A day late, OOPS!
But it's worth the wait, because I talk all about the fabulous new cover for Love Story!
A day late, OOPS!
But it's worth the wait, because I talk all about the fabulous new cover for Love Story!
Stay up to date on Lauren Layne!
The LL Weekly goes out every Thursday, direct to your inbox.
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- LL's guide to visiting (or moving to!) NYC
- Book Trivia (shifting characters)
- Excerpt from Lincoln's Book
- Announcement of Blurred Lines giveaway winner
- Sneak Peek at Wedding Belles #1
Here's a link to the latest issue of the LL Weekly :: http://eepurl.com/b79hav
(Reminder, The LL Weekly is my weekly newsletter that comes out every Thursday, and is the BEST place to get breaking news on books, life and general LL goodness.
Also published in the June 9th version of the LL Weekly
Last week I talked a bit about how I used Trello to keep track of all my deadlines, which generated a ton of questions on what other tools I use.
The other big one (other than my writing program itself) is Evernote.
I used to be all the way in love with Evernote, but we broke up for awhile. For awhile there I was finding the Mac version to be really buggy, and the iPhone version didn’t sync as quickly as I’d like.
They seem to have worked out the kinks though, and now it’s become sort of like my right hand. My favorite thing is that it syncs seamlessly between my computer and my iPhone app. It also has a web-based version, so if you're somehow without your phone and your laptop (blasphemy!) you can still access your notes from another computer.
Simply put, I use Evernote for everything. Random story idea? Evernote. Blog post idea? Evernote. Grocery list? Evernote. Online shopping receipts? Saved directly to Evernote. I keep my recipes here, my release dates, phone numbers, scanned business cards I receive at conferences, the soundtracks for all of my books, my hex codes for Last Word Designs projects, my outline for all my books, and the one I’ll be talking about today ...
My To Do list.
Now, some of you probably know by now that I love me a good paper planner (currently using the Day Designer), and that’s still the case. But while the Day Designer is really good for keeping me on track for TODAY stuff, I realized that I needed a place better suited to track my SOME DAY stuff, as well as those long-term projects, like, oh, writing a book.
So here’s how I use Evernote for that.
Every Monday morning, I created a new note and name it TO DO :: Week of ___
I then save that note to my shortcuts.
(side note: I never have more than three notes in my shortcuts section. I find this makes them truly short cuts, as I can find whatever I need most urgently immediately)
Once I create that note, I upload an image, that’s basically a turquoise box that says “To Do.” This creates a thumbnail, so that when I’m looking at my 1000+ notes at a glance, I have a visual reference for my to do list. I also have thumbnails for my other “most referenced” categories, all with their own color: The LL Weekly, Soundtrack, and Last Word Designs.
Anyway, once I have the To Do thumbnail, I type “SOME DAY” and then copy/paste anything from last week that didn’t get checked off. I then go through my brain and inbox, adding any new items that come to mind.
This “some day” list gets added to throughout the week—it’s my brain dump. Pantry items we’re low on, new emails that come through and require attention, gifts I need to buy, graphics to create, etc.
Under the SOME DAY section I create a WIP section where I write the manuscript I’m writing on, as well as any copyedits/page proofs/revisions etc that are due in the immediate future (I reference my Trello board for this)
I also have a section for LWD where I have whatever websites Mr. Layne and I are currently building.
Once that master “chunk” is created, I hit enter a couple times, and type MONDAY.
Here's where I start weeding through the tasks to figure out what's top priority. I build a new checklist under MONDAY with my "asap" tasks. Sometimes it's as simple as copy/pasting a task directly from the SOME DAY section (i.e., buy toilet paper). But if it's a big item that can't be checked coffin a single day (writing Someone Like You), then I'll create a sub-tasks under MONDAY. i.e., "write 5k in Someone Like You."
This enables me to track both long-term projects due SOME DAY, as well as progress I need to make on that project TODAY.
Once a daily task is done, I check it off (obviously).
I repeat the process every morning, moving any uncompleted tasks from Monday onto Tuesday, etc, as well as creating new tasks for Tuesday, based on my SOME DAY list.
Most days I also like to take my "top 3” TO DO items, and write them in my Day Designer, as well as the hour I’m going to work on them. This helps keep me focused on the important things. But when I’m traveling or working from Starbucks, my planner’s too big to bring with, so it’s nice to have a digital alternative.
Here are actual screenshots of my Evernote notes, with most of my personal details grayed out.
Those of you who subscribe to The Weekly (the BEST place for all LL news) know that I answer a reader question in every issue, but every now and then there is a reader question that comes up often enough that I opt to put it on the website.
This is one of them:
Here's what happened.
