Posted on Leave a comment

What are Your 2019 Writing Goals?

December 12, 2018– Goals are important for everything in life. If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ll know that I’ve said it a million times, “You can’t hit a target you can’t see.” I’m a firm believer that goals are essential for success, and here’s the thing, even if you fail to reach your goal, you’ll be a hell of a lot closer than you would be if you had never set a goal in the first place.

So, as the end of the year looms closer, it’s time to focus on what you want for 2019 and beyond regarding your writing career!

Here are some things that you could consider, but remember, goals are personal, and it all depends on what YOU want for yourself. Will 2019 be the year that you:

  1. Finish your novel– make this the year that you finally finish it! Set a timeline and stick to it. Stop procrastinating!
  2. Start a writing business-figure out what you need to do and get it done. Start with one thing at a time. A lot of info is available online, and you can always bring in the pro’s for help, talk to your accountant, bank, whoever you need to help point you in the right direction.
  3. Write every day– If you choose this goal and stick to it, you’ll get an UNBELIEVABLE amount of writing done. Your writing will improve, you’ll get better at self-editing, and you will have accomplished something that only professionals do. This will be a fabulous 2019 goal if you’re serious about turning your writing into something. Set a goal of words or pages per day and sit your ass in the chair. Make an appointment with yourself and DON’T CANCEL.
  4. Join a club-Is this the year that you’ll finally join like-minded authors? Will you complete continuing education to start or continue to hone your writing skills? Will you say yes to new opportunities? Are you ready to break out of your shell and see what’s in store for you?

I’ve got my own goals in store for 2019 that I’ve already started. So why should you wait? Start working on them now and just think of all that you’ll get done before January!

Here’s to your success in 2019 and beyond!
X LLB

goals-2691265_1280

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Fun Facts about Our Books!

December 10, 2018- This is super fun! Each one of our books is very special in their own right. Check out the details below on what’s hiding in our books!

Picture books: 

  • Did you know that in Miranda the Very LOUD Mouse, there is a hidden piece of cheese on almost every page? Can you find them? Also, on the page where Miranda is at the museum, there are some pretty famous art pieces that include Michelangelo’s David statue, Starry Night painting by Van Gogh, The Scream painting by Edvard Munch, and of course, The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The book Pants, by Tamara Botting, has different pieces of fabric that were digitally scanned in to get the colours and textures on the page. This book also contains colouring pages at the back for kids to design their very own pair of pants!
  • Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog and Spiders Wearing Sweaters are both hand painted and then scanned in digitally to an illustration program! That’s why both books have such a unique look. Also, Spiders Wearing Sweaters can be ordered with or without the adorable plush spider that came in your kit!
  • Sammy, the Singing Cat, features some very famous Jazz artists on the wall of one of the music schools; Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra make a cameo, but this time in animal form!
  • The Adventures of Milan and Friends; Trouble with Trolls (A Halloween Tail) has the titles of our books on the spine of the books that are featured in the treehouse! Plus, there’s a tribute to all of our animal friends that we have lost, on the wall of the same page. Also, Milan is a real golden retriever in the author’s life!
  • Phillip Star has the best ending! You’ll have to read it😊
  • Panda, the Very Bad Cat, is based on the author’s real cat named Panda and a smug shot of said cat is featured in the back of the book. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this title is donated to animal shelters to help animals in need.
  • Deer Diary features a sneak peek on an overlapping character! There is a poster on the wall of the last page that features the character Frog from Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog.

 All of the books by Lacey L. Bakker, feature a PANDA in one form or another as a hat’s off to the book that started this entire company and adventure which was Panda, the Very Bad Cat!

Mid-Grade Books:

  • Unfrogged, by Tamara Botting, features a princess named Meredith who is based entirely on the author and how clumsy she is. Tamara let this book sit for ten years before getting it published!
  • The Old Farmer’s Treasure– is based on the author’s husband’s childhood in Northern Ontario. There is also a sequel to this book coming in 2019 where the boys are all grown up!

