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Are They Aware?

September 18, 2020-What do you see when I say the word McDonald’s? For some people, this word will conjure up the image of burgers, fries, broken ice cream machines and chicken McNuggets, and some will immediately see the infamous golden arches. It doesn’t matter what came to mind first, the food or the logo, because both things achieved the same goal, to make you aware of their brand and what they sell.

Are people aware of what you sell? Do the covers of your books come to mind when they think of you? Do they see your company logo? Do they know what you offer? If not, here are some good ways to make people aware of you, your brand, and your books:

  1. Business cards-Always carry a stack of business cards with you. It should say who you are, what your occupation is, website, email, phone number, and have your logo/slogan on it. Mine is black with a silver P, on the front with my name and owner of Pandamonium Publishing House.
  2. Brochures-These are great tools to hand out to people to explain your business offering, product samples, book excerpts, reviews, and services. Be sure to include your logo, colours, website, email, business name, how to order, and social media information.
  3. Postcards- I use postcards a lot for many different things. I use them to write notes to clients, to include in our subscription book boxes, to say thank you, and for appreciation notes to anyone who orders off our site.
  4. Banners/signage- These are essential for shows and events that you’re attending. Include your logo, brand colours, slogan, and website/email/social media info. Be sure that everything is large enough to read from a distance.
  5. Letterhead- This should include your company name, email address, website, address, and logo as well as company colours, and phone number.
  6. Email signature- Some days, I’ll send up to 50 emails per day, depending on the circumstance. An email signature is a great way to let prospective clients know what you do, who you are, and how to reach you and your social media handles. Also, if you have a writing business, your email signature is a great way to let everyone know what your hours are or when you’re out of the office/away from your desk.
  7. Social media-Amazon author page, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram- You should have all of these things and more. People need to know where to find you, and you need to be consistent with your posts. Use a social media scheduler like Hootsuite to pre-schedule your posts so you’re not tied to your phone when you could be doing something more valuable with your time. Your social media should all be linked to each other and be informative, educational, and entertaining while adhering to your brand message and aesthetic.
  8. Blog-How your blog looks and what it does are synonymous with your brand awareness and what you do/offer. Your books should be for sale online as well as your services, an about section about you and your company, and your logo, colours, and common theme should run throughout. If you’re a romance writer, for example, you could have topics on your blog that include things such as the elements of writing romance, specific genre information, how to write characters etc.
  9. Logo and colours-Our brand colours are black, white, and purple; this follows through to our cards, brochures, postcards, signage, letterhead, and blog. Our logo is a black box with a white letter P in the middle.

Every time you create content or interact with people, you are representing your brand. Do it well.

Have your coffee the same way that we do!
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Portrait of an Antagonist

September 17, 2020-Today we’re talking about antagonists and what characteristics they tend to have. As writers, it’s essential to know what makes our characters who they are, what makes them tick, and why they do what they do/don’t do. Antagonists, in my opinion, are far more fascinating than Protagonists, becasue I always wonder what pushed them over the edge and caused them to become a villain.

First, let’s start by defining what an antagonist is: An antagonist is a character that stands in the way of the main character getting what they want. The Antagonist is referred to as the villain as mentioned above. Some notable antagonists are:

  • Darth Vader
  • Cruella DeVille
  • Loki
  • Hans Gruber
  • Maleficent
  • The Joker
  • And my personal favourite, Bane.

Antagonists have particular personality traits and can often be described as having personality disorders (narcissists). Some traits include:

  • A sense of superiority and an inflated sense of ego
  • Loyal to their cause and a willingness to do whatever it takes to complete their mission no matter the cost, a risk-taker mentality
  • Intelligent and strong
  • Diabolical, calculated, methodical in some cases
  • Zealots
  • Adapts to changing situations easily
  • A distorted sense of justice, the world, and self

Keep these traits and characteristics in mind when writing your villains. Villains are people too, perhaps just more interesting and complex if you ask me!

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The BS Story You Tell Yourself

September 16, 2020-Tuesday, while on my daily run, I saw a man jogging along the mountain brow, pushing his baby in a stroller at around 6:30 in the morning. I admired his commitment to fitness and also that he brought his kid with him. Then I started to think about all of the excuses he could have had; It’s too cold, I want to sleep in, I’ll just skip today, I’ll leave my son at home with my spouse, I don’t want to wake him up, it’s too early, and the list could go on and on.

