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Push It to the Limit

April 7, 2021-We’re a week into our theme this month about pushing the envelope in your writing. Let’s define what pushing the envelope means and how we can incorporate its definition into our work.  Pushing the envelope is defined by the dictionary as to approach or extend the limits of what is possible.

We’re going to do an exercise today that will help you extend the limits of what is possible using the photo writing prompt above. For the chance to have your work featured on our blog during April, send us your story of 1200 words or less to pandapublishing8@gmail.com

Remember, we aren’t looking for the obvious! This writing prompt should push you to explore a new style, genre, and voice than what you’re used to writing.  Best of luck, you can do it!

 

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Write for Real Life

April 5, 2021-Sometimes by playing it safe in our writing we limit our opportunities for growth not only as authors, but in finding out about the world around us and the people that live there. Today I’m going to talk about what publisher’s want to see when it comes to pushing the envelope in your writing.

  • New solutions to old problems. If we use YA books as an example, some of the subject matter written about involves divorce, substance abuse, the character finding themselves, peer pressure, eating disorders, and more. As a publisher, I want to see new solutions to these old issues and not always a happy ending. Divorce, for example, could include the main character going to live with her grandparents or best friend’s family, or even better, striking out on her own and figuring things out herself. Maybe she sides with the mother’s new spouse or the father’s new partner, perhaps she decides to move abroad and get some space from the whole situation. The possibilities are endless, and they should all be explored when brainstorming. Going with the least obvious choice is a sure way to get your query read.
  • Fresh perspectives. Publishers are sick of seeing the same old perspective, and I’m not just talking about the type of narrative (e.g., first person), when authors submit their work. We want to see fresh perspectives, we want new voices, and we want to hear voices that have been stifled up until now. We want more diversity in the way characters are presented, where they come from, and how they see and deal with the world around them.
  • Real characters. Not every character should be white, blonde, and blue-eyed. We need to show unique characters in our writing just as we observe in the real world; people come in different shapes, sizes, abilities, challenges, and personalities and we should strive to include them because these facts are authentic, real, and sometimes raw. Think back to the last time you saw a character in a wheelchair or with leg braces on in a children’s book; what about the last time you read about a character with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy? The point is, authors need to embrace the real people, their challenges, and the situations around them.

You’ll have to do a lot of research on topics you don’t know about when writing things if they are not something that you’ve experienced such as ableism, health challenges, relationship issues, etc. But please remember to bring in the experts and do not appropriate cultures. There are a lot of stories that are not ours to tell. Stay tuned for more advice in pushing the envelope in your writing all this month. If you’d like help with your manuscript or don’t know where to start, check out some of our courses and classes here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House, Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House, Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Goldilocks is Dead

April 2, 2021-This month we’ll be talking about pushing the envelope in your writing. What does that mean exactly? It means that without pushing boundaries, we’ll never find out how far we can go with our work.

By pushing the envelope in your writing, I’m not talking about putting in gratuitous explicit scenes, or excessive swear words, or shock and awe factors that do not move the story forward; I’m talking about putting your characters in new situations, changing up your writing style, writing in different genres, and exploring new themes. As we explore these ideas, one at a time, let’s start with putting your characters into new situations and what that can entail by using a well known story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. What do we know about the fairy tale? We know that a little girl ventures into the forest and stumbles upon a cottage to explore. She pushes open the door and finds 3 bowls of porridge on the table: one hot, one cold, and one just right. She eats the porridge and then ventures further into the cabin. She goes to a bedroom where there are 3 beds, one too hard, one too soft, and one just right and the story continues. So how can we change this up and push the envelope? We’ll put together a brief synopsis at the end of this exercise.

  • New location-The original story takes place in the woods. By switching up the location, you can create a whole new spin on a classic. Picture this, Goldie is a 25-year-old living on her own in a penthouse in New York City that overlooks Central Park.
  • New profession-Goldilocks was a little girl in the original book (but perhaps what’s more interesting is that the original story was written with an ugly, old woman as the main character who had been cast out of her community because she’s a thief, liar, and derelict), but using the track we’re on with her being a 25-year-old living in New York, we’ll make her a stockbroker. She works on wall street with three of her closest colleagues that she’s affectionately nicknamed The Three Bears.
  • New spin-Goldilocks and the Three Bears was a story written as a fairy tale for children. You could push the envelope in your writing by turning the classic into something completely different such as a horror, thriller, or mystery.

