May 4, 2020– Anyone who had European grandparents growing up, knows that fairytales aren’t always fluffy and feel-good stories; we were read the Grimm’s version of fairytales as children and the stories were edgy and downright scary at times. They were anything but Disney-fied. I remember hearing the story of Little Red Riding Hood and my grandmother glancing over her glasses at me and saying, “Why would anyone go into the forest wearing a bright red cape unless they wanted to be stalked?” That sent shudders through my whole body as a child and makes me grin from ear to ear as an adult. Turns out that my grandmother was on to something! She had a different perspective entirely.
The Grimm’s Fairytale version of Little Red Riding Hood sounds more like the plot of a Hollywood horror, and some versions of the fable say that Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, both sat down to eat Grandma…disturbing, yes, but also very intriguing. Fairytales were created to teach children lessons that were scary enough to keep them on the straight and narrow.
We can take insight from fairytales that are a little more dangerous and risque than the typical type-we can use them as inspiration to push the envelope in our own work. Take risks, write a darker version of your work to see what it feels like, what it sounds like, and how it makes YOU feel. It’s empowering to write books with less than a happily-ever-after ending. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it at least once, you’ll be surprised as this simple exercise can open your creativity and allow you to see your characters and themes in a whole new light. Happy writing! X LLB
August 21, 2019– Who are you? Have you ever asked yourself that question? If you don’t know who you are, how are you supposed to find your writing voice?
Your writing voice is different than the narrative you use to tell your story. It’s not third person or first person, it’s much more than that.
Voice is your author style, the quality that makes your writing unique, and which conveys your own attitude, personality, and character. It’s impossible to write a book and not leave a piece of yourself behind. Friends who know me well, know exactly which parts of my manuscript are me. Our tone, choice of words, and punctuation make up our writing voice. It’s pretty consistent, especially when narrating in the third person. Based on these markers, it’s possible to identify the author by reading a selection of their work.
Author voice is not just what we say, but how we stitch together the words and sentences to create a story. Each author has their own unique perception of the world, we have our own biases and beliefs, we have different experiences, and passions. That’s why when my team says to me, “This story has been told before!” I say to them, “But it’s never been told by us.”
What are you holding back from your work? What parts of you aren’t you allowing to shine through your writing? Why are you being so careful with your words and hiding who you are from the world. It’s time to stand up and time to be you. That’s where your power is. Find your voice and use it to shout your story to the masses.
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.
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.
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.)
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
January 11, 2019– Man, there are some pretty cool names out there. I remember the first time that I thought, “Whoa, that’s a cool name that totally suits his profession!” The gentleman I’m talking about is a real person named Harvey Karver. Want to know his real-life profession? Butcher. No joke. How perfect is that?
Naming your characters properly is as essential as picking an excellent title for your book, and really, they do the same thing; they let your reader know subtle information about the book or the person, both if you’re a pro. So, what do I mean when I say you’d better pick a great name? Here are three simple tips!
Get your era right. You’re not going to find a Chase, or a Stormi, or a Madison in a period piece or historical fiction novel. Know the names that were popular in the era that you’re writing about or risk your credibility as an author and your entire career for that matter.
Don’t do trends. See the names above? Chase, Stormi, Rayne, and Colt are names that sound like they’re ripped from the Kardashian’s Baby Naming Handbook. These names are unique enough but tend to be overdone in romantic fiction especially. Plus, anytime that you use a trendy name, you take a chance of aging your book too soon.
Say them out loud. Does your character’s name sound right? Does it sound like it belongs in the genre you’re writing? Does it have a nice ring to it? Does it work with your character’s profession and personality? If not, choose something different. There are thousands of names out there and if you’re not stuck on yours, keep trying until you find something that you love and that you believe. Because if you don’t believe it or like it, chances are that your reader won’t either! There is name-generating software available on the web. Do a quick Google search for fictional character names or name generator.
Oh, and one more important piece of advice; if there’s any possibility that you’ve named your fictional character after someone in real life, be sure to put in a disclaimer at the beginning of your book in order to keep from getting sued…especially if that person is still living!
Happy writing! X LLB
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