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Fall Reading Challenge…

October 5, 2018– Ahhhhhh Fall; what a wonderful season! It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up and read. Check out the fall reading challenge below, but feel free to substitute where you need to. Happy fall and happy reading!

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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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Writing Prompt…

August 29, 2018- I love writing prompts and today’s prompt is especially fun! This works really well when I have writer’s block and when I want to start the creative juices flowing.

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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Do Author School Visits Matter?

August 13, 2018- I do a lot of school visits as an author, and someone once asked me the question, “Do author visits make a difference in kids’ lives?” I took a second to think about that. “Yes, they do. And let me prove it to you.” More on this in a second.

I love, love, love going to schools as a visiting author with the opportunity to read my books to young people! It is such a unique and wonderful experience that no two schools are the same. I leave with a sense of gratitude for the young minds that allow me their attention for even a brief time and for the teachers and librarians that welcome me with open arms, into their schools and their spaces. The questions that the children ask are fun, funny, and sometimes very personal! But, enough about what we as authors get out of school visits, what do the children receive?

According to a recent study that was conducted in 2013, by California State University, children receive the following benefits from author school visits:

  1. Author visits motivate children to read more. Kids passion for reading is ignited before, during, and after an author visit. They get excited about things that they can relate to such as an in-person visit from someone who is real! I often hear them say that they too want to be authors when they grow up.
  2. Author visits inspire creativity and expression. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a school where the kids have created a comic book for me, complete with illustrations, or how many times they’ve created a poem or handmade card.
  3. Author visits motivate children to write more. Children often hurry home after an author has visited their school because they’ve suddenly caught the writing bug. They want to write about anything, and everything, plus, author visits can also spark ideas to write about.

It is always beneficial to have an author visit your school! There are so many reasons why you should book a visit for the upcoming school year. Not only is it fun, but it’s also educational and entertaining.

I do in-person school visits, but I also offer live Skype visits and readings with schools that are abroad. Please contact pandapublishing8@gmail.com for more information.

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The Great Agatha Christie!

March 30, 2018- Last November while our friend Alan was visiting from England, the movie Murder on the Orient Express came out. It was based on the book of the same title, by author Agatha Christie. I hadn’t really read or followed her work before this, to be honest, although I had heard much about her. We bought the book and then saw the movie-both were terrific, but for me personally, I enjoyed the book more…it’s always that way for me:) I found this really cool fact about Agatha and just had to share. She continues to astound me with her writing and personal life. I know I’m a little late, but now, I will always be a fan!

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