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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 Best Time For a Book Launch…

April 8, 2019– Saddle up, partners! I’m about to provide you with a goldmine of information if you’re a self-publisher. Let me back up for a sec, you’ve written your book, it’s ready to sell, and you’re ready to launch , but now what? I know some of you are screaming at your screen, “WHAT? I HAVE TO KNOW WHEN TO LAUNCH ON TOP OF THE MILLION OTHER THINGS I HAVE TO KNOW AS A SELF-PUBBED AUTHOR?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Yes. And I’m sorry, not sorry. You’ll thank me in a second because I’m about to gift wrap the info and hand it to you on your choice of platter. And away we go…

January: Self-help, goal setting, motivational and inspirational books

February: Love, romance, and poetry books

March: Baseball, sports, spring, books for women

April: Religious, memoir, Easter, WW2 fiction

May: Summer reads, history, and parenting (Mothers)

June: Contemporary fiction, parent/fatherhood

July/August: Fiction (especially heavy themes)

September: History, politics, school/college

October: Mysteries, horror, thrillers, and yes, kid’s books lol!

November: Holiday, cookbooks, kid’s books, religion

December: DON’T LAUNCH ANYTHING THIS MONTH

So there you have it! The best times to launch your self-published work during the year. Sticking to this schedule will add to your success and that’s my biggest wish for you as a fellow author.

If your self-published work is struggling and sales aren’t where you want them to be, drop me a line at pandapublishing8@gmail.com any time this month for a free, 30-minute consultation. Let’s see how we can help!

X LLB

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All Of Your Books Have Money In Them…

April 1, 2019– It’s the first day of April! Yay! Let’s hope that spring is in the air and that we’ll finally be able to venture outside sans parka. Today, I want to talk about the value of the books that you already have on/in your bookshelf, Kindle, iPad, phone, and digital libraries; it may seem crazy to think that every single book you own has the potential to make you a lot of money. I can’t remember who said it, maybe it was Mark Cuban, but whoever it was said, “Each book I read has at least one, million-dollar idea inside.” How do you find the money? Let’s explore!

  1. Inspiration to write your own book. This is definitely one way to make some dollars especially if you’re already a writer with an established reader base, but even if you aren’t, you can always find ideas to write about that could be the key to unlocking a potential book deal with a publisher!  Looking through books you already have can spark a new idea for a book of your own. After all, where do new ideas come from, right?
  2. Advice you can follow. If you have books about investing, the stock market, how to save money, and other financial advice, imagine implementing just one idea and how far ahead you could be this time next year! This happened to me personally when I read the book titled Profit First-it changed the way I budget for my business and I’ve never looked back!
  3. An idea that you can implement. Let’s say that you’re a cat lover/expert and you’ve got Modern Cat Magazine strewn across your furniture and on every nightstand in your home; it may be enough to spark a new idea that can make you money such as developing a new toy for cats, or a cat sitting business, or hosting a cat show that you’re going to spearhead in your city. Maybe you know enough about cats to query the magazine for a writing gig; you never know when inspiration can hit like a pound of catnip!
  4. A new view on an old perspective. This happens a lot in medical journals with new information coming to light all the time. First coffee was bad for us (this sentence was difficult to write and totally blasphemous), now it’s good. Then it was too much sleep, too little sleep, cell phones are bad, cell phones are good (debatable), and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective to open up a new side of your brain and spark an idea. By solving new problems, you can make a lot of dough. For example, you’ve been doing a lot of reading on the benefits of essential oils, perhaps you could host a workshop where people can make their own combinations or host a talk at your local health food store about how essential oils changed your life! The possibilities are endless.

We know that knowledge is freedom, but did you know that knowledge is also financial freedom if you act on it? Here’s to your success now and always! X LLB

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Mini Habits (They’ll change your writing life!)

March 1, 2019– I was boarding a flight in Toronto recently, and while we were getting on the plane, I overheard a woman and her son talking about a book. Of course, I’m always interested in book recommendations, so I continued to eavesdrop. The young man said quietly to his mother, “This book is amazing, it’s easy, straightforward, and I think this will work for what I’m trying to accomplish!” The book that he had in hand was titled, Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. I headed to my seat and took out my phone because the boy had piqued my curiosity. Of course, I had no idea what he was trying to accomplish in his life, but I thought the book sounded intriguing and he sure seemed to believe in it!

I looked up the book jacket info on Amazon and read some of the reviews; they were pretty impressive. I downloaded the audio version and plugged in while we waited on the tarmac. The book, in a nutshell, is about how most of our behaviour happens on autopilot and if we set small goals such as a single push up, once we’re in position, we’ll always do more. Eventually, these small goals will become habits, and we will operate from a place of automation instead of force. So, how can mini habits change your writing life? I’m so glad you asked!

