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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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Publisher’s Corner…

June 7, 2019– This is an excellent question that a reader asked me over the phone. He had written a book about baseball and had a couple of questions regarding copyright. Let’s check out what he had to say, below:

Q: “Lacey, I’ve written a book about the history of baseball and want to use photographs throughout my book, what do I need to know and is this possible?” 

A: Great question! This whole copyrighting issue can get a bit messy at times, so let me explain how it works when wanting to use images. 

  1. Stock Images: You can use stock images that have no attribution required. There are multiple sites online that have stock images that you can use however you’d like. No attribution required means that you don’t have to give credit to the photographer or the owner of the image.
  2. Public Domain: Did you know that all images published before January 1, 1923, in the United States are now public domain? See if the images you’d like to use are in this category, because you may not need to get permission to use them.
  3. Buy Photos: You can always buy photos from the photographer on sites like istockphoto.com, shutterstock, and fotosearch.
  4. Email: Send an email to the person who holds the copyright of the image and ask their permission to use it. Sometimes there will be a charge and sometimes there won’t it depends on what the owner of the photo decides.
  5. Wikipedia: You can use the images from Wikipedia as long as you cite them.

In all cases, except for the first two on the list, you must give credit to the person who owns the photos. Please remember that copyright is very important and not something to be infringed upon. All artists deserve to be recognized for their work. It’s up to them to say no attribution required, so always check beforehand what the case is. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble this way and be able to give credit where it is due. X LLB

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Publisher’s Corner…

May 31, 2019– This is an interesting question that I got from a reader during a book signing that I was at with Obsessed with Her. I’ve been asked this on more than one occasion so I thought it might be good to share!

Q: “Lacey, why did you write a prequel to Obsessed with Her? Why not a sequel, and did you have this in mind from the beginning?” 

A: I wrote a prequel to Obsessed with Her because the story wasn’t finished yet. I needed to release the books in this order for the story to make sense and for quite simply the sake of interest in the character and his development. I didn’t want to leave my readers with a ton of backstory to start with so the manuscript demanded to be written and released this way.  

I didn’t write a sequel to Obsessed with Her because the ending is final. There is no chance of a sequel and that’s all I’ll elude to as to not spoil it for those who have not finished or read the book yet. 

Yes, I had this prequel in mind from the beginning, I hadn’t written it yet, but it was always going to happen. Obsessed with Her is unfinished without the prequel and leaves the reader with too many questions. The prequel shows why James Cass behaves the way he does and what type of person he truly is. Obsessed with Her will make perfect sense after the release of, Becoming James Cass (prequel) that is set to hit the shelves this October! 

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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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You are NOT Shakespeare…(Poetry is a hard sell)

January 16, 2019Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.  

Sigh. Talk poetry to me. Another sigh, as I cup my chin in my hands and gaze adoringly into your eyes. Ok, we aren’t Shakespeare, far from it, I’m speaking for myself anyway even though I would beg for a fraction of the talent that he had. What’s the deal with poetry in the marketplace? Why is so hard to sell? Why doesn’t it get published as often as other genres? These are just a few of the questions that I get pretty regularly. Here’s are some answers:

  1. Poetry has a very niche audience. In mainstream publishing, there’s a small market for poetry books. Even established, well-known poets don’t sell thousands of books – maybe not even hundreds. I know what you’re going to say…”But, what about The Sun and Her Flowers or Milk and Honey?” Yes, those books did sell thousands, but they are the exception to the rule.
  2. Poetry doesn’t sell. Let me rephrase that, poetry doesn’t sell as well as mainstream fiction does. I believe that the world needs poetry and poets, but I also believe that I don’t want to take an enormous financial risk in publishing an unknown poet’s poems. The cold, hard truth about traditional publishing is that publishers want to make a profit. This is our business and our livelihood. The cost of publishing a book is in the thousands, to begin with, and as publishers, we want to make damn sure that at the very least, we get our investment back. Publishing poetry is one gamble that I’m not willing to bet on. We are in this business to make money just like anyone who is in any business is.
  3. Poetry is subjective. You may hate Shakespeare (perish the thought, he is an absolute genius and I am a huge fan of his work) but there are those in the world that would fight you to the death defending his sonnets. You may love Robert Frost (again, what’s not to love?), but others may find his poetry dry and outdated. Poetry is art and art is subjective. Yes, writing is art, but mainstream writing is less subjective. You can say, “I love thrillers!” and cover an entire genre, whereas, with poetry, it’s much more specific.

