November 26, 2020-In this interview, bestselling novelist Lee Child (Jack Reacher novels) explains why it’s better to start writing later in life. Writers on Writing: Lee Child on Starting Writing After 40 – YouTube
November 13, 2020-I’ve been watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix; what a show! It’s so good, and I’ve never wanted to learn how to play chess more in my life than right now. If we look at the main character, Beth Harmon, we see why she’s so successful in her career. We can use her obsession with chess to inspire our own work ethic when it comes to writing and creating. Here’s how Beth made it big:
- She put in the work. Beth practiced playing chess each day for hours, and when she wasn’t playing, she read books, studied the greats, and played hundreds of hours of games. We need to do the same and schedule our writing time and remain consistent on the path to our author goals. Imagine where you would end up at the end of the year if you started writing a few pages each day!
- She sacrificed. When people were partying, Beth was learning all she could about the game. She sacrificed time with friends and time spent doing other activities to perfect her craft, and sometimes we need to do the same to become successful authors.
- She had a network of support. Beth’s friends supported her; she had the support of her adopted mother, the janitor at her previous school who taught her how to play, and her previous roommate. She also had the support of people she played against, albeit not at first. You have so many people cheering you on as an author, and you are someone’s favourite writer. People are hoping for your success, buying your books, sharing your posts, and spreading the word about you.
- She was generous. Beth took care of those around her, especially her mother. She was generous with her winnings, and when her mother said she would manage her for 10% commission, Beth offered her 15%. Being generous to those who have helped us get where we are is important. We can’t do this alone as authors, and we should thank those who have believed in us from the start and pushed us to fulfill our potential.
- She believed in herself and her abilities. A lot of people didn’t believe in Beth, especially when she first started. But that didn’t matter, she believed in herself, and she refused to give up. The same thing happens to us as authors; people ask how we’re going to survive on an artist’s income, or are we sure that we want to write a book and be totally vulnerable to everyone who reads it. We must believe in ourselves and our abilities as artists. People will always have something to say, but it’s our belief in ourselves that matters most.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I hope you’ll tune in to The Queen’s Gambit. It’s a remarkable take on fulfilling one’s destiny and the work that needs to be done to get there.
October 19, 2020– “To have something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.” I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before, but are you putting those words into practice? If you’re like most people, probably not. What does the quote above mean? It means that to get what you really want, you have to do things differently than you’re doing them now. Old ways won’t open new doors. So take a good look at your writing life and see if you’re where you want to be; if not, then things need to change.
A new, self-published author sent me an email with this question: “I’ve recently self-published my book, but it’s not getting any traction. Do you have any tips on how to increase sales?”
So, I went on to ask them what they were doing so far…their response? “I wrote the book and published it.”
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. We live in a world where the rewards come AFTER the work, and the price of success needs to be paid in FULL before we see any results. I consulted the author on how to put forth an effort to reach his sales targets and his response was, “That seems like a lot of work.” That’s when I knew that his book was doomed to remain in obscurity. It’s not what you wish for, it’s what you work for.
It drives me absolutely crazy when people say, I want, I want, I want, I want…but won’t say, I will, I will, I will, I will.
I have some homework for you:
- Make a list of the MAIN goal you want to reach this year with your writing life e.g. best sellers list, sell x number of copies, have it read by a celebrity, be interviewed on television about your book etc.
- Brainstorm ways to make your goal happen e.g. I will send press releases of my book to all major media outlets, I will go to schools and set up author visits, I will visit bookstores to see if they will carry my book etc.
- Take action. This is the single most effective thing that you can do to be successful. If you merely write a list and then forget about it, what’s the point of bothering to write the list in the first place?
Put the work in and you’ll reap the rewards. Plain and simple.
September 7, 2020–Happy Monday, Friends! I recently re-read The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, and I must say, reading it a second time is when more of the information sank in. Part of the book talks about taking inspired action, so that’s what we’ll be chatting about today in this blog post; let’s explore what inspired action is and what some action steps are that you could take to change your writing life.
