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The Difference between them

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-58i8t-102be86
Picture books vs. Middle-grade novels what you need to know

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5 Steps to Outlining Your Children’s Book

May 5, 2021-Writing for Kids is our theme this month, and today we’ll touch on the importance of outlining your children’s picture book. Outlines are essentially blueprints for your story, and some people make the error of thinking that because of the length of picture books that they’re simple to write and that no outline is needed, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every story needs an outline, and writing for kids aged 3-7 is actually more difficult than writing a full-sized novel because you only have about 850 words to explain your story, develop your characters, and wrap it up with a bow. Here are 5 steps to outlining:

  • Introduction– Start where the action is! This goes for every book that we write, not just kid’s books. We need to grip the reader from the very first pages because children have short attention spans, and we need to keep their attention for them to finish our story. We introduce the protagonist right away.
  • Rising Action-This is where we build up to the climax by introducing a problem or challenge. This is something that the protagonist overcomes, and here we introduce the antagonist that stands in the way of the main character getting what they want.
  • Climax-Here’s where the rubber meets the road. The challenge is clear, and it’s at a boiling point (think Hansel and Gretel when the witch tries to trick them into climbing into the oven, but Gretel pushes the witch in instead!).
  • Falling Action-The protagonist defeats the antagonist, and the adrenalin in the story returns to normal. The character gets to take a deep breath and return to normal life.
  • Ending-The challenge/conflict is resolved, questions are answered, and there’s a happy ending; the lost pet is found, the monster under the bed is now a friend, and the very bad cat is caught and bathed.

When writing for kids, be sure that you create an in-depth outline. Outlining also stops you from painting yourself into a corner that you can’t get out and lets you know if an idea doesn’t work. It allows you to see the story as a whole and shines a light on what you could be missing.

To find out more information on writing for kids, check out our Children’s Book Writing Masterclass: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

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We’re In the News, Dale Shipley

May 4, 2021– I absolutely had to share this article by our very own Dale Shipley. Her book Empowering Parents is out now and available here: Empowering Parents Meeting Children’s Learning Needs in the Kindergarten and Primary Years – Pandamonium Publishing House Click on the link to read her article in today’s edition of the Hamilton Spectator: The challenge of remote learning for younger students | TheSpec.com

Way to go, Dale! We absolutely need educational reform in Canada.

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Comic Books and Kid’s Education

May 4, 2021– We thought that we should chat about comic books in honour of May the 4th (be with you)! Many people often think that comic books don’t count when writing for kids, but they do! Anything that kids are going to read let them read. Kids are growing up in a visual culture, so as a children’s author, do not discount the power of comic book writing. Also, remember that your comic book could be used as a teaching tool in schools and the marketing opportunities are endless. Today’s TedTalk is: Comic books and graphic novels belong in every teacher’s toolkit, says cartoonist and educator Gene Luen Yang. Set against the backdrop of his own witty, colourful drawings, Yang explores the history of comics in American education — and reveals some unexpected insights about their potential for helping kids learn. Check out our own take on a comic book for kids, Cake for Snakes, available here: Cakes for Snakes!: Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506325: Books – Amazon.ca

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Pare it Down and Blow it Up

May 3, 2021– Today, we kick off a month-long series about writing kid’s books! We’re going to teach you what you need to know when writing for kids and this whole series complements what you’ll learn in our Children’s Book Writing Masterclass available here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

Here are three not so typical ways to find inspiration for writing kids books:

  • Take an idea and pare it down to the bones. What is your child struggling with? What are they afraid of? What questions do they ask? Chances are that if your child is asking these questions and has these challenges, that other children are too. Take a complex idea like bedwetting and break it down into a single, simplified idea.
  • Blow it up. Make things larger than life. I’m talking about whales in swimming pools, pizzas that are so large they could feed an entire town, and seven-foot ants that are terrorizing a city. The bigger, the better.
  • Don’t be afraid to go there. Talk about death, talk about bullying, talk about step-siblings and any other issues that can be sticky but matter. Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and while we don’t want them to grow up too fast, we need to touch on subjects of importance to them. Keep it age-appropriate and speak to them in a way they will understand, but don’t dumb it down.

