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The Benefits of Reading Books

October 18, 2020– Check out this infographic on Reading, the Road to Success! I know that we’re Canadian, but sadly, our numbers are close enough to these ones in the United States.  Literacy matters.

 

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Spotlight on Alex Goubar and The Magic Pumpkin Farmer

October 17, 2020- Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with our very own, Alex Goubar; we’ve taken questions from kids and their parents, about her book, The Magic Pumpkin Farmer and Alex has answered them! Her answers are in bold.

Q:  The Magic Pumpkin Farmer is such a colourful book, what inspired the colours you used?
A: Something about bright exciting colours reminds me of magic, I imagine that magic is the opposite of dull. Kate, to me, also feels like the type of girl that would love bright colours such as these (it seems to match her personality!)
Q: What program do you use for illustrating books? What do you like most about it?
A: I used to use Paint Tool Sai, and now I’ve switched over to Procreate on the iPad Pro. What I love most about it is that I can take it anywhere, I’ve drawn book pages in many places and countries!
Q: How did you find the information on the princesses and what they wore as traditional dress from their respective countries?
A: I found information on princesses by doing lots of research on the internet and checking those facts with many sources.
Q:  Have you ever grown magic pumpkins? If yes, what was magic about them? and if no, what would you want your magic pumpkin to do?
A: I’ve never grown magic pumpkins but if I ever do, I would want them to attract all of the neighbourhood cats so I could play with them!
Q: Which princess in the book is your favourite and why?
A: I think Kate’s cat is my favourite princess. Real answer? I am biased and I love the Russian princess because that is my heritage. However, all of them are super unique with such interesting backgrounds and outfits and traditions, they’re all awesome!
Q:  Is that your cat in the book that sleeps on Kate’s pillow? Do you have any pets?
A: Kate’s cat is loosely based on Lacey (the author’s) cat Simba! I have two cats, one Hilander named Athena and one Himalayan named Willy.
Q:  Kate was a farmer when she grew up, what did you want to be?
A: My aspirations have changed probably every month. I wanted to be a writer, an actress, an illustrator, etc. As long as creating was in my future I was happy.
Q: What was the hardest part to draw in the Magic Pumpkin Farmer?
A: All the princesses’ garments took a while to draw, but the Indian-inspired princess was the most difficult because of all her jewelry!
Q:  How long have you been an illustrator for?
A: I would say as soon as I was capable of holding a pencil. Professionally, I started getting paid illustration jobs in the first year of college (as of 2020, 5 years now!)
Q:  What’s the most favourite book you’ve worked on and why?
A: Panda the Very Bad Cat; Farm Frenzy was my favourite. I loved the farm theme and drawing all the cute animals!
Thank you, Alex, for answering the readers’ questions! Did you know that Alex is also the AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR of 2 books? The Celestial Squid and The Clouds Above Lamasol Island? How cool is that? Check out her collection of books here:
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Lifelong Reader

October 16, 2020- I LOVE this TedTalk by Alvin Irby. According to the US Department of Education, more than 85 percent of black fourth-grade boys aren’t proficient in reading. What kind of reading experiences should we be creating to ensure that all children read well? In a talk that will make you rethink how we teach, educator and author Alvin Irby explains the reading challenges that many black children face — and tells us what culturally competent educators do to help all children identify as readers.

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Engaged

October 14, 2020– A lot of businesses are conducting Zoom meetings now because of Covid. I’ve attended a few of these virtual presentations and couldn’t help but notice the attendees’ lack of engagement. Some presenters are painful to listen to and seem to drone on and on while offering no valuable information or insight to their listeners. Others use outdated practices such as PowerPoint presentations that are badly done and statistics that bore the audience to sleep.

During some of the sessions I’ve attended, I’ve seen people play with their pets, text, work on their computers, and do anything else except listen to the speaker. Why is this? Simple. People don’t pay attention when the information is irrelevant, uninteresting, and uninspiring.

So if we know what makes a bad presentation, what makes a good one?

