July 5, 2019– Check out the question for this week!
Q: “Lacey, how do you manage to keep positive when people tell you they don’t like your work? I wrote a short story and my colleagues didn’t care for it. They were nice enough, but I could tell that they weren’t being completely truthful so I pressed them and they told me the truth finally. I was pretty upset and hurt. Maybe I should quit writing…”
A: “This is a good question! I get hate mail all of the time telling me that I’m a terrible writer, that people don’t like my books, and that I should stop writing because I have no talent. It’s something that comes with the territory and this business has given me a thick skin!” Here’s how I manage to stay positive:
- I remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion. That’s just it, it’s their opinion and not the truth or reality that I choose to focus on. They can hate me and my books and I’m ok with it because writing is art and art is subjective.
- I stay in my own lane and focus on my own craft. I don’t pay attention to what other people say about me. You will never be criticized by someone doing more than you. Read that again. If I worried about what other people thought of me, I’d never write another word.
The point is, keep writing because you want to write. Who cares what anyone else thinks? The only person’s opinion that matters is yours.
June 28, 2019– Another Friday, another question! Let’s check it out:
Q: “Lacey, I’ve just been put in charge of writing my company’s newsletter (Dentist office) each month. Any tips for me on how to get started and come up with new info? I’m struggling.”
A: It’s pretty cool that you’re in charge of the newsletter! You’ll get to flex your writing muscles and hopefully get paid to do so. Here are some tips that work across all businesses.
- Use a catchy headline. Your headline has to grab your audience and make them want to read further.
- Make it easy to read. Use short sentences and don’t go overboard with the terminology that your audience may not understand. I’m not saying to dumb it down, but I’m saying keep who you’re writing for in mind. If you’re writing to other dentists instead of patients, then go ahead and get technical.
- Make it useful. Offer the readers information that is useful to them. They need a reason to subscribe to your newsletter and it has to be valuable and relevant info to them.
- Cite your references. If you’re quoting someone or using studies from white papers to share data, be sure to cite your references!
Newsletters are a great way for companies to keep in touch with their clients, they’re great for announcements and offers, and they’re a fun way to inform your clients about what you’re up to. If you don’t have a newsletter, you should consider making one!
June 21, 2019– Wow, this is an excellent question! Let’s dive right in.
Q: “Lacey, my family doesn’t support my dream of becoming a writer. They tell me that I won’t make any money and that I should focus on getting a real job. Writing is something I love, but I understand that I will need to pay my bills at the same time. How do I convince them that I’m doing something that I love and that this will pay off?”
A: Whoa…for a second after reading this, I was at a loss for words. I’ll break it down because there are a couple of hidden questions in here and I don’t want to miss them.
- My family doesn’t support my dream of becoming a writer. Sometimes, families aren’t supportive of our dreams. They mean well, but then again, some of them don’t. Some families don’t support the arts, and they don’t understand or appreciate any form of artistic expression. This can be very difficult. You have to follow your OWN path and whatever journey that leads you on. No one can decide what you should do with your life. If you want to be a writer, by all means, do it! Find others that will support you in all of your endeavours no matter what they are.
- They tell me I won’t make any money and I should focus on getting a real job. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this has been said to me time and time again. “Writer’s don’t make any money,” “How are you going to pay your bills?” “No one is going to buy your books,” “Who do you think you are?” Yep, it hurts. But, that’s what makes victory so sweet. The fact is, there are millions of writers out there who make plenty of money writing books. And there are so many ways to make a living writing! You can write for magazines, you can do copywriting, editing, content creation, blogging, journalism, and hundreds of other things that revolve around writing. Focus on honing your skills and getting as much experience as possible. Last time I checked, which was 56 seconds ago, writing was a real job.
- How can I convince them that I’m doing something I love and that this will pay off? You can’t and you never will convince them so stop trying. Do what you want to do because YOU want to do it. Life is way too short to be living your life based on what other people want you to do, say, or think. Getting up in the morning is a gamble, crossing the street is a gamble, travelling is a gamble, and the list goes on. There are no guarantees in life except that we only have one shot at it. Don’t spend your life wondering what if. If this is what you want to do, you don’t need anyone else’s approval. I can’t tell you that this will pay off, but what I can tell you is that you won’t regret trying. We only regret the chances we never take.
Keep your head up. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
If you have a question you’d like answered, please send us an email to email@example.com.
June 14, 2019– Let’s check out today’s question!
Q: “Lacey, I’m working on a couple of novels at the same time and I’m having a hard time keeping things straight! I’ve mixed up my characters and plots in a couple of points during the story and am driving myself crazy. How do I fix this?”
A: Well, kudos to you for working on not one, but two novels! That’s very exciting. Yes, it can be difficult when working on multiple projects to keep things in order. I can’t tell you how many manuscripts I’ve edited that have had the wrong name (or the previous name) of the character written down in later chapters. The good news is that it happens to everyone. The other good news is that it’s easy to fix!