Using the above information, let’s do an example; feel free to write your own after brainstorming a few ideas!

Bare Bones Idea: Bedwetting

Blow it Up: A monster that struggles with bedwetting but has a solution (a checklist before bed), e.g. No drinks after a certain time, favourite stuffed animal, nightlight, a flashlight to check in the closet and under the bed, signing a nice song, and reading a fun book etc.

Go There: Nightmares. The monster has nightmares, and that’s why he wets the bed.

Synopsis: Cliff is a big, green, furry monster who needs help at bedtime. Some nights Cliff has bad dreams about giant slices of pizza chasing him, and sometimes Cliff has accidents. But with the help of his monster mom, he has a special trick for chasing the bad dreams away and making bedtime fun!

Of course, this was off the cuff and something that I thought of quickly. It would need to be refined, but you get the idea. So, start writing! What are you waiting for?

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Editing: The Greatest Challenge to my Writing by guest blogger, Paul Moscarella

April 30, 2021-Today we wrap up our theme of Pushing the Envelope in our writing! Thank you to everyone who read our posts and special thanks to my authors for sharing their methods and ideas in how they push the envelope in their own books. Paul Moscarella, author of Machinia, is our guest blogger today.


​The writing process for me has always been a peculiar outlet that demands my obedience yet gives no instruction for compliance. This manifestation of my active imagination into words began when I was in grade 4. I had selected a book on the shelf of our art class, The War of the Worlds, because the cover art intrigued me. It was a difficult read, but the tale of the Martian invasion had me riveted. After reading that book, I knew that I wanted to share the things that I imagined into something others could experience. But right away I saw that there was a limit to what I could express, mostly because at age 9 emulating the classic writing style of H.G. Wells was beyond my ability! It was a challenge, but I gave every story I submitted in my English class that extra effort that went well beyond what was required. The endeavour paid off as my submissions were always given praise (and high marks). Those were the exciting days, when what was put to paper rarely saw revision greater than a few erased words. The written word was magic, and my pen was the sorcerer’s wand.

​Since that time, the greatest challenge to my writing has been the revision process. Imagination for me has always come easy. Shaping the rough draft into a cohesive well-written form takes continuous effort. Too little self-editing and the rough edges mar the prose. Too much, and the creative inspiration becomes a bland stream of clarified beige. And then, more challenging still, the editor’s feedback! I can get a sentence or paragraph rewritten to the point where I feel it is perfect only to get comments that ask for clarification or a slash through the writing with a simple “No!” So, following the advice I was given numerous times, I’ve learned not to fall in love with sentences, or paragraphs, perhaps even whole pages.

​When the first draft of Machinia was completed in 1992, I never dreamed that a novel of over two hundred thousand words would ultimately be subjected to a thirty-year editing cycle. It eventually emerged as a ninety-thousand-word triumph. It taught me that no piece of writing worth reading ever reaches the published page without the struggle and meticulous challenge of revision. In many ways writing is revision, and each reread gives clarity to what we truly wanted to say in the first place. And whether it takes hours, days, or decades, I’ve learned to treat the revision process as if seeing the prose for the first time.*

*author’s note: this submission was subject to several revisions and my wife’s editing notes.

Get your copy of Machinia here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop/Machinia

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Plot Twist Twists

April 29, 2021– As we wrap up pushing the envelope in our writing, I hope that you’ve enjoyed the theme of this month. Be sure to join us in May as we begin our next topic, Writing Kid’s Books; you don’t want to miss it! Today we’ll be chatting about 3 ways you can push the envelope in your writing by choosing an epic plot that is unexpected.

