Trails & Tails

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Add dialog to give characters a voice

Adding dialog lets readers “hear” how a character sounds. Does he sound like a southerner, an immigrant or does he speak formally annunciating each word? Of course, we’re generalizing. Person-Speaking-sm

  1. Go through the story and introduce dialog—direct and indirect.
    She said she can’t make it to the Christmas party is indirect dialog.
    •    “I can’t come to the Christmas party,” she said. This is an example of direct dialog.
    •    Sometimes, adjectives can be changed into dialog. She was furious can be changed to “Don’t ever use that tone with me again or you’ll get a lickin’ you’ll never forget.”
  2. Make a list and check it twice: does your character have any pet words or phrases? My grandmother would often say it was as dark as the inside of a pocket.
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How to make money selling books for 99¢

I found this BookBaby blog very interesting. “Can You Make Millions Selling 99¢ Books? Amanda Hocking did.” It outlines how writer Amanda Hocking sold her first ebook for 99¢ and once she got readers hooked, she raised the price of future books to $2.99. Within one year, she had sold 1.5 million books.

Selling a lot of 99¢ books is better than selling a handful of $5 books. Because of Amazon’s sales ranking, it is better to sell a number of books to get high in the ratings. In addition, if your book hits Amazon’s top ten books, it will start popping up on Amazon’s website as”you might also like this.”

Read Steven Spatz’ blog:

Or read Amanda Hocking’s blog:

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Amazon leads eBook sales


eBook Sales

(in English-speaking countries)
According to a report by

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A good story features interesting characters

Character-ChartSome people believe there are 5 main elements of story writing; others think there are 7. The first 5 elements of good story writing are character, the setting, the plot, conflict or antagonists, and resolution. The other 2 elements are theme and symbolism.

Think of your favorite story or book. Who is the main character? Is there more than 1 important character? The main character can be an animal, robot, car, person, or whatever.

In the song Frosty the Snowman, the main character is Frosty the snowman, who came to life when they placed an old silk hat on his head. He is made of snow with a corncob pipe, a button nose, and 2 eyes made out of coal.

Originally, Frosty the Snowman was a song without visuals so the character description is very detailed; later it became a picture book and movie.

In the Harry Potter series of books, Harry is described as wearing glasses and having green eyes in the novel without images. The book cover shows a boy with dark brown hair and glasses. In the movies, Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter has blue eyes but tries to wear green contacts, but they irritate his eyes. Hermione and Ron are also important characters in the series. Author J.K. Rowling used Dumbledore to explain important information. And of course, Voldemort is the villain, though he is not always seen, his actions provide the main conflict. Snape. Severus Snape is an ongoing antagonist, but also an anti-hero. Snape became one of the most complex and fascinating characters.

In a children’s picture book, the illustrator shows the character with distinctive characteristics like hair color, eye color, glasses, and clothing style, so we don’t have to describe the character with words.

In the book Robin Sees a Monster, the main character is Robin, the mama bird. We don’t really need to describe her since the visuals show her as a typical North American Robin. She’s a mother and she’s a bird. I think readers can already relate to her.

Shirl the Squirrel Rises to New Heights is a children’s picture book with illustrations showing a North American Grey Squirrel with no special markings.

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Books available online

Shirl Rises to New Heights BookRobin Sees a Monster, Shirl the Squirrel Rises to New Heights, Tragedy on the Twenty, and Preserving Smithville books are available at Natural Abilities, 197 Griffin Street in Smithville.

Robin Sees a Monster is available in hardcover, softcover, or Kindle from Ingram or Amazon.

Shirl the SquirrelRises to New Heights is available in hardcover, softcover, or Kindle from Amazon.

Robin Sees Monster bookTragedy on the Twenty is available in softcover or Kindle from Amazon. Or you can buy it at Different Drummer in Burlington, The Write Bookshop in St. Catharines, or Natural Abilities in Smithville.

Preserving Smithville, Building memories one picture at a time is available in softcover or Kindle from Amazon.

Preserving Dundas, Building memories one picture at a time is available in softcover or Kindle from Amazon.

Or, you can order any of the books by email: Barbara@Fanson.netor this website:
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Can you name 5 ways to get your book published?

via Can you name 5 ways to get your book published?

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Can you name 5 ways to get your book published?

