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Two Words Holding You Hostage

June 17, 2020– There are two words that hold us hostage; can you guess what they are? WHAT IF. Yep, what if holds us back more than anything else. The mere thought of failure and worst-case scenario thinking keeps us from realizing our dreams, finishing our novels/writing projects, and reaching our full potential. Today, we’ll be doing an exercise that will help with a case of the what if’s…check it out below:

  1. Write down a list of your worst what if’s: e.g. What if I quit my job to pursue my writing career and it didn’t work out? What if I write a book and can’t sell it? What if people hate my book? Write down everything you can think of that has the possibility of a negative outcome.
  2. Take the above list and write down the POSITIVE what if’s: e.g. What if I quit my job to pursue my writing career and become a best selling author? What if I write a book and I sell a million copies? What if people love my book and tell me how much they enjoyed it?
  3. Examine the lists and ask yourself if the worst did happen, would you be ok? Chances are YES. Also, make a list of HOW you can get to the positives. e.g. What if I quit my job to pursue my writing career and it didn’t work out? I could get another job or start saving money to take a year off and see what happens. What if I write a book and can’t sell it? I could take classes on how to market my work, how to network, and the best places to sell my book.

The point is to stay positive, be fearless, and have a plan in place! There’s no what if that you can’t handle!

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Fight Me

April 13, 2020– We know that every story must have conflict and resolution, but did you know that there are six different types of story conflict? Let’s explore:

  1. Person vs. Person– This is the most common type of conflict in novels. It is the protagonist vs. antagonist (hero vs. villain). A good example of this type of conflict is…well…take any Disney movie; Gaston vs. the Beast, Ariel vs. Ursula, Mulan vs. the Huns and so on. There are too many examples to list of this kind of conflict!
  2. Person vs. Nature– This means conflict between characters and environment such as natural disasters etc. Some perfect examples of this type of conflict are the books/movies Twister or Dante’s Peak.
  3. Person vs. Self- I like to think that my novel Becoming James Cass (coming soon from Pandamonium Publishing House) is an excellent example of the conflict between the main character and himself. He’s always struggling to fight off his demons and has a ton of inner-conflict and self-destructiveness.
  4. Person vs. SocietyThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is an excellent example of this type of conflict. Struggles between individuals and the social codes in their world are what this type of conflict is all about.
  5. Person vs. Supernatural– We’re talking about pretty much any book by Stephen King. Pet Sematary is one of my favourites, but so is It…these are excellent examples of conflict between characters and the supernatural/paranormal world.
  6. Person vs. TechnologyMachinia by Paul Moscarella (coming October 2020 from Pandamonium Publishing House) is an example of Protagonist vs. Technology. This is the conflict between character vs. scientific discovery. Also see, Terminator and Robocop for some other great examples.

What type of conflict does your novel have? Happy writing, X LLB

 

 

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Publisher’s Corner…

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! 

  1. 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.
  2. 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

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Let’s Set Some Guidelines…

November 12, 2018– As a traditional publisher, I get a lot of questions about guidelines when writing. Sometimes I’ll receive a manuscript submission that doesn’t have the appropriate amount of content, and unfortunately for that writer, it means that it’s a no from me for picking up their script.

I want to discuss some word count guidelines in this post, but please keep in mind if you are deciding to self-publish, you can bend these rules a little. What’s that old saying? You have to know what the rules are before you break them? Sounds about right!

  1. Children’s Picture Book The industry standard for children’s picture books are 28 pages of interior, illustrated pages. There are 32 pages in total, 4 of the pages are left for the first interior cover page, the copyright page, and two blank pages. The 28 page count is usually 13 double spreads (the same scene happening across 2 pages) and 2 single illustrations (where a different scene is happening on each of the two pages). 13×2=26+2=28+4 blank pages= 32. Average word length is 400-800 words and up to 1000 words maximum.
  2.  Middle-Grade- The industry standard for middle-grade novel word counts is from 20,000 – 55,000 words, depending on the age range and subject matter, however, the word count of these books has been trending up in recent years. When writing longer works that are aimed at 12-year-olds and could be considered “tween”, using the term “upper middle grade” is advisable. With upper middle grade, you can aim for 40,000 – 55,000 words. These are books that are similar to young adult in subject matter and storytelling but still tend to stick to tame themes and avoid hot-button issues. With a simpler middle-grade idea rather than a complex one, aim lower- 20,000 to 35,000 words is acceptable.
  3. YA (Young Adult)- The industry standard for young adult novels is pretty flexible. 55,000-79,999 is a good range for word count. The books seem to be trending on the longer end currently which is to say that you could write well into the 85,000-word range and still be ok. Just know that you better have a good reason for going that high! Higher word counts tend to show publishers that the writer does not know how to edit their work or themselves. Don’t go lower than 47,000 words on the low end of things.
  4. SCI-FI and Fantasy– The industry standard for Sci-fi and fantasy are exceptions to word counts because the categories historically run long. It really has to do with the world building and descriptions used to set the scene. With both of these genres 100,000 – 115,000 words is a perfect range. On the low end, 90,000 to 99,000 is also acceptable with the ideal range being 100,000.
  5. Adult novels: Commercial & Literary– Here are some industry standards, again, we are talking about ranges so keep that in mind. Between 80,000 and 89,999 words is the range to aim for.  This word count is the perfect range for literary, mainstream, women’s, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller, and horror. Anything in this word count won’t scare off any agent anywhere. You can have as few as 71,000 words and as many as 109,000 words.

80,000 – 89,999:       Best
90,000 – 99,999:       Safe
70,000 – 79,999:       All right
100,000 – 109,999:   Okay
Below 70,000:           Too short
110,000 or above       Too long

6. Memoir The industry standard for Memoir writing word counts is the same as a novel which is between 80,000-89,999 words. Keep in mind that most people don’t know how to edit their work, and this is especially true for memoir writing. People tend to write down every little detail because after all, it did happen! On the low-end aim for 70,000-79,000 words. This shows that you know how to focus on the meat of your life and are only telling the most interesting parts!

There you have it! The more you know before submitting your work to a traditional publisher, the better your chances of getting a book deal. Here’s to your success!

X LLB

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The Old Farmer’s Treasure

December 12, 2017- The Old Farmer’s Treasure is a middle-grade novel that will be coming out sometime in 2018-beginning of 2019. Here’s a tiny excerpt from the book:

“What do you mean there’s something in the box?”

“I mean he’s keeping a secret, I know what I saw.”

“If you’re right, our entire lives are about to be changed…forever.”

I can’t wait for you guys to get your hands on this book-it’s a page-turner that’s for sure!

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