  • Rags to Riches to Rags-Rags to riches is a pretty common theme in novels and movies, but taking it one step further will help push the envelope in your writing. I know you’ve heard me say this before, but it’s worth repeating; not every story has to have a happy ending! If you’re going to do a classic rags to riches story, where your character pulls themselves out of poverty and lands in a big pile of money, be sure to throw in a plot twist where they lose it all and end up with nothing. Many people have experienced this in reality, and we should be writing, so it reflects that. Think Cinderella after she doesn’t end up with Prince Charming and has to spend her life cleaning for her stepmother and stepsisters or Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor only to be caught and sentenced to hard labour for the rest of his days. Take the norm and flip it upside down.
  • The Quest-Sending your character on a quest to find something of value is pretty normal in most adventure books; think Indian Jones or National Treasure as good examples. But what if in your book, the character dies at the end while never completing the quest or ever finding what they were looking for? Or better yet, that they got within arms reach and failed. We don’t always succeed in life or win, but the point is to never give up. Push the envelope and give your reader something unexpected.
  • The Rebirth-We can speak about this plotline in literal and figurative terms. We could write characters that are ‘reborn’ after an accident (a brush with death or losing their memory and beginning their life again) or ‘reborn’ after some kind of enlightenment (they found religion or have had an experience that completely changed their life). An example of the first type of rebirth would be Still Alice or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The second type of rebirth includes examples such as Heaven is for Real or The Shack. Push the envelope in your writing by combining both types of rebirths. Put your characters in situations that will forever change them but not always for the better.

We’ve got one more post coming up tomorrow to wrap up our theme of pushing the envelope in your writing! Then we’re moving on in May to Writing for Kids! I’m so excited, and I hope you are too. Check out my number 1, best selling book for more advice on what publishers want: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca

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Pushing the Envelope with (the one and only) Tim Ford

April 28, 2021-I am so excited to wrap up this month’s theme of pushing the envelope in your writing! I hope that you will enjoy our guest blogger Tim Ford, who is the author of the Mitch Strongbow series! If you haven’t read his work yet, you’re missing out on a brilliant mind and even more brilliant storyteller. Here what he has to say:

My name is Tim Ford, and I am a writer. Well, truth be told, I am a storyteller, the editor truly makes me a writer. For me, my whole writing career has been a challenge, a challenge that I met head on, no surrender. I never graduated high school; in fact, I don’t even have grade 10 English. But as I stated above, I am a storyteller, self-taught.
Approx. 14 years ago, I was working night shifts over the Xmas holidays. I truly felt pissed off leaving my family, and heading to work. Everyone was enjoying Christmas dinner, and for me, well mine was packed up and taking to work to be nuked.
I have always had this storyline, character in my head. From time to time, I would write some stuff out, put it away until I felt the need to write out more of the story. So, while working over Christmas, I could have sulked, felt sorry for myself and turn that 12-hour shift, into a shift that seemed to never end, or do something that truly made me happy, my joy to my world, my celebration. Pulled out my notes, brought up a Microsoft Word page, and started to bang away on the keyboards. The feeling was rather euphoric, I felt so alive. Time meant nothing, that crazy Irish imagination of mine was firing on all cylinders. And you know what, I couldn’t wait to my next shift. To bring more of Mitchell Strongbow to life.
Now confidence is either your best friend, or worst enemy. I thought I had a solid storyline, but I realized, my lack of education quickly rose to the surface, we are talking warp speed. The fear was real.
Luckily for me, several curious coworkers asked what all was I doing pecking away on the keyboard like a chicken. I explained my story. I could tell I intrigue them by my storyline. They would ask for me to send them some stuff. Nervously I did, and the feedback was outstanding.
Originally my storyline was just this 17-year-old asking out a classmate to a New Year’s Eve party. Now, heck, I am in book 17 of the series.

My new challenges are not repeating the same storylines. Remember who all the characters and plotlines are, and also for each contract kill Mitch performs, it has to be unique, not the same bang-bang their dead.
I have also recently retired. I preferred to work night shifts. I would say 80% of my writing would take place between 22:00 and 04:00. My thought process would peak during these hours. Now, no way can I stay up that late. So, I need a new peak writing time, that has been a bit of a challenge, discipline will be the key for me.
And also, the Covid world, it is truly a dark world, not much sunshine in the world these days. The Strongbow series gets very dark at times. It was hard going down the Strongbow rabbit hole as when I came back up, the world much like Mitch’s world, still surrounded by darkness.

Check out his collection here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop