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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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Graphic Novel Lettering Tips…

May 13, 2019- If you’re working on a graphic novel, you need to read this fabulous info from Nate Piekos! He is the creator of the indie graphic novel titled, The Whole Enchilada. Nate’s work has appeared in books by almost every major comic book publisher, has appeared in computer magazines worldwide, and have been licensed by companies like Microsoft, The Gap, The New Yorker and many more. This is from Blambot.com check out the site!

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Publisher’s Corner…(I answer your most burning questions)

April 26, 2019– Do you guys think that we should have a weekly blog post titled Publisher’s Corner (inspired by Coach’s Corner with the ever fabulous Don Cherry)where I answer your most urgent questions about publishing/writing? I do and last time I checked, I own the place so I can do whatever I want. Every Friday from here on out, we’ll do it! Sound good? Let’s get started.

I received an email last week that asked, “When should I send my novel to a publisher for consideration?”

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind for submitting your work to a publisher.

  1. AFTER your manuscript is completed.
  2. AFTER you do your research (see who is accepting manuscripts and if that publisher is accepting your genre)
  3. AFTER you query the publisher and they REQUEST your manuscript. Your query better be good by the way.

“But Lacey, why wouldn’t I query first to see if they’re even interested? Then if they are, I’ll finish my book.

Think of it this way, you send us a killer query letter, we love it, and want to see the manuscript, imagine our disdain if your manuscript is unfinished. You’ve completely wasted your time and ours. This is comparable to a real estate agent saying to you, “I’ve found your dream home! It’s got everything you want, a pool, a big backyard, and three car garage!” You’re excited, right? Then she says, “But it’s not for sale.”  That’s how publishers feel when you tell us the manuscript is incomplete. Don’t ever do this, make sure your work is finished before ever considering querying us.

“But Lacey, can’t I just send my book out to a bunch of publishers to better my chances?” 

No. Next question. Just kidding; all kidding aside though, you need to research the publisher that is the best fit for your work. Let’s say that you wrote a middle-grade adventure novel and you sent your manuscript to a publisher who only publishes romantic fiction for adults…again, you’ve wasted your time and ours. Do your research, know who you are submitting to, and know what they publish. If you submit something to us that is totally out of our scope, we realize that not only did you NOT do your research but maybe you don’t care enough about a book deal to do your homework. It also makes us leery of working with you because you’ve shown us that you can’t follow instructions.

“But Lacey, can’t I include my manuscript with the query? It will be more efficient and I won’t have to wait as long for a response.”

Do NOT send your manuscript with the query. If we want it, we’ll ask for it. You also need to be aware of the guidelines. A lot of the time publishers request the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the BODY of the email. We don’t open attachments so if you’ve ignored the guidelines and sent us your query and manuscript together…you may as well consider it trashed because we won’t open it.

I know that a lot of this advice seems a bit harsh, but this is the reality of publishing. I want you to have your best shot at success. X LLB

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People Hate Change…So Who Gives AF?

April 22, 2019– Happy Easter, everyone. I trust that you enjoyed the time spent with your family over the long weekend and around here, our weekend was also about enjoying playoff hockey! Whatever you ended up doing, I hope that you had a nice time. Today’s blog post is about change and why humans hate it. It’s a bit of a rant on my part, so buckle up.

Recently I started going to a personal trainer because I want to get my endurance back and some strength back that I had lost over the past year. Someone who will remain unnamed, said the following right to my face, “Oh dear, I hope that you don’t get too bulky and start to look masculine.” WOW! Can you believe it? It took everything in me not to throw this person a beating. But, I digress. People don’t know how to keep their mouths shut and they seem to think that everyone is entitled to their opinions whether asked for or not.

So what if I get super ripped? So what if I start to look better and feel better about my strength and endurance levels? Does this person know that about a year ago after my concussion that I could barely stand? Do they know that I could not lift my left arm higher than my waist because the pain was excruciating? Do they know that I wasn’t able to exercise for a year without having massive anxiety attacks? Of course not. People only see what they want to see and they don’t ever have all of the facts.

The point is, people are judgemental idiots no matter what, but ESPECIALLY when the people around them start to change. People fear change. They fear it because they are uncomfortable with it and if you change too much, they may have to change too; they’re quite content doing what they’re doing and being who they are. They don’t want to have to step up their game or put in the work, or deal with change because that would require being uncomfortable on their part. They like things just the way they are.

