Step By Step: Making a Simple Ad with PowerPoint

Step By Step is a series of lessons for beginners, utilizing simple programs and methods. This first post involves making an ad using PowerPoint.

You will need an image–either one you have taken with your own camera or one you have the rights to use. There are a variety of sites with free stock photos and various sites that offer low cost images. In this case, I’m going to take a picture of some Christmas wrapping paper with my cell phone.

Now, I will open up PowerPoint and choose a New Presentation with a blank slide. At the top of the screen, I choose, Insert>Photo>Picture from file. And I select the newly downloaded picture I emailed to my computer from my phone. Now it looks like this.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 4.59.25 PM

I have made my background red by choosing Layout>Background and picking a solid color. Next, using the mouse and selecting the background on the slide, I right click and it let’s me format the background, changing the color to match my wrapping paper.

Next, I’m going to crop my wrapping paper image. I select the wrapping paper image with my mouse, choose Format Picture>Crop, and move the bar over to crop the image. Now it looks like this.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.10.19 PM

Next, I choose Insert>Photo>Picture from file, and add my book cover image. I use the corner arrows to make the book image the size I want, and now it looks like this.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.33 PM

Now I add a drop shadow to the book, by selecting the book with the mouse, choosing Format Picture, and selecting the fourth picture frame (drop shadow). Then I add two text boxes and a basic shape, formatted to gold. Now it looks like this.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.43.01 PM

I add text on the shape, and rotate the text to match the shape. Save the final product as a jpg image. Now it looks like this.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 6.02.33 PM

Now I’ve made an ad for Facebook or Twitter, and I haven’t spent a dime.

I hope you enjoyed the first of this lesson series. Let me know what other subjects you would find helpful.

Next week: Helpful hints, such as… how to make a universal book link that opens to Amazon in every country. Example



Cover Reveal: Time for the Lost by Chess Desalls

I’m thrilled to introduce YA author, Chess Desalls with the cover reveal for Time for the Lost, the third book in her time-travel series.
TFTL Cover RevealCalla’s disappearance leads her family and friends to suspect that sheís lost. In a desperate attempt to find her, Valcas seeks help from a man he betrayed. A new search begins, one that sounds promising, even if it forces Valcas to confront his past.

The travel team reunites for a mission they never saw coming: a journey to a world caught between life and death, and hidden within the deepest recesses of time. Ivory rediscovers a friend and Ray learns the meaning behind his tattoo. But the connections they make between travelers and the lost may twist the core of the Time and Space Travel Agency inside out.

Time for the Lost is the third installment in The Call to Search Everywhen serial series.

Catch up with Calla and Valcas’ adventure before the third book releases in February 2016!

series graphicAmazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Audible

About the Author

Chess Desalls is the author of the YA time travel series, The Call to Search Everywhen. She’s a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly classics and young adult fiction. Her non-fiction writing has led to academic and industry publications. She’s also a contributing editor for her local writing clubís monthly newsletter. The California Writers Club, South Bay branch, has awarded two of Chess’ stories first place for best short fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys traveling and trying to stay in tune on her flute.

chessConnect with Chess on:


Excerpt from Noelle’s Golden Christmas!

Noelle's Golden Christmas-03-kindle-recommended-size

Today, I have an excerpt from my newest release, Noelle’s Golden Christmas, a sweet and funny Christian romance. It’s available at at the special new-release price of 99¢!

Let me set this up…

Noelle, a dental hygienist, is having a discussion at work with Nancy, a fellow hygienist.

“How can you ever get asked on a date if you don’t talk to any men in the first place?”

“I talk to men,” Noelle argued.

“Who? What guys have you talked to this week? This month? This year? When have you carried on a single conversation with an eligible guy?”

“I talk to my patients,” Noelle defended. “I can’t help that most of them are unavailable or old enough to be my father or grandfather.”

“Oh! I have a great idea!” Nancy’s grin split her face. “We should trade patients. I’ve got a new one, a man about your age, I think. I was looking at his chart, and he’s single.”

“Is he cute?” What am I asking? I can’t believe I’m actually considering this.

“I don’t know. I could peek into the waiting room and see.”

“No way. Forget it. I don’t want to meet someone while I’m dressed in scrubs wearing a facemask and nerdy glasses anyway. If he’s my age and single, he’s probably a loser. I bet he’s got periodontal disease.”

“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t offer. Not every single person your age is a loser, you know. You’re a perfect example,” Nancy quipped as she departed, without allowing Noelle a chance to retort.

