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Screenwriting Tips…

June 10, 2019– As you may or may not know, I own a production/film company called TFP Productions. This year we will be creating two films-1) Documentary 2) Canadian Short film, both will be submitted to various International Film Festivals in 2020.

Writing is writing is writing. Whether it’s a novel or a play or a screenplay, it’s still writing and that’s why this topic is relevant for our blog. Check out the screenwriting tips from Erik Bork, below:

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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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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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TED Talk…Great Introduction Carolyn Mohr

April 24, 2019-Hello, friends; I love this short and sweet Ted Talk about the Power of a Great Introduction. Click on the link below to check out the video!

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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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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

 

 

 

 

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Character Sketches and Why You Need Them

March 6, 2019– Character sketches are essential to writing because characters are the people in your book that your readers care about the most! If you don’t have a strong, character-driven story, chances are that people won’t continue to read your work. While writing, authors try and develop characters that readers can relate to. We want characters with real-world struggles of the human condition that intertwine us and make us comrades in this life. As readers, we want to look at a character and see parts of ourselves.

So what exactly is a character sketch? A character sketch is simply writing down everything that you need to know about a character from what their favourite food is to what motivates them. It may sound silly, but I always encourage my authors to write down absolutely EVERYTHING about their characters even the stuff that won’t make it into the book, because knowing their character intimately allows their quirks and personality traits to bleed into their writing. For example, Jenna may hate spaghetti, but the reason behind it may be because it was her abusive ex-husband’s favourite dish.

Let’s elaborate and use Jenna as a character sketch:

  1.  32 years old
  2. divorced
  3. no children but two pit bull dogs
  4. Aquarius
  5. loves old movies
  6. hates spaghetti
  7. favourite food is roast beef
  8. tall 5’8
  9. brown eyes and blonde hair from a bottle
  10. second born of three children (Older brother, her, younger brother)
  11. parents are dead
  12. biggest fear is being alone
  13. listens to opera music but only while in the shower
  14. a non-reader other than gossip rags
  15. spare time is used to scour antique shops
  16. mid-level income
  17. American Italian
  18. biggest goal in her life is to find true love after four failed attempts

I think that’s enough examples and you guys get the point! So, where does this information come in handy? Let’s use this to create a scene.

Jenna threw her keys into the dish on the counter. She scoured her brother’s almost bare fridge for anything edible but the only thing left was day-old spaghetti. She chucked the pasta in the trash with such force that the container burst open and some noodles stuck to the wall. Memories of her cheating ex-husband came barrelling to the surface as she held back tears. It was his favourite meal and the first meal they shared as husband and wife. The cold, stringy pasta was a horrible reminder of the man who betrayed her trust and slept with her best friend.

How in the world did we get all of this from spaghetti? See what I mean? This was going out on a ledge, but we must remember that people have their reasons for everything that they do or don’t do. They don’t do, or like, or hate things for no reason, there is always an explanation.

So, I hope you’ll take the time to sketch your characters! It will make a world of difference in your writing. X LLB