 Adults Only:

  • Obsessed with Her– Was consulted on by the head of the Toronto Homicide Unit for not only credibility in some scenes, but also accuracy! This book is rated R and had to have a sticker put on the front of it because of the complaints that we were receiving. It has mature themes, language, and violence, and is not for the easily offended or squeamish. Also, the PREQUEL to Obsessed with Her, titled, Becoming James Cass, will be available for pre-order on our site in January 2019 and will be released in February 2019. This book currently has a 4.5-star rating on Good Reads. While the author was writing this book, her husband was away for five weeks, and she had to stop writing because she was scared to be alone! A lot of people think the author of this book is a man, but they are mistaken. And one more thing? The front cover gives away the ending:)

crayons-1445053_1280

Posted on Leave a comment

Dealing with Critics…

December 7, 2018- Everyone is a critic. There are times when we all seem to think that we know better and that we know more when it comes to certain things; maybe we’re an expert in our field, or maybe we have many years of experience. The point is that there will always be someone who knows more than you.

Please remember that criticism when properly portrayed and worded can be extremely effective in helping us become better; publishers, like myself, often give constructive criticism to writers because we want them to apply what we’ve said to make them a better writer. It’s never, ever personal and is never meant to offend. I think that it’s a big problem in the world right now that people are unwilling to accept criticism. My only caveat is that the criticism given MUST be constructive, helpful, truthful, and kind. Also, I want to make this crystal clear: NEVER TAKE CRITICISM OR ADVICE FROM SOMEONE WHO IS NOT DOING BETTER THAN YOU. Read that sentence again.

As an author, publisher, and small business owner, you wouldn’t believe the hate mail I get. There’s always someone who is nasty, and mean, and has terrible things to say about what I’m doing or not doing, or what I should be doing, or what I’m offering or writing. I learned a long time ago that there are some people who always seem angry and continuously look for conflict. Walk away; the battle they are fighting isn’t with you, it’s with themselves. It’s important to remember this; you’re never going to be all things to all people, you’re never going to make everyone happy!  I’ve been on both ends of it, the receiving end and the giving end, and I’ve received some very brutal feedback from professionals as well as people who don’t think that I can do anything right. But, to the people who feel the need to criticize my business and the way that I run things, to those who are just downright horrible, don’t worry, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and your opinion is just that, your opinion. Thank goodness that for every person with something mean to say, there are ten others who love us.

Check yourself before you start to criticize someone else. If you’re the one receiving criticism, before you accept it, make sure that it’s truthful, constructive, and kind. If it’s not any of those things, take it with a grain of salt, and move on.

Wishing you every success,
X LLB

rage-1703978_1280

Posted on Leave a comment

Happy Birthday, Walt!

December 5, 2018– Ok, so today is Walt Disney’s birthday and I know he wasn’t an author, but he was one hell of an entrepreneur! We talk a lot about entrepreneurs on this blog, and as authors and illustrators, well, we are entrepreneurs. Walt was an artist, producer, and game-changer. To celebrate his birthday, let’s look at some interesting facts about the man behind the magic!

  1. He failed. A lot. Legend has it that Walt failed an epic 320 times before getting the financing for his dream of Disneyland. Imagine if he had of given up!
  2. He helped with the war effort. Even though the Disney Company was not in a good financial position at the beginning World War II, Walt decided it was vital that he and his company help in the war effort.  Walt Disney Training Films unit was created which were instruction films for the American military and propaganda films for the American public.  He won an Academy Award in 1943 for his short propaganda film, Der Fuehrer’s Face.
  3. He learned to draw by doing this. Walt spent most of his time at school doodling. He learned to draw by copying newspaper cartoons, specifically from an American Midwest newspaper called Appeal to Reason which his father was an avid reader of. Walt wasn’t interested in the political editorials, but he enjoyed looking at the front page cartoons. At this time there were no animated films or comic books, Walt found the cartoons exciting and the style demonstrated in the cartoons would later appear in his own!

Happy birthday to the legend that is Walt Disney!

disney_primary_0

Posted on Leave a comment

You’re Not Motivated to Write…

December 3, 2018– A lot of authors have this problem, they just aren’t motivated to write or work on their novels. It’s a massive problem with new and upcoming authors, and the last thing that I want to happen to you is for you to be another one of those authors who starts something but never finishes it.

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been at an event or doing a book signing where people come up to me and say, “I wrote a book too!” As soon as I say, “Oh, awesome; what is your book about?” Nine times out of ten the person will say, “Yeah, but I never finished it.” The easiest thing in the world is to start something, the hardest thing is to finish it. Be a finisher. I’m in the camp of thinking that believes that if you’re not going to finish something, don’t bother to start. Harsh, I know, but it’s true.

Here are some tips on helping you get motivated to write even when you don’t feel inspired.

