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Let’s Talk About Book Clubs…

October 3, 2018- Ahhh, book clubs! I will say that I’m a huge fan of them and the discussions that take place over wine or coffee with friends. A couple of years ago, I started a book club, and our first meeting was in the summer in my backyard; it was also our last meeting. We read The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the book, and I hoped for a lot more from it from what I had read on the back. Sometimes that’s a problem, isn’t it? We expect the inside of the book to be as good as, the back cover. But, now I’m rambling. Here are four tips for hosting a book club:

  1. Get some friends together and figure out what you’re going to read. What we did in our group when it came to choosing a book, it was the hostess picks first, then we take turns by birth month. If you have two people who are both born in the same month, the person with the earlier date goes first. It’s pretty diplomatic this way, and it also allows you to read outside of your genre which I’m always harping on!
  2. Set a time, date, and timeline. You need to decide how long the book will take to read, how long the book club meeting should be, and when the book club meeting will take place. For example, your book club could take place every third Tuesday of the month, the discussion is an hour long, and the book needs to be read in a month. It’s easy when you have a schedule to abide by.
  3. Choose a location. Again, what we did, was give each person a turn to host the book club in their home. If we were reading your book choice for the month, you were also the host of the book club meeting. Don’t feel any pressure to use this method though, you can comfortably host a book club at your local library or even a park, restaurant, or public place.
  4. Get your thoughts together. At our book club, w decided that we were just going to have an open discussion about the book and the characters with really no end game in mind. Sometimes the questions got off topic, and sometimes we were able to really stay in the moment. What I would recommend this time is to have a list of questions prepared. Perhaps every member could bring three questions or subjects to discuss that have to deal with the theme, characters, or even the style of writing. You could also talk about the ending, the parts you didn’t like, and why.

Unfortunately, life got in the way of us carrying on our book club, and we kind of let it dissolve on its own. I’d love to start one up again one day soon, and in this day and age, there are so many ways to stay connected! Think outside of the box and maybe think about hosting a Skype-based book club or a chat room book club, but most of all, have fun!

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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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I Finished My Manuscript and My Book is in Hand! Now What?

May 16, 2018- My book is here! Now what?

I hear this statement all the time from new authors and although it’s a valid question…it makes me cringe. I know that this might sound a bit harsh, but as your big sis in the writing world, it’s my job to bring the rain…I mean truth.  It makes me shudder because it tells me that the author didn’t put in the work BEFORE finishing their ms and they’re about to have one hell of a rough time. Give me a chance to explain.

I’m focusing on one camp of authors, and that is our self-pub’d friends. So, the author has done the work, their book is completed, printed, and ready for sale! Yay right? Hold on a second…now is where the real work begins.

Too many times our self-published friends end up with a garage full of boxes of their books and that makes me sad because it doesn’t need to be that way! It’s not that the book was sub-par, it’s that they didn’t have a clear plan as to what they’d need to do at the selling stage. It’s an amazing feat to finish writing a book, but the truly incredible achievement is getting them into the hands of readers. A lot of the time there are visions of grandeur where tons of people line up to meet the author at book signings. Let me break it to you gently, this doesn’t happen unless your James Patterson or you’ve marketed the S*&T out of your upcoming event/book signing/book.

How are our friends going to sell their book? Where are they going to sell their books? Are the books available in print only or are they available electronically as well? Do they have a marketing plan? Do they have a solid author platform? And so on. See my point?

Let me pass on the best piece I’ve ever received from my mentor, “When you’re writing the book, it’s art. When the book is completed, it’s business-NEVER confuse the two.” That statement will stay with me for as long as I am in this world of publishing and well beyond.

My advice is to finish the manuscript, and then, before getting to the books in hand stage, craft your marketing plan and answer, at the very least, the questions above. It’s harder than it looks in the self-publishing world! Be prepared and remember that I believe in you! Tell your story-the world needs it.

X LLB

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Writing Prompt…

April 6, 2018- I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the writing prompt this week! It’s so creepy and interesting, and it’s given me a thousand different ideas for my own work. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Happy writing!

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20 Days of Giveaways is in Full Force!

January 2, 2018- I’m happy to say that my brand new thriller, Obsessed with Her will be hitting store shelves on Saturday, January 20th from 1-4 pm at my official book signing. The event will take place at Indigo Stone Church in Hamilton where I will be signing copies of my newest thriller. To mark the occasion, I’ve decided to run a fun little contest called The 20 Days of Giveaways! Each day from January 1st to 20th, I’ll be giving away a gift card that coincides with what is happening in each chapter. So far, an Air Canada gift card has been awarded on day 1 and we are well into day 2 with the prize being a Starbucks gift card! Follow me on Facebook to find out how to win! I hope to see you at my book launch and Happy New Year to all of my readers, family, and friends.

X LLB

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Are You on the List? Pre-order Now!

November 29, 2017- Hello friends! I just wanted to say that the support for my upcoming thriller, Obsessed with Her has been amazing. Thank you to everyone who has sent me messages asking about how to get a copy, here’s the rundown. I’ve decided to do a very special first edition of 100 copies, if you’d like your name on the pre-order list to receive the first edition, please send me a message via email (lacey_bakker@yahoo.ca) or Facebook messenger and I will ensure that you get a copy! Spots are filling up fast, and I’m so grateful to each and every one of you that have joined me on this journey. Thank you for all of your kindness and love.

XO LLB

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Creating Characters-A Quick & Dirty Guide

November 25, 2017- Here’s a quick and dirty guide to creating characters. This is just a taste but feel free to contact me for more information about the classes I teach!

  • Without characters what is the point- Characters are the heart of your novel
  • What a character wants- It’s critical for the reader to know what your character wants from the start.
  • No one has to like me- The reader doesn’t have to like your character let’s get that straight but they MUST be able to give the reader a reason to follow him. To continue to read his story.
  • But they must care about what happens to him, they might want to see him dead but wishing him dead invokes strong feelings.
  • Tension creates awesome characters, it shows your reader what they’re made of. Put them into tense situations and see how they fare.
  • Choose your name wisely! Stay away from things like Skye and Storm…publishers are sick of seeing these names over and over.

Here is a basic character creating checklist:

  • Name, sex, right or left handed, age, height, build, eye colour, hair colour, distinguishing marks eg. Tattoos, scars, birthmarks etc.
  • Parents, siblings, marital status, significant others, children, other relevant relatives, pets, friends, enemies, other relationships eg. The person they buy lottery tickets from every single day etc. religion if applicable, beliefs and superstitions.
  • Occupation, status, wealthy or not, living space, mode of transport, workspace, are they a neat freak or are they messy
  • Fears, secrets, eating habits or food preferences, sleeping habits, hobbies, pet peeves, how they relax, attitudes, stressors, obsessions, addictions, ambitions, how are they seen by others and how are they seen by themselves

The bottom line is the more that you know about your characters the better. Of course, you don’t have to include everything on the checklist in your book but the point is to know your character so well that it comes through in your writing. Let a little of your character seep out at a time and be sure to show and not tell.

  • Make your character memorable but believable
  • What are the characters flaws? Arrogance, lust, greed, self-destruction, martyrdom, self-deprecation, martyrdom, stubbornness etc.
  • Don’t forget about facial expressions, body language, and emotions
  • Make sure you know your secondary/supporting characters, as well as you, know your protagonist
  • Remember that the secondary characters don’t know that they are secondary characters
  • Don’t let your characters have what they want
  • Ask yourself how you can make your character’s situation worse
  • Build flaws and conflict into the setting
  • Create conflict between characters (not only the protagonist and the antagonist but also between the characters who are friends and allies)
  • Increase the consequences of failure for the hero
  • Remember to blur the lines! The hero doesn’t know who to trust or the hero has clashes with the law, the hero hurts those closest to him, society turns on the hero.
  • Do terrible things to your character. Make them suffer a horrible loss or maim them if necessary.
  • Creating characters is the most important thing you do. If you get it wrong your story will be wrong no matter how well plotted.
  • These are the characters that you need to STOP writing! The hunky, brooding, and mysterious guy: mystery does not mean substance. The Mary Sue: the perfect main character who always gets everything right but doesn’t see it, everyone loves her and she can do no wrong. The popular girl: she’s mean and hates the protagonist for no reason. The nerdy sidekick: make sure their existence means something or kill them.
  • Make sure your character is always acting in character. Don’t make them do something that they wouldn’t normally do. Eg. Your character never combs his hair because he’s bald. Make sure you don’t put him in a bathroom with a comb, brushing his hair.
  • Give every character a reason to be in the story, if there is no reason for them to be in the story then kill them off.

Hope you enjoyed a tiny piece of character creation! Now get writing:)

X LLB

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