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Our Guest Blogger, Jake Evanoff

January 24, 2020- Today, I have the pleasure of introducing fellow author, Jake Evanoff, creator of the children’s storybooks Jacob’s Ladder and Oswald’s Surprise. Check out what he has to say, below. Be sure to click on the links to purchase your copies!

https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/jacobs-ladder-by-jake-evanoff/

https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/oswalds-surprise-by-jake-evanoff/

Hey there! My name is Jake Evanoff and I’m really excited to be able to share my story with you, but first I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to Lacey Bakker and Pandamonium Publishing House for making this possible.

I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario and I’ve had a love for storytelling ever since I was a child. I shot my first film on my parent’s camcorder when I was 7 years old and I’ve been hooked ever since. All throughout high school, my friends and I filmed and posted comedic shorts to YouTube, which eventually brought me to Humber College where I took Film and Media Production. After deciding that I still didn’t quite know what I wanted to write, I went back for one more year to attend their Television Writing and Producing program. It was in this program that I discovered my passion for writing children’s content. I started out by writing spec scripts for my favourite kids’ shows and from there moved onto some original concepts.

After school, I knew that I wanted to be writing children’s content and I also wanted to get it out into the world in a way that would give me full control of the entire process. That was when I decided to start self-publishing my work. The first book I wrote was ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ – It’s about two best friends, Jacob and Halley. They meet up in Jacob’s treehouse every day after school to start their next adventure, but one day Halley doesn’t show up! We follow Jacob on his mission to find out just how far he’ll go to find her. The entire process from jotting down my first idea to physically holding a copy in my hands was about 7 months in total. I couldn’t believe how much I had learned in that time! From editing to working with an illustrator, to marketing not only my books but myself as an author
Writing Jacob’s Ladder was such a fun and exciting experience because it was something new to me. I was used to writing scripts for films and tv shows, where you had all of this time to lay down exposition and explore the world you’ve created at any pace you see fit. Whereas with kid’s books, you’ve got this extra challenge because you’re typically working with 24 pages of content and that’s it. Now, I’ve always written in a non-linear fashion, so what I’ll do first is jot all of my ideas down onto cue cards. It could be anything from a single word or phrase, to a specific interaction between characters or even just what I want the underlying message to convey. From there, I start to move them around like puzzle pieces until I find my story. I remember when I was doing this for Jacob’s Ladder, I wanted to be sure that every single page had value. So I wrote out all of my cue cards and if one could be removed without being a hindrance to the progression of the story, it would be scrapped. I’m incredibly happy with the way the book turned out, and if you want to check it out for yourself it’s available on the Pandamonium Publishing shop along with so many other wonderful books! I also just released my second book ‘Oswald’s Surprise’ and it’s about a golden retriever that wants nothing more than a family that will love him with all of their hearts. He finds just that when a young couple adopts him from the shelter, but over time he worries that his parents might be getting ready to bring home a new puppy and Oswald isn’t sure if he’s quite ready for a new sibling. It’s a story that I hold dear to my heart because it’s actually true!

If there’s one thing I can leave you with it’s that if you’ve got a story inside of you, I would strongly encourage you to share it in any way you can. Whether that’s with a book, or music, even an interpretive dance! Let’s all take a moment to put down the screens and pick up the pens because there’s a whole world out there waiting to hear your story.
-JE

 

 

 

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Get Punched.

January 22, 2020– I read a quote recently that said, “Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.” (-David Barr Kirtley)

More real words have never been spoken. Of course, being rejected sucks, it hurts, and it makes us question our capabilities and sometimes even our sanity. But, I’m here to tell you to embrace the suck. I’m here to say, stick out your chin and get punched as many times as possible. Because the only way that you’re going to get a YES is by taking all of the NO’s that come before it and using them to your advantage. When we fail, we become better. We can see where we went wrong, and we can tweak things to improve our writing. No one is born as a fantastic writer. Nope, not even Shakespeare, King, or Hemingway. They’ve all seen their fair share of rejection, and if you don’t believe me, Google it.

As writers, we MUST write because it’s who we are, and we can’t imagine doing anything else with our lives. That’s why I’m telling you to get punched. Get punched and get punched hard, because it’s part of the process in making you a better writer, in causing you to wake up and change your strategy, and it will give you a much sweeter victory than it would if you’d never been punched in the first place.

Being rejected is part of the gig. You want to be a writer? You’re going to be rejected… a lot. But who cares? You’re in great company. The point is, you have to keep going. I personally have enough rejection letters that I could wallpaper the side of my house. And I keep them in a special box that I go through when I need motivation. I look at the comments that say, “Consider a different career,” “Too out of the box, not saleable,” “Go back to school and learn proper grammar,” and my favourite, “Your writing is unoriginal, and frankly, boring.”

