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Use Your Voice

April 17, 2021– As we continue to explore pushing the envelope in our writing this month, we need to discuss vulnerability as authors. Oftentimes we limit ourselves by not using our voices to write about things that matter. Here are some ways that you can challenge yourself and push the envelope in your writing:

  • Write a letter to the editor. Writing an opinion piece can do wonders for helping you break out of your writing comfort zone and help you express your ideas to a large audience. Each time you do this, you become more confident and self-aware of your beliefs and what matters most to you. Also, letter writing is a whole new world for some of you as this practice has generally fallen by the wayside, with email and texting now available. It’s always good to try something new.
  • Guest blog. Some blogs will allow submissions for guest posts, and it’s important to take these opportunities if they are presented to you. Not only will you be able to reach new readers, but you’ll be able to give a different perspective from the blog host to keep things fresh and interesting. I love inviting guest bloggers to submit articles for our site because why should readers only be exposed to my methods, techniques, and viewpoints? A unique take on an old subject can do wonders for helping you push the envelope in your writing.
  • Ask a question. If you have social media or a platform to connect with your readers, why not ask them a question? Get them involved in the discussion you’ve started, and watch as all the different points of view add up. Then, use some of those discussion points to challenge yourself in your writing life. You will see that there are two sides to every coin, and if you look close enough, you’ll see that they are actually multi-faceted when it comes to opinions and beliefs. You could incorporate the information you gather into a storyline, plot, or while developing characters.

Speak up, speak out, and use your voice as an author to change the world around you for the better.

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I Say Goodbye by S.P. Taylor

April 16, 2021– You’ll remember last week when we asked writers to submit their stories to be featured on our blog based on the photo writing prompt above. It was all about pushing the envelope, and I’m pleased to say that one writer has certainly done that with her submission. Please join me in congratulating S.P. Taylor as our winner. We received 45 entries! Great work, everyone. Here is S.P. Taylor’s story, I say Goodbye:

I say goodbye.

The sun warm on my face. The breeze gentle. Hard to believe that I will never return but determined not to. The funny thing, a spark of longing already. But why? The knowing. The everyday. Is it routine? I am not certain. A comfort, maybe? I couldn’t find the words if I tried. The reality of it all a blur. Dazed, as if I have just awoken from a dream. That moment of wakefulness clouded by the mystery of sleep. Oh, how I wanted to break free. A promise to myself. Get out of this one-horse town, I joked. Deep inside, I felt as if I was a caged bird on a tiny swing, looking out through the bars wanting desperately to fly. And now, here I am. Packing myself into the old Ford pickup. Rusty and broken yet chock-full of memories. Dreams too. I had many of them while sitting in the rackety front passenger side over the years. I watch the blue country house fade in the distance, almost mystical. The sun beating down so intensely, waves breaking the sky like a matrix or a time machine.

I say goodbye.

Memories flashing before my eyes. The winding road overcome with dust that could be sliced with a knife. How it chokes me. My breathing laboured. Responsibilities hounding from the recesses of my mind. Reminding me of my place. Where I belong. Who I should become. Yet I say goodbye and with that close my eyes. Drown out the noise of the critics who pollute my conscience. Those unkind words that stop a being from moving forward. Akin to fear. Is that not the driving force for everything? Fear? It can change your life in an instant. Guide you down a path you may not have otherwise taken. In my case, I chose to embrace it. But I am scared as hell.

I say goodbye.

A picture-perfect town with its window boxes and tiny white picket fences. How would life have fared if I had been born to one of them? Those perfect families with their 2.5 children and model cars. I still wish it even though here I am alive and different. So far removed. The church bell rings in the distance. A sad bong that resonates, lifting the hairs on my arm as my heart hums in return. Row upon row, we pass like a funeral procession. Slow motion. Do the houses whisper as we roll by? She won’t be back. She will never be back. One, of course, will cackle and say loudly, oh yes, she will. She can’t escape. She is born and bred to stay. To that one, I lift my chin in defiance. Just watch me. I promise to never set foot again. This sleepy town. Charming but not for me. Never for me. I walk alone. Distinct. Separate.

I say goodbye.

A side glance at the driver beside me. My champion. My other half. We shared a womb. Every milestone met together. The hardest part of leaving would be leaving him. He will take my place so that I can go. He will journey in what should be my life while I escape. Why should it be me? I ask myself. A million times a day, it seems. It should not be me, but he won’t go. The voices so hell-bent on having him stay. The responsibilities keeping him rooted. And so, his sacrifice is my freeing. The very thought makes me want to change my mind again. A hundred times, rehearsed, and over and over again, I say goodbye.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. It sounds so comical. I hate to say it out loud, but it is truth. When I say I have never stepped foot at the great station, I mean it full heartedly. I never once even set eyes my eyes in it. The towering walls, the great hall. A staple to the town. How can that be, you wonder? Well, If I told you I was sheltered, that would be a bit of an understatement. Another story, for another day. Another picture. For now, I focus on saying goodbye. I hear the trains in the distance pulling in with a whistle, leaving with a sigh. Oh, how I imagined them. The tracks bright with golden dreams calling. Egging onlookers to take a chance. A boy once died on those splendid tracks. Did his family think differently of them after? Did they ride the train out to the great big world still? Each time passing where their loved one fell. Where a life was stripped and taken.