Inspired action is when you get an idea, and you act on it immediately. Some of these ideas happen while having a shower, exercising, or meditating, but they all have one thing in common, you suddenly have a great idea, and without thinking about the nuts and bolts of it, you act on it right away.
If we’re quiet enough, we can hear our subconscious, and that’s where the magic happens! There has been a lot of debate around books like The Secret and Law of Attraction type works, where some people think that all they have to do is think good thoughts and suddenly their mailbox will be full of cheques and money; that’s not how it works. Yes, positive thinking and maintaining a positive attitude are essential to success, but the other piece of the puzzle is that you must take action.
So, how do we take inspired action for our writing/book business?
- Meditate /quiet your mind: This is the best way to solve any problem you have. By quieting your mind, you are allowing your subconscious to take the wheel and come up with solutions that your conscious mind may not have thought of. 10-15 minutes daily is great to start with, and you can work your way up from there. If your goal is to sell more books, but you don’t know where to start, before your meditation, ASK your subconscious how you can meet your goal.
- Be Clear: You can never get what you want if you don’t know what that is. Maybe your goal is to have one of your books hit number 1 on the best sellers list, or you want to sell 5000 copies of your book, or you want to see your book in the hands of a celebrity. Whatever your goal is, make sure that you are crystal clear. Don’t worry about the details of how it’s going to happen, just take action and keep taking action. It’s only a matter of time before things will materialize. You’ve got to put the work in though!
What can we do to take action now based on our goals?
- Don’t overthink, instead DO: When you have an idea, act on it right away. No matter how silly it seems, it could be what holds the key to success. Once, I was trying to think of a way to get some information on specific police procedures for one of my novels. I contacted a friend who put me in touch with the head of Toronto Homicide, who ended up consulting on my book. Also, that led to a private tour of the Ontario Police College, where I got to ask as many questions as my heart desired, and I got to view the campus, library, and ballistics room/training course.
- Make your requests known: I know a lot of people may disagree with me on this one because some of us are surrounded by folks who don’t want to see us succeed. Sad, but true. Plus, when people don’t know what you’re working on, they have nothing to attack. But I believe that the Universe conspires to give us what we want if we ask and take action. Other people can help us with ideas, materials, funding, answers and more. And we can help them too; life is reciprocal. If you don’t ask for what you need, you’re not taking action, are you? The person you ask may not be able to help you directly, but maybe they know someone who can. I once sent a letter to the Port Authority in my city to see if they wanted to buy copies of Panda the Very Bad Cat to give to kids at their company Christmas Party. They said yes, and placed their order. I have no idea why I picked that specific place, but it was inspired action, and all I did was ask.
Happy Monday! Here’s to another amazing week. X LLB
August 21, 2020– Quick, what would make your writing life ideal? Hold on a second, let me clarify that question. What accomplishments would make you feel like “you made it” as a writer? The answer is different for everyone. When I polled 100 writers last year at a festival and asked what would make them feel like they’ve made it as an author, here’s what they said:
- A traditional publishing deal.
- Being on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
- Seeing their book in a book store.
- Seeing someone in public reading their book.
- Signing their books at an event/book tour.
- Having their book turned into a movie.
- Being interviewed on TV about their book.
- Seeing a celebrity with their book.
- Quitting their day job to write full-time.
- Having their book translated and sold in different countries.
These were the top ten answers, but what do they all have in common? That every single thing on the list would evoke a feeling of excitement and pride. This list can be broken down to one thing-how these events would make us feel. It all comes down to feeling good about our work, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t need ANY of the things on the list as accomplishments to feel good about your writing. I’m also here to tell you that if you feel good about your writing and your work, that you’ve already made it as an author. No outside factor should be able to define you as an artist, you are not more or less, with or without any or all of the things on the list. Don’t focus on accomplishments, do it for the love of the work. Keep writing, the world needs your stories.
April 20, 2020-How often do you dream? Do you remember your dreams when you wake up, and how can you harness your subconscious to solve problems in your writing?