By Barbara A. Fanson, author, graphic designer

Most people can name the two most common methods for publishing a book: traditional publishing and self-publishing. But, I have published over 30 books in five different ways.
If you’ve written a story that would be interesting to others, you could research publishing companies that are seeking book submissions in the same genre or writing style. You wouldn’t send a children’s book to a company that only publishes science-fiction books. You follow their instructions about whether you can submit by email or mail and whether to submit a sample chapter or two. And wait. It can take up to six months for the publishers to read your book and respond.
You could publish the book yourself and pay all the expenses up front. Hire an editor, illustrator, layout artist, and a printer that specializes in printing and binding books. Self-publishing has become more popular in recent years because you can print one copy or 2000 copies yourself.
A traditional publisher would print a minimum of 5,000 copies because the printing price decreases with quantity. They already have connections to get your book into bookstores, libraries, and schools across Canada, the U.S. and the rest of the world. They already have a website for promoting and handling online sales.
If you self-publish the book yourself, how will you get it into bookstores? Phone, visit, or email each one? How will you get your book into libraries and schools? It can be done, but it requires a lot more research and work on your end.
Often, the writer gets ten percent of sales, so if your book sells for $14.95, you get $1.49 for each sale.
If you self-publish a book, you get 100% of any profit the book might make. After you subtract printing, editing, and illustration costs, then you have to subtract promotional costs: mileage to bookstores or speaking events, postage, and setting up a website. Who is doing the promotion? Who is writing and sending out press releases about your new book and speaking events? Who is preparing the artwork for social media posts for Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks? Suddenly, you’re learning everything you can about the size of the artwork and what makes an appealing Facebook post that people will notice. Are you paying for ads in print publications or online social media sites?
If you choose to self-publish your book, you have to do a lot of research and legwork yourself, which a traditional publisher has already figured out and has the staff to perform.
But, there are other ways to get your book into other people’s hands. Have you considered teaming up with a company to distribute your books? If you’ve written a book that might interest a fitness centre or a print shop, why not team up to produce a book. Almost any business can benefit from an eBook or printed book. Approach a college, university, or training centre if you’re an expert on a particular topic. Either you can write a book for them to publish or you sell books in their bookstore.
Everyone has a story, but how will you tell it? Barbara Fanson is one of the several authors at the Local Authors Fair on Saturday, October 28 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at the Welland Library, 50 The Boardwalk in downtown Welland. Ask any of the authors questions about writing or publishing a book. Check out their website:

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What is the difference between a brochure and a flyer?

Brochure FlyerThe short answer: a brochure is landscaped and folded into panels. A flyer is a portrait sheet of paper that is usually printed on one side only and not folded.

A flyer is a single, unfolded printed sheet that is used to promote an event, service, product or idea. A flyer (or flier in the U.S.) usually contains a simple message conveyed quickly. A flyer is usually 8½“ wide x 11”, though it can be designed any size. Often, flyers are only printed on one side of the paper, though you could print on both sides. Flyers are sometimes called leaflets, handbills, inserts, or circulars. It usually has a short lifespan so they may be printed on cheaper or thinner paper. A flyer can be inserted into a newspaper or handed out at a tradeshow.

A brochure is usually printed on both sides and folded to create panels. A brochure can be any size, but the most popular size is 11” wide x 8½“. Most brochures are printed on glossy or heavier paper so they’re more durable and last longer. Brochures tend to be saved and referred to. They should be printed in full colour to enhance the perception of quality. Since more money is invested in a brochure than a flyer, they are usually not given out as freely as flyers. A brochure must be top quality since it is used to promote a company or service.

Both flyers and brochures are important marketing tools which can be used by any business or organization. We can assist you with the design and printing of your piece.

—Barbara, Graphic Designer

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Vector Drawings versus Raster Graphics


There are 2 types of drawing programs on computers: vector or raster. Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and CorelDraw are vector drawing programs, which can be enlarged, and they maintain their shape. Adobe Photoshop, CorelPaint, and SuperPaint are raster graphics, which are made up of pixels. If the image is enlarged, the pixels become enlarged and you can see them more easily. Photoshop and scanned images are dependent on resolution.

If you are going to use an image on a webpage, Facebook, or email blast, then a low resolution like 72 ppi (pixels per inch) is okay since they will be displayed on low-resolution monitors. But for printed materials, we require a higher resolution such as 300 ppi.

g-illustratorThe letter “g” was typed in Photoshop and Illustrator. Both are 72 pt. Arial Bold. They look similar when viewed actual size. But when you enlarge them, you can see the pixels in the Photoshop image. The edges of the Illustrator image remains crisp.

If you are designing a banner or poster in Illustrator, you can design it smaller and print it larger, as long as it doesn’t contain a placed image.

If you are designing a banner or poster in Photoshop, you have to design it the actual size you need in 300 ppi, or maintain a link to the original image when you place it.


Author Barbara Fanson has been a graphic designer for over 30 years.

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