sure, we start out strong with lots of momentum and we’re taking our healthy lunches to work, we’re hitting the gym five days a week at six in the morning, and we’re finally cutting back on coffee and getting more sleep. But, then the inevitable happens; life gets in the way and we slowly sink back into our comfortable realities. Of course, I’m not saying that it can’t be done, people change their entire lives every day, I’m just saying that there’s a better way.

The better way is to cut the excess. That’s it. It’s that simple and that hard. As writers and creatives, we often do things excessively; we use too many words, we have too many excuses as to why we didn’t write today, we have too many notebooks filled with ideas that we never follow through with. We have an excess of coffee mugs, an excess of deadlines, an excess of commitments, and an excess of time spent in front of our computers when we should be spending time with our loved ones. I’m pointing the finger straight at myself on this one. So, this year, I don’t resolve to do anything, but what I am going to do is finish what I start, one thing and one day at a time. I am NOT going to do anything to the point of excess. NOT. A. DAMN. THING. 2019 is my year of minimalism; it’s the year where I finally take control of my schedule, my writing, and my professional life. The funny thing is, it’s all been in my control from the start. I hope that you’ll join me in cutting out the excess in all areas of your writing life. Who knows? You could have your best year yet!

So, for 2019, the only things that I wish for you in excess are happiness, joy, and love.
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 are (Insert Name of famous Card Company Here)Movies so Predictable?

December 24, 2018 I’m not a fan of Christmas movies. I’m not a fan of all  Christmas movies, I do like Die Hard (best Christmas movie EVER) and the Grinch, but that’s about it. My loved ones, on the other hand, are major lovers of all things Hallmark. Here’s the whole storyline in a nutshell; a single, career woman who is too busy for love, but she has to move to a small town where a local, handsome bachelor teaches her the true spirit of Christmas. It starts snowing, they kiss, and there is a dog. The End. 

Did I miss anything? Didn’t think so. Yes, there is a place for story lines like this, people want to feel cuddly and cozy, and they want simplistic, feel-good stories with a happy ending. It’s fun to watch these movies with a cup of hot cocoa and baileys, hold the cocoa, and some cookies, while snuggled up with a blanket and a cat. But, there is no place for predictability in your writing. There ARE formulas to follow when writing of course; whether it’s romance or thriller, or mystery, there are certain elements that each genre contains.  Here are two easy tips to follow so that your writing doesn’t become stale like the leftover holiday treats currently sitting on your kitchen counter.

1) Approach your story as a reader

The above tip is probably obvious, but it’s the most important step when writing effective plot twists. If your reader can predict where the story is going, you’re sunk. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie and being able to know what happens before it happens. I do this quite frequently as a viewer/reader; we’ll be watching a movie and I’ll get up to pour some more wine (I have to drink wine while watching holiday movies…it’s the only way I can stand it) and as I leave the room, I’ll say to my husband, “Then her fiance comes back, she leaves with him, she returns when she realizes he’s the wrong guy, the Christmas guy and the main character kiss and live happily ever after.” UGH (insert eye roll here) I hate always being right.

When you’re plotting your novel constantly put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Which direction would you expect the story to go? What twists and turns come to mind? Write all of these down and then throw them in the garbage and delete them out of your manuscript forever. If you think there’s the slightest possibility that the reader can figure out your plot twist, you’re probably right. Change it.

2) Ensure your twist is believable and necessary – and makes sense

Plot twists are sudden, unexpected changes of direction, but they must still be realistic and believable. No matter how unpredictable your plot twist might be, a plot twist doesn’t make sense or further the story is not effective. Readers won’t be impressed and they may even get frustrated and stop reading. Don’t resort to hacks, and never introduce a plot twist just for the sake of including one. Remember Sharknado? Yeah. Well there you go, see what I mean?

