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We Have a Winner…

June 6, 2019– As mentioned a week or so ago, we had a photo writing-prompt challenge for the chance to have your story featured on our blog; congratulations to Tonya C. for her story! Check out what she’s written below:

Isobel hummed as she surveyed ground zero and scanned the field full of yellow bio-hazard barrels left to rot for countless years.  Twisted, human-made, poisonous flowers oozed their diseased contents into the ground; smoke billowed up in thick, dark clouds from the incinerator chimneys and sent shivers down her spine.  Isobel knew they were burning bodies.  The army claimed everything was contained in the quarantined zone.  Those who were outside of the zone felt safe but were unaware that the borders continued to slowly increase outward.

Hot and uncomfortable in the heavy white hazmat suit, she reached a gloved hand down and gently patted the black Labrador that stood beside her; he pressed against her a moment before he resumed a high alert stance.  She saw his eyes track movement in the distance. She whispered, “Steady Ranger,” and prevented the dog from darting off and drawing the soldiers’ attention.

Months earlier, inside the facility, Isobel worked on finding an antidote to the virus. Her husband and son had been dragged in by the military who were desperate to know why some people were immune to the deadly virus. They rounded up people from inside of the quarantined zone where doctors treated them like lab rats; they performed tests, took endless tubes of blood, and deprived them of food and sleep to force them to cooperate.  Those that refused to cooperate were taken outside and shot and their bodies were thrown into the incinerator. 

Isobel was cut off from the outside world; she had no idea that her husband and son were inside the facility and by the time she found out, it was too late. An alarm sounded when suddenly her husband burst into her office. In his panic to escape, he slammed her against the wall but stopped when he heard her cry out in pain and fear.  He turned to face her and whispered, “It’s the well.  I tried to save him!”  Soldiers burst through the door with their guns drawn.  She screamed as they opened fire on the man she loved.  Shots rang in her ears and in the madness, she realized her husband had told her that the virus originated in the town well and that her son was in the building.  She searched for him until she finally found him in a heap of discarded, decaying children.  His lifeless, milky eyes stared blankly up at her. She knew that she must have revenge. She bottled up her grief and rage that burned brightly in her chest. Today was the day it would be released.

Ranger gave a low whimper as the light flashed in the distance. It signalled a message from the others.  The well water had been deposited into the army base cistern with the codes Isobel had slipped them.  In less than a week all in the base would be dead.

The virus had leeched from the barrels into the town water supply over many years. Like the others who grew up drinking from the local well, Isobel was immune to the virus.  As darkness fell, she slipped out from the unneeded protection. Finally free, she and Ranger jogged into the bush to join the group.

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Graphic Novel Lettering Tips…

May 13, 2019- If you’re working on a graphic novel, you need to read this fabulous info from Nate Piekos! He is the creator of the indie graphic novel titled, The Whole Enchilada. Nate’s work has appeared in books by almost every major comic book publisher, has appeared in computer magazines worldwide, and have been licensed by companies like Microsoft, The Gap, The New Yorker and many more. This is from Blambot.com check out the site!

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Quit Settling For SH*T You Don’t Want…

May 8, 2019-We often put up with things in our lives because our standards aren’t high enough, or we don’t have any standards in place, to begin with. You may be settling in your life and your writing career because the expectations you have for yourself and your work are too low. What you can do right now, is decide that you aren’t going to settle for anything less than what you’re willing to work for. You’re going to raise your standards and know better, do better, and be better.

Grab a pen and paper to get really clear on what your standards are for:

  1. Your business-How do you want your business to be run? How much money do you want to make? How will you know if you’re successful? What are your goals? What are you not willing to compromise? etc.
  2. The clients you take on– Here’s your chance to make a list on what your ideal client looks like!
  3. Your relationships (work relationships too)- Who do you want to work with? What kind of relationship do you want to have with your workmates, buyers, readers, etc.?
  4. Your travel/lifestyle– Where do you want your work to take you? Where do you want to work from? Do you want a mobile office? Certain work hours? etc. Do you want to less time working?
  5. Your work– What is your legacy that you will leave behind? What is the point and purpose of your work?
  6. Your team– What do you want from your teammates? What kind of things will you expect? What will happen when expectations aren’t met? What kind of team do you want to play for?

If you don’t have standards, or again, those standards are too low, you’re selling yourself short. Make a promise to your self that you will do better! Time to raise the bar and in six months from now you’ll be happy you did. Your life is about to change. Now get to work. X LLB

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Ted Ed…Anti-Social Skills

May 6, 2019-Check out this Ted Talk! I absolutely love this short video and I think it’s sweet and to the point, but very helpful. Click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flthk8SNiiE

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Publisher’s Corner…Kid’s Books & What Publisher’s DON’T WANT

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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

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Publisher’s Corner…(I answer your most burning questions)

April 26, 2019– Do you guys think that we should have a weekly blog post titled Publisher’s Corner (inspired by Coach’s Corner with the ever fabulous Don Cherry)where I answer your most urgent questions about publishing/writing? I do and last time I checked, I own the place so I can do whatever I want. Every Friday from here on out, we’ll do it! Sound good? Let’s get started.