- Sticky notes are your friend. Before sitting down to work on either one of your novels take a sticky note and write the main character’s name in BOLD, BLACK, marker. Stick it to the screen of your laptop. This is a visual reminder of what you’re working on and which character/book requires your attention.
- One thing per day. Section your week into specific days that you will work on each project. For example, I write Becoming James Cass on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and I write I am Jessica Westlake on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It’s much easier to write on certain days rather than to spend the morning of each day working on project one, and the afternoon working on project two. You’ll be less inclined to make a mistake…unless of course you’re like me and you never know what day it is.
Keep the questions coming! I love helping out fellow authors and answering your questions:) X LL B
June 7, 2019– This is an excellent question that a reader asked me over the phone. He had written a book about baseball and had a couple of questions regarding copyright. Let’s check out what he had to say, below:
Q: “Lacey, I’ve written a book about the history of baseball and want to use photographs throughout my book, what do I need to know and is this possible?”
A: Great question! This whole copyrighting issue can get a bit messy at times, so let me explain how it works when wanting to use images.
- Stock Images: You can use stock images that have no attribution required. There are multiple sites online that have stock images that you can use however you’d like. No attribution required means that you don’t have to give credit to the photographer or the owner of the image.
- Public Domain: Did you know that all images published before January 1, 1923, in the United States are now public domain? See if the images you’d like to use are in this category, because you may not need to get permission to use them.
- Buy Photos: You can always buy photos from the photographer on sites like istockphoto.com, shutterstock, and fotosearch.
- Email: Send an email to the person who holds the copyright of the image and ask their permission to use it. Sometimes there will be a charge and sometimes there won’t it depends on what the owner of the photo decides.
- Wikipedia: You can use the images from Wikipedia as long as you cite them.
In all cases, except for the first two on the list, you must give credit to the person who owns the photos. Please remember that copyright is very important and not something to be infringed upon. All artists deserve to be recognized for their work. It’s up to them to say no attribution required, so always check beforehand what the case is. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble this way and be able to give credit where it is due. X LLB
May 31, 2019– This is an interesting question that I got from a reader during a book signing that I was at with Obsessed with Her. I’ve been asked this on more than one occasion so I thought it might be good to share!
Q: “Lacey, why did you write a prequel to Obsessed with Her? Why not a sequel, and did you have this in mind from the beginning?”
A: I wrote a prequel to Obsessed with Her because the story wasn’t finished yet. I needed to release the books in this order for the story to make sense and for quite simply the sake of interest in the character and his development. I didn’t want to leave my readers with a ton of backstory to start with so the manuscript demanded to be written and released this way.
I didn’t write a sequel to Obsessed with Her because the ending is final. There is no chance of a sequel and that’s all I’ll elude to as to not spoil it for those who have not finished or read the book yet.
Yes, I had this prequel in mind from the beginning, I hadn’t written it yet, but it was always going to happen. Obsessed with Her is unfinished without the prequel and leaves the reader with too many questions. The prequel shows why James Cass behaves the way he does and what type of person he truly is. Obsessed with Her will make perfect sense after the release of, Becoming James Cass (prequel) that is set to hit the shelves this October!
May 24, 2019-On this week’s segment of Publisher’s Corner, I tackle a subject that is close to my heart. Let’s check it out!
Q: “Lacey, You say reading is important for writers, but I barely have time to breathe let alone read! How do you find time to read so many books?”
A: I love this question! In 2018 I read 60 books; to be clear, I should say that I completed 60 books because I used a variety of mediums to do so. Here’s what I recommend to help you reach your reading goals:
- Audiobooks– These are fantastic for people who are constantly on the go. I use audible.com and iTunes to download books on all topics and I love their portability. You can listen to them anywhere-I listen to them while I drive, while I’m waiting at the airport, on the beach, on planes, exercising, and while I’m doing household chores. You wouldn’t believe how many books you can get under your belt just by popping in a pair of earphones.
- E-books– Of course, I prefer paperbacks, but when in a crunch, I pull out my trusty e-reader. Again, the portability is great because you can download as many books as you want without taking up a bunch of room in your suitcase. You can whip out your phone and read a few pages of a book any time you have to wait somewhere!
- Read in-between time– During the day we find ourselves with a few minutes here and there. Sometimes we have time between meetings or half an hour before our kids get home from school and we end up playing on our phones or checking our email. I urge you to consciously look for the times-in-between and use them to get some reading done! Five minutes here and there add up over time and before you know it, you’ll be done a novel or two.
- Set a realistic goal– 60 books a year may not be realistic for you based on your lifestyle. Set a goal that you’ll be able to reach based on what you think you can achieve-don’t set a marker so high that it’s unattainable, but not so low that it’s unmotivating.
Reading is addictive and once you start, you may not be able to stop. Consider yourself warned:) X LLB
May 17, 2019– Today on Publisher’s Corner, I’ll answer a question that everyone wants to know!