I wrote the proposal for To Have and to Hold (and The Wedding Belles series in general) a long time ago. Well before I announced the book or started writing it. When I come up with a proposal, I'm mostly focused on trying to convey to my publisher what the story will be about. I'm less concerned with details like ... names. I figure I'll nail those down later after I get to know the character a bit better. Character names at that stage are mostly place holders.
It should also be mentioned that I came up with the name Brooke Burke before I started writing I Wish You Were Mine, so the name Burke wasn't fresh in my mind, and I didn't realize I'd used the same name twice.
Fast forward a few months. I hadn't started to To Have and to Hold yet, but it had since been acquired by Pocket books. We were more or less happy with the book description I'd come up with in my proposal all those months ago, so up it went on Amazon and the other retailers ... with the name Brooke Burke.
By this time, I Wish You Were Mine had been written and was on the radar of readers. Cue the questions from astute readers, who read the description for both and wanted to know there was a connection.
All good, right?
Nope. As I've discussed before, when a new book first goes into the feed for Amazon and the other retailers, that description automatically populates to GoodReads. Great.
But when there's a later update to that description on Amazon/iBooks, etc, GoodReads doesn't get the memo, leaving an old-description up. Not great.
Why does GoodReads accept initial descriptions, but not changes to descriptions? I have no idea. Honestly it's annoying as hell. Because while plenty of readers use GoodReads quite frequently, I never use it.
To me, GoodReads is best served as a reader forum. It's great for that. As an author, I find it uncomfortable. I'm uncomfortable reading reviews of my own books, and strangely enough, once I became an author, I became uncomfortable reading reviews of other authors' books too. I'm basically uncomfortable with the practice of reviews of books in general, but that's a whole other issue.
Moral of the story: GoodReads is not a good place to get the most updated information on LL books, and yet it must be a primary source of info for many readers, because I continue to get questions about book descriptions that are only up on GoodReads.
I'm a little stumped on what to do about this.
Could I go audit my book descriptions on GR from time to time to make sure they're accurate? Sure. But I'm not going to do that.
For starters, book descriptions get tweaked more often than you think. Changed in little, tiny ways by publishers to fix something that's not clear and that's misleading to readers, or to add USA Today Bestseller, or to update the intro to compare to one of the author's newer bestsellers, etc. They're changed to tweak character names, they're changed to update the title if the original title is too close to another book in the same genre.
I have nearly two dozen books up on GoodReads, not counting the random duplicate entries that sometimes get added in there. I don't have the time or the interest in keeping a platform that I don't ever use up to date. I'm sure some people are reading this thinking, *cough, diva, cough* and I'm pretty okay with that. If being a diva means devoting myself to the things that matter most to me (writing the best book I can) then bring on the tiara.
And I do try my best to communicate this, I really do. It's written very clearly in my GoodReads bio that I'm not active on GoodReads and that the descriptions may or may not be accurate. I'll also cop to the fact that I don't always have the updated description on my website. Almost always, but if I'm in the writing cave, descriptions are "when I get to it." However, what I can guarantee that is that if there's an discrepancy between GoodReads and Amazon, or GoodReads and this website, GoodReads is the one that's wrong.
But man, you guys love your GoodReads. I get it. I do. But, since I myself am not on GoodReads, I need your help!
Chances are, I'm not going to know unless one of you lovely readers reaches out with questions/comments (and I don't mind when you do!) I'm not going to say that I'll dash over to GR to fix every little thing, but I'll log on occasionally to fix the most glaring of inaccuracies!
GoodReads employees, if you're reading this, for the love of God, update your data feed to get fresh information from Amazon. They own you, right?! This process should really be better.
Readers ... don't believe everything you read on GoodReads, at least for Lauren Layne books.
I often get asked how I manage to write seven books in a year, but truthfully, the actual writing isn't the hard part.
It’s being organized about everything else.
Getting a book out into the world is never as simple as “I need to finish X book by Y date.”
There is that, yes, but that’s just the first draft. It’s a lion’s share of the work, but it’s one part of many.
Typing The End, ironically, is only the beginning.
After that comes round 1 revisions. And then round 2 revisions. There’s copyedits. Then page proofs. Then sometimes round 2 page proofs. And in between all of those steps, there are about a dozen emails going back and forth about covers and character name conflict, and whether we should use Book 1 or Volume 1, and what the back matter for the books should be, and "can you pull some excerpts?" and the dedication and the acknowledgment and the pricing and lots of “by the way, LL, you moved again and we need an updated bio."
And then there’s the promo. Making teasers, and writing guest blog posts, and new Facebook covers for each release. And updating the website with pre-order links, and cover reveals and advertising and interview requests. Even after the book is out there’s pricing adjudgment and discounts and pimping book 1 in anticipation of book 2.