So what did I do when I received these comments? I read them, thought about them for a few days, changed a few things in my storytelling approach, hired a professional editor, and then KEPT WRITING. There’s a big difference between arrogance and self-belief. Arrogance says that everyone is an idiot except for you and that anyone who criticizes you is a dumbass. Self-belief is when you take constructive criticism to improve yourself because you KNOW that you can do whatever you want to with enough hard work and practice. Do you think that the first time that Wayne Gretzky picked up a hockey stick, he was perfection? Don’t answer that, what a terrible example…You get my point.

So dear friends, today, I hope that you get punched. X LLB

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Bring This With You

January 17, 2020– Here’s a throwback video on our Youtube Channel about what you (authors) should bring with you to a book signing! I’ll be doing a ton of signings at events over the coming year, so stay tuned for an official listing of when and where to find me.

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Your Fears Will Set You Free.

January 15, 2020-Over the winter break, I enjoyed some much-needed downtime. My days consisted of sleeping in late, puttering around the house, and re-watching some of my favourite movies for the four-hundredth time. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for 80’s action movies; give me Van Damme, Willis, and Stallone, and I’m happy.

So, there I am, sitting on the couch, curled up with my cat, watching Rocky 3. You know the one where he gets busted up by Hulk Hogan and then goes on to defeat Mr. T? Of course, you do, everyone does. I’m watching the scene where Rocky is talking with Adrian on the beach when all of a sudden, he says something that makes me stop in my tracks. “You wanna know the truth? This truth is I don’t want to lose what I got. In the beginning, I didn’t care what happened to me…now there’s you, now there’s the kid, I don’t want to lose what I got!”

Wow. That hit me like a ton of bricks. Know why? Because that’s what has been holding me back. For the last year, I’ve been sitting on my ass, not hustling as hard, because quite frankly, I’m a bit too comfortable with my current position and current situation. I don’t really stray from my daily routine by taking significant risks in my writing career and in my business because I don’t want to lose what I got. I’ve got bills to pay and cats to feed and things to pay for, taking a risk might put all of these things in jeopardy.

But in the beginning, I didn’t care what it took to sell my book, I didn’t care about how uncomfortable it was to wake up early and go to bed late and to stand out in the rain or heat or snow and peddle my books one at a time. I didn’t care about the risk, all I could picture was the reward. But now, I don’t want to lose what I got!  AND THAT’S WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES!

As soon as we get comfortable in our lives, we get lazy, and we miss what’s waiting for us. We miss the potential to be great, we miss opportunities to take our writing lives and our businesses to the next level. Our FEAR of LOSING WHAT WE’VE GOT KEEPS US FROM GETTING WHAT WE WANT. Read that again.

Our fears should be: being in the exact same place as we are now, next year.
Our fears should be: staying stagnant in our writing and censoring ourselves.
Our fears should be: not growing as writers, artists, and people.
Our fears should be: not taking risks and not seeing what we can achieve.

Once we identify our fears, they can finally set us free from the chains of mediocrity, if we’re willing to risk our comfort and take action toward our dreams. X LLB

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An Excerpt From Obsessed with Her, By L.L. Colling

January 13, 2020– I was fortunate enough to have a lot of expert help on my first psychological thriller, Obsessed with Her. Because I’ve never committed any of the acts that my characters have (yet), I thought it was essential to enlist the experts, particularly at the Toronto Police Department (Homicide Division). Here is an excerpt from the book. You can order your copy at https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/obsessed-with-her-novel/ or on Amazon. I genuinely appreciate your support of my work and I hope that you enjoy Obsessed with Her.

He finally obeys my orders and releases the restraints. I swing my legs over the edge and let them dangle for a second while I balance. I reach for the neck brace and pain shoots through both of my arms; I let them down by my sides slowly before trying again, this time ignoring the pain. I put one foot on the pavement and then the other, all the while steadying myself with both hands on the edge of the stretcher. I slowly walk toward the house focusing on one step at a time. The pain piercing through my chest has nothing to do with my fall. A detective is standing at the door and tightens his lips when he sees me. 

What would you do if your child was missing? How far would you go to find out what happened to her? Obsessed with Her is every parent’s worst nightmare, with twists and turns so shocking, it will leave you breathless until the very last page.

Here is where you can find some reviews of the book https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37853271-obsessed-with-her?from_search=true&qid=SW6nnL5QEV&rank=2

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Guest Blogger, Christopher Botting-Unfrogged

January 10, 2020– Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to our very special guest blogger, Christopher Botting, the illustrator of Unfrogged! Let’s check out what he has to say about his experience as an illustrator with Pandamonium Publishing House.

