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The Fifth Element

February 28, 2020-Contrary to the title of this post, I’m not talking about the movie with the same name, starring Bruce Willis. There are five elements to plot structure when writing, let’s talk about them.

  1.  Exposition-This is the introduction of characters and setting to your story. You don’t have to explain everything in minute detail, in fact, it’s much better if you simply show us what the character’s normal is so that the reader can see when things start to go awry, which they will begin to, in the next step.
  2. Rising Action-This is my favourite part to write as an author. I LOVE torturing my characters by setting them up for problems. Sadistic? Maybe, but is there any other way? (Insert maniacal laugh here). Here’s the point in your story where you raise the stakes on your character and build to the climax. Be very clear as to what’s at stake so that your audience isn’t confused.
  3. Climax-This is the moment that matters most, the point at which everything before this has been building up like a volcano that ready to burst. Well, it’s time for the lava to hit the ground, which leads to the next point in your story.
  4. Falling Action-The lava (climax) is now dripping down the sides of the volcano and onto the ground. We take our readers with us, nice and slowly. We answer some questions that they’ve had up until this point and start to wind the story down.
  5. Resolution– This means that the conflict in your story has been resolved. Wrap it up with a bow for your reader, because there is nothing that makes them more disappointed and homicidal than the author leaving things unfinished with a ton of questions.

So, there you have it! The five elements of plot structure. Happy Writing! X LLB

 

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Actual footage of me on the phone trying to explain my plot to friends

 

 

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STOP DOING THIS

February 26, 2020-We’ve all done it at one time or another, and for some reason, whenever we do it, no matter how many good things are said, we tend to focus on the bad. I’m here to tell you to STOP! Stop Googling yourself. It can be tempting to find out what people think of us and our work, but trust me when I say that no good can come of it. Sure, you may have stellar reviews, lots of likes, and beautiful things said about you, but I think Dita Von Teese said it best, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” People are going to love your book and others will hate it. People will like you and others won’t. It’s all irrelevant at the end of the day, so don’t lend any weight to it.

There seems to be an epidemic of bullying, suicides, and overall meanness on social media. The more connected we become, the more disconnected we really are from each other.  Most things that people say from behind the protection of a screen and keyboard would never be told in person. We should follow the general rule that if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it to them online. This should be used in conjunction with, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Not everyone needs your opinion. And you certainly don’t need the opinions of others to justify your worth. You are worthy. PERIOD.

Keep writing, ignore the critics, take positive, constructive feedback to make your work better, and enjoy creating art. Do it for yourself, because no one else’s opinion matters.

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You Are Worthy

February 19, 2020– If I told you I liked your face, would you say thank you and then let it go or would you say, I like your face too and deflect my compliment? As authors, we’re pretty humble; after all, art is subjective, isn’t it? Not everyone is going to love us, but a lot of folks do! When people say they think we’re great authors, or they really liked our last book,  or that they look forward to our next novel, why can’t we just say thank you and leave it at that? Why do we have to be self-deprecating? It can be for several reasons. There’s nothing more vulnerable than putting your words out in public for the world to read and to be able to refer back to until the end of time. So how can we overcome this over the top feeling of unworthiness as authors? Here’s how:

  1. No one can tell your story like you can. You have a unique power, and that is no one sees the world the way that you do. Remember that you have an individual perspective, which makes it impossible for anyone to tell your story but you. That’s pretty special, so remember that the next time someone pays you a compliment!
  2.  You inspire others. Trust me. You inspire people who pretend to not even see you. The truth is, a lot of people want to be published authors and seeing you signing your books or on social media with your novel encourages them to perhaps do the same one day! So, every time you downplay yourself or your work, you’re quite possibly cheapening someone else’s dream. Imagine this conversation, “Wow, how exciting! You’re a real-life author!” “Yeah, it’s not that great…we aren’t that interesting.” Talk about making that person possibly question their choices or hopes for the future. Raining on their parade if you will. The way we speak to children, especially, is of utmost importance. Always speak well of yourself, not arrogantly, but kindly.
So, my challenge to you, fellow authors, is to take compliments and believe them. Don’t deflect, don’t change the subject, take the compliment and feel great about who you are and what you do. There’s no one like you.
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Bankrupt.

February 17-2020– Last week, when I was conducting interviews for a position on our team, the coordinator asked me a very interesting question, “How is the landscape of publishing changing? I’ve recently read in the news that more and more publications and publishers are filing for bankruptcy!”

Yes. A lot of publishers are indeed closing their doors because of the change in how people read and find information. But, that means that we have to evolve with the needs of our readers.  Here’s what we’re doing to ensure that we stay in the book business for a very long time.

1) Every book we write is available as a digital download. We know that books are read on Kindles, iPads, phones, and other devices, so we MUST have our books formatted in a digital version for those who choose to read in this manner. Let’s face it; it doesn’t matter what kids read on; it matters that they’re reading.

2) We’re a boutique. I am very selective about what we publish and how we release books. We keep our title line small so that we can control the output and not end up with hundreds of boxes of overstocked books. We publish up to ten titles a year, and we don’t plan on getting too big, too quickly. Plus, with being a boutique, I get to meet our readers at local events, I get to speak with my authors and illustrators directly, and I know what’s going on in my House.

