January 12, 2017
Today’s Weekly comes at you from one of my favorite neighborhood bars! Mr. Layne and I were feeling a bit stir-crazy (as can happen when 2 people who live and work in a 500 square foot apartment!), and since we both had Thursday newsletters to work on (the hubs' is here if you're interested), we looked at each other and said, “Lillys?”
So here I am with a lovely glass of white wine, Brussels Sprouts and a soft pretzel, which is pretty much my ultimate weakness, second only to grilled cheese.
I’ve got lots to talk about today, so let’s get right to it, shall we?!
What I’m Working On
Last week I mentioned that I’d turned in I Knew You Were Trouble on Jan 2nd, and I think I tricked myself into thinking I had a bit of breathing room.
So wrong. Typical.
In addition on working on a brand new book (haven’t announced it yet, so I’ll have to leave you in the dark a bit longer!) , I’ve also got …
Copyedits on Walk of Shame
I don’t have words for how excited I am for this book. It’s my least pressing deadline, so I only need to do a few pages a day to turn it in on time, but I find I can’t stop because I love Georgie and Andrew so much. Is it April yet?!
Revisions on I Knew You Were Trouble
My editor is crazy fast so even though I just finished this one, it’s back in my inbox! I’m changing more than I usually do between first draft and second draft, which is a bit daunting, but worth it. Especially since I had an “ah ha” moment this morning, where I actually said, “awww!” while writing, because my hero made me swoon. It happens.
Longtime Weekly subscribers know that I’m a huge proponent of my favorite writing program (Ulysses for Mac), so you guys can probably how excited I was when I got an email from them last year asking …
If I wanted to be interviewed on their blog/newsletter?
I tried to play it cool, but later I looked at my email response, and it was pretty much like, “Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.”
Anyway. The interview went live a couple days ago. It’s mostly geared towards my writing process, so it may not interest everyone. But it’s a very thorough (and honest!) look behind the scenes at how I work!
A smidgen of not-so-good news for (maybe) some of you …
After lots of reflection and a wee bit of agonizing, I’ve decided not to attend the RT convention in Atlanta this year.
Ultimately, it was a gut-call. None of the panels I was participating in got approved, so I had no speaking engagements. Which left publisher events and the book signing on Saturday.
And while I LOVE my publishers, I live in NYC, which means I get the lovely opportunity to connect with my editors/marketing team/publicists more than other authors do.
Plus, let’s be honest … I have seven books out this year (one I haven’t announced yet!), so … I really should be spending my time writing 😉
Winter Skin Fix
It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about something not related to books, but you all know what a beauty/fashion/lifestyle enthusiast I am, right?!
So I can’t resist talking about this face cream I’ve discovered.
Actually, rediscovered, because I used this once before, and can’t remember why I left in the first place?!
I’ve been suffering from dermatitis/eczema patches on my face for years, with these persistent dry patches that flare up and piss me off for weeks at a time.
I was in Sephora in December, and walked by a gift set for a brand that I’d used before, but somehow forgotten about.
It’s called First Aid Beauty, and it’s about what it sounds like … a skincare line for troubled skin 😃
I was only after the lotion, but I bought the set because the $90 value for $45 pulled me in.
Here are my ratings for the stuff in the set:
Ultra Repair Cream :: A+
This is main reason I bought the set, and … why did I stop using this?! My skin hasn’t been this clear in years. It’s thick and rich, and feels MUCH more expensive than creams I’ve spent twice as much on. Note, if you have oily skin this MIGHT be a bit heavy for you. It’s not even a dedicated face cream, it’s meant for use on ANY “extra dry skin.”
Face Cleanser :: A
I used this the entire time I was traveling in Seattle and loved it. The texture reminds me a lot of my Bobbi Brown Lathering Tube Soap that’s my go-to soap for removing make-up without drying me out too much. The only reason I like Bobbi’s better is because I love the fresh, herbal scent (First Aid Beauty’s version has no scent). But I don’t love Bobbi’s price tag, so I may be switching once I run out of my current Bobbi Brown! Bonus, they have TRAVEL sizes of their soap, which is rare and lovely for “nice” soap brands.
Facial Radiance Pads :: B
These are basically little exfoliating/brightening/toner pad things. They’re definitely not as “wow” as Dr Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta Peel (one of my MAGIC products), but they’re cheaper and gentler. Wouldn’t buy them on their own, but I’ll definitely use up what I have!
Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum :: C+
Nothing wrong with this, but I definitely don’t notice a huge difference when I use it, and looking it up, it’s one of the pricier items in the box. (I should also be fair and say that I never think to use this more than 2 days in a row, so perhaps I’m not getting the cumulative benefits)
Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm :: F
Um, this is the worst lip product I’ve ever used. I don’t know if I just got a bad version (it gets great reviews!), but it’s hard, really gritty, and when I try to apply it to my lips, it neither glides nor absorbs, and just leaves me with this unattractive/uncomfortable residue. Pass.