That’s why people are going to say, “Oh, you’re writing a book? Isn’t that hard?” Or “I’ve heard it’s super hard being an indie author and most of them don’t make more than a few hundred dollars a year.” Or “How are you going to write a book, take care of your kids, and go to your job, isn’t that a bit selfish of you?”

The bottom line? Who Gives AF? Do what you want to do because life is too short. There will always be people who say you can’t do something or that you shouldn’t do something or that it will be too risky or too hard. Those people are showing you THEIR limitations, NOT yours.

So as they say in hockey, “Keep your chin up, kid,” and do whatever you want to do anyway. Never apologize for trying to be the best version of yourself no matter WHO you make uncomfortable.

Go Bruins, X LLB

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How to Make Your PowerPoint Presentation Not Look Like Sh*t…

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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Everyone is Better Than Me…

April 18, 2019– As writers, we often think this. It usually happens when we run out of coffee and are staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page while simultaneously banging our head against the desk. Let me be honest, there are a lot of writers out there who ARE better at writing than you. And they’re better than me too. Sometimes it comes down to basic things like sentence structure, plot lines, and good old-fashioned storytelling. Listen, we have to accept the fact that we aren’t as good as we could be and that there is always room for improvement. The point is, what are you going to do about it?

 

  1. Start reading more. I’m serious. If you’re not reading, you can’t possibly have the tools or the knowledge to be able to write like you should. Get your hands on anything and keep reading. We know this from literacy studies with kids; the studies show that kids who read more do better in writing and in school. Let’s take a page out of their book (pun totally intended) and read as much as possible.
  2. Find your weak spots. If you don’t know where your writing sucks, ask someone to tell you. Join a group of professionals or give your manuscript to someone who doesn’t like you. I’m not kidding, the problem with having our work critiqued by family and friends is that they love us and the last thing they want to do is hurt our feelings. Why do you think I’ll never send a manuscript to my mother? Because I could copy the phone book (do these still exist?) and she would say it’s the best thing she’s ever read. You need honest feedback if you want to become a better writer. Once you find your weak spots you can fix them. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.
  3. Practice won’t make you perfect, but it will make you better. If you’re not writing something every single day, then you’re not serious about becoming a writer. You need to be constantly writing because it will help you refine your craft and find your voice. Practice writing introductions, practice writing characters and plot lines, practice writing endings if these are the points you’re lacking in. Like the post on Monday, it takes approximately 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert. How are you supposed to become an expert if you’re not practicing daily? Listen, you’re never going to be perfect and you’re going to have people who hate your work. But, if you’re willing to take it all in stride and continually improve then you will be successful. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea nor should you be. Your writing voice is as unique as your perspective of the world is. Keep going no matter what.

There are writers who are better than us and there always will be. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you want to do with your life. X LLB

 

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The Power of Hash(tags)…

April 10, 2019-LOL! This has to be one of my most favourite blog titles to date. Seriously, too funny! As a business owner, author, and entrepreneur, I know how ESSENTIAL it is to be on top of things like hashtags. If you’re an indie author or a business owner, you need to know the power of hashtags! And if you’re not using them or using them incorrectly, you aren’t only hurting yourself, your business, the environment, and baby animals everywhere. Honestly, sometimes I just throw in nonsense to make sure you’re paying attention. I know that for some of you, hashtags, social media, and marketing can seem daunting, but let me assure you, with a bit of help you can do it!

Let’s start from the beginning, what are hashtags? It’s the pound sign (#) with a word or phrase after it. They’re used on social media and they identify specific messages or ideas. Get it? #hamont (Hamilton Ontario) which has been hashtagged 1.7 MILLION times. People use the hashtag symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase in their Instagram post/Tweet/Facebook Post to categorize those messages/tweets/posts and help them show more easily in social media searches. Clicking or tapping on a hashtagged word in any message shows you other tweets/messages/posts that include that hashtag. Hashtags can be included anywhere in a tweet/message/post.

Hashtags are a great way to build your brand, boost your marketing, and keep in touch with your audience! Interestingly enough, using hashtags in your social media posts can greatly increase your engagement and Twitter reported that brands who use hashtags see a FIFTY PERCENT(!) increase in post engagement. See why this is essential?  Tweets, Instagram Posts, and Facebook updates that include hashtags were 55 percent more likely to be retweeted and shared by other users.

If you’re not hashtagging your social media posts, you are seriously missing out! Get on it today.

If you want more help with which hashtags to use and how not to annoy your audience by hashtagging everything, send me an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com and I’ll send you our package pricing.

X LLB