  1. Storytelling. This is so important! People remember stories, so each of your presentations should start with a story to captivate your audience. Think of TedTalks and people who professionally speak for a living; most of their presentations start with a repeatable, memorable story.
  2. Relevant content. If you’re reading your newest picturebook over Zoom to a group of school children, would you include a plug for your adult thriller? No. You would stick to things that are relevant to them and the things that they care about. There’s no quicker way to lose your audiences’ attention than to start talking about stuff they aren’t interested in.
  3. Know your audience. Who are you speaking to? Your presentation should vary based on your audience and what you know about them. For example, if it’s a club/organization/non-profit you’re presenting to, what is their mission? E.g. service before self, giving back to the community, volunteerism etc.
  4. Marketing. We no longer live in a world where people come door to door to convince us to buy vacuum cleaners based solely on their powers of persuasion. It’s now about YOU marketing, not ME marketing. It’s how we serve our customers and readers best and how we present our products in a way that matters to them. Stop saying I, I, I, I, I, in your presentations because it’s not about you; it’s about them. Stop making your presentation about yourself.
  5. Qualifications. Yes, sometimes it’s good to inform your audience of your qualifications to show yourself as an expert in your field, but most of the time, no one cares. Keep it short and sweet and if people want to know what school you went to or the degrees you have, direct them to your website or wherever you keep that information. Never start your presentation with your qualifications, you’ll lose people’s interest almost immediately.
  6. Participation. If sessions are too long, you risk boring your audience. To keep them engaged, get them to actively participate by asking questions, answering questions, and being part of your presentation.

Implement these pointers into your next presentation and you’ll captivate your audience!

 

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Data (No, not the dude from Star Trek)

October 13, 2020– As you know, I’ve been continuing my education with a few new courses that I found really intriguing. I’ve completed Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing at the Copenhagen School of Business. I’m almost done my course at Wharton Business School on Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content. I’ve learned many things, but today I’m going to focus on what I really enjoy, and that’s data.

I can hear a couple of you sighing from behind your screen right now, but trust me, this kind of data tracking, analysis, and integration will help you meet your goals for your business. Companies mine data all the time but what does that mean?

Data mining in the most simplistic forms is gathering data, analyzing it, and using it to know your consumers better. When we know who are consumers are and have a firm grasp on what they do, how they behave, the things they buy, and how they find our products, the better we can serve them and fill their needs. This is also called Customer Analytics.

Let’s do a case study so that you understand what I mean:

We have an email list of 5,000 subscribers. 500 of those subscribers are men, 4,000 are women, and 500 are teens. If we are going to spend our money on a children’s book marketing campaign, we need more information and we need to further break down our list.

500 teens are immediately disqualified because they aren’t in our target market. Yes, there is some variable data that suggests that some teens are already parents, but lack the median income or disposable income needed to purchase books for their children. This is a sweeping statement and used as a general example and is not intened to offend or exclude anyone. That leaves us with the women and men. We know from previous data that most women are the primary purchasers in their homes. Out of the 4,000 subscribers, 3500 of the women are between the ages of 30-39. Women between the ages of 30-39 (based on the data we have from our webstore analysis) are the primary purchasers of children’s titles on our site. If we break that number down further, we see that 500 women are from Oakville, 500 from Toronto, 1,000 from Hamilton, 1,000 from Niagara, and 500 from other places in Southern Ontario. Again, we retrieved this data from analytics on our site. We decide to use data from previous sponsored ads on Instagram and Facebook to see how much of a response we’re getting and from who. We see that out of 500 views, we have 100 clicks on our site. Out of those 100 clicks, we see that 40 of them were for a specific title and were clicked on by women from Hamilton and those women used Instagram to find us (as the program segments it).

What does this mean? Well, the data tells us that they were interested in a specific children’s book, it tells us that they are from Hamilton, and it tells us that they’re active on social media (Instagram specifically). This also let’s us know that they’re on the younger end of the age spectrum from ages 30-35 if they prefer Instagram over Facebook as their main source of social media, plus the data collected confirms it.

How does this help us? It helps us in a number of ways; the data shows that we should be marketing a specific book, to a specific region, to a specific age group, at a certain time. We’re combining knowledge that was filtered from our ad, and what we know about the best times to post on Instagram. Now we can tailor our marketing plans to have the most effective reach and impact for our consumers so that they can find our products with ease and efficiency.

There’s so much more to know about how analytics and data can help your small business and entrepreneurs that I couldn’t possibly fit it all in one post. If you’d like more information about how the experts at Pandamonium Publishing House can help you collect and filter your data, send us an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com.

 

 

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Thankful

October 9, 2020– As Canadians, we celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, and as I reflect on how fortunate I am, I hope you will do the same with your own introspection. Please remember,  some people won’t be surrounded by their families at Thanksgiving; some will be missing from tables because they’re no longer with us, others won’t be present because of familial tensions, and some can’t be in attendance because of obligations at work. Others will be alone because they have no family or close friends.  Remember those who are less fortunate and those who are struggling. Don’t just remember them, though; I urge you to spread kindness this weekend and always, to make a difference in the life of one person. All it takes is one small act by each of us to change things for the better.