Back when I had 2 books out a year, I kept track of this in my head. When I moved up to 4 books a year, I used a combination of Evernote and a paper planner.
Now that I have 7 books out a year?
I use Trello.
What is Trello you ask? First thing you need to know is that yes, you’ll have to set up an account to use it, but … it’s free!
It’s basically a tool that enables you to create “boards.” (Think, bulletin board.)
Each board has “lists.” (Think columns.)
Each list has “cards.” (Think index cards.)
You can then drag and drop these cards among these various lists, getting a visual of where each book is in the process.
I have about 30 “boards” and I use them for everything from planning the Weekly to my editorial calendar to my Last Word Designs projects. Now that I think about it, each one could probably warrant its own blog post!
Today though, I’ll focus on the board I use most frequently. I call it, appropriately, my Deadline Calendar.
First things first, I create a card for each book.
Every single book I write or plan to write gets its own card on this board. Nothing fancy, just the title, and then I add the associated series and publisher in the description. I've recently realized you can add an attachment to each card, so now I can see the cover image, which makes it that much easier to update "at a glance."
Then I have my lists (again, think of these as columns), that look like this:
Brainstorm: Books that I want to write some day but haven’t been submitted/contracted/started.
Queue: Books that are under contract, or almost under contract but that I'm not actively working on.
Outline: Books that I’m pre-writing; outlines, brainstorming, etc.
Draft: Books I’m actively writing, in their first draft stage.
With Editor/Agent: Books that are currently out of my hands; either the ball’s in my editor’s court, or my agent’s reviewing, etc. It’s the only “List” on this board that gets reused, as each book/card will return to this column a few times in between revisions, copyedits, etc.
R1 Revisions: Books in Round One revisions; books where I’m currently addressing my editor’s suggested changes and doing rewrites.
R2 Revisions: Books in Round Two revisions; most of my books skip this step, but every now and then there’s one that needs a little extra attention.
Copyedits: Books where I’m actively working on copyedits; timeline inconsistencies, polishing dialog, etc)
Page Proofs: Books in final review/proofreading stage.
Final: Books that are 100% final, ready to be published, and focus has shifted to marketing/promo (a whole other Trello board!)
Released: Book’s out in the wild, and I don't have to think about it quite as often.
Now, I’ve tried to do this same sort of column set-up in an Excel/Numbers worksheet before, and technically it works, but Trello is way better.
For starters, you can drag/drop a card back and forth, which is just damn handy, especially in the mobile app version.
You can also assign labels, and color-code each step of the process.
And you can assign a deadline to each card, and then when you use the “calendar view” in Trello, you can see all of your cards/due dates on an actual calendar. Magical, right?
Here's a picture of my actual Trello board, with a few modifications to protect my Muse's creative privacy as well as projects I haven't publicly announced yet.
I'm back after a super long blogging hiatus!
Decided to ease back into the blogging world with a continuation of my Instagram series. Today's topic is a short but crucial one:
As in, your photos will only ever be as good as the light you take them in.
This one’s the most frustrating to me, but has also been one of my biggest lessons:
Does this mean you have to trek outside everything you want to take a picture? No. (Although you’ll be shocked by how much better your photo looks when you do; there's a reason wedding photographers love to do engagement photo shoots outdoors).
Don't stress if you can't make it outside, but you do want to try to take your photos near a window or light-filled room during the day.
There’ve been many a time when I want to take a picture of a fabulous cocktail in a dark, cozy bar, or take a picture of my dog looking particularly cute curled on on the couch on movie-night.
And look, I'm not telling you not to take the dark-lighting photo. After all, photos are supposed to be about memories and moments, right? I'm just pointing out that lighting might be a reason why your photos aren't coming out the way you want, and that said-photo might be a better fit for Facebook or SnapChat, if your angle is a "pretty" Instagram feed.
Take for example the below photos:
Both have been edited equally, but you'll see right away that there is no comparison in which one is the more attractive photo.
No amount of editing could make that delicious poached salmon look good. Why? It was taken indoors, at night, with nothing but the regular old kitchen light on. In person, the colors were gorgeous. The pink of the salmon, the green of the spinach, the red of the pot, the yellow of the wine, the silver glint of the lid ... you'd never guess it, but this actually was a gorgeous moment.
But without good lighting, the camera just couldn't capture the moment as my eye saw it. The end result ... well, let's just say that one didn't make it up on Instagram.
By comparison, check out that photo of the Wynn I took while in Las Vegas. It took almost no editing to make that photo look gorgeous. Why? It was taken outdoors on a sunny day. That's the best photo trick you'll ever learn.