There you have it, two sure-fire ways to make sure your writing is unpredictable, but meaningful. Happy writing! X LLB

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It’s Time for a Break…

December 24, 2018– We work extremely hard around here and as an author, you do too! I’m going to be honest and say that it’s the time of year where I am running on fumes and barely making it from day to day at the hectic pace I’ve been keeping for almost a year. It’s time for a break and here’s how I know that it’s time: (Let me know in the comments below how YOU know that it’s time for you to take a break)

  1. I’m not enjoying what I’m doing anymore. Yep, this is a sure sign that I need a break from working. I LOVE what I do, I appreciate the business that I’m in, and I love to work. I know that when I’m not loving things anymore and I’m struggling to get through my fifteen hour days, that it’s time for a break.
  2. I want to stay in bed. Ugh, my day usually begins anywhere from 5:00 am to 6:00 am depending on what I’ve got on my schedule. Usually, I jump out of bed and can’t wait to get my day started, but when I’m in need of a break, I find that I’m sleeping longer and hitting the snooze button on my alarm. My body and my brain are telling me that it’s time to rest.
  3. I have major writer’s block. Words usually flow like a faucet when I’m writing and when I’m working on something I love like blogging. When I’m out of steam, I find that the words are difficult to find, I can’t put words on paper, and it takes me forever to get anything done. The blog posts this week, for example, have taken me almost two weeks to complete. Usually, it takes me a week to write ALL of the blog posts for the MONTH.
  4. I’ve lost my motivation and avoid important tasks while focusing on useless projects. This is a huge sign that I’m in desperate need of respite. Yeah, I’ve got two books to write, four manuscripts to edit, three shows to get ready for, and task, after task, after task on my to-do list, but do you know what I’m going to do instead? I’m going to clean out a junk drawer that has been in the kitchen. GAHHHHHH!
  5. I get crabby, and the little things set me off. WHY IS THERE NO PERIOD HERE? I scream into a random manuscript on my desk. Whoa, take it easy, it’s not a big deal, it’s all going to be ok. When it’s time for a break from it all, the little things will drive me insane. Walk away from the desk and put down the pen for a while, my sanity depends on it.

So, with all being said, it’s time for me to rest, relax, and recuperate over the next few days so that I can be well rested for our big plans in 2019! From all of us at Pandamonium Publishing House, we wish you and your family a Very Merry Christmas, and a Safe and Happy Holiday.

X LLB

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Learning to Love Failure (as an Author)

December 19, 2018– Failure is a part of life,  everybody fails at something one time or another. It’s important to embrace failure in a way that we can learn and grow from it. I’m a big believer that every no brings us closer to a yes. It’s easy to get discouraged, but I promise that failure isn’t so bad! Maybe you’ve failed at securing a book deal, maybe you’ve failed in reaching the target you set for yourself in book sales, or you’ve received yet another rejection letter; whatever it is, don’t give up!  Here are three reasons why failure is a good thing: 

  1. Failure is a great teacher. Here’s the thing; failure is going to happen no matter how hard you try to avoid it so don’t fear failure, embrace it! Failure teaches us more than success ever will. Don’t expect to fail, but when it happens, accept it and move on. However, don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly, learn from them, get better, and move on. 
  2. Failure helps us reach our potential. When we have a no fear attitude, we are able to take risks and when we take risks, we get the chance to be rewarded. It’s when we operate outside of our comfort zones that we accomplish the most. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. Failure motivates us to do better, push harder, and persevere until we succeed. 
  3. Failure builds character and keeps us humble. When our egos are in charge, we don’t learn anything; our egos always want to be right which is dangerous because of course, sometimes we are wrong. Failure reminds us that we still have a lot to learn no matter how much we think we already know!  Failure reminds us that we can do better and that as long as we are willing to keep trying, we will succeed eventually. 

Now, I know this post is probably not what you want to hear, but if we don’t look at failure as an opportunity, then it’s wasted and we are likely to keep making the same mistakes again and again. Fail forward; it’s the only way. 

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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