3) We do our very best to connect with our readers. We love our readers to the moon and back because we know that without them, there would be no Pandamonium Publishing House. We take their feedback seriously, and we continually try to bring their suggestions and ideas to fruition.

4) New ideas and innovative illustration techniques are what we strive to bring our readers. Especially with our children’s book collection! We’re moving in a direction this year that will show a range of unique characters with different abilities. We’re also going to show a mystical, mythological, darker side to our children’s books. Not to worry, they’ll still be rated E for everyone.

We constantly strive to bring our best work. We won’t stop bringing you stories until we have nothing else to write. And I’d like to think that that day will never come. Thank you for all of your continued support of our House and for showing our authors, illustrators, and artists that you care.

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Romantic Reads

February 14, 2020Ahhh, today is the day of love and to celebrate being in love. Whether it’s your spouse or a partner or yourself, here are some unconventional choices  (that are my personal recommendations as I’ve read each one) that will help you fall in love with reading. For the record, love should be celebrated every day.

  1.  The Bride Test by Helen Hoang– Khai Diep avoids relationships because his autism makes him feel unable to love.   His well-meaning mother takes matters into her own hands and tries to find him a wife. Khai will soon find out that there is more than one way to love.
  2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens– My personal favourite. The driving, all-consuming power of love. And the loneliness of loving someone so much and never having them love you back. Enough said. (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)
  3. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne-Oh man, this one is gut-wrenching, but another one of my most favourite love stories. Adulteress Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet A to shame her. Her lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, who she will never identify to the masses, is wracked with guilt, while her husband, Roger Chillingworth, seeks revenge.
  4. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory-A really fun read about two people who get stuck in an elevator together and agree to pose as a fake couple at an ex’s wedding. Such a great book with a less than typical romance.

I hope that you’ll check out the list above! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Start Pretending

February 12, 2020– Your dream is to become a published author, right? Well, then you need to start acting like it. What do I mean? I mean that you need to start behaving as if you already are a published author even though you may not be just yet. Once you start doing this, amazing things will begin to happen. Some of you may think that I’m nuts, but here’s what pretending that you’re already published, will do for you:

  1.  You’ll build confidence. While it’s true that authors can be introverts, most of us aren’t. We love people and talking about our work. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were an author, how would you dress, how would you speak, what would you talk about? Pretending what it would be like, will have you feeling less afraid and more confident. Your confidence will draw people to you, and you’ll tell them what you’re working on.  Then the right people will start popping into place as if by magic. You’ll draw the people you need to you like a moth to a flame, perhaps it will be an illustrator, writing buddy, publisher, or editor.
  2. You’ll start doing the things you need to do. When you look at yourself as being an author, there is a trail of breadcrumbs that lead to it. Work backward. Ask yourself, how did I get here? Make a list of all the things that lead up to publication, such as writing a book or article, submitting your work to the right people, writing more often, keeping a schedule, and getting organized. Once you know what steps you need to take, you’re more likely to do them!
  3.  You’ll be inspired. You’ve stepped out of your comfort zone by using your imagination! Our imaginations are like faucets; once we turn them on, they don’t shut off unless we shut them off. You’ll be inspired by the experiences you have, and it will cause you to do more. You’ll see yourself as an author, and you’ll start showing up as her.

Now, of course, I’m not talking about lying to people or telling half-truths, I’m saying that you should tell people that you’re on your way to realizing your dreams because you are! Keep putting the work in, keep showing up, and keep being positive. You’ll get there sooner than you think!

 

Some of my articles that were published at the start of my writing career!
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What’s Your Third Favourite Reptile?

February 7, 2019– Today, I’ll be visiting a school in my neighbourhood where I’ll be reading my book, Mount Fuji has Free Wi-Fi, to some grade three classes. School visits are so exciting and fun for not only the students but for me too! Here’s why author visits matter.

  1. Kids can’t be what they can’t see. Children need to see the things that they can be. That’s why it’s essential as authors for us to go into schools to show them that we are just ordinary people behind all the stories that they see in the library and on bookshelves. And if we can be authors, so can they! As authors, we can use this opportunity to speak to them about the importance of education and what it takes to become authors from an academic perspective.
  2. We hope to ignite their passion for reading. Interactive and fun presentations of your books help get the kids excited about reading and writing! Get them involved with storytelling games and activities that will make them want to read and participate in your visit. I leave activity sheets after every presentation and challenge the class to read five more books each than they read last year.
  3. You learn something and get new ideas for new books. As much as we like to think that we teach the students something, we’re the ones who are being educated. Children are the best teachers, and the best stories come from school visits. I’ve never been asked more interesting questions than when I visit primary classrooms. Kids make us think and keep us on our toes. Some of the questions I’ve been asked range from what is my third favourite reptile (Komodo Dragon), to how much money I make (Buckets full), to how old am I (37) and what’s my mom’s name (Catherine). These visits have given me so many ideas for new books based on the characters I meet in classrooms.

Literacy matters. And the children are our future.

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The Old Farmer’s Treasure

February 5, 2020– Have you read my book, The Old Farmer’s Treasure? Check out the trailer below and look for the sequel titled, Grandpa’s Gift coming Summer 2020! This book is specifically designed for reluctant readers, it’s short and action-packed to keep their attention. You can order your copy of The Old Farmer’s Treasure by clicking here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/the-old-farmers-treasure/