The point is, we all tell ourselves BS stories that are just an out for the things we know we should be doing; we give ourselves too many passes and a bunch of reasons as to why we can’t do something. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to stop lying to yourself. Here are the most common excuses that I hear from authors/writers/entrepreneurs:

  1. I don’t have time- I hear this constantly; I don’t have time to finish my manuscript, there aren’t enough hours in a day, it’s taking way too long to finish my first draft, I’m too busy to write. Etc. Etc.
  2. I have writer’s block- I can’t think of a plotline, my story isn’t working, there aren’t any good ideas left, I just stare at my blank computer screen, but nothing comes to mind, I can’t focus. Etc. Etc.
  3. I’ll do it tomorrow-Tomorrow will be a better day; it can wait until tomorrow to finish; I’ll just skip today and do it tomorrow etc. etc.
  4. I can’t afford it- Continuing education is too expensive; I can’t afford to keep my membership to (insert name of author or writing organization here), the course is too much money. Etc. Etc.
  5. My work isn’t good enough- I don’t want to let anyone read this, it’s too personal, I don’t think it’s good enough to send to a publisher, I’ll wait until it’s perfect before letting you read it. Etc. Etc.
  6. It didn’t pay off. The show was slow, so there’s no point in going again this week; I didn’t cover my table cost, I didn’t sell that many books, I was bored the whole time and could be doing something more constructive with my time. Etc. Etc.

So, what’s the BS story you keep telling yourself and what success is it holding you back from?

I don’t have time* Solution-wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later.

I have writer’s block*Solution-change your space, get the words on the page and stop self-editing.

I’ll do it tomorrow* Solution-tomorrow may never come, do it today.

I can’t afford it* Solution-look into grants, stop buying stupid things, start budgeting, contact the organizer to see if they’ll work with you, ask about payment plans, buy a book or borrow one from the library on the subject you’re interested in furthering your education with.

My work isn’t good enough*Solution-send it in anyway, let others read it, do better and improve your skills by asking for feedback and constructive criticism.

It didn’t pay off*Solution-give away literature, up your game with your table display, talk to other vendors, entice people to come to your booth with a free draw, measure the value in other ways-How many connections did you make? How many emails did you get? What opportunities did you drum up? How many people did you talk to about literacy? It may not pay off this second, but it sure could in the future.

Stop making excuses and giving yourself a way out. Do what you need to do day in and day out to be successful. No one said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.

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Make Up Your Mind

September 15, 2020– The other day, while I was walking to the mailbox, I saw a squirrel trying to decide whether or not to cross the road. It went left, then right, then back left again, then right, then onto the road and boom…hit by a car. It was awful, and I felt so bad for the little critter. Perhaps we can learn something from the squirrel’s indecision and that not being able to decide quickly can be fatal for our business and our writing careers.

It reminds me of a time a couple of years ago. I was a guest speaker at a writer’s group and after the session I had a few students hang around to chat. We talked about all kinds of things, but something that stood out to me was the lack of decisiveness among one person in the group. We talked about a number of subjects and got on the topic of future goals. I asked the group what they would like to accomplish with their writing and what steps were they actively taking to meet those accomplishments.

One woman said that she had a goal of being a published author, but couldn’t decide which story to send in, which contest to submit to, which publisher to pitch to, or if she should sign up for a writing seminar. So, I asked her what she was going to do and she looked at me and said, “I waited too long…the contest is over, the publisher that was accepting my genre of writing has closed their submissions window, and the writing seminar was last week.”

Moral of the story? If you wait too long and are indecisive, you’ll miss your opportunity.  It’s important to make decisions with confidence and speed. Quick descision making skills are linked with success and it’s possible to overthink things to the point of destruction and in the squirrel’s case, death. So, why do people hesitate? Because they’re afraid of being wrong.

I don’t work with people who can’t decide; it costs time and money to hum and haw and think about things for too long. I prefer to work with those who take action.

Sheryl Sandberg said it best, “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on.”

Five minutes of action is worth more than a hundred hours of indescision. Don’t miss your chance!

 

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Falling For You (Your story could be featured!)

September 14, 2020– It seems that in our part of the world (North America), that fall is here! The weather has changed drastically almost overnight, and there has been a decrease in temperature that is downright chilly. This time of year brings such a change in nature, and I fully embrace the season with all of my senses.

The writing prompt for today is Autumn.  When I think of Autumn I think of:

  • Leaves changing colour to orange, brown, rust, gold, and red
  • Apple cider/apple picking
  • Pumpkins/pumpkin patch
  • Blankets, sweaters, fuzzy socks, and scarves
  • Thanksgiving
  • Halloween
  • Fireplace
  • A good book
  • Warm drinks and artisan coffee
  • Rain
  • Soup

Here’s an easy writing exercise to get you in the mood for fall:

  1. Make a list of everything that reminds you of Autumn.
  2. Use the list you’ve made to write a 500-word short story, poem, or journal entry.
  3. Submit your story to pandapublishing8@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on our blog on Thursday, October 1st!