  1. Set a timer. This works wonders when I’m not feeling it. I sit down at my laptop and set a timer for just fifteen minutes. I start writing, and most of the time it’s garbage, but guess what? I just turned on the faucet and the words begin to flow. Before I know it I’m writing way past the time of fifteen minutes. It works for me every, single time.
  2. Know that your mind is playing tricks. No one is always motivated so that is why we must learn to be disciplined. Your mind will do whatever it can to distract you from completing a task that you aren’t motivated to do. Stick to a writing schedule it’s half the battle. Don’t do a load of laundry, don’t load the dishwasher, don’t turn on the television, don’t answer emails. Do sit your ass in the chair and do your job.
  3. Make an appointment with yourself. This is sort of the same as the point above in sticking to a schedule, but I mean that you should quite literally schedule a writing appointment with yourself. Scheduling your work keeps you accountable to yourself and bosses don’t cancel. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to cancel the appointment you made with yourself.

2a46663db2de5403f53d4cd20249258e

Posted on Leave a comment

C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain, Happy Birthday!

November 30, 2018– C.S. Lewis’ birthday was technically yesterday (November 29) but Mark Twain’s is today! Let’s celebrate both authors right now by sharing some interesting facts about them and their works.  We’ll start with C.S. (the beloved author of Chronicles of Narnia)!

  1. C.S. stands for Clive Staples. He was known by his initials rather than his full name because, at the time, it was considered more formal and intellectual to be known professionally by initials rather than first name.
  2. He hated his first name. So much so that he nicknamed himself “Jacksie” after his childhood pet (a dog) that was struck and killed by a car. As an adult, he went by the name Jack.
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien was one of his BFF’s. Both met at Oxford University in England where they were professors. They were life-long friends even after some heated discussions and disagreements about each other’s work!

Let’s talk about Mark Twain, most famously known for writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (two of my most favourite books ever!)

  1. He wasn’t expected to live. Mark Twain, whose real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was very sickly as a baby and well into childhood to about the age of seven. Twain was born two months early and was the sixth of seven children. He was one of three to survive into adulthood.
  2. He almost drowned… nine times. Before the age of thirteen, Twain almost drowned a documented, nine times. I wonder how many times weren’t documented!
  3. He was born two weeks after Halley’s Comet. The comet crosses the Earth’s skies every 75 years. In 1909 Mark Twain predicted that he would die with Halley’s comet the next year. Just as Mark Twain predicted, he passed the night after the comet lit up the sky at the age of 75. It was the second death he predicted, the first being his brother’s.

I hope that you’ll take the time to celebrate both of these iconic authors by reading some of their works! Happy Birthday to C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain.
X LLB

Posted on Leave a comment

It’s Who You Know…

November 28, 2018– I know that authors are usually introverts who enjoy spending a lot of time alone. If we didn’t enjoy our alone time, we’d never get anything done. Spending time in solitude is essential when trying to finish your novel, but spending too much time by your lonesome is detrimental to your business and sales.

Networking is essential to your business of writing, whether you’re traditionally or self-published. Aligning yourself with like-minded individuals allows you to connect and build relationships, and after all, isn’t that the point? Here are some tips below on how to get networking:

  1. Join a professional association. I am a member of three writing associations that make sense for what I write about.  I urge you to do the same. Do a quick Google search for writing associations that you can apply to. The first association I belong to is the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in Canada, the second is The SOA (Society of Authors) in the United Kingdom, and the third is Sisters in Crime, the American National Chapter. All of these associations have publications that I subscribe to, and they offer networking opportunities around the world. For example, this coming February I will be attending a weekend conference in New York City with the SCBWI, where I am excited to meet my colleagues to build new and existing relationships. All of these have local chapters which I drop in on from time to time. Joining professional associations has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because not only does it help sell my books, it also allows me to keep on top of what is going on in the industry and has unlocked many new doors and opportunities. You never know who you’re going to meet that can change your life or who’s life YOU can change!
  2. Join your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI. BNI stands for Business Network International, and it’s a very valuable source of referrals for people. I just recently became a member, and after the first meeting, I had three people ask me about what services I offer and if they could get a price quote on some special projects. Your Chamber of Commerce is also a great place to network and meet new people who could be looking for your services as a writer, or even wanting to read your next book. Don’t forget, wanting referrals is great, but you MUST build meaningful relationships first. It’s not only about what other people can do for you, but it’s also what you can do for them too.
  3. Give back. Support a cause that you believe in. At Pandamonium Publishing House, we support a lot of causes that are close to our hearts; AAA minor hockey for a local team, Concussion, and Brain Injury clinics, kids derbies of all kinds, and of course, animal rescues and charities. Doing this fills our bucket, and we meet a ton of people along the way. Give freely without expecting anything in return. Talk to people, enjoy their company, and make a difference at the same time.

