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The OHIO Method

June 1, 2020– Have you heard of the OHIO method? Did you know that this way of doing things can increase your productivity by 80 percent?

The OHIO method stands for Only Handle It Once. A lot of the time, we go around in circles trying to multi-task and completing things on our to-do list that aren’t really that important. Here’s how you can improve your writing life and publishing business by sticking to this simple principle:

  1. Chunk into groups. If it takes 2 minutes or less to complete, do it right away. For example, emails, social media status updates, scheduling meetings, paying a bill, or rebooking a client, taking 2 minutes to deal with these things will ensure that you only handle it once.
  2.  Prioritize big tasks. If you’re writing a novel, you know how difficult it can be to start writing and to continue to write long after the spark and ideas have gone. But, it’s essential to keep going and finish what we start as authors. What is the most significant task that you have today to write your novel? Is it outlining? Perhaps it’s character development or plot lines, whatever it is, choose the most important and get to work. Remember, this is not about editing, it’s about getting words onto the paper at this point. By doing this, you only handle it once, and you can go back later and refine your work.
  3. Set limits. The OHIO method is a great time saver because it frees up our options. I do this with my illustrators- every Friday like clockwork, they give me a progress report. This lets me know what they’re doing and how things are moving along and how close we are to completion on projects. By setting limits on when you’ll respond to emails or when you have staff meetings, this allows you to utilize your time more effectively and only handle it once.

The OHIO method works great once implemented, and you’ll realize that you have more time for the things you need to do and want to do.

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Lunch Lady Heroes

April 24, 2020– I was lucky enough to meet Jarrett when I was in New York attending the SCBWI winter conference last year. He’s a fantastic speaker and a lovely guy. Check out his Ted Talk about Why Lunch Ladies are Heroes and his graphic novel!

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Who Was the First?

April 17, 2020– Check out this super cool Ted Talk about the world’s first author! Soraya Field Fiorio explains:

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No One Cares Who You Are.

March 16, 2020- Grrr…buckle up for this post. It’s about to get heated.

I was at a tradeshow last weekend, and there had to be fifty or more vendors set up around the room. There were businesses that dealt with health and alternative medicine, personal beauty, finance, and everything in between. As I made my way down the aisles, I counted on one hand how many people engaged with me as a customer…my grand total? 3. Three people said hello and started up a conversation about their business, what they were doing at the show, and how their services/products could potentially help me.

I wasn’t shocked, and that’s something that we should be worried about. It means that as a society, we have been trained over the years to expect crappy service and rude/rushed sales associates. As consumers, we’ve been trained to get things ourselves, and this trickles all the way down to self-checkout processes.  Some business owners make the horrible and profit hurting assumption that if people want to buy our products, they’ll be the ones to break the ice, so why should we bother to look up from our phones or even stand up to greet them. And we wonder why online shopping and Amazon are taking over the world. I don’t wonder, I know.

Let me remind you-NO ONE CARES WHO YOU ARE. If you’re in business or an author for that matter, it’s YOUR job to make people CARE about who you are and what you have to say. I tell my authors this all the time when they are about to do a book signing, “You are not James Patterson, no one is here to see you.” Harsh? Maybe, but they’re a tough group and they get my point that they need to engage with readers. They are unknown, and it’s their job to talk to people about themselves and about their books. It’s their job to tell the readers and customers why they should read our work and how our books can benefit them in some way. STOP SELLING AND START HELPING.  That’s enough ranting on my end. We don’t do missed opportunities at my House, so let’s get down to business.

Here’s what you need to do to make people give a damn about what you have to say.

  1. Put away your phone. This is first on the list because we live in a world that is full of distraction. Being on your phone while customers are walking by your booth/business/table is unprofessional and rude. It shows that you care more about what’s going on in the virtual world rather than in the real one. It also sends a message that they aren’t important enough for you to put your phone down for. 
  2. Smile and say hello. Imagine that! So easy and so simple yet 80% of people at tradeshows, retail environments, and behind booths don’t do this.
  3. Engage with people. Ask them about themselves. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Don’t pitch your products or services right away that drives me insane more than anything. If you’re just jumping into your spiel of, “This is what we do,” blah blah blah, then you may as well just get to the point and say, “Give me your money.” It’s so offputting, and so is faking interest in people and interrupting them. If you care about your customers and readers, they’ll know it, and they’ll care about you too.

I know that this list seems ridiculously simple, but I wouldn’t have to post about it if it wasn’t true. Get your head out of your ass and take care of your customers and potential customers. The life of your business depends on it.