The point is, if you love to write poetry, keep writing! Write for yourself and your friends and family. There are a few publications that are still accepting poetry submissions and a quick Google search will let you know where to send your work if you’re so inclined. Here’s to your success! X LLB

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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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Memoir Writing 3 Tips…

August 20, 2018-  Memoir writing is difficult and time consuming. That said, there are a lot of authors that have been successfully published in this genre. Memoir writing is not for the faint of heart, so if you’re bold or insane, here are some tips!

  1. Is your life interesting enough? This is a question that you must answer truthfully. When authors submit their manuscripts to me that are memoirs, I ask them if their life is interesting enough to anyone other than themselves and their friends and family. Everyone thinks their life is great, and we all think that we have riveting stories to tell. More often than not, this is not the case, unfortunately. Celebrities often write memoirs because they have lived an exceptional life in one way or another. They have lived a life that most people never will and that’s what makes us want to read their stories.
  2. Remember what it isn’t. Your memoir is NOT an autobiography. A memoir focuses on a SPECIFIC time or theme, such as the summer of 1972, for example. This helps your readers get to know you better and that one experience in your life better and on a different, deeper level.
  3. Tell the Truth. Especially if people in your memoir are still living. I’ll never forget an episode of Oprah where she was interviewing a man about his book. He told the story of being detained in a concentration camp during the war and that he met his future wife when she gave him an apple through the fence. It turned out that the story was completely fabricated. There’s no need to lie, being honest and genuine is your best bet.

Memoirs explore the truth of your life through your eyes. No one can tell your story and that is your power. Happy Writing!

X LLB

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Places to Write…

June 1, 2018- Where is your favourite place to write? What place inspires you? Do you enjoy writing outside? In different countries? At home on your dining room table?

As an author, I most definitely have my preferred places to write. I enjoy writing in these spots because they inspire me and I’m able to get fresh ideas and conversations for my books.

  1. Different Countries: I’ve been fortunate enough to write in many places around the world. Some of my favourites include, Jamaica, London, and Tampa Bay. I also really loved writing in Havana and was very lucky to have visited the bar Floridita where Ernest Hemingway frequented. This was SUPER inspiring, not only because one of the greats visited it, but because the atmosphere and the energy it has.
  2. Outside: One of my favourite places to write is on my back deck. I love being outside with my laptop while listening to nature and the sounds of birds bickering back and forth and occasionally the odd neighbour! There’s something to be said about escaping the same four walls every once in a while to reconnect with your characters. Another place I love to write is the beach. The sand, surf, and salty air will be featured in my upcoming beach novel that is set to debut in late 2019.
  3. On Planes: I do a ton of editing while flying, but I also do a ton of writing. I’m a huge believer of writing during the spaces in between and not wasting minutes. What better time to write than during a seven or eight hour international flight? I get super inspired on flights because we all know the many characters that are on board! Sometimes we can find the perfect character inspiration sitting in the seat next to us.
  4. In Bed: “I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry”…wait, didn’t Drake say that? I know that experts say that the bedroom should only be reserved for sleep and sex, but there is something magical about writing in bed. The fluffy, white covers, two sleeping cats, a snoring husband, and if I’m really lucky, there will be a thunderstorm! This is by far my most favourite place to write and when I look around at who I’m surrounded by, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet, because I have everything I’ll ever need right there.

Where do you like to write and why? Let me know in the comments below.