Still determined to take a picture inside? You do have another option, although it's not for the faint of heart ... if you're determined to be an Instagram star, but you can't be booking it outside all the time, or are tired of positioning everything near a window, consider investing in some good studio lighting. Mr. Layne and I found a decent set for under $100 on Amazon, including stands and lights and everything.
Something like this would do the trick.
This is especially important if you're looking to dip your toes into the world of food-photography. Food is hard enough in general to make look "good," and damn near impossible without good lighting!
Speaking of food, Mr. Layne just relaunched his website today, and he takes some amazing foodie photography. And yes, every single picture on this site has made it directly to my stomach. He actually cooks like that. Crazy and delicious.
I'm catching up on email this morning, and no joke, 80% of my inbox right now is people asking about ...
Marco and Elena Moretti, and whether or not they'll get their own books!
I mentioned this in The Weekly a couple weeks ago, so some this is repeat info for some of you, but here's the deal ...
But. I will never say never! there are two more siblings that I left hanging, and I hope to visit them some day! Maybe!
Thanks so much for everyone who's cared about the Morettis as much as I do, and if it turns out that Marc and Elena's stories don't get told, rest assured that they most definitely live happily ever after!
The hardest thing about having seven releases in one year?
Writing seven books in one year.
The second hardest part.
Keeping track of them!
This morning I was writing in my planner (where I track all of the drafting, copyedits, revisions, promotion that's constantly in flight), and I smiled at something.
See, here's my shorthand for some of my past few titles:
Blurred Lines :: Blurred
Irresistibly Yours :: IY (you try spelling Irresistibly!)
Cuff Me :: Cuff Me (I guess it's short enough that my brain could handle it)
Good Girl :: GG
From This Day Forward :: Day
To Have and to Hold :: 2H2H
For Better or Worse :: WB#2 (as in, Wedding Belles, #2)
To Love and to Cherish :: Cherish
See how there's zero consistency there?! Sometimes it's an acronym, other times it's just part of the title, others it's part of the series.
And then ... and then are the times, when it's not about the title at all. When it's about the characters. Just one character, actually.
See, I've been working on Someone Like You lately.
The shorthand for that one?
Hey guys, no big deal, but guess what I'm starting today ...
Someone Like You is all outlined (I swooned just writing the pre-writing!!), and first words go on the page today.
Lincoln, get ready to meet Daisy.
And Daisy honey. Just ... prepare yourself.
Cuff Me will be out in a week (March 29th) and I'm celebrating by posting the first chapter for those of you who missed it in The Weekly a couple weeks ago!
Who's excited to meet Vincent and Jill?!
Did you guys know I have a novella coming out?!
On June 6th, my new series (The Wedding Belles) kicks off with From This Day Forward. It's up for review now, and one of my fab street team members put this together.
Just finished up copyedits on Good Girl and did a happy sigh at how much I love this one.
Thought I'd reward all of us with a sneak peek :)
Remember, Good Girl's not out until May 17th, but you can pre-order at any time!
One of the first CDs I ever owned was the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I'm not as fan-girl about the movie as some of my girlfriends, but that sound track was everything to me.
She's Like The Wind? Sylvia & Mickey?!
And of course the absolute classic: I've Had The Time Of My Life
Suffice to say, I've got every single song on that album memorized, and if you'd have asked me if any one could do a cover or remix of a song from that soundtrack, I'd have laughed with scorn.
(although admittedly I didn't hate the Black Eyed Peas remix of Time of My Life)
But then I heard Grace's You Don't Own Me, which, Dirty Dancing fans will know is a cover of the Blow Monkey's version.
Here's the part where I lower my voice and confess that ...
I think I actually prefer the new version.
I've been listening to this song constantly while writing To Love and to Cherish and I have yet to get sick of it!
If you're subscribed to the Lauren Layne Weekly, you've already heard me talk about Good Girl and how it's quite different for me!
Not only in characters/storyline (the heroine is a country music star, whaaaaaaat?!) but also in setting. This is the first book of mine in a long time not to be set in a big-city, but I didn't just go small-town. I went all the way off the grid.
The majority of the book takes place at a mansion in the outskirts of Glory, Louisiana. The whole "no cell service" thing is a pretty pivotal part of my plot, as is the fact that the grand old mansion that the heroine thinks she'll be staying at has fallen into major disrepair, and as a result requires the presence of a hunky handyman to fix the broke stairs, leaky facets, and so on.
It took me forever to find a picture of the house I envisioned, and this isn't exactly it, but it definitely captures the secluded, romantic vibe.
Did you know all my books have soundtracks?!
I've released a handful as guest posts in interviews, but I've decided to start sharing them on my own website, in no particular order.
To kick it off, here's Riley & Sam's soundtrack. Lots of Glee, randomly!?