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You’re Not Motivated to Write…

December 3, 2018– A lot of authors have this problem, they just aren’t motivated to write or work on their novels. It’s a massive problem with new and upcoming authors, and the last thing that I want to happen to you is for you to be another one of those authors who starts something but never finishes it.

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been at an event or doing a book signing where people come up to me and say, “I wrote a book too!” As soon as I say, “Oh, awesome; what is your book about?” Nine times out of ten the person will say, “Yeah, but I never finished it.” The easiest thing in the world is to start something, the hardest thing is to finish it. Be a finisher. I’m in the camp of thinking that believes that if you’re not going to finish something, don’t bother to start. Harsh, I know, but it’s true.

Here are some tips on helping you get motivated to write even when you don’t feel inspired.

  1. Set a timer. This works wonders when I’m not feeling it. I sit down at my laptop and set a timer for just fifteen minutes. I start writing, and most of the time it’s garbage, but guess what? I just turned on the faucet and the words begin to flow. Before I know it I’m writing way past the time of fifteen minutes. It works for me every, single time.
  2. Know that your mind is playing tricks. No one is always motivated so that is why we must learn to be disciplined. Your mind will do whatever it can to distract you from completing a task that you aren’t motivated to do. Stick to a writing schedule it’s half the battle. Don’t do a load of laundry, don’t load the dishwasher, don’t turn on the television, don’t answer emails. Do sit your ass in the chair and do your job.
  3. Make an appointment with yourself. This is sort of the same as the point above in sticking to a schedule, but I mean that you should quite literally schedule a writing appointment with yourself. Scheduling your work keeps you accountable to yourself and bosses don’t cancel. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to cancel the appointment you made with yourself.

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It’s Who You Know…

November 28, 2018– I know that authors are usually introverts who enjoy spending a lot of time alone. If we didn’t enjoy our alone time, we’d never get anything done. Spending time in solitude is essential when trying to finish your novel, but spending too much time by your lonesome is detrimental to your business and sales.

Networking is essential to your business of writing, whether you’re traditionally or self-published. Aligning yourself with like-minded individuals allows you to connect and build relationships, and after all, isn’t that the point? Here are some tips below on how to get networking:

  1. Join a professional association. I am a member of three writing associations that make sense for what I write about.  I urge you to do the same. Do a quick Google search for writing associations that you can apply to. The first association I belong to is the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in Canada, the second is The SOA (Society of Authors) in the United Kingdom, and the third is Sisters in Crime, the American National Chapter. All of these associations have publications that I subscribe to, and they offer networking opportunities around the world. For example, this coming February I will be attending a weekend conference in New York City with the SCBWI, where I am excited to meet my colleagues to build new and existing relationships. All of these have local chapters which I drop in on from time to time. Joining professional associations has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because not only does it help sell my books, it also allows me to keep on top of what is going on in the industry and has unlocked many new doors and opportunities. You never know who you’re going to meet that can change your life or who’s life YOU can change!
  2. Join your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI. BNI stands for Business Network International, and it’s a very valuable source of referrals for people. I just recently became a member, and after the first meeting, I had three people ask me about what services I offer and if they could get a price quote on some special projects. Your Chamber of Commerce is also a great place to network and meet new people who could be looking for your services as a writer, or even wanting to read your next book. Don’t forget, wanting referrals is great, but you MUST build meaningful relationships first. It’s not only about what other people can do for you, but it’s also what you can do for them too.
  3. Give back. Support a cause that you believe in. At Pandamonium Publishing House, we support a lot of causes that are close to our hearts; AAA minor hockey for a local team, Concussion, and Brain Injury clinics, kids derbies of all kinds, and of course, animal rescues and charities. Doing this fills our bucket, and we meet a ton of people along the way. Give freely without expecting anything in return. Talk to people, enjoy their company, and make a difference at the same time.

So go! Get out there and start connecting with people, you’ll be so glad that you did.

X LLB
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November 18th is High-Five a Librarian Day!

November 16, 2018– This year, November 18 falls on a Sunday where most libraries are closed, but that’s no reason not to celebrate this super cool day a couple of days early.