I’m grateful for the nights that turned into mornings, the friends that turned into family, and for dreams that turned into reality. I’m grateful for my team, for my health and for being able to do what I love every day. I’m grateful for the people that love and support me and for those who push me to be better. I’m grateful for the unconditional love of my pets and for my wonderful nephews and niece.  And I am so grateful for each one of you.

From all of us at Pandamonium Publishing House, we’d like to wish you and yours a very safe and happy Thanksgiving. X LLB

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Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club

October 7, 2020- Each Friday on our Facebook Page (Pandamonium Publishing House), we discuss the book of the month that we’re reading. For the past three months, we’ve chosen a book from 6 of the 7 continents (Antarctica has been impossible to find an author), but we’ve visited South America (Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist), Asia (Bali Kaur Jaswal, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows), North America (Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes) and now, Europe (Alex Michaelidis, The Silent Patient). We’ll be visiting Australia and Africa next! Each week, we discuss themes, political issues, character development, plot, conflict, and narration within the books. We take questions and comments from readers sent in via email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com. If you’ve ever thought of joining a book club, but haven’t had the opportunity, here’s your chance! Send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com, and we’ll add you to our member’s list.

The benefits of book club:

  1. Reading goals. Did you know that most adults read 1 book or less per year? Yikes, that’s not a good thing! By joining our book club, you’ll be able to set and reach your reading goals!
  2. Perspective. Since we chat about the book each week, we can get a different perspective on the characters, themes, and plot from everyone who participates in the discussion.
  3. Unique/Diverse Voices. We choose books that maybe you’d never think of reading because it’s outside your genre, or you’ve never heard of the author. We try to include authors’ unique and diverse voices from a wide range of countries, backgrounds, beliefs, and writing styles.
  4. Friendship. Joining a book club allows you to chat with other members, find things in common, and forge friendships that will last a lifetime.

We hope that you’ll join our Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club! We’ve got some exciting new titles for the rest of the year and 2021. Hope to see you online:)

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Guest Blogger, Samantha Nemeth

October 6, 2020– Today our guest blogger is Sam Nemeth, author of DJ the Terrible! Check out her book here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/dj-djeaneautha-the-terrible/ and her blog post below:

Covid Blues & Soul Searching- It’s your friendly neighbourhood, Sam, here to talk about what I’ve been reading! But first, I need to discuss what led me to it. If you ask anyone who knows me, they would probably say I’m smiley, bubbly, goofy; like DJ in my book, DJ the Terrible. However, though I might often appear this way, I am not always sunshine and rainbows. As one of the only members of my family in the highly scrutinized arts industry, I’ve cultivated the self-inflicted need to validate myself by always being bigger, better, and more exciting. If I’m not, I’m my own biggest bully.

2019 was amazing for me. I was on set multiple times, my debut novel was published, I went to the Alps; I always had something new and thrilling to talk about. 2020 was meant to continue that momentum. The world had other plans. Suddenly, I was quarantined and out of work. I couldn’t travel, couldn’t get married, and struggled to promote myself. Instead, I was on the couch doing nothing, crippled by thoughts of how I was letting everyone down, and how I was meaningless in our new 2020 world. I still dread that little question everyone asks: “What have you been up to?” The voice in my head: “Nothing, nothing, nothing, I am nothing.”  On the outside: Smiling, “I took up Yoga. I can do the splits now.”

After some serious soul searching, the desire to create some positive habits led me to The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The book explains what habits really are, how to create new ones, and about the habit loop: Cue, Routine, Reward. Ithought, could my negative self-talk be a habit? My cue: sitting on the couch doing nothing. It started in my high school days where I wanted to have good grades. Relaxing was the cue, negative self-talk was the routine that led to me studying and getting an awesome grade: the reward. 

I think I carried that perfectionistic cycle with me and without my go-to activities to combat the voice, my negative self-talk played on repeat. It dug me into a hole that was harder and harder to climb out of; especially when restrictions lifted and my peers raced to continue their successful careers. What started as a self-improvement tactic became what is holding me back.  The Power of Habit teaches how to analyze the habit loop and how to identify cues. I’m using this as a tool, among others, on my journey home to the person I want to be; the person DJ the Terrible is based on. For anyone hoping for more DJ & Godfrey adventures, fear not; I am not giving up on them. I’m slowly but surely plotting out their journeys.

If you have habits or thoughts that are getting you down, you’re not alone. I encourage you to pick up The Power of Habit. Oh, and for any entrepreneurs out there, it also talks about how you can use the habit loop as a strategy for your business! 

* Lacey here, I read The Power of Habit in 2012 when it first came out, a great book with lots of info on why we do what we do:)