I received an email last week that asked, “When should I send my novel to a publisher for consideration?”

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind for submitting your work to a publisher.

  1. AFTER your manuscript is completed.
  2. AFTER you do your research (see who is accepting manuscripts and if that publisher is accepting your genre)
  3. AFTER you query the publisher and they REQUEST your manuscript. Your query better be good by the way.

“But Lacey, why wouldn’t I query first to see if they’re even interested? Then if they are, I’ll finish my book.

Think of it this way, you send us a killer query letter, we love it, and want to see the manuscript, imagine our disdain if your manuscript is unfinished. You’ve completely wasted your time and ours. This is comparable to a real estate agent saying to you, “I’ve found your dream home! It’s got everything you want, a pool, a big backyard, and three car garage!” You’re excited, right? Then she says, “But it’s not for sale.”  That’s how publishers feel when you tell us the manuscript is incomplete. Don’t ever do this, make sure your work is finished before ever considering querying us.

“But Lacey, can’t I just send my book out to a bunch of publishers to better my chances?” 

No. Next question. Just kidding; all kidding aside though, you need to research the publisher that is the best fit for your work. Let’s say that you wrote a middle-grade adventure novel and you sent your manuscript to a publisher who only publishes romantic fiction for adults…again, you’ve wasted your time and ours. Do your research, know who you are submitting to, and know what they publish. If you submit something to us that is totally out of our scope, we realize that not only did you NOT do your research but maybe you don’t care enough about a book deal to do your homework. It also makes us leery of working with you because you’ve shown us that you can’t follow instructions.

“But Lacey, can’t I include my manuscript with the query? It will be more efficient and I won’t have to wait as long for a response.”

Do NOT send your manuscript with the query. If we want it, we’ll ask for it. You also need to be aware of the guidelines. A lot of the time publishers request the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the BODY of the email. We don’t open attachments so if you’ve ignored the guidelines and sent us your query and manuscript together…you may as well consider it trashed because we won’t open it.

I know that a lot of this advice seems a bit harsh, but this is the reality of publishing. I want you to have your best shot at success. X LLB

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TED Talk…Great Introduction Carolyn Mohr

April 24, 2019-Hello, friends; I love this short and sweet Ted Talk about the Power of a Great Introduction. Click on the link below to check out the video!

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People Hate Change…So Who Gives AF?

April 22, 2019– Happy Easter, everyone. I trust that you enjoyed the time spent with your family over the long weekend and around here, our weekend was also about enjoying playoff hockey! Whatever you ended up doing, I hope that you had a nice time. Today’s blog post is about change and why humans hate it. It’s a bit of a rant on my part, so buckle up.

Recently I started going to a personal trainer because I want to get my endurance back and some strength back that I had lost over the past year. Someone who will remain unnamed, said the following right to my face, “Oh dear, I hope that you don’t get too bulky and start to look masculine.” WOW! Can you believe it? It took everything in me not to throw this person a beating. But, I digress. People don’t know how to keep their mouths shut and they seem to think that everyone is entitled to their opinions whether asked for or not.

So what if I get super ripped? So what if I start to look better and feel better about my strength and endurance levels? Does this person know that about a year ago after my concussion that I could barely stand? Do they know that I could not lift my left arm higher than my waist because the pain was excruciating? Do they know that I wasn’t able to exercise for a year without having massive anxiety attacks? Of course not. People only see what they want to see and they don’t ever have all of the facts.

The point is, people are judgemental idiots no matter what, but ESPECIALLY when the people around them start to change. People fear change. They fear it because they are uncomfortable with it and if you change too much, they may have to change too; they’re quite content doing what they’re doing and being who they are. They don’t want to have to step up their game or put in the work, or deal with change because that would require being uncomfortable on their part. They like things just the way they are.

That’s why people are going to say, “Oh, you’re writing a book? Isn’t that hard?” Or “I’ve heard it’s super hard being an indie author and most of them don’t make more than a few hundred dollars a year.” Or “How are you going to write a book, take care of your kids, and go to your job, isn’t that a bit selfish of you?”

The bottom line? Who Gives AF? Do what you want to do because life is too short. There will always be people who say you can’t do something or that you shouldn’t do something or that it will be too risky or too hard. Those people are showing you THEIR limitations, NOT yours.

So as they say in hockey, “Keep your chin up, kid,” and do whatever you want to do anyway. Never apologize for trying to be the best version of yourself no matter WHO you make uncomfortable.

Go Bruins, X LLB