Let’s face it, librarians are akin to superheroes…in my book anyway, no pun intended. The amount of help that they have provided me over the years is staggering; from finding reference books for research purposes, or recommending the next best thriller, to having me as a guest speaker at an event that they’ve organized, I take my hat off to them for all of their excellent service and knowledge. Thank you for everything.

It saddens me that where we are, librarians are being phased out in schools and there’s no such thing as a library anymore, it’s been replaced with something called a learning commons. I remember as a student relishing in the days that we got to go to the library to pick our books and the magic that the choosing entailed. Our librarian would read us a story before we chose our books and that was the best part of the day. It’s terrible that kids won’t experience this anymore as cutbacks and the bottom line seem to be the topic of conversation in the school system these days.

My elementary school librarian fostered my love of reading and perhaps subconsciously, she added to my desire to be an author and to be surrounded by books at all times.

So, today, tomorrow, and on Monday, be sure to high-five your favourite librarian! They deserve to be appreciated each day of the year, but especially today.

X LLB

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Let’s Set Some Guidelines…

November 12, 2018– As a traditional publisher, I get a lot of questions about guidelines when writing. Sometimes I’ll receive a manuscript submission that doesn’t have the appropriate amount of content, and unfortunately for that writer, it means that it’s a no from me for picking up their script.

I want to discuss some word count guidelines in this post, but please keep in mind if you are deciding to self-publish, you can bend these rules a little. What’s that old saying? You have to know what the rules are before you break them? Sounds about right!

  1. Children’s Picture Book The industry standard for children’s picture books are 28 pages of interior, illustrated pages. There are 32 pages in total, 4 of the pages are left for the first interior cover page, the copyright page, and two blank pages. The 28 page count is usually 13 double spreads (the same scene happening across 2 pages) and 2 single illustrations (where a different scene is happening on each of the two pages). 13×2=26+2=28+4 blank pages= 32. Average word length is 400-800 words and up to 1000 words maximum.
  2.  Middle-Grade- The industry standard for middle-grade novel word counts is from 20,000 – 55,000 words, depending on the age range and subject matter, however, the word count of these books has been trending up in recent years. When writing longer works that are aimed at 12-year-olds and could be considered “tween”, using the term “upper middle grade” is advisable. With upper middle grade, you can aim for 40,000 – 55,000 words. These are books that are similar to young adult in subject matter and storytelling but still tend to stick to tame themes and avoid hot-button issues. With a simpler middle-grade idea rather than a complex one, aim lower- 20,000 to 35,000 words is acceptable.
  3. YA (Young Adult)- The industry standard for young adult novels is pretty flexible. 55,000-79,999 is a good range for word count. The books seem to be trending on the longer end currently which is to say that you could write well into the 85,000-word range and still be ok. Just know that you better have a good reason for going that high! Higher word counts tend to show publishers that the writer does not know how to edit their work or themselves. Don’t go lower than 47,000 words on the low end of things.
  4. SCI-FI and Fantasy– The industry standard for Sci-fi and fantasy are exceptions to word counts because the categories historically run long. It really has to do with the world building and descriptions used to set the scene. With both of these genres 100,000 – 115,000 words is a perfect range. On the low end, 90,000 to 99,000 is also acceptable with the ideal range being 100,000.
  5. Adult novels: Commercial & Literary– Here are some industry standards, again, we are talking about ranges so keep that in mind. Between 80,000 and 89,999 words is the range to aim for.  This word count is the perfect range for literary, mainstream, women’s, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller, and horror. Anything in this word count won’t scare off any agent anywhere. You can have as few as 71,000 words and as many as 109,000 words.

80,000 – 89,999:       Best
90,000 – 99,999:       Safe
70,000 – 79,999:       All right
100,000 – 109,999:   Okay
Below 70,000:           Too short
110,000 or above       Too long

6. Memoir The industry standard for Memoir writing word counts is the same as a novel which is between 80,000-89,999 words. Keep in mind that most people don’t know how to edit their work, and this is especially true for memoir writing. People tend to write down every little detail because after all, it did happen! On the low-end aim for 70,000-79,000 words. This shows that you know how to focus on the meat of your life and are only telling the most interesting parts!