I came home to this ADORABLE gift from my street team. The picture frame features all of my “character inspiration” for my characters, and the book contains my books plus excerpts.
In addition to being a lovely gesture, it was such a timely (and much needed) reminder of how much I’ve accomplished in three years, and gave me an extra boost of energy to push through even when I feel like I’m working my booty of for nothing.
Ask Lauren Anything
This question came from Vanessa via Instagram (props for knowing I’m better at responding to Instagram messages than anything else!)
Hi LL! I’m SO excited for all your 2017 releases. There are SIX if I’m reading your website correctly? Yay for your readers! But … (you knew that was coming) … It looks like all six books are e-book only?! No paperbacks in 2017? Say it isn’t so!
Hey Vanessa! I must inform you that … yes, it’s true. None of my 2017 releases will be available in paperback. (*ducks and avoids dirty looks*)
Since I imagine the follow-up question is WHY, I’m going to cheat and copy/paste directly from the FAQ section on my website, since it sums it up pretty well 😃
Three main reasons on why I don’t have as many print book as LL-readers would like to see
(1) It’s not always up to me. While self-published authors get to make the paper vs. no paperback decision themselves, I’m traditionally published, which means a New York publisher calls a lot of the shots. It’s not as simple as me saying, “I want X available in paperback, but Y to be digital-only.” To be more blunt than I probably should, a print deal isn’t always on the table for all my books. You and I may want X book in paperback, but if a publisher doesn't want to print it, we're a bit out of luck!
(2) I'm not bitter though, truly. Because e-books are the best financial decision for my family. Contractually, I’m not allowed to talk specific royalty-rates, but I will say that authors take home a much larger percentage of e-books than they do print copies. E-books make up for about 90% of my income, so it can be hard to justify chasing the elusive print deal, especially since …
(3) It takes less time to get an e-book out into the world. I write quite fast (about a book a month), and I love that I’ve found a publisher that allows me to release 6-7 of those books in a single calendar year. The reason I’m able to do that is because there’s no paperback version. We don’t have to factor in the timing of printing, shipping, distributing to stores, etc. Not to say I won't have any more paperbacks in the future, I hope that I will! But more e-book only deals means more Lauren Layne books, period.
All that said, I hope you’ll consider reading the books digitally, because … well, I love them 😃
Hello writer-friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve included anything in The Weekly just for you, but I wanted to tell you guys about a new thing I’m trying in 2017 (actually, I started in December 2016 and liked it so much, I decided to make it a thing) …
I have a calendar/planner dedicated JUST to tracking my writing deadlines (that’s not new) and … my daily wordcount (or revisions/copyedits, if that’s the more pressing task).
Here’s the back story …
I used The Day Designer in 2016 for everything: life, health, travel, notes to myself, etc. And I love that planner, but because there was SO much information stuffed into those pages, I found that some of my writing stuff was getting missed. Or at least, not getting as much focus as I wanted it to.
And eventually I quit writing down my “words written” in the Day Designer, simply because there wasn’t enough room on the page by the time I wrote down my appointments, guest blog posts, hair appointments, my running/excersie schedule, grocery list, what was for dinner, and so on.
Same went for my deadlines. They kept sneaking up on me! Not because I hadn’t written them down, but because my eyes could only take in so much, and I had handwriting EVERYWHERE.
In December I experimented with using a separate notebook to track ONLY writing stuff, not a single other thing.
It worked like a charm. Not only did I have a better sense of what I needed to write each day to not rush my deadline, but it was sort of a rush to see how many words I’d written in a day, a week, a month, etc (including an epic three days in which I somehow cranked out 42,000 words, a new record!!!)
I wanted to keep the goodness going in 2017, and I knew just the tool to do it:
I talk quite a bit about planners and how I love Erin Condren, but I quit using it acouple years ago because it just wasn’t the right format for all my stuff (I’m currently using the KitLife Planner and LOVING it) …
But the Erin Condren planner for my writing progress? Perfection.
I bought the “Vertical” style of her planner, where each day has a column with three boxes, and I use each box for a different book.
So for example, the first box might be what I’m drafting, and I include my starting wordcount, my goal ending wordcount, what my ACTUAL ending wordcount for the day was, and then how many words I wrote.
In the other boxes, I’m currently including my Copyedits and Revisions projects. This was sort of a lightbulb moment for me. One of the hardest parts of being a professional author isn’t hitting your “book is due” deadline, it’s juggling that with all the OTHER deadlines that nobody tells authors to plan for. Round One Revisions. Round Two. Copyedits. Page Proofs. And so on.
