April 22, 2019– We’re (and I mean, me) are getting pretty creative with titles around here as of late (insert eye-roll here). As authors we often find ourselves teaching seminars and workshops about writing and the business of writing. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, one as a teacher and the other as a listener; there’s nothing worse than having/listening to a terrible presentation that is boring and non-educational. PowerPoint presentations can be valuable tools for your audience if done correctly, so naturally, let’s chat about what makes a sh*tty PowerPoint presentation.
- Crowding slides with too much text. Your audience isn’t here to read every word you write, they’re here to LISTEN to your presentation and maybe jot down a few important points. Leave your slides with plenty of blank spaces, not only does it look better, but it allows you to stick to the most important points and dialogue with your audience. If all of your content is on the slides why would your audience need you?
- Visual distractions. I’m talking about graphics (too many, too large, too small, too stupid) and backgrounds. Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Same goes for meaningless animation-save it because this is business.
- Impossible to read. There’s a client of mine who used a font in his email that looked like handwriting; it drove me nuts because I had a hard time figuring out what he was trying to say. Not only did this waste both of our time, but it also came across as extremely unprofessional. Use your fonts wisely and make sure that whatever you choose, that it’s readable. Remember that every PowerPoint presentation is a VISUAL aid for a live presentation.
The bottom line is to create a presentation that will engage your audience rather than overwhelm/put them to sleep. X LLB
February 4, 2019– A lot of aspiring authors get confused when asked by publishers who their novel is for. It can be tricky to differentiate between middle-grade novels and novels for young adults, so I thought that we would explore that topic today and clear things up.
- For ages 8-12
- Length is 30,000 to 50,000 words
- No profanity, graphic violence, or sexuality. Romance in middle-grade novels is limited to first kiss or crush.
- Age of protagonist is 10-13 (ten for the younger MG and 13 for the older readers)
- Focus on friends, family, and the immediate world of the main character and their relationship to it. The characters react to what happens to them with zero to minimal self-reflection.
- Voice is usually third person.
- For ages 13-18
- Length is 50,000 to 70,000 words
- Profanity, graphic violence, romance, and sexuality (except for eroticism) are all allowed thought NOT required/necessary.
- Age of protagonist is 14-18 BUT NOT yet in college/university. Young adult protagonists can be 14-15 years old for the younger reader, with safer content aimed at the middle school crowd. For older and edgier young adult protagonists, the can be up to 18.
- Focus on how they fit into the world and what their place is beyond their friends and family. They spend more time discovering who they are and reflecting on the choices they make. They are analytical with the meaning of things.
- Voice is usually first person.
This is a quick and easy way to know which group your novel fits into. Happy writing! X LLB
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
October 12, 2018– Ok, fellow writers; I found this online and it’s pretty exciting! Check out this list of bones, organs, cells, and blood in the human body. Why is this interesting and valuable you ask? Because depending on the genre that you write, a list like this may come in handy especially if your characters are going to be fatally injured. Once again it all comes down to credibility in your writing!
Let’s say your character gets cracked in the ribs or needs open heart surgery, now you know a bit more about what you’re talking about and your reader will appreciate your knowledge. Here’s a little taste of a scene I just cooked up; I hit him so hard that the next day in emergency, the x-ray showed I had fourteen broken bones in my left hand. I never thought I’d be a southpaw when it came to fighting, but I guess it was just a matter of survival.
Happy Writing! X LLB
October 5, 2018– Ahhhhhh Fall; what a wonderful season! It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up and read. Check out the fall reading challenge below, but feel free to substitute where you need to. Happy fall and happy reading!
September 5, 2018- We’ve all heard of brainstorming and I’m confident that as writer’s, we tend to do this to a fault. I say to a fault because of how much time we spend brainstorming instead of writing, which is really what we should be doing instead.
Brainstorming, as we know, is where you start with a blank piece of paper in front of you and you’re supposed to come up with new ideas. There’s a problem with the rigidity of this. We think that we’re just supposed to write down ideas, single words, and we are encouraged to think laterally.
What if I told you there was a better way? Enter Stormwriting! Here’s how to do it:
- Gather writing materials
- Find a cozy place
- Write down your idea at the top of the page
- Write down EVERYTHING that has to do with your idea.
- Use Yes and What if as your guiding questions.
- Keep writing, don’t edit! Just get it on paper.