Escaping to her hygiene room, Noelle grabbed the chart for her last patient, a cute six-year-old boy who’d proudly showed her a wiggly tooth on his last visit. Studying the notes as she stepped into the hallway, her shoulder collided with someone, knocking her off balance. A hand grasped her arm in a steadying hold.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” she exclaimed. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.” Startled, Noelle looked up to find a muscular chest, stretching the confines of a cornflower-blue shirt. Nancy’s new patient. Her eyes drifted upward, revealing a pair of broad shoulders. He must be six feet two inches tall… maybe even more.

“No problem, ma’am. I never mind being run over by a beautiful woman.” His deep voice boomed with a definite Texas accent, the resonance sending a warm tingle down her spine.

Taking a step backward and craning her neck, she locked gazes with the most incredible crystal blue eyes she’d ever seen. All coherent thought left her mind as she stared into their depths.

His brows drew downward, while those mesmerizing eyes filled with concern. “Are you okay?”

“I’m… uh…” A hot flush crept up from Noelle’s neck, spreading to the roots of her hair, as blood pounded in her ears. Blinking to break eye contact, she studied his face. His jaw was broad and strong, covered with the short stubble of beard that screamed masculine. His face was perfect, marred only by a tiny white line, a small scar, across his left cheekbone. The words ruggedly handsome came to mind. “I’m fine.” Her voice came out as a squeak.

“Are you Dr. Madison?” As he asked the question, his mouth curved upward, a deep dimple appearing at each corner. His lips parted in a smile to reveal perfectly-aligned teeth.

White teeth. Looks like he bleaches. Healthy gingiva. I bet he’s a daily flosser. Why didn’t I trade with Nancy?

Read the rest of this fun Christian romance now!

An Interview with Cover Designer, Victorine Lieske


I’m thrilled to present an interview with Victorine Lieske, a cover designer and New York Times Best-Selling Author, who’s agreed to share her insights on cover design. Victorine designed one of my own book covers, A Rose in Bloom, which is still awaiting publication, and I highly recommend her work.

1. How did you get started in artistic cover design?

I’ve always loved art, and I fell in love with graphic design in college, but I didn’t ever freelance my design work until I became an author and saw the need for cover artists. At the time, I knew I had the design skills, but not the photoshop skills. So I watched as many tutorials on Photoshop as I could and jumped into it, determined to figure out how it worked. I must say I fell in love with Photoshop as well.

Accidentally-Married                      ShadowDragonFINAL

2. Do you have other non-digital artistic talents?                          

I love to doodle, and I sometimes draw designs for my rubber stamp company, Victorine Originals, but my skill is limited. I do much better on the computer!

The average person knows within seven seconds of looking at the cover if they are interested in a book or not.

3. What inspires you when you are beginning a cover design?

Honestly, I’ve learned not to re-invent the wheel. If someone comes to me with a book, I ask what other books out there are like theirs. I look at other book covers in their genre, and see what kind of vibe they portray. I look at the font, the colors, and the images from that genre. I want my totally new cover to scream the genre. If it mumbles it, I’m not doing my job. I want people to know right away what kind of book they are looking at. The average person knows within seven seconds of looking at the cover if they are interested in a book or not. If the cover looks appealing to them, they will go read the blurb. If the cover doesn’t portray the right genre, or it’s not clear what genre it is, the reader won’t even look at the blurb. They will move on to something else.

4. What kind of service should an author expect from you as a professional cover designer?

I feel my job isn’t only to provide a cover. As a NYT’s best selling author, I have some experience with writing, packaging, and marketing a book. I feel my job is to give an author the best chance they have at selling a book. Sometimes that means talking a cover design through with an author, because some authors want me to design something that is firm in their head, and what they envision wouldn’t help them sell a book. A large part of my job requires me to find out what genre the author has written in, and what well known books are like theirs. If an author has written a book that is unlike anything that has ever been published, it will be difficult to package and market. (And it’s unlikely that is true anyway. It’s more likely the author just isn’t familiar with what genre they are writing in.)

Hidden-Poppies2                         WalkMeHomeFINAL

I feel my job is to give an author the best chance they have at selling a book.

5. What sets your cover designs apart from the millions of covers out there in cyber-space?

I’m not sure if anything sets my designs apart, other than my experience as a best selling author myself.