There you have it! The more you know before submitting your work to a traditional publisher, the better your chances of getting a book deal. Here’s to your success!

X LLB

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Authors Born in November…

November 7, 2018– This month we’ll be focusing on authors that celebrating birthdays in November. Most of the authors we are going to talk about are deceased, but they’ve left such a mark on the literary landscape, that they’re impossible to forget.

Tomorrow, November 8th is Bram Stoker’s birthday! To celebrate his birthday and the genius that is his writing, here are some interesting facts about him:

  1. He fought with Oscar Wilde over a woman. Wilde, Florence Balcombe, and Stoker were all part of an intense love triangle! Stoker ended up winning the fight and married Florence.
  2. He got to meet two presidents. Stoker met Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley while he was visiting the United States as part of managing an actor by the name of Henry Irving. Stoker’s trips revolved around managing his client.
  3. He wrote romance novels. Stoker is known and much beloved for his supernatural works such as Dracula, but he also wrote romantic novels, in fact, over half of his works of fiction were classic Victorian romance pieces.
  4. Dracula was inspired by a woman. In fact, it was an essay by Emily Gerard titled, “Transylvania Superstitions,” that inspired Stoker’s Dracula. Oh, and remember Henry Irving, who Stoker managed? He was the physical inspiration for Dracula.

Happy Birthday, Bram Stoker! He would have been 171 years old tomorrow if still living…now that would be really something to write about!

X LLB

 

 

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Are YOU Up to THIS November Challenge?

November 2, 2019– Yay! November is officially National Novel Writing Month. This is a great time to start writing or outlining your novel if you’ve finally decided to take the plunge! Look around you, there are so many things to be inspired by and the chilly weather is perfect for curling up by the fire with a new project.

But, did you know that there’s an official internet project based on the month? Let me explain: National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo /ˈnænoʊ ˈraɪmoʊ/), is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. Whoa…that’s a tall order, but I think that you can do it!

So I want to know, are you up for the challenge? What will you write about?  Sound off in the comments below:) Happy Writing, you better get started! X LLB

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All About Writing for Magazines!

October 29, 2018– I’m happy to say that I’ve been published in various magazine publications dozens of times over the years. It’s pretty cool to see your story on the magazine rack and know that it’s going to be circulated to hundreds of thousands of readers! If you want to be successful, look at your work through the eyes of a magazine editor. Here are some things to keep in mind before you submit to your favourite mag:

  1. Does the story I’ve written belong in this magazine? I know that this seems painfully obvious, but a magazine about cooking is probably not interested in an article about construction sites. Check out what the magazine has printed in the last couple of years to know if what you’re writing about works for them. If you can’t find out if your idea would work or not, just go ahead and submit, what’s the worst that could happen?
  2. Have they done a story similar to this before? And if they have, how recent was it? If it’s too recent, you’re wasting your time, and it would be better to set your sights on a different topic. If it’s been long enough, at least make an effort to put a fresh spin on things!
  3. Do you know what sells? If you thumb through any magazine on your coffee or end table right now, I can just about guarantee that there’s a diet story in every issue, especially if it’s any type of magazine for women. Why? Because that’s what sells. If you know your market and what sells, you have a better chance of being published, because what you’re writing about, sells copies! Do your research before you submit.

I hope that you get the chance to write a piece for your favourite magazine, it’s so much fun and I think it’s a pretty cool experience to work towards!
X LLB

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Just a few of the magazine issues that I’ve been published in! 
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Where to Get Great Ideas…When Great Ideas Aren’t Coming

October 26, 2018– Content is hard to come by, for me anyways. I often wonder how many other bloggers have this problem, especially those who write daily. I blog three times a week, or twelve times a month and let me tell you, it can become difficult. I know it’s hard to think, but sometimes it feels as though we’ve run out of things to talk about. The truth is, there’s always something to talk about, and there are still lots new ideas for content, we just aren’t being creative enough, and we aren’t thinking outside of the box.