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The Fifth Element

February 28, 2020-Contrary to the title of this post, I’m not talking about the movie with the same name, starring Bruce Willis. There are five elements to plot structure when writing, let’s talk about them.

  1.  Exposition-This is the introduction of characters and setting to your story. You don’t have to explain everything in minute detail, in fact, it’s much better if you simply show us what the character’s normal is so that the reader can see when things start to go awry, which they will begin to, in the next step.
  2. Rising Action-This is my favourite part to write as an author. I LOVE torturing my characters by setting them up for problems. Sadistic? Maybe, but is there any other way? (Insert maniacal laugh here). Here’s the point in your story where you raise the stakes on your character and build to the climax. Be very clear as to what’s at stake so that your audience isn’t confused.
  3. Climax-This is the moment that matters most, the point at which everything before this has been building up like a volcano that ready to burst. Well, it’s time for the lava to hit the ground, which leads to the next point in your story.
  4. Falling Action-The lava (climax) is now dripping down the sides of the volcano and onto the ground. We take our readers with us, nice and slowly. We answer some questions that they’ve had up until this point and start to wind the story down.
  5. Resolution– This means that the conflict in your story has been resolved. Wrap it up with a bow for your reader, because there is nothing that makes them more disappointed and homicidal than the author leaving things unfinished with a ton of questions.

So, there you have it! The five elements of plot structure. Happy Writing! X LLB

 

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Actual footage of me on the phone trying to explain my plot to friends

 

 

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What’s Your Third Favourite Reptile?

February 7, 2019– Today, I’ll be visiting a school in my neighbourhood where I’ll be reading my book, Mount Fuji has Free Wi-Fi, to some grade three classes. School visits are so exciting and fun for not only the students but for me too! Here’s why author visits matter.

  1. Kids can’t be what they can’t see. Children need to see the things that they can be. That’s why it’s essential as authors for us to go into schools to show them that we are just ordinary people behind all the stories that they see in the library and on bookshelves. And if we can be authors, so can they! As authors, we can use this opportunity to speak to them about the importance of education and what it takes to become authors from an academic perspective.
  2. We hope to ignite their passion for reading. Interactive and fun presentations of your books help get the kids excited about reading and writing! Get them involved with storytelling games and activities that will make them want to read and participate in your visit. I leave activity sheets after every presentation and challenge the class to read five more books each than they read last year.
  3. You learn something and get new ideas for new books. As much as we like to think that we teach the students something, we’re the ones who are being educated. Children are the best teachers, and the best stories come from school visits. I’ve never been asked more interesting questions than when I visit primary classrooms. Kids make us think and keep us on our toes. Some of the questions I’ve been asked range from what is my third favourite reptile (Komodo Dragon), to how much money I make (Buckets full), to how old am I (37) and what’s my mom’s name (Catherine). These visits have given me so many ideas for new books based on the characters I meet in classrooms.

Literacy matters. And the children are our future.

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New Year, New You? Probably Not.

January 1, 2020– Happy New Year, Friends! What is it about a new year that gives people so much hope and promise? Is it the turning of a new page on the calendar? Is it the thought of a fresh start and a new beginning? Is it the chance to start over and better ourselves, to break bad habits and create healthy new ones? Or are they all just lies we tell ourselves?

I’m going to go with; They’re all just lies we tell ourselves, Alex for $200! Why so cynical? Because science, that’s why. Researchers at Scranton University did a study that showed only eight percent of people were able to achieve their New Year’s resolutions, the other eighty percent failed, and the remaining twelve percent did what you should do-not make any resolutions in the first place.

Setting goals are entirely different than making resolutions; here’s how:

  1.  Goals are Specific. For example, you may want to set a goal of writing for one hour per day, whereas your resolution could be to become a better writer. The best way to word this is to combine the two; To become a better writer, I will write for one hour per day, five days a week.
  2. Goals involve Planning. For example, you resolve that this year you’re going to submit your work to a publisher for consideration. Sure, that sounds great, but have you planned for this? Where will you submit your work? Have you done research on which publisher is the best fit for your manuscript? Do you have an email address of the person you will be submitting to? Without a proper and REALISTIC plan, YOU WILL FAIL. That’s all there is to it. Remember the adage that still rings true; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
  3. Goals involve Action. For example, you can be as specific as you want to, you can plan what you’re going to do until the cows come home. But without taking action, you’ll never achieve anything. I know someone who has over 2,000 (not an exaggeration) email leads, from various shows she attended as a vendor, that are sitting in a box on her desk doing absolutely nothing and have been doing nothing for years. Sure, she had good intentions to use them one day, but that day never came, and now most of them are expired, moved, or dead ends. If you don’t take action on the goals you’ve set, what’s the point of setting them?

