An Interview with Giuliano Enciso…

August 12, 2019– We’ve got a very special, super-exclusive interview with author, Giuliano Enciso, On Blank Pages. This will NOT be on our podbean channel, you can only hear it here! Click on the link below. Please ignore the intro, we couldn’t edit it out:(

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Publisher’s Corner…

August 2, 2019– Here’s the question of the week and it’s a great one!

Q: “Lacey, I’ve set goals for myself as writer and I’ve reached a few of them. I really want to be a famous author, but I can’t stay on track no matter how hard I try. Should I throw in the towel and do something else with my life?” 

A: Whoa, this question is deep; first of all, congratulations on reaching some of your goals, you’ve proven that it can be done and if you’ve done it once, you can certainly do it again! I’m a firm believer in never giving up no matter what and I know that some of you reading this will say it’s easier said than done. But, if we all gave up when things got hard, none of us would accomplish anything. Today, I’m not going to talk about tips to stay disciplined or organized in your writing routine, nor will I give you my opinion on what you should and shouldn’t do with your life because frankly, it doesn’t matter what I think. I’m going to dive into the WHY part with a super simple exercise.

It’s called 7 Whys…(I ended up calling the person who sent me this questions and went through this with him, with his permission, I’ve posted his actual answers and he definitely gained clarity).

  1.  Start with a statement of what you want for your life: I really want to be a famous author. 
  2. Why do you want to be a famous author? Because I want people to read what I have to say.
  3. Why do you want people to read what you have to say? Because what I have to say is important and I want to make lots of money at the same time.
  4. Why is what you have to say important and why do you want to be rich? Because I’m tired of being silenced and not respected by friends and family and I’m tired of just being barely able to pay my bills.
  5. Why are you tired of being silenced and not respected by friends and family, why are you tired of barely being able to pay your bills? Because they look down on me, I don’t have as much education as them and they think my opinion and voice doesn’t matter. Because I want to control my life and I don’t want to make decisions based on how much money I do or don’t have, ever again.
  6. Why do they think your opinion and voice doesn’t matter and why do you want to be in control of your life? Because I’ve never stood up for myself before, I usually just go along with whatever they say. I want to be in control because I’m sick of being controlled and decided for.
  7. Why do you go along with whatever they say, why are you sick of being decided for and controlled? Because I don’t trust myself and because I don’t believe in my own capabilities. I’m sick of being controlled because I know that I can do better and that I can make better decisions. I want my family to stop being ashamed of me and I want to make them proud, I want to make myself proud.
  8. Why do you want to make yourself and your family proud? Because I know that  I can do better than I currently am. I’m just as able as my brothers and sisters to make something of myself.

I honestly felt like crying after this conversation. It was difficult for him to answer the questions, but he tells me he’s glad he did.

So in essence, this person wanted to be a writer because he wants to make himself and his family proud and he wants to make something of himself and his life. This is his ultimate reason for writing and when the dark days come, he can look at his reason why and keep going. The other reasons before this one were superficial at best. They wouldn’t be enough to keep him on track.

Wow…we dug deep, didn’t we? The point of the exercise is during the first few whys, the brain gives a nice, neat, acceptable answer, but after the 5th why, it starts to get subconscious. Write down what you want and ask yourself why 7 times, building on the previous answer. Don’t go any further. You have your reason to continue or your reason to quit.

X LLB

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Publisher’s Corner…

July 5, 2019– Check out the question for this week!

Q: “Lacey, how do you manage to keep positive when people tell you they don’t like your work? I wrote a short story and my colleagues didn’t care for it. They were nice enough, but I could tell that they weren’t being completely truthful so I pressed them and they told me the truth finally. I was pretty upset and hurt. Maybe I should quit writing…” 

A: “This is a good question! I get hate mail all of the time telling me that I’m a terrible writer, that people don’t like my books, and that I should stop writing because I have no talent. It’s something that comes with the territory and this business has given me a thick skin!” Here’s how I manage to stay positive:

  1. I remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion. That’s just it, it’s their opinion and not the truth or reality that I choose to focus on. They can hate me and my books and I’m ok with it because writing is art and art is subjective.
  2. I stay in my own lane and focus on my own craft.  I don’t pay attention to what other people say about me. You will never be criticized by someone doing more than you. Read that again. If I worried about what other people thought of me, I’d never write another word.

The point is, keep writing because you want to write. Who cares what anyone else thinks? The only person’s opinion that matters is yours.
X LLB

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I Don’t Know…

April 29, 2019– Many years ago there was an ad in a very famous newspaper of a stern-looking executive in a suit with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face. The copy read:

I don’t know who you are, I don’t know your company, I don’t know your company’s product, I don’t know what your company stands for, I don’t know your company’s customers, and I don’t know your company’s reputation…now what is it you wanted to sell me? 