So go! Get out there and start connecting with people, you’ll be so glad that you did.

X LLB
achievement-3408115_1280

 

Posted on Leave a comment

One Isn’t the Loneliest Number…(It’s the most dangerous!)

November 26, 2018– We’re talking about the business of writing again and this goes for authors too so listen up! One isn’t the loneliest number, it’s the most dangerous and here’s why; if you’re relying on one of anything, you’re about to have major problems.

The number one makes your business fragile, brittle, and wobbly. Here are some things that are bad when it comes to the number one:

  1. You only have one book.
  2. You only have one source of leads.
  3. You only have one major supplier.
  4. You only have one type of product.
  5. You only have one major customer.
  6. You only have one type of service.
  7. You only have one source of income.

Why is this so bad? Because having one of anything simply leads to ONE, SINGLE point of failure. This means that any small change in circumstances could devastate your business and your career. Don’t put yourself in this situation, start working on multiples. Multiple books, multiple income streams, multiple buyers and suppliers and products. This way, if one thing fails, you can pivot to the next thing. I run my business under the constant question of, “WHAT IF?” and this way of thinking has saved me more than once.

  • What if your largest customer leaves you for the competition or they don’t require your products/services anymore?
  • What if your main source of leads dries up?
  • What if your main marketing strategy stops working?
  • What if your supplier goes out of business?
  • What if you don’t have e-books and the bookstore you have your book in goes out of business?

What if, what if, what if? Some people may disagree with my way of thinking and say that I’m being pessimistic and looking at the glass as half empty. Think what you will but this strategy allows me to prepare for the worst and hope for the best; it also allows me to have a plan of action should the crap hit the fan. This way of thinking allows me to feel more in control and that I can handle anything that gets thrown my way because I constantly have a backup plan.

As an author and entrepreneur are you prepared for the worst? Things change constantly and change is the only constant. Be prepared and get to work with new books, new products, new strategies, and new contacts.

X LLB

document-3268750_1280

Posted on Leave a comment

Quick! What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

November 23, 2018– I remember it like it was yesterday. I was having a lunch meeting with an up and coming author that I was about to sign on to my publishing house, when the waitress stopped by our table, “How is everything? What are you guys working on?”
I said, “We are discussing his book.” The waitress said, “Oh wow! Tell me about it!” That’s when things went to hell in a handbag.

The author then proceeded to tell the waitress almost every damn thing about his book from the complexity of the characters to the interwoven plot that had several twists and turns and was going to be a series. I watched politely as the waitress’ eyes glazed over and the potential author hammered the last nail into the coffin of his would be deal. He kept blabbing and going around in circles trying to prove to the waitress and perhaps to me that he was some kind of literary genius that was only resurrected once in a lifetime. It was way too much and the deal died that day on the spot. The meeting dragged on as he continued to talk about his work and I was grateful when it was finally over.

He was a good enough writer, but he definitely lacked the thing that most authors do…the conciseness of a perfectly perfected elevator pitch. After all, if this author said all this to a waitress, I was willing to bet the business that he would be even worse with prospective readers! Don’t make the same mistake that he did, when someone asks about your book, tell them about it in 1-2 sentences. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Keep it short and sweet.
  2. Don’t forget the hook.

That’s it. It’s that easy. No more and no less. If someone were to ask me about my middle-grade novel, The Old Farmer’s Treasure in the elevator up to the sixth floor of Tiffany’s here’s what I would say, ” Imagine that you’re thirteen years old and you’ve found a deadly secret that your family has been hiding for years. You can have riches beyond your wildest dreams; all you have to do is follow the clues in a  life-threatening race against time.” Short, sweet, and hooked. I guarantee if you follow those rules, that people will want to know more. That’s when you can expand on the information that you give them, not too much, but just enough.

Practice your elevator pitch for your book, you never know when you’ll be stuck inside with a reader or someone who can change your fate.
X LLB

new-york-city-3671887_1280