This allows me to look at a single day and plan/execute what needs to happen on three different books (and which one gets priority). Brilliant.
It’s early in the year yet, so I don’t have a lot in terms of screenshots for you, but here’s this week!
(I had to block out the top section with my business cards, because it’s a new, unannounced project), but I promise I”ll do another screenshot once I’m drafting a book that ISN’T secret!
I mentioned last week that I was a little behind in Mr. Layne and my annual planning session.
That’s still the case. It’s January 12th, and I don’t quite have the full vision of what I want 2017 to look like, and what I want my guiding theme to be, but I have had a chance to reflect on 2016, and I thought I’d share a little of my “self report card.”
2016’s theme was Like a Boss
For those who are like wha?!, for the past five years, I’ve adopted Stratejoy’s brilliant idea of having a theme word for each year. It sounds very woo-woo, but listen … it’s better than any New Year’s Resolution.
See, a theme word is bigger than a single goal, it’s more than a checkbox. It’s an idea, a feeling that you want to feel, a vibe you want to emulate, a status you want to achieve. It’s something you can carry with you well past February when the new gym shoes are already dusty. A resolution is something I want to do, butt the theme word is all about the person I want to be.
Not to say I don’t have resolutions/goals, I totally do. I just figure out my theme word first, and that helps guide me in my goals, making sure I'm not going to get pulled in a different directions, trying to achieve things that have nothing to do with the other and leave me feeling frazzled.
So. My 2016 theme word was Like a Boss.
(not technically a word, but be flexible, would ya?!).
How’d I do?
It was my best year yet in terms of living my theme word.
I feel really, really good about 2016.
The idea behind Like a Boss was that I would basically own the year. I don’t want to get too much into the specifics of my goals, because they’re a little personal, but the gist is something like this:
Write all the books. Sell a sh*t ton of books. Make enough money to not only make up for going into debt in the early part of my career (because I quit my fancy, well-paying job very willy-nily!) but also to get financially comfortable. See my books in Walmart. Start the side hustle of Last Word Designs (our web design company). Get a newsletter out every week. Finish my YA manuscript.
I. Did. All. Of. It.
So do I feel good about 2016? Heck Yes I did!
Was it perfect? Certainly not. I had a handful of items on my “Oh F” list.
(The hubs and I always start our planning list with a F Yeah list of things that went well, and an Oh F list of things that weren’t so great about the year).
Anyway, so the things that weren’t so great? I can’t share a lot of them here, because some are connected to other people/groups/events whose names I won’t share publicly, because … class.
But what I can say about 2016 …
While I am extremely proud of all that I accomplished, I wasn’t always graceful in execution.
I did a lot of writing, but I went entire months without going to the gym. I ate nearly many takeout meals as I did homemade. I let some of my favorite stilettos languish, even though I know that I feel my absolute best in high heels.
I write best from bed, and that’s great, but I while I would wake up at 5, I'd often times not get myself out of bed and into real clothes until 2pm. I would sleep in my husband’s ugliest, oldest undershirts because I was too exhausted/distracted to remember to myself an actual pair of pajamas. I love having manicured nails, but months would go by and they’d be bare and and unpolished. I had amazing jewelry/outfits that went unused because I’d go from pajamas to sweats, back to pajamas. My apartment, while exceptionally tidy, was merely a roof over my head while I worked, not a home that I took care to nourish. And for the first time in a decade, I defaulted to TV some nights instead of reading, and I don’t even like TV.
Accomplished as I felt, there were times that I’d look at the clock and realize that several days had passed with me basically hunched over my laptop, no bra (TRUTH TIME!), shower optional. Or I’d look in mirror and wince because, um, well, it wasn’t my best self.
I’ve noticed that authors in general have a tendency to embrace the, “Oh look at me, what a hot mess with my chocolate and sweatpants, lol.” They can do whatever they want, but that’s not me. It’s never been me. And when I went that route this year (perhaps in a subconscious effort to fit in, I dunno?!) it … didn’t feel good. At all.
I don’t blame other authors. Or even my aggressive writing schedule.
I blame habit, and the fact that once you get into the routine of sitting in a gross t-shirt with a messy bun with your laptop until noon, it tends to stick. And once you get used to eating a bagel instead of an egg white and spinach for breakfast, that becomes “normal,” when it really shouldn’t.
Did I achieve my goal of being a boss in 2016? Absolutely. And trust me, I’ve been majorly celebrating that win.
I just didn’t do it in a way I can feel 100% proud of.
That’s what 2017 is for.
My theme word for this year? ...
You’ll have to wait until next week to hear it 😉