Whoa, talk about powerful and true. We’ve all been in situations where we are approached by someone trying to sell us something and sometimes it feels icky. It feels that way because we don’t know the person, the company, or the product. This happens to me on Instagram, constantly; someone will either slide into my DM’s or they will comment on my post about how I should buy their product, or sell their product or follow them or their friends. It’s obnoxious and leads me to more often than not blocking them and the person they’ve recommended. Harsh? Maybe, but I don’t have time for BS. The bottom line? People ONLY buy things from people they feel comfortable with, from people they trust, and from people that their friends recommend.

If you’re an indie author who is trying to sell your book please keep in mind that it’s a long road and you’ve got lots of work and years ahead of you. This isn’t to discourage you, but to remind you that you’ve got to spend time building relationships before anyone will be interested in buying your work. Relationships are the key to everything and they must be authentic.

And if you own a business, you need to make sure that people know who you are, that they know about your company, your products, what your company stands for, who your customers are and what your reputation is! Only then, can you begin to even THINK about selling.

X LLB

 

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Hey, Kiddo…It was a pleasure meeting you!

February 28, 2019– I had the absolute pleasure of meeting author Jarrett J. Krosoczka at the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators conference in New York City. He was the keynote speaker and in my opinion, one of the best speakers at the event bar none. His story was moving, emotional, and hard to listen to at times. I hope that you’ll check out his YA graphic novel, Hey, Kiddo, it’s fabulous and beautiful. Here’s a video of Jarrett talking about his book. Enjoy!

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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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Pitching Your Self-Pub to a Literary Agent…

February 20, 2019– So, you’ve self-published a book, and now you want to pitch your book to a literary agent. This is a tougher road to submission versus the traditional route because publishing is all about sales figures. It can be confusing and frustrating so here’s how to do it right and get your query read!

  1. Sales. Yep, the almighty dollar. Publishing is a business and should be treated as such. How many copies has your book sold? This does NOT include FREE downloads. Please do not query an agent unless you’ve sold 2000-3000 print books or 10,000-20,000 ebooks.  Agents look for books that encompass money and success, you must show that your work is above the millions of other books that are self-published each year and one way to do this is to put your money where your mouth is. Prove that your book is saleable with the cash it’s already raked in.
  2. Media attention. Amazon reviews don’t count so I’ll stop you right there. Query an agent only when your book has received reviews from mainstream media such as newspapers, magazines, and tv shows. The bigger, the better!
  3. Bring on the accolades. Has a high profile author or celebrity said something nice about your book? Has an expert in the field you’ve written about endorsed your work? If not, don’t approach an agent until you’ve got some attention from notable names! A blurb or endorsement from a well-known person is an invaluable marketing tool that will better your chances of an agent wanting to represent you.

Eventually, we will delve into the how-to of getting a literary agent to represent your work, but that’s for another blog post down the road. Start with this and when you fulfill the above requirements, we’ll talk. Happy writing! X LLB

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Your Next Novel Could Already Be On Your Bookshelf…

February 13, 2019– First, let me say a very happy birthday to my momma. I love you and thanks for supporting me in everything. You are the best, and I’m so glad you’re my mom.

You read the title of this post correctly in that your next novel or storybook could very well be sitting on your bookshelf right now! I’m not talking about plagiarizing or copying other artists work, I’m talking about inspiration. As authors, we own a ton of different books that range from fiction to non-fiction, to romance, thrillers, biographies, magazines, historical fiction, and everything in between because we read as much as we write.

A few months back when I decided it was time to pitch a children’s story to some agents in New York, I knew I needed some fresh material. I also knew that I made a promise to myself that in 2019 I would use what I have. Now, normally, I would have gone to the bookstore and bought a bunch of books for inspiration, but this time, I went to my well-stocked library and pulled a book off the shelf. I was determined to take an idea and make it into a story, and that’s precisely what I did. I can’t give you any more details on this until it’s the right time, but I’ll update this post with news from what transpired with the agents:)

So, how can you use what you have on your shelf to write a great story that’s your own? Here’s how:

  1. Start with non-fiction. You’ve heard the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction and if you’ve ever thumbed through a newspaper you’ll know that it’s true! Use headlines from your daily delivery that catch your attention. Here are few that I’ve put in my back pocket for later use: Woman searched for 24 years for the daughter she was forced to give up, Kitty hitches 40 km ride to Grimsby in a garbage truck, and Spiders Alive-The eight-legged exhibition. Also, think about using some headlines from around the world, a quick Google search will help you find inspiration.
  2. Page 47, paragraph 2, sentence 3– This is a fun way to start a story! Quick, go to your bookshelf and choose a book. Turn to page 47, paragraph 2, sentence 3. Here’s what I found from the book that I chose by following the above directions: Toe wrestling began in the town of Wetton in 1970. How awesome is that for a starter? You can do this with any book and with any numbers you choose.
  3. Turn to professional publications– I subscribe to a bunch of publications that are relevant to writing and publishing and one of my favourites is Writer’s Digest. It’s always packed full of information and good advice and sometimes even an idea or two. Pick up your trusted magazines either digitally or the ones that are covering the sofa and flip through them for ideas. Here’s one that I picked up from the most recent issue of Writer’s Digest: Investigative reporting often involves tracking down reluctant sources… Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What about a story about a reporter who goes to get answers from a source and they end up running for their life? What if they’ve uncovered a secret that’s too big to keep hidden? What if the reporter finds out that the reluctant source is their spouse? And the list of ideas go on and on.

There you have it; inspiration for your next book is almost certainly lurking in the corners of your bookshelf! It’s up to you to find it:) Happy Writing! X LLB

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Why Two Heads are Better Than One…

December 17, 2018– You’ve seen it on bookshelves across the country; James Patterson and Bill Clinton, Stephen and Owen King, and soon enough, yours truly with an author I have yet to introduce you to. (I’ll talk about this next year because I know how you guys love waiting for surprises;)

Co-authoring is on the rise so let’s talk about how to do it right because there is a whole pile of ways to do it wrong! Here are some ways to destroy your chances of collaborating successfully and how to ruin your working relationship with the author you’ve chosen to pair up with.

  1. Moving too fast. Writing with someone is essentially like getting married; it’s a terrible idea to get engaged on the first date and let’s face it, people who do this aren’t likely to last. Same goes for collaborating with another author; read their stuff, get to know their style and strengths, and allow them the time to do the same for you. Also, be sure to decide if the person you want to work with is a good fit for your personality; you guys will be spending a lot of time together and the last thing you need are major personality clashes. That won’t work for anyone.
  2. Not planning. Planning is quite literally the thing that either supports or inhibits your success while writing with someone else. If you don’t have a plan, you’re screwed. I’m a massive fan of outlines, and I use them always, that’s why I recommend 3 frameworks when collaborating: A) General outline of the book from start to finish, B) An overview of what author number 1 is working on C) An overview for what author number 2 is working on. Your outlines should include deadlines because if they don’t, what’s the point? We both know it will never get finished. This outline had better include what the marketing expectations are for both parties once the book is published or you’re going to have a killer headache sorting things out at the end of it!
  3. Lack of communication. Not clearly defining the expectation of both parties is a recipe for setting yourself on fire. You don’t want to burn, and you don’t want the other person to burn either, you guys are a team; decide how often you’re going to communicate and how the communication will be sent. Also, make perfectly clear who is responsible for what. Communication is key, and if you can’t communicate properly with the person you’re going to collaborate with, how the hell are you going to co-author with them?
  4. No Genre. For the millionth time, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. If you don’t know WHAT you’re writing, HOW are you supposed to write it and market it? You can’t. Pick a genre and stick to it. The writing marketplace is structured by genre; where will you put your book on the shelf when it is finally finished if you don’t know which genre it falls into? Your book isn’t for everyone, and if it is, your book is for no one.

Collaborations on any type of work can be risky, but that shouldn’t deter you from creating fabulous art with your fellow writers. Just make sure you follow the above tips and work with someone who is as awesome as you are!

Here’s to your success!
X LLB

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Recommended Reading…Make Your Bed

November 14, 2018– We read a lot of books around here at Pandamonium Publishing House, as we should because we are writers. I’m a firm believer that the more you read, the better you write.  We like to read all types of books including books that aren’t always in our genre. I’m currently reading an interesting and pretty short book that’s non-fiction and it’s written by Admiral William H. McRaven (talk about a cool name) who is retired from the United States Navy. The book is called, Make Your Bed, Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world.

Admiral McRaven gave a commencement speech to the University of Texas students, which you can view on Youtube. His school of thinking is that if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have accomplished the first task of your day. He also believes that making your bed reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter and if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

This is my second time reading this book in a year. I read it at the beginning of the year and I’m re-reading it now. This book is fantastic because McRaven is right! I made my bed every single day except for four days over the past year and let me tell you, boy did it make a world of difference when I didn’t! When I neglected to make my bed, I went to bed restless, had a terrible sleep, couldn’t shut off my brain, and felt unsettled. That’s not to say that every day that I did make my bed was a great day, but the point was that no matter what life threw at me, I could come home, get into my perfectly made bed, and disappear from the world. Daily life requires structure and making your bed is the first step.

I hope that you’ll read this book as there are a lot of fantastic stories and lessons within. (My favourite chapter is number four, the sugar cookie story!)

X LLB

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