I hate rehashing the same old stuff over and over, so that’s why I try my absolute hardest to come up with new and exciting tips and topics! Here are a few of my personal tips about where to get great ideas:

  1. Shower. A lot. Seriously, some of my best ideas come to me when I’m standing there in the shower with the water beating down on me. Apparently, this is a thing, and there’s even science to support it! Brains give us our best ideas when a lot of dopamine is released, and dopamine is released by, you guessed it, taking a shower! Dopamine equals happiness and the next great idea.
  2. Subconscious. This is a true story; when I was in college, I remember doing some crazy math problem and no matter which way I tried it, I couldn’t figure out the formula. I finally said screw it and went to bed. I swear to you that when I woke up, I had the answer and the formula was as clear as day in my mind. Yep, to this day, I never go to bed without asking my subconscious a question and rarely does it not answer or work out a solution. Try it, it works!
  3. Study. Read everything you can get your hands on. The newspaper, magazines, online, books, tutorials, instruction manuals, and so on. Why? Because this alone will trigger an idea to write about. You can write about the time you were so blocked in your writing that you became desperate and read the instruction manual to your vintage VCR. But seriously, read it all. Especially stuff that is regularly out of your genre. That’s where some of my greatest ideas have come from.

There it is, my ideas for creating content. And remember, when you’re stuck, get unstuck by following the above tips.
X LLB

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The Drawbacks to Being Friends…

October 24, 2018– Being friends with an author has its perks; coffee shop visits, visits to bookstores together, talking books, and of course getting the inside track on what we’re working on (if you care) are the good things. Let’s talk about the downfalls to being friends with an author.

  1. We will put you in a book. Whether directly or indirectly, we will put you or a piece of you in a book. We can’t help it. Little personality quirks, funny superstitions, physical traits all have to come from somewhere and being an author means that we choose those who we are closest to write about. Also, if you piss us off, we will kill you…figuratively.
  2. We are forgetful. Yes, we are a forgetful bunch, but not because we mean to be, but because we remember the important things. We may forget the anniversary of our friendship, but we’ll never forget that time when we made you laugh so hard that you spit your drink out. We won’t forget the sparkle in your eye when you tell a joke, but we will forget that you butchered the punchline. We will forget what you were wearing last week to the movies, but we won’t forget the single tear we saw you shed when the main character died. We can’t remember everything, but we never forget the important things.
  3. We are scattered. We change directions from one second to the next and sometimes the conversations we have with the characters in our head come out when we’re talking to you. Our desks are a mess, we switch ideas in the middle of things, we are absent-minded and can never seem to find a pen. We lose things including our train of thought, but we are among the most disciplined people you will ever come across; how could we ever finish writing multiple novels if we weren’t? How could we possibly sit our ass in the chair and not get up until we’re finished if we weren’t? We’re scattered and we’re apologetic for it. We can’t stop the noise in our head.

So, if you’re friends with an author, consider yourself fortunate, because we don’t have a lot of friends typically and we keep the ones we have, close. X LLB

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Me with my best friend
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Why You Should Diversify…

October 22, 2018– As authors, sometimes we leave a lot of stones unturned especially while first starting out. It can be scary to make the leap from full-time whatever to full-time writer, it’s a massive leap of faith, financially, emotionally, mentally, and socially.

Here are three ways to generate income while still working on your next great Canadian/American/Wherever you’re from, novel.

  1. Editing services. Chances are if you’re a writer, you can edit pretty well especially if it’s someone else’s work. Editing our own stuff is the hard part. Check into your area to see how much others are charging for this service and price your services accordingly.
  2. Public Speaking. Yes, you need to charge for this because what you have to say is important. The list of topics to talk about is endless. As an author, you could speak about establishing a writing routine, how to outline a novel, how to make money on the side while writing, side hustling, as I like to call it, and of course, where ideas come from while writing. Everyone is an expert on something, and people will pay to hear your advice.
  3. Copy Writing. No, not copyright-ing, the other one. Writing copy is important for ALL businesses, and as a writer, you’re a fountain of words. Use your wordsmith skills to generate copy for companies and to fund your bank account. Look for real estate agents, restaurants, law offices, and wherever else you think your services could be used effectively.

Of course, this is not a complete list by any means, and there are a TON of other ideas to generate income. The only limit is your imagination, and as an author, we know that this is NOT in short supply! Find ways to get creative and make the income you need to keep writing! Here’s to your success! X LLB

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