February 4, 2019– A lot of aspiring authors get confused when asked by publishers who their novel is for. It can be tricky to differentiate between middle-grade novels and novels for young adults, so I thought that we would explore that topic today and clear things up.
For ages 8-12
Length is 30,000 to 50,000 words
No profanity, graphic violence, or sexuality. Romance in middle-grade novels is limited to first kiss or crush.
Age of protagonist is 10-13 (ten for the younger MG and 13 for the older readers)
Focus on friends, family, and the immediate world of the main character and their relationship to it. The characters react to what happens to them with zero to minimal self-reflection.
Voice is usually third person.
For ages 13-18
Length is 50,000 to 70,000 words
Profanity, graphic violence, romance, and sexuality (except for eroticism) are all allowed thought NOT required/necessary.
Age of protagonist is 14-18 BUT NOT yet in college/university. Young adult protagonists can be 14-15 years old for the younger reader, with safer content aimed at the middle school crowd. For older and edgier young adult protagonists, the can be up to 18.
Focus on how they fit into the world and what their place is beyond their friends and family. They spend more time discovering who they are and reflecting on the choices they make. They are analytical with the meaning of things.
Voice is usually first person.
This is a quick and easy way to know which group your novel fits into. Happy writing! X LLB
November 28, 2018– I know that authors are usually introverts who enjoy spending a lot of time alone. If we didn’t enjoy our alone time, we’d never get anything done. Spending time in solitude is essential when trying to finish your novel, but spending too much time by your lonesome is detrimental to your business and sales.
Networking is essential to your business of writing, whether you’re traditionally or self-published. Aligning yourself with like-minded individuals allows you to connect and build relationships, and after all, isn’t that the point? Here are some tips below on how to get networking:
Join a professional association. I am a member of three writing associations that make sense for what I write about. I urge you to do the same. Do a quick Google search for writing associations that you can apply to. The first association I belong to is the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in Canada, the second is The SOA (Society of Authors) in the United Kingdom, and the third is Sisters in Crime, the American National Chapter. All of these associations have publications that I subscribe to, and they offer networking opportunities around the world. For example, this coming February I will be attending a weekend conference in New York City with the SCBWI, where I am excited to meet my colleagues to build new and existing relationships. All of these have local chapters which I drop in on from time to time. Joining professional associations has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because not only does it help sell my books, it also allows me to keep on top of what is going on in the industry and has unlocked many new doors and opportunities. You never know who you’re going to meet that can change your life or who’s life YOU can change!
Join your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI. BNI stands for Business Network International, and it’s a very valuable source of referrals for people. I just recently became a member, and after the first meeting, I had three people ask me about what services I offer and if they could get a price quote on some special projects. Your Chamber of Commerce is also a great place to network and meet new people who could be looking for your services as a writer, or even wanting to read your next book. Don’t forget, wanting referrals is great, but you MUST build meaningful relationships first. It’s not only about what other people can do for you, but it’s also what you can do for them too.
Give back. Support a cause that you believe in. At Pandamonium Publishing House, we support a lot of causes that are close to our hearts; AAA minor hockey for a local team, Concussion, and Brain Injury clinics, kids derbies of all kinds, and of course, animal rescues and charities. Doing this fills our bucket, and we meet a ton of people along the way. Give freely without expecting anything in return. Talk to people, enjoy their company, and make a difference at the same time.
So go! Get out there and start connecting with people, you’ll be so glad that you did.
November 2, 2019– Yay! November is officially National Novel Writing Month. This is a great time to start writing or outlining your novel if you’ve finally decided to take the plunge! Look around you, there are so many things to be inspired by and the chilly weather is perfect for curling up by the fire with a new project.
But, did you know that there’s an official internet project based on the month? Let me explain: National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo /ˈnænoʊ ˈraɪmoʊ/), is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. Whoa…that’s a tall order, but I think that you can do it!
So I want to know, are you up for the challenge? What will you write about? Sound off in the comments below:) Happy Writing, you better get started! X LLB
October 15, 2018– Wow; This is a great infographic on how to pitch your novel or screenplay! As a traditional publisher, I cannot tell you how important it is to get your words on the page concisely and effectively, because publishers and movie makers expect this. It makes things easier for everyone and allows us to make a decision quickly and intelligently. Check out the info below from our friends at bang2write.com and keep this in mind the next time you pitch your work. Best of luck! X LLB
September 17, 2018– Middle-grade scripts are what I’m always looking for! There seems to be an infinite black hole in my line-up of offerings for this age group. My middle-grade submissions never close, so if you’re an MG writer, please submit! You can submit your query and one-page synopsis to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, let’s get inside the minds of our middle-grades, shall we? What is an MG reader? It’s a child between the ages of 8-12, and they seem to live in a world of conflict.
Middle-graders love their families, and they are fiercely loyal to them, but at the same time, they crave independence.
They want to fit in with friends and social groups at school, but they also want to be defined as unique, individual, and special.
They want to grow up, make choices, flex their independence, but they also want to be a kid, be safe, and are emotionally not mature enough to make tough decisions when faced with them.
At this age, MG’s are finding their place in the world and getting their feet wet in different situations; they don’t want to completely abandon their childhood, but they don’t want to be treated as kids all the time either. It’s truly a tough spot to be in, not only for them but also, in relating to them as a writer!
Here’s what you need to know to be a successful MG writer:
Tweens are focused on themselves, but they’re also focused on how others see them. Peer opinions are super important to them.
Heroes and parents aren’t perfect anymore. MG’s are starting to see them as humans with flaws and all.
Things are complex at this time in their lives, and they may be experiencing things for the first time in their lives, e.g., first kiss, first time they’ve been grounded, first time they’ve been in trouble at school, first fight with parents, etc.
If there is romance, make it innocent. Crushes are fine but don’t go too far beyond this.
To echo the above point, keep it PG and don’t go all the way to Young Adult writing with edgy themes and romantic scenes. There is a very LARGE line in the sand on this one. Keep it clean because the edgier you make your novel, the less chance it has to enter school libraries and conservative households.
September 12, 2018– I am currently reading (for the second time) The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. And I can’t say enough about this little book!
This book is the exact kick in the ass that us writers need. It’s no-nonsense, fuss-free look into what is really holding us back as artists! I highly recommend this book for anyone who dreams about writing the next Great Novel, anyone who has regrets over unfinished screenplays, poems, or paintings, and anyone who wants advice as an entrepreneur.
The War of Art is so valuable in unlocking hidden barriers within ourselves! This is a must-read for anyone who wants to start living.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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:
Gather writing materials
Find a cozy place
Write down your idea at the top of the page
Write down EVERYTHING that has to do with your idea.
Use Yes and What if as your guiding questions.
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!
June 25, 2018-The most important thing a writer can be other than creative is credible. This graph explains the limit of the human body which is essential stuff if you’re writing your character into a sticky situation!
Credibility is crucial because as soon as your reader calls bullshit on what you’ve written you’ve lost them and they’ll put your book down possibly to never pick it up again. It’s different if you’re writing fantasy and building your own world. However, if you’re writing in this one, here’s what you need to know about the limits of the human body.
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