Hello friends and fans of Pandamonium Publishing! My name is Chris Botting, and I am the illustrator for the ‘Unfrogged’ book; Pandamonium Publishing’s second book offering. One day back in two thousand and too far back to remember right now, my sister (Tamara Botting), had written a story she greatly desired to publish someday. She was asking me to do the artwork for it. I made a half-hearted attempt at some rough ideas, but in the end, I told her that publishing companies would have the final say on the art direction they were looking for and not necessarily something I may come up with. That it would be a waste of time to try anything before a publisher picked up her manuscript. What a big bother brother I quite often turn out to be. Well, time went on and one day I did receive a phone call….from a publisher…wow! (Good for little sis, she stuck with her dream and never gave up). Pandamonium Publishing’s very own Lacey Bakker was interested in seeing a sample of my art portfolio. She was hooked! She absolutely loved the idea of a brother/sister team working on their first published book together. (Bucket list items for both siblings!). There were meetings and deadlines made. The rough copy art sketches were approved and used for the final pieces after colour and corrections were added. Did I ever learn a thing or two about books;  They have chapter titles to illustrate. They have front covers to draw. They have a back cover too…what? Whodathunk? Do you know what else they have? A spine that needs artwork! My first book art job, and it was a ton of work! But it was all well worth it! Someday, when I see a well-worn copy on a used book store shelf, I’ll know a second generation is about to enjoy something my sister and I put so much of ourselves in to; I’ll know we’ve ‘made it’. I believe that when you do something or create something, in the brief second that follows the last pen stroke, or saw cut, or screw turn, or musical note, or whatever; that your creation, your project, art piece is instantly a classic. Just in that moment, the passing of time. Because, when you look back at your accomplishment, finished or not, there’s that feeling of ‘I remember doing that’. And ‘it’s out there, other people are going to see it, and remember seeing it, and to them, it instantly becomes a classic. Because they’ll remember it too. Something ‘vintage’ with the passing of more time’. I know people enjoy our work, I can tell by the time they spend absorbing it and taking it in. By how long someone will look deep into a drawing I have done, and make positive comments. I really enjoy doing art and sharing it with other people. I hope it makes them feel good inside, peaceful. Open a sense of awe in them and myself that the world can be a beautiful place. I am so thankful for the experience of working with Pandamonium Publishing and my little bother sister on ‘Unfrogged’. They are creating great friendships and books along the way. Check them out and enjoy some instant classics!

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Wake Up!

January 6, 2020– You should be up early, especially if you’re are or want to be a writing entrepreneur. Yes, I’m aware that most writers have day jobs or work shift work or have families and responsibilities other than themselves, but that’s what makes this post so important. What do I mean?

  1. When you get up an hour earlier (or for my shift working friends, go to bed later), you have uninterrupted time. The kids are asleep, the dog is snoring softly in the corner, and all you can think about is the perfect silence that encompasses you at that very moment. No one is demanding more jam for their toast; no one is complaining that they can’t find their favourite hairband, no one is asking for anything from you. This is the ideal time to write with abandon because this time belongs to you and your characters.
  2. When you get up an hour earlier, you have a great sense of accomplishment. You train yourself for greatness. Look at everything you’ve completed as the world slept! Most CEO’s and business owners are up at 5 am. Why? Because they know the value of getting in their fitness time, the value of reading an article in their line of work, the importance of meditation, and the calm that comes when they’ve already shaved down the items on their to-do list. I get up at 4:30 some days, but mostly 5 am, and the first thing I do is hit the treadmill because if I don’t do it then, I probably won’t. Then I’ll write a couple of blog posts for the month or schedule some social media and review my daily list of things that need to be done. This puts me miles ahead of where I would be if I started my work at 9 am. It gives me a sense of control and helps me feel in charge of my day. Plus, at 1 pm, I’ve put in 8 hours, if I need to go to an appointment, or I want to visit with my nephews, I don’t feel guilty because I’ve already knocked off my daily items.
  3. When you get up an hour earlier, your life changes. You start to realize that you’re up chasing your dreams instead of letting them pass you by as you hit the snooze button four times in a row. You start to develop a sense of pride because you’re doing something that not everyone does. You learn more over the course of a year, you become a better writer just by using an extra hour a day to hone your craft, and you have the potential to get healthy if you use your hour to amp up your fitness routine or plan your meals for the day. The point is, this one extra hour can change your life if you want it to.