Let’s do an example from one of my own novels set to launch next year:
My Name is Jessica Westlake (is the title so I put this at the top of the page)
- Her name is Jessica Westlake, why is her name Jessica Westlake? Has this always been her name?
- She is blonde with blue eyes, tall, trim, married, no children, having an affair with her neighbour
- Her husband is a high profile lawyer, he cheats on Jessica with the mistress that works for him
- They are rich in money but poor in morals
- They have a big house, a maid, and nice cars
- Jessica grew up poor, her parents were horrible and they did things to her that are inexplicable
- They live in Boston in a very expensive neighbourhood
- Her husband is abusive and treats her like garbage
- What if the husband catches Jessica and the neighbour? What if he seeks vengeance for what they’ve done?
- What if things were more complicated? What if the neighbour was also cheating with the husband?
See what I mean? It’s pretty easy to go down the rabbit hole on this exercise, isn’t it?
Also, this contains ZERO spoilers for my next novel:) I wouldn’t ruin it for you! Now get stormwriting!
September 3, 2018- Lots of exciting events going on around here! Check out our September Schedule:
September 14, 2018: Supercrawl 6 pm to 12 am (Lacey)
Binbrook Fair 5 pm to 10 pm (Tamara)
September 15, 2018: Supercrawl 12 pm to 1 am (Lacey)
Binbrook Fair 10 am to 10:30 pm (Tamara)
September 16, 2018: Supercrawl 12 pm to 7 pm (Lacey)
Binbrook Fair 10:30 am to 6 pm (Tamara)
September 17, 2018: Self-Publishing and Everything You NEED to Know presented by Lacey at the Sherwood Public Library 7:00 pm
September 22, 2018: Brantford Autism Speaks Walk, 12 pm to 3 pm
September 24, 2018: Self-Publishing and Everything You NEED to Know presented by
Lacey at the Grimsby Public Library 7:00 pm
September 29, 2018: Phillip Star Book Signing at Indigo Stone Church from 11 am to 2pm with Lacey
September 29, 2018: Presentation of the Best Dressed Car trophy at the Power Wheels Derby at the Caledonia Fairgrounds! (Lacey and Team)
Throw in school visits and author meetings, and it makes for a busy September! But, that’s just the way we like it!
August 10, 2018- What is your definition of being a successful author? This is the question that I ALWAYS ask the authors that I work with; whether self-published or traditional, it’s important to be able to answer this!
You are the only one who can define success and everyone’s definition and idea of success is different. Here are some answers I’ve received over the years after posing the question:
- If I sell $1 million dollars worth of books
- If kids read my book in their school
- If I have a huge house, and an in-ground pool, and a convertible
- If people line up to see me at book signings
- If I become famous around the world
- If someone tells me I’m their favourite author
- If my book helps one person
- If a celebrity reads my book and gives me a shout out on social media
- If I’m a bestseller on the NY Times list
- If I get a tv interview
- If my book gets turned into a movie
So, as you can see, there are a lot of DIFFERENT versions of success and it’s all dependent on how you choose to define it! Write down your version of success and start working towards that goal. There are no wrong answers! Remember, you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. Here’s to your success, whatever that may be.
July 13, 2018- If I can’t take my book I’m not going! I saw this scrawled across a t-shirt while in Starbucks one afternoon and I chuckled to myself because that’s entirely me.
I bring a book with me wherever I go. I’m not kidding; I’m a fan of paperbacks, which works well most of the time for convenience and portability, but every now and then I will bring my Kindle or read on my phone. I know, nothing beats the feel and experience of a real book in hand, but desperate times…
Last year I was able to read 52 books in a year, that’s one a week, and here’s how I did it. I read during the spaces in between as I like to call them. I read on planes, trains, and in automobiles. I read while waiting at the doctor’s office, while waiting for clients, and I even listen to books if I’m commuting somewhere. There are so many choices for voracious readers that I ask you, what do you choose? Are you a die-hard Kindle user? Do you prefer hardcover books? Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you carry a paperback with you wherever you go? Sound off in the comments below and let me know where and how you choose to read!
June 4, 2018-I LOVE writing in First Person narrative! Why? Because it allows my reader to sit beside the main character and feel everything that he feels and experience everything that she experiences first hand. Check out this handy infographic on ways to start a first-person story! Brought to you by our friends at NowNovel.com