  1. You’ll exceed your goals if you start small. When I first became an author, I created mini habits unbeknownst to myself; I would write every day for only fifteen minutes. Soon those fifteen minutes each day became a habit and the fifteen minutes turned into an hour or more. I have an author friend who started writing only fifty words per day. Soon, his fifty words per day multiplied into fifteen pages per day. The point is, if you set a small goal and stick to it, you’ll reach your goal, and you’ll be motivated to do more.
  2. You’ll create discipline without out even realizing. If you create a mini habit of listening to a business audio book every time you get in the car, or a mini habit of reading one page of a book per day, you’re creating discipline in your life and discipline equals freedom. You would have a massive amount of knowledge in one year if you read one page per day or listened to something while traveling! These mini habits will translate into big results because they will become as automatic and as disciplined as brushing our teeth before bed. Why do we brush our teeth before bed? I don’t know, because it’s a habit that we’ve had since childhood and we just do it. See what I mean?
  3. You’ll get out of your comfort zone. I make it a mini habit of handing out one business card per day. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the course of a year it sure adds up! You can cover a lot of ground and grow your writing business if you just implement this one small thing. You could use this approach for sending out queries, submitting manuscripts, connecting with a stranger, or meeting new people. Having a mini habit is an excellent way to get you out of your comfort zone and into a better writing life. Imagine sending 300+ queries out to publishers or agents in a year? That’s a lot of action, and statistically, something is bound to happen!

Start with small mini habits and watch them grow into something amazing! In a later post, perhaps we’ll talk about taking this concept one step further with habit stacking. Stay tuned!

 

 

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This is Cool and Useful…

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

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Are You Making These Mistakes?

April 11, 2018-Here are some excellent examples of mistakes that aspiring creative writers make! Which ones are you making?

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How Much Romance Do You Need in Your Life?

March 21, 2018- How much romance does one need? For me…not so much. I’m not a fan of the genre in a Harlequin sense, but I do enjoy the occasional cozy romance for a fun, easy read to cleanse my mind of the murders I read and write:) But, if Romance is your thing, check out the cheat sheet below for a sure fire way to stay on track. All genres follow some sort of template in regards to what happens when, and Romance is no exception! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below:) Keep writing!

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Writing Prompts-(This is going to be fun!)

December 1, 2017- I absolutely love coming across new writing prompts. Not only does it help writers sharpen their skills, but it also allows us to write about things that we may not normally write about. There are different types of writing prompts and here are a few examples below. Try a couple of these per day!

#WritingPrompt: Perhaps it is not a sad occasion for all present. www.writersrelief.comYou find a stack of Missing Persons news clippings under your parents' bed. All with your photo.:

Something about this image makes me feel uneasy

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Creating Characters-A Quick & Dirty Guide

November 25, 2017- Here’s a quick and dirty guide to creating characters. This is just a taste but feel free to contact me for more information about the classes I teach!

  • Without characters what is the point- Characters are the heart of your novel
  • What a character wants- It’s critical for the reader to know what your character wants from the start.
  • No one has to like me- The reader doesn’t have to like your character let’s get that straight but they MUST be able to give the reader a reason to follow him. To continue to read his story.
  • But they must care about what happens to him, they might want to see him dead but wishing him dead invokes strong feelings.
  • Tension creates awesome characters, it shows your reader what they’re made of. Put them into tense situations and see how they fare.
  • Choose your name wisely! Stay away from things like Skye and Storm…publishers are sick of seeing these names over and over.

Here is a basic character creating checklist:

  • Name, sex, right or left handed, age, height, build, eye colour, hair colour, distinguishing marks eg. Tattoos, scars, birthmarks etc.
  • Parents, siblings, marital status, significant others, children, other relevant relatives, pets, friends, enemies, other relationships eg. The person they buy lottery tickets from every single day etc. religion if applicable, beliefs and superstitions.
  • Occupation, status, wealthy or not, living space, mode of transport, workspace, are they a neat freak or are they messy
  • Fears, secrets, eating habits or food preferences, sleeping habits, hobbies, pet peeves, how they relax, attitudes, stressors, obsessions, addictions, ambitions, how are they seen by others and how are they seen by themselves

The bottom line is the more that you know about your characters the better. Of course, you don’t have to include everything on the checklist in your book but the point is to know your character so well that it comes through in your writing. Let a little of your character seep out at a time and be sure to show and not tell.

  • Make your character memorable but believable
  • What are the characters flaws? Arrogance, lust, greed, self-destruction, martyrdom, self-deprecation, martyrdom, stubbornness etc.
  • Don’t forget about facial expressions, body language, and emotions
  • Make sure you know your secondary/supporting characters, as well as you, know your protagonist
  • Remember that the secondary characters don’t know that they are secondary characters
  • Don’t let your characters have what they want
  • Ask yourself how you can make your character’s situation worse
  • Build flaws and conflict into the setting
  • Create conflict between characters (not only the protagonist and the antagonist but also between the characters who are friends and allies)
  • Increase the consequences of failure for the hero
  • Remember to blur the lines! The hero doesn’t know who to trust or the hero has clashes with the law, the hero hurts those closest to him, society turns on the hero.
  • Do terrible things to your character. Make them suffer a horrible loss or maim them if necessary.
  • Creating characters is the most important thing you do. If you get it wrong your story will be wrong no matter how well plotted.
  • These are the characters that you need to STOP writing! The hunky, brooding, and mysterious guy: mystery does not mean substance. The Mary Sue: the perfect main character who always gets everything right but doesn’t see it, everyone loves her and she can do no wrong. The popular girl: she’s mean and hates the protagonist for no reason. The nerdy sidekick: make sure their existence means something or kill them.
  • Make sure your character is always acting in character. Don’t make them do something that they wouldn’t normally do. Eg. Your character never combs his hair because he’s bald. Make sure you don’t put him in a bathroom with a comb, brushing his hair.
  • Give every character a reason to be in the story, if there is no reason for them to be in the story then kill them off.

Hope you enjoyed a tiny piece of character creation! Now get writing:)

X LLB

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