Don’t pound the alarm. Embrace the quietness of the extra hour of YOU time and use it to realize your potential. X LLB

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Inspiration is Sitting Right Next To You.

January 3, 2020– I’m sure that we’ve all had an excellent rest and a fantastic holiday. Time spent with family and friends is never wasted, especially if you’re a writer. We’ve all been there, gathered around the dinner table, enjoying a meal with our family when all of a sudden, our great uncle Larry decides he’s going to regale us with a hopelessly inappropriate story of when he was young and reckless. As your sister ushers her kids away from the dinner table and says a silent prayer that they didn’t hear about that time in Reno, I hope that you’ll keep your ears open for writing GOLD. Here’s how your writing can be inspired by the people around you!

1) Listen. Does great Uncle Larry speak with a German intonation, or does he pause for effect after every sentence? Does he swear a lot, a little, or not at all? Does he speak fast or slow or a combination of the two? Is he monotone and boring, or does he command the room? The way someone speaks tells a lot about them. The same goes for the characters you create; it shows their education level, their level of openness or closed-mindedness, it can show your reader which part of the world they’re from, and it sets the tone for who your character is.

2) Watch. Look at great Uncle Larry’s mannerisms as he speaks. Watch his body language and how he gestures. Is there a character that you can model after him ever so subtly in your writing? Are there things about his personality or the way that he tells stories that will make your characters more interesting? Maybe it’s how he raises an eyebrow or how he shakes his fist at the ceiling. Perhaps it’s how he leans forward or backward in his chair while reminiscing about the good old days. Is there a deep crease in his forehead from years of worry, or does he have an epic beard? Whatever it is, take note because gestures,  body language, and appearance help develop your character more thoroughly. We don’t want to read about wooden people who just sit there like untouched dolls on a shelf. And remember not to describe their physical traits so much that the reader gets bored or loses interest. We comment on the remarkable, note-worthy things about our characters and leave the rest up to our readers’ imaginations.

3) Combine. Does your Aunt Edna roll her eyes every time great Uncle Larry tells his story? Does she fold her hands or throw them up in the air as if to say, not again! Does your mother fiddle with her left earring when she’s uncomfortable, but trying not to seem rude, while deep inside, she’s hiding a burning rage that tempts her to tell great Uncle Larry to shut the hell up?  Combining character traits help deepen your characters and make them seem more realistic. Don’t go overboard, or you’ll end up doing the exact opposite.

Inspiration is all around us always. We just have to be aware of it, and as writers, I find that we are the most observational people on the planet. Keep a notepad close; your family and friends are a character development goldmine. X LLB

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New Year, New You? Probably Not.

January 1, 2020– Happy New Year, Friends! What is it about a new year that gives people so much hope and promise? Is it the turning of a new page on the calendar? Is it the thought of a fresh start and a new beginning? Is it the chance to start over and better ourselves, to break bad habits and create healthy new ones? Or are they all just lies we tell ourselves?

I’m going to go with; They’re all just lies we tell ourselves, Alex for $200! Why so cynical? Because science, that’s why. Researchers at Scranton University did a study that showed only eight percent of people were able to achieve their New Year’s resolutions, the other eighty percent failed, and the remaining twelve percent did what you should do-not make any resolutions in the first place.

Setting goals are entirely different than making resolutions; here’s how:

  1.  Goals are Specific. For example, you may want to set a goal of writing for one hour per day, whereas your resolution could be to become a better writer. The best way to word this is to combine the two; To become a better writer, I will write for one hour per day, five days a week.
  2. Goals involve Planning. For example, you resolve that this year you’re going to submit your work to a publisher for consideration. Sure, that sounds great, but have you planned for this? Where will you submit your work? Have you done research on which publisher is the best fit for your manuscript? Do you have an email address of the person you will be submitting to? Without a proper and REALISTIC plan, YOU WILL FAIL. That’s all there is to it. Remember the adage that still rings true; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
  3. Goals involve Action. For example, you can be as specific as you want to, you can plan what you’re going to do until the cows come home. But without taking action, you’ll never achieve anything. I know someone who has over 2,000 (not an exaggeration) email leads, from various shows she attended as a vendor, that are sitting in a box on her desk doing absolutely nothing and have been doing nothing for years. Sure, she had good intentions to use them one day, but that day never came, and now most of them are expired, moved, or dead ends. If you don’t take action on the goals you’ve set, what’s the point of setting them?

What are you doing each day to move closer toward your goals? My point is, I hope that you’re not the eighty percent of people who make resolutions and dump them by January 12th. I hope that you succeed in everything you do and know that anything is achievable if you are specific, create a plan, and take action.

Happy New Year, everyone. May the best be yet to come. X LLB