6. Should a cover “stand out from” or “blend with” the other covers in the genre?

I’ve touched on this before, but it’s so important I’m going to say it again. It’s highly important that a cover match the other covers in the genre. Maybe “blend in” isn’t the right phrase, because you do want your cover to be noticed, but a cover should not look so different that people can’t tell what genre the book is. Genre trumps story details every time. This is what I mean by that. If you wrote a story about an ice skater who falls in love with a football player, and at it’s core the story is a romance, it’s more important to show that the book is a romance than having ice skates and a football on the cover. While ice skates and a football might represent the story, it won’t tell anyone about the genre. And people shop by genre. A potential buyer is going to think, “I’d love to read a good romance novel,” but they are not going to think, “I really want to read a story about an ice skater who falls for a football player.”

This-She'll-Defend2                              sneakingsuspicions

7. What are some of your favorite covers you’ve designed and why?

Wow, that’s a hard question! I love all the covers. I guess I have to confess my absolutely favorite cover is one I did for my own book, Accidentally Married. I was lucky enough to find the right photos to make the girl look like she was a bride. And I’m pretty happy with how the flower looks like it’s really in her hair. That cover actually won the Best of Adult category in the 2015 IndieRevAwards.

8. What should an author do if they can’t afford to hire a book cover designer?

I know some authors who have designed their own covers, and have done a fantastic job. However, I know far more who have ended up with something that looks homemade and unprofessional. I don’t say this to be mean. Like our own writing needs other eyes, our own book covers need other opinions as well. If you’re set on designing your own cover, join an author’s group and post your cover. Get outside opinions. (the Writer’s Cafe child board) is a great place to do this because there are a lot of cover designers who will give you honest feedback. The best thing you can do, in my opinion, is to study other covers in your genre before attempting to create your own. Pay attention to the fonts used, the color schemes, the images, and over-all presentation. For best results, you may have to purchase a professional font, and a stock photo or two. And if you don’t have photo editing software, you may want to download Gimp and watch a few tutorials on YouTube. In the end, if you don’t already have graphic design skills, you will probably come to the conclusion that hiring a cover designer is best. If money is tight, ask your designer if they would be willing to split up the cost in two or three payments. I’ve done this for clients. You will probably have to wait for the final cover until you have paid in full, but you probably have to wait for your beta readers’ feedback, as well as your editor. (And if you don’t use beta readers or an editor, that’s a conversation for another day.)

The other thing you can do is look at pre-made covers, which usually cost less, but can be just as stunning.
_MG_6044 crop 8x10
Victorine and her husband live in Nebraska where they raise their four children. She designs and manufactures rubber stamps for the craft industry, and freelances as a graphic designer. Victorine self-published her first book, Not What She Seems, in April of 2010.  In March of 2011 the book hit the New York Times best selling eBook list, where it stayed on the list for six weeks. Her third novel, Accidentally Married, hit the USA Today best sellers list in January of 2015. She teaches classes on self-publishing, and how to be successful selling eBooks.
Find Victorine Lieske:
Cover Design Website:

Who Won the April Subscriber Drawing?

mr and mrs

April’s Amazon gift card subscriber winner is Emily Kiel Ross! When she’s not reading books, she’s hard at work as a photographer… an amazing one! She took the photos and created the image above, and you can see more of her work at!

You can be a winner, too! Subscribe HERE for a chance to win every month! Get an Amazon Gift Card along with a month-long website or Facebook page promo.

I Love Books: Why I should be allowed to read instead of working…


I’ve decided I should no longer have to work. Instead, I should be allowed to read (or write) all day long. I would like to present my case for early retirement.

First, I’m not able to handle the stress of working. When I work, I grind my teeth, tense my muscles, produce excess acid in my stomach, and experience one sleepless night after another. However, reading (or writing) a book makes me laugh and relax and helps my digestive system function smoothly. I admit I still experience sleepless nights, but only because I’m staying up late to finish a book. (And if I weren’t working, I could sleep late the next morning.)

Second, I could save a lot of money if I were constantly reading instead of working. You see, when I start reading (or writing) a book, I become totally absorbed. I don’t eat or leave the house or even shower until the book is finished. So I could save a lot of money on food, gas and water. This substantial savings should more than compensate for my lost wages.

Third, I am thoroughly convinced that everything about real life is stressful, and reading (or writing) a book is a wonderful drug-free way to escape reality and experience bliss.

Fourth, I now have a group of fans who demand I publish more books. I feel very responsible for their health and wellbeing. These faithful readers might suffer with tension and anxiety, worrying about when I will find time to finish the next book. I can’t let them down.

Don’t you agree?

Enter the monthly Amazon Gift Card drawing for subscribers HERE!

(Congratulations to April subscriber winner, Ava Louise!)