Q: “Lacey, is it hard being an author?”
A: Yes. Done. Thanks and see you next week. Ok, but seriously, yes-it’s extremely difficult to not only become an author but to stay an author. Let me explain the rollercoaster:
- Beginning: You’ll be rejected more times that you can count. You will think you’re a no-talent hack and that’s on the good days. You’ll cry yourself to sleep and then wake up the next morning and do it all over again. You’ll suffer from insomnia and find yourself asking, WHAT THE F*CK at least once a day when your characters refuse to speak to you.
- Middle: You’ll finally get a book deal and be on top of the world! You’ll feel like you’ve made it, but now the work truly begins. You worry about the next book and what if the publisher hates it, what if you’re a one-hit wonder, what if people hate your book? You’ll feel totally vulnerable and second guess every single word you write. The waiting is the worst part as it usually takes 2-5 years for a book to be released to the public. You’ll want to throw in the towel but don’t! You still have to fight with your editor and publisher when they recommend taking out the best part of your story.
- End: Your book comes out and now your work has increased four hundredfold. You have to market the book, (yes, even if you’re traditionally published), sell the book, talk to people about the book, set up your displays, network, make contacts, do book signings, lug your crap from place to place and sweat your ass off while doing it in 5 inch stilettos. You’ll have people tell you to your face that they don’t like your work or even better, that they don’t like you. Some days you’ll go home with your tail between your legs because you didn’t sell a single copy of your book even though you tried with all of your might.
But listen, it’s not all bad. Being an author has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And the icing on the cake? Reading my nephews and niece the books that I WROTE and dedicated to them. You’ll make friends with amazing people and those friendships last for life. You’ll have fabulous opportunities around the world to talk about your books and visit international book fairs in various countries. You’ll be asked to be a guest speaker at major events and you’ll get to read your book to kids in schools all over the city and the country. People will find your books on the shelf at major stores and around the world. Your books make a difference and one day, someone will tell you that YOU are their favourite author. The GOOD outweighs whatever bad there is. The world needs your art so go out there and create something that outlives you. X LLB
May 10, 2019– On this episode of Publisher’s Corner, I answer a question from someone who is struggling with outlining. Ahhh, outlining is an old friend who I don’t particularly like to be honest. I’ll explain why in my answer below, so let’s dig in!
Q: “Lacey, Outlining is something that I’ve struggled with in the past. Which method do you tend to prefer?”
A: This is an excellent question and I’ll be real and say that EVERYONE struggles with outlining! Why? Because some information out there is so damn complicated without needing to be. I agree that outlining is difficult because it’s often a case of not knowing how to organize your thoughts as an author. Organized thoughts and author in the same sentence? I know, eh? Crazy. There are a few different methods to outlining, but you have to discover which is best for you as a writer. I prefer the Get-it-all-out-and-sew-it-together method, which is kind of like putting pieces of a puzzle in place. You choose whatever is best for you!
See you next Friday, Happy Writing! X LLB
May 3, 2019– It’s that day of the week again (aka FriYay) where we head on over to Publisher’s Corner to answer your questions about writing and publishing and today’s question is a doozy!
Q: “Lacey, I’ve written a picture book and I keep getting rejected! One publisher told me that my manuscript was boring…I don’t know what to do, please help!”
A: Ouch. Let me just say that at least this person got a response back from a publisher that wasn’t just a form letter and now the writer can regroup and start again. The publisher isn’t being a jerk because they want to be, they’re just sick and tired of the same old, same old. Let me explain what publisher’s DON’T WANT to see in Kid’s books.
- They don’t want the same old characters. Diversity is key. We want to see characters that have different backgrounds, different beliefs, and celebrations, that have different abilities, different family units, and different ethnicities. Kids want to see books on the shelves that look like them! They can’t be what they can’t see.
- They don’t want the same old story. Done to death is an expression that I use more often than I’d like to. We are tired of the same old stories that sound like this, “Timmy went to school and had a nice day. His teacher was nice, he made friends and came home. He couldn’t wait to go to school the next day. The End.” Someone please hand me a sharp object so that I can gouge my eyes out. Look at books that are unique and different a la The Day The Crayons Quit, or The Book With No Pictures, or P is for Pterodactyl. (Three of my favourites that I wish I had written, insert crying face here.)
- They don’t want something that won’t sell. Salability is key. A picture book is around an $8,000.00 investment for the publisher. We want to at least make our money back and then some. Don’t send us a book that preaches to kids (leave that to the parents) or that is the fifteenth of it’s kind (eg. Diary of a Not So Wimpy Kid…also a legal liability) or that is not marketable. I’ll leave the politics and religion out of this, but I know you get the drift.
Those are just three things we don’t want to see on our desk as publishers. There are more, but if you stick to leaving these out, you’ll have a good shot at getting your manuscript read. X LLB