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This is Not a Joke

April 1, 2020– It may be April Fool’s Day, but this post about research is not a joke. I started writing my new thriller titled, My name is Jessica Westlake, around a year and a half ago. It’s in the final stages of completion, and it was a hard book to write because a lot of the content was about things that I’ve never had to deal with personally. A lot of writing advice says, write what you know, and I think that’s the easy way out. To be a good writer, we must spend a ton of time researching different topics, events, and people. Credibility in our writing is essential because as soon as the reader doesn’t believe what you’re saying, you can kiss them goodbye. This is especially true for crime scene buffs, books with a medical or legal slant, and locations if they exist in real life.

So, how do you protect the integrity of your own work when writing fiction? Here are three tips:

1) Talk to the experts. I enlisted the help of the head of homicide at the TPD to help me with my book Obsessed with Her because it had a major crime scene in it, and I needed to be accurate. If I had just thrown together something that I thought was correct or close enough, my seasoned crime readers would have thrown my book across the room and would have never read another thing I’ve written. With my new novel, I joined a grief counselling group online and read the comments, I visited funeral homes and asked about the process from beginning to end, and I spoke with a police department detective in my city.  It’s imperative to be precise when writing so that your readers can take you seriously.

2) Consider the source. The internet is an excellent reference for information, but be careful to consider the source.  Along with facts and figures, there can be a lot of fiction. Be sure to get your information from reliable sources such as Google Maps (which updates frequently), City of (insert your city here), and police department websites.

3) Get to the library. Books are a wonderful resource, especially when it comes to writing historical fiction! Plus, the more you read in other genres, the stronger writer you become.  When looking for books to research your own, be sure to find as many as you can in your specific interest so that your research will be well rounded. For example, if your main character is a reiki healer with a magic touch, and you’ve never had a session in your life, grab a book or five on the subject. Learn as much as you can because your readers will thank you for it!

Research, research, research and remember to acknowledge those who have helped your book along the way with their expertise. X LLB

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Things You Should Know…

February 25, 2019-I had a fantastic trip to New York this month, and I learned so much at the SCBWI conference. The Society of Book Writers and Illustrators is just one of the many excellent organizations you can join as an author; the guidelines and specifications are online, so be sure to check them out if you’re interested in becoming a member.

Being an author is a tough business, but you should never give up if story writing is your dream. Here are a  few things that you should know:

  1. You are way more capable than you believe. You can do this, you can deal with the rejections, you can write something special and meaningful. Some days it may seem like you’re banging your head against the desk because the words won’t come, but I assure you, you can do this! Keep going.
  2. Lots of people believe in you and want to see you succeed; they also want to help you in achieving your goals. Your family, friends, community, spouse, loved ones, and teachers all want to see you make it! They’re cheering you on, and if you ever need help, all you need to do is ask them, and they’ll be thrilled to do so. We can’t be in this business alone, and we won’t get very far by ourselves.
  3. You have a choice. You can choose to listen to those who want to try and change your purpose, your work, your ideas, your vision, and your path, or you can go with your gut and keep writing and sharing the stories you want to tell.
  4. The truth is, the publishing and writing industry is contradictory at times, and you never seem to get a straight answer. Keep digging for information and advice and go with the choices that speak to you. If you’re a children’s author and you think you need an agent, don’t hesitate to go with your gut even when you get conflicting information.
  5. This is a business. Our business is books and storytelling. Our job is to tell the stories and then sell the stories.

I hope that you get the chance to visit New York and see all that it has to offer! From museums to sporting events, to Broadway and beyond, the arts and inspiration are around every corner. X LLB

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One of the breathtaking pieces of art that I saw at the MET, Alexander the Great
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The Difference between Success and Failure for the Authorpreneur

February 15, 2019– I do a lot of talks and host a lot of classes on writing and publishing, and at least once per class this question comes up: What does it take to become a successful author/entrepreneur? Is there a secret formula? Is there a quick fix, magic wand or potion that can help? If you read my blog or have met me in person, you’ll know exactly what I think of that. The short answer is NO to all of the above. What I can tell you is that there are strategies and actions that will lead you to success and that they’re way better than any magic wand.

  1. Believe that you can do it. I know, I know, I’m usually a hard ass that says stop wishing and start working, but I want to remind you that if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. See? There’s the cynic you’ve all come to know and love. You’ve got to have the mental posture for success. Believing in yourself requires daily dedication, encouragement from within and positive self-talk. What’s that famous saying? Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you’re right!
  2. Have the right people around. I’m talking about everyone from the people you employ to the people you hang around with on a frequent basis; if they’re not forcing you to up your game and become a better author and entrepreneur, then you’ve got the wrong group. If you want to be successful, you have to hang around successful people. Have a mentor, have the right heroes, and have people that you look up to.
  3. Expose yourself to what is new. Did you learn anything today? Your competition did. You must stay on the cusp of what is happening in your industry to stay informed and relevant. The more you learn, the more you earn. Are you reading publications that will make you a better writer? Do you subscribe to content that will make you see things from an entrepreneur’s perspective? Are you learning the business and are you striving to be better than you were yesterday? Can you name the current trends in your industry? If you said no to any of the above questions, you’ve got a lot of work to do.
  4. Take responsibility. Can you guess who is directly, unequivocally, 100% responsible for your success? That’s right, YOU — no one else. When the bus goes sideways, and you’re the driver, you have no one else to blame. Blaming others for your actions, decisions, and ramifications of those decisions is a gigantic waste of your time. And let me tell you something else, if you blame others, you won’t be in business very long. Successful people take responsibility for every choice they make and for everything that happens to them whether good or bad. Your name is on the door so act like it.
  5. Take action. Come on; you had to have known that this was coming if you’re a regular reader of this blog. Action is the only way to get what you want. You can dream about things until you finally wake up and see the world for what it is; the only people who reap rewards are the people who are willing to work for them. Nothing happens until you do something. Don’t be all talk and no action. I can’t stand people like that. You are what you DO, NOT what you say you’ll do.

Here’s to your success! May you get what you deserve. X LLB

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Infographic First Person

June 4, 2018-I LOVE writing in First Person narrative! Why? Because it allows my reader to sit beside the main character and feel everything that he feels and experience everything that she experiences first hand. Check out this handy infographic on ways to start a first-person story! Brought to you by our friends at NowNovel.com

How to start a story in first person: 8 pointers

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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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