I see smiling faces all about. If you watch closely, the energy buzzes with love. Like a bubble encompassing each person, protecting and warm. Hands holding, tight embraces, kissing. I linger on the kissing. Heat rising on my skin like I am witnessing something holy. Families, lovers, businessmen. They are everywhere. Passing others like ships in the night. I watch intently and imagine their thoughts. I feel all my life I have people watched. A silent narrative and I, a fly on the wall. Or perhaps I am better described as a bee. A busy worker bee never stopping. Always moving, not straying far. And yet, I am leaving the hive, albeit not with a swarm. Alone. How will I fair? No thoughts such as those, I tell myself. And my eyes search the crowds again, intent to soak it all in. Dreamlike, I scan the people, the busy. I catch a glimpse of sorrow. If I am careful and really strain to look, I see it clearly. Mommas saying goodbye to their sons. Sadness. Goodbyes are hard. This I know.

“All set,” he says gently, and the reality begins to settle. A heaviness in my heart as I gaze at the ticket in his hands. Somehow the noise stops. The people disappear. We are alone. His hands are rough and dirty, I notice, but I am not appalled. Young hands tainted with hard work and determination. No one could imagine the strength in those hands. They carry a body. The train ticket stark white, beckoning. Sunbeams break through the thick train station windows that are trimmed all around the building. I can see particles floating slowly, filling the space, and I feel faint. That moment just before you know you are going to fall. A panic settles in my bones, and I tremble. He touches my face and lifts it so that I am forced to look into his eyes. My eyes. And he whispers softly. I hardly hear it, but my mind translates. You got this. You. Got. This. With every fail, I heard that voice, those words. With every worry, they came swiftly. You got this, a whisper on the wind that would follow me everywhere I go.

I say goodbye.

And turn to walk away. Onto the train. Towards my future. If I could but only see what will become of me. My head held high, shoulders straight.

I say goodbye.

Thank you S.P. Taylor for this wonderful story. I hope you stepped out of your comfort zone and pushed the envelope on what you thought was possible for this photo and for yourself. If you’d like to read more of S.P. Taylor’s work click here: Acts of Kindness: Bakker, Lacey L ., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506240: Books – Amazon.ca

 

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Conflicting Accounts

April 15, 2021– We’re halfway through the month, and we’re focusing on pushing the envelope in our writing. We hope that you have enjoyed the information so far! Today we’re going to focus on conflict, and no matter which genre you write in, whether it’s kids, historical fiction, sci-fi, or everything in between, your story needs conflict!

Person vs. Person is pretty typical and is what most stories focus on—person vs. person is one against the other, good vs. evil, the good guy always wins, there are a protagonist and an antagonist. But let’s explore something far more interesting that can help you push the envelope in your writing by talking about the three most boundary-pushing types of conflicts there are:

  1. Person vs. Society-Struggles between individuals and social codes in their world. There is a conflict between what a character desires and what society demands or expects. This could be where a character doesn’t quite fit into societal norms and finds themselves on the fringes or rebelling against society in general. For example, in a historical fiction book, society could dictate that women should be seen and not heard, not have children out of wedlock, and wear dresses, but your main character goes against that, stands up for herself and what she believes in, and bucks the norm. For an excellent read that showcases Person vs. Society, click here: Duty’s Daughter – Pandamonium Publishing House
  2. Person vs. Supernatural-Conflicts between characters and otherworldly events, entities, or paranormals. Conflict occurs when a character faces resistance from a supernatural force such as magical forces, otherworldly beings, deities, or unexplained energies. Many Hollywood blockbusters touch on this type of conflict (a la Stephen King, IT and pretty much everything he’s written).  A great example of this type of writing and story is available here: Once Upon a Vision – Pandamonium Publishing House
  3. Person vs. Technology-Conflict between characters and scientific discovery. In this type of conflict, the character is usually faced with a battle against technology that has become too powerful, too invasive, or is being used by another force for evil. A fabulous take on this type of conflict can be found here: Machinia – Pandamonium Publishing House

Now that you know there are ways to change the conflict in your writing to push the envelope, what are you waiting for? Get to work! Check out our entire collection here including books, courses, and services: Products – Pandamonium Publishing House

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That’s Debatable

April 13, 2021– As we continue with our theme of pushing the envelope this month, it would be crazy for us to leave out this next tip. Opinions, fashion choices, relationship choices, food preferences, and more may not always line up with what we know and what we choose for our own lives, and that’s the beauty of life; no one is the same, so why should our writing be? Here are some ways that you can push the envelope in your writing:

  • Expand your views of the world. You don’t have to agree with everything that’s going on around you, but it’s important to know that there are many sides to a story and many opinions and beliefs that differ from yours. By expanding your view of the world, you become a better writer, perhaps become more understanding or empathetic, or learn about issues and things you may not have known before. The point is to incorporate this into your writing, and when you expand your views, you expand your mind.
  • Read new authors. Who was the last author you read? Someone mainstream? An indie author that you found at a little bookstore in Prague? Have you ever read anyone other than your favourties? Reading new authors allows us to have a whole new experience as readers and writers. We get to hear new tones of voice, new perspectives, observe new techniques, and perhaps a unique type of dialogue, especially if it’s a regional one. Studying and enjoying all types of authors will help you become a better writer and will help you push the envelope in your writing.
  • Debate both sides of an issue. It’s easy to get stuck with an I’m right mentality when we cannot see both sides of an issue. As a writer, I challenge you to debate the opposite side of something that you believe. When we do this, we open our minds to new possibilities, and these will translate into our writing. Don’t get stuck believing the same old things, talking about the same old issues, and writing in the same way when you haven’t explored both sides of a story.