What are you doing each day to move closer toward your goals? My point is, I hope that you’re not the eighty percent of people who make resolutions and dump them by January 12th. I hope that you succeed in everything you do and know that anything is achievable if you are specific, create a plan, and take action.

Happy New Year, everyone. May the best be yet to come. X LLB

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Our Guest Blogger Today Is…

August 7, 2019– I’m thrilled to invite author, Samantha Nemeth to our blog to guest post today! She’ll be talking about all things Terrible and she’ll give you a sneak peek of her book! Check out her post below:

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a vivid imagination and I’ve loved telling stories; I didn’t want to be read to, I wanted to do the reading. Before I could even read I’d sit with a book and come up with my own stories from the pictures. I’d write plays with my friends and force our families to watch, and our favourite game was “spies”. We’d come up with these crazy stories about people being kidnapped with us being the heroines to save them. Before you ask, yes we roamed the streets not-so-sneakily “spying” on passersby who were our imaginary kidnappers and then run away giggling when they noticed us. So, I guess you can say that being an author, creating something from nothing but a thought, is somewhat of a childhood dream of mine.

My book “DJ the Terrible”, is definitely inspired by my friends and I and all the trouble we got ourselves into, but the original idea for it came from a drawing. My now-fiance and I were being silly one night coming up with the funniest sounding names we could, and drawing pictures to match them. Our favourite was titled, “Djeaneautha, la Terrible Jeune Fille”, who had crazy hair, a unibrow, and a evil genius cat named Godfrey. After that, I just couldn’t stop thinking about all the chaos that this terrible girl and her cat would have caused and from there, DJ grew into this wacky, fanciful character who reflects all the awkwardness, burning curiosity, and complete comfort with herself that my friends and I grew up with.

The story follows DJ as she navigates the roller-coaster ride of being the new kid in a suburbia where everyone plays by the rules, no one has any uniqueness, and they haven’t even heard of deep-fried waffle tacos. When she realizes that these people don’t like her because she’s different, she quickly decides to go undercover with her sidekick Godfrey the Super Cat to assimilate with her new neighbours, AKA “The Borings”, gain their trust, then turn the town on it’s head! The only thing is…blending in simply isn’t DJ’s strong suit. With her inventive, mischievous mind, wild hair, and clumsy demeanour, Terrible trouble follows this Terrible girl wherever she goes!

I was lucky enough to grow up in a time before social media and its high standards really hit its peak and I was able to truly be myself, let it all hang out, and simply be a kid; mistakes, tangled hair, unfashionable hand-me-downs, and all. Along with making kids laugh, and sparking creativity, I hope that “DJ the Terrible” can help show today’s youth that it’s okay to be yourself, to be different, and in fact, our differences are something to be celebrated, not hidden away. I would love for at least one reader to walk away from the book knowing that what matters isn’t having the most friends, or the coolest hair, or following the trends. What matters is staying true to yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

Her book DJ the Terrible will be available on October 1st…but we have a special announcement coming soon!

 

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Publisher’s Corner…

June 7, 2019– This is an excellent question that a reader asked me over the phone. He had written a book about baseball and had a couple of questions regarding copyright. Let’s check out what he had to say, below:

Q: “Lacey, I’ve written a book about the history of baseball and want to use photographs throughout my book, what do I need to know and is this possible?” 

A: Great question! This whole copyrighting issue can get a bit messy at times, so let me explain how it works when wanting to use images. 

  1. Stock Images: You can use stock images that have no attribution required. There are multiple sites online that have stock images that you can use however you’d like. No attribution required means that you don’t have to give credit to the photographer or the owner of the image.
  2. Public Domain: Did you know that all images published before January 1, 1923, in the United States are now public domain? See if the images you’d like to use are in this category, because you may not need to get permission to use them.
  3. Buy Photos: You can always buy photos from the photographer on sites like istockphoto.com, shutterstock, and fotosearch.
  4. Email: Send an email to the person who holds the copyright of the image and ask their permission to use it. Sometimes there will be a charge and sometimes there won’t it depends on what the owner of the photo decides.
  5. Wikipedia: You can use the images from Wikipedia as long as you cite them.

In all cases, except for the first two on the list, you must give credit to the person who owns the photos. Please remember that copyright is very important and not something to be infringed upon. All artists deserve to be recognized for their work. It’s up to them to say no attribution required, so always check beforehand what the case is. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble this way and be able to give credit where it is due. X LLB

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