 

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Brain Dump

September 12, 2020-Today, we’re going to talk about a very therapeutic exercise that will help you clear your mind. It’s easy to do, and all you need is a pen and a piece of paper. The point of this writing tool is to let you get all of your thoughts down on paper so that you can effectively sort them. Here’s how it works:

  1. Write down what you’re having a problem with-whether it’s a plot issue or character development or your book not selling, whatever it is, write it down. I’ll use the example of slow book sales. 
  2. Write down whatever comes to mind while reading your problem-do not edit; this is really important because you don’t want to stifle your creativity.  Using the above example, here’s what I wrote down: Give free samples and ask for reviews while promoting our other books, send customers to our Amazon links and website links, make shopping easy and hassle-free for them, put books on sale for a limited time only (maybe a collection), talk about our books on social media or do a live reading, mail out brochures, send out a newsletter to our readers, run a promotion…and so on.
  3. Implement the best solution-after you have a full-page, re-read all of the ideas you have and go with the best solutions. I can’t tell you how many times this worked for me when I first started writing, and I continue to use this method even now. Here’s the solution based on the example given: Do all of the above.

This method of writing also helps when you’re unable to sleep. There are so many thoughts that keep us awake at night that sometimes it’s helpful to get them all down on paper so that we can clear our minds and deal with things with a fresh set of eyes in the morning.

Dump those thoughts and clear your mind! Happy writing, X LLB

 

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Run Your Way to Inspiration

September 10, 2020-As long as it’s not raining, you can usually find me running outside in the early morning in my neighbourhood. I love saying hello to familiar faces and smiling back at the people who give me cheery grins and waves. There are people walking and biking, some are on rollerblades, and most have dogs; it’s usually the same crowd day in and day out with a few exceptions.

I like to make up stories about the people and things that I see while I run; Where are they going after this? What if their dog could talk? Does their dog talk to the other dogs it meets? Where does that staircase lead? What is that skunk doing, and what is he digging for? What if we were all running from Zombies? Would I survive? And the list goes on.

Sometimes the ideas are silly, and sometimes the ideas are stuff that I can work with. The point is that I’m observing the things around me and being inspired by them.

Inspiration comes in all forms; let’s explore:

  1. Setting-Sunsets, trees, trails, staircases, houses, waterfronts are all examples of settings you’ll see on your run that could make it into your story.
  2. Animals-Skunks, foxes, birds, squirrels, coyotes, and rabbits are all animals that I’ve seen on the running trail that would make great characters for stories!
  3. People-runners, rollerbladers, walkers, older adults, middle-aged people, workout buffs, personal trainers, kids, and teenagers are great examples of people to write about.
  4.  Professions-Garbage collectors, construction workers, road pavers, gardeners, roofers, dog walkers, and babysitters are some professions that could start your story off right.

Looking at this list inspires me! How many ideas can you think of using the list of things above? Happy Writing, X LLB

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What Do You Do?

September 9, 2020– How many times have you been asked, “What do you do?” Probably a lot, especially when at a gathering where you’re meeting new people. I was at a party once where this question came up (which was not directed toward me), and the person answered, “Oh, I’m just an author. Well, not really an author, I publish my own stuff, but I don’t have a publisher or anything…” From across the room, I watched as the woman squirmed in the corner and shifted her feet with cocktail in hand, and I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, look into her eyes, and say, “Start again, this time with confidence! Repeat after me, I AM AN AUTHOR. Period. That’s a complete sentence.” 

How many times have you downplayed your writing skills or talents? A few, I’m willing to bet, especially since most authors are introverts who don’t like to toot their own horn. But it’s crucial that you say you’re an author with conviction because if you don’t believe it, no one else will. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re published, unpublished, in the submission phase, have a few things in small publications, a blogger, a poet or whatever else, YOU ARE AN AUTHOR. 

Why does this matter? Because sooner or later, what you say and think about most, becomes reality. As long as your writing and improving your craft, it’s only a matter of time before someone says yes after a whole bunch of no’s. It drives me insane when authors say that they’re not real authors because they’ve self-published. All that means is (if they did it right and invested in a quality editor, cover designer, and formatter) that they wanted to keep control of their project and work from beginning to end. Yes, there are a few self-published works out there that give the good guys a bad name, but for the most part, self-published books (when executed properly) are impossible to tell from traditionally published books. 

So, start believing in yourself! You’ll be glad you did. X LLB