Studies show that one of the reasons we don’t remember our dreams is because we do not awake in the same position that we dreamt in. If there’s too much movement, we forget. For example, if you fall asleep on your left side and wake up on your right, chances are you won’t remember what you dreamt about.
Personally, I am a vivid dreamer and 5 nights out of 7, I’ll have dreams that I can remember. Of course, there are some nights that I don’t dream/don’t remember my dream. But as writers, how can we use a dream state to improve things in our work?
- Have a dream diary. Do you write down your dreams? I usually do because I like to refer back to them. I enjoy having a record of different times in my life that I was going through and how my dreams reflected my inner thoughts. Another fun thing to do with your dream diary is the following exercise; take the images from your dream and write a short story. This is so helpful when dealing with periods of writer’s block and lack of inspiration. I keep a pen and my dream diary beside my bed so that I can write things down immediately, before they’re lost forever.
- Invest in a dream dictionary. A dream dictionary helps decode your dreams and gives you answers to imagery. For example, did you know that dreaming of a broken glass can signify broken promises, negativity in your waking life, disappointment and shattered dreams? You can use these symbols as breadcrumbs throughout your work to make it more rounded and interesting.
- Work it into your story. Some of my dreams have made it onto the pages of my novels. In Obsessed with Her, there is a character that awakes from a nightmare, and it was something that I had dreamt about. Work your dreams and nightmares into your story carefully. Publishers and readers don’t like dream sequences, and we feel ripped off when the whole story was “just a dream.”
- Tap into your subconscious. The subconscious mind is a very powerful thing and is an excellent problem solver. When I’m struggling with a part in a book, or I’ve written myself into a corner, or I’m suffering from writer’s block, I write down the problem and ask my subconscious mind to fix it while I sleep. Then I go to bed. Sometimes the answer is immediately the next morning, sometimes it will come to me in a dream, and sometimes it takes a few days. How you program your subconscious mind is also imperative to your success; it does not know the difference between reality and fantasy.
Here’s hoping that all of your writing dreams come true! X LLB
October 11, 2019– What is a bullet journal exactly? It’s a system of keeping track of notes, ideas, storylines, and anything else that is important to you. It’s an easy way to simplify things! It’s a quick and simplified way of getting a snapshot of where you’re headed in your writing life.
Here are some ideas of what you can put in your bullet journal should you choose to use this method of organization for your writing:
- Writing inspiration-write down story ideas as they pop into your mind.
- Tracking your submissions to publishers-when and who you submitted to along with guidelines if applicable.
- Organizing your storyline-plotting your novel and the important events that will take place in your book.
- Managing your time-jotting down most important tasks, deadlines, and projected release dates.
Bullet journals can work really well for some writers if they enjoy this method of organization, give it a try and see if it works for you! Happy writing! X LLB
May 25, 2018- Rejection isn’t easy, but it’s a natural part of life. A lot of the time editors and publishers give very little insight/info about why your work was rejected.
Usually, there are a couple of major reasons why work is rejected-I’m speaking from my own personal experience about why I reject manuscripts.
- Your work isn’t ready to be submitted but you submitted it anyway.
- You queried me incorrectly, didn’t follow the guidelines, disregarded the submission process and were unprofessional.
Yikes! I know that this sounds harsh, but you deserve the truth. Now, I’m not saying that these are the ONLY two reasons, there are others. Let’s explore some of the additional reasons why editors/publishers reject submitted manuscripts.
Reasons for rejection are totally subjective, but here are some possibilities and additional reasons why I would reject something:
- Something was recently published that is similar. Simply put, someone already thought of it, and it’s on my desk at this moment in queue for publication.
- The timing is wrong. I’ve cut back on my list or maybe I’m at my max for whatever genre has been submitted. Maybe something has changed in the market or perhaps the manuscript submitted is not saleable.
- You have no author platform or you have major controversy surrounding your online presence. This is not always something that will disqualify you from getting a deal with my publishing house, but it’s a pretty big factor.
Keep these things in mind when you’ve been rejected and remember to never give up!