It’s time to get out of the box with your thinking and writing. Try something new and push the limits for yourself and your work. If you haven’t yet read any of our authors at Pandamonium Publishing House, here’s your chance! Check out our collection: Products – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Challenging your Characters

April 9, 2021– Today, we’re talking about pushing the envelope with your characters as we continue to explore our theme this month! But what does this all mean? Here are a few ways to stack the odds against your character and challenge them to reach their potential in your writing.

  1. Increase the stakes. There’s no better way to keep your reader on the edge of their seat rather than putting your character into a life-or-death situation. For children’s books, we must be mindful of threatening situations, but the rest of the genres are fair game. Perhaps the main character is in a car accident, and their car plunges off a bridge and into a river. Maybe your character comes face to face with a stranger who gives them an ultimatum, or perhaps they have to fight their way out of a dire situation that requires physical and mental stamina. However you choose to up the stakes, make sure you’re making them relevant to the story.
  2. Take a risk. What are the risks that your character needs to take, and how can you make them even riskier? Think of the best-selling book by Stephen King, IT. We know that Georgie took a risk and followed his paper boat down the flooded streets and into the sewer, where he was greeted by a sinister, homicidal, supernatural clown. This is an integral part of the story that sets the tone and without the risk of Georgie following his boat, the book certainly wouldn’t have come to life. And if we think of all the additional risks the characters take to defeat IT; their challenges make for an incredible journey of triumph over evil.
  3. Back them into a corner. You should always back your characters into a corner while writing because it allows your reader to relate to them. We’ve all experienced what feels like impossible situations at times, but the good news is, we have survived 100% of our bad days. If you can make your reader care about your characters, they’ll care about your book. Backing your characters into corners can include situations like not having money to pay the bills, a threat of eviction, being fired, and experiencing a breakup all at the same time. When you get your reader to sympathize with your character and root for them (whether good or bad), you’ve done your job as a writer. It also allows your readers to see that anything is possible, any situation can be overcome (one way or another), and the strength of the human spirit. Give your readers hope that they too can get out of tricky situations.

Push the envelope and find out what your characters are made of! Happy Writing X LLB

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Expand Your Chances

April 8, 2021– As authors, it’s important to grow in our writing and as artists. Part of pushing the envelope in your writing life means that you need to be bold in your submissions. Here are new ways to expand your chances of being published.

  • Submit to publications that are new to you. Nothing will get you out of your comfort zone faster than writing about something you’re not familiar with. Do your research, find your voice, and write something awesome. When we write outside of the box that we are familiar with, we offer a fresh perspective on potentially old topics. A word of caveat is to read the publication and know what they are publishing e.g., You’re not going to submit a fashion piece to Scientific America magazine.
  • Follow up. Have you ever heard the saying the fortune is in the follow-up? It’s true. Be sure to follow up on your submissions in such a way that is timely, respectful, and confident. Publishers are inundated with work and sometimes we don’t get the chance to respond to each submission in a timely manner. There’s no harm in sending a friendly email to check on the status of your manuscript if you haven’t heard from us in the suggested timeline according to our guidelines.
  • Upgrade your social media. Publishers are looking for authors with an established platform. It’s never too soon to start building your following by putting out content that is fresh, interesting, and provides your readers with value. Push the envelope by posting regularly, finding a niche, and interacting with your audience. Sometimes it’s hard for authors (most of them are introverts) to be in the public eye, but it’s a necessary practise because readers need to know who you are and where to find your books.

Push yourself beyond your limits! Wouldn’t you much rather live a life of why not instead of what if?

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on Podbean where we continue to discuss pushing the envelope every Tuesday and Thursday during the month of April, plus new themes each month. Download the Podbean App from iTunes or the Google Play store, it’s free! Search Pandamonium Publishing House and bring us with you wherever you go.

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Push It to the Limit

April 7, 2021-We’re a week into our theme this month about pushing the envelope in your writing. Let’s define what pushing the envelope means and how we can incorporate its definition into our work.  Pushing the envelope is defined by the dictionary as to approach or extend the limits of what is possible.

We’re going to do an exercise today that will help you extend the limits of what is possible using the photo writing prompt above. For the chance to have your work featured on our blog during April, send us your story of 1200 words or less to pandapublishing8@gmail.com

Remember, we aren’t looking for the obvious! This writing prompt should push you to explore a new style, genre, and voice than what you’re used to writing.  Best of luck, you can do it!