Synopsis:

Goldie Walker has everything she’s ever wanted; a great job making tons of money, a penthouse with a view of the park, and an active social life in the most exciting city in the world. One late September evening she returns home after drinks and finds the door to her apartment has been left slightly ajar. She enters the front room and sees a trail of blood leading to her bedroom. She reaches for the light when suddenly she’s grabbed from behind and silenced with a blow to the head. She awakes bloody and swollen hours later with no recollection of what happened. She stumbles to her room to find that the wall safe has been broken into and her late grandmother’s ten carat emerald necklace has been stolen. The only thing that remains is a note that reads, returned to their rightful owner, you have 24 hours to contact us before we kill your thieving brother. Goldie must enlist the help of her friends to unravel the mystery of who robbed her, why, and what her brother has to do with it all.

Push yourself. Explore new takes on old stories and in your writing because you never know where it could lead!

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Psychographics

March 16, 2021-Oh boy! Today’s question has me VERY excited because this area of marketing is one of my MOST favourite! Let’s dive right in:

Q: “I’ve recently heard the term psychographic segmentation used by a member of my author’s group. I didn’t want to sound daft, so I didn’t ask what it meant. The internet doesn’t go into great detail about how it works for book marketing. Can you explain?”

A: YES! I would LOVE to get into this subject and I could talk about it all day! Ok, without getting too heavy handed, I’ll explain this as simply as possible. There are four types of market segmentation: Demographics, Geographics, Behavioural, and Psychographics. In marketing and publishing, we segment the markets to gain valuable information about who is reading our books, where they’re from, why they buy, and what their reasons for buying are; that’s where Psychographics comes into play. Psychographics from a marketing definition is focusing on the consumer’s emotions and values so that we can market to them more effectively. For example, in publishing, we look at the area of psychographics to include personality, attitudes, values, interests, and lifestyle. But, what does this mean and why does it matter for your book?

Well, the more you know about your reader the better! As an author/self-publisher, you need to know your audience so that you can help them pick the best possible book choice that you offer to suit their needs. Let’s do a simple case study:
Your reader is a college educated, 35 year old, single father of two six year old twins. He believes in teaching his children about the importance of imagination, saving the planet, and having fun at the same time. The kids go to private school and enjoy activities that include swimming, dance, and rock climbing.

What types of books and products could we recommend to the father based on the information above? Books about twins, books about single parent homes, books about adventure, books about the environment, books about swimming/ competitive sports, books that help with reading and vocabulary, books about imagination and teamwork, and the list goes on. Perhaps we could recommend adventure writing courses for the twins, or other classes that are well within their age group and capabilities, we could offer the father a literacy workshop and how to ignite the love of reading in his children, and whatever else we offer that would be appropriate based on his values, interests, and lifestyle.

So, as you can see, segmenting markets is invaluable to your success in helping your reader find books and courses that they love. Keep the questions coming! Send us yours at pandapublishing8@gmail.com and check out some of our classes and workshops here: Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House, Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House, Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Money, Money, Money, Money, Money

March 10, 2021– All throughout March, we’re answering your most asked questions when it comes to publishing, writing, and everything in between! We hope you’re enjoying our posts so far, we have tons more to talk about. Let’s answer the question of the day:

Q: “Is it possible to make a living writing books? How much money can I expect to make as an author?”

A: The short answer is yes and the sky is the limit. But, we must remember that nothing comes without hard work, dedication, and perseverance. It is definitely possible to make a living writing books. The more books you sell, the more money you make of course, and it’s advisable to write multiple books to increase your sales as well. But, writing a book is the easy part in some respects, the hard work comes after. I’m not simplifying the process that goes into writing a book by any means, I’m just saying that selling and marketing your book(s) are when the real work begins!  Personally, I’m very thankful that I have a business background in marketing, advertising, consumer neuroscience, consumer neuromarketing, and crafting viral and contagious content. Without this experience, I don’t think that I would have the tools that I need to properly market our books to reach our readers. Having a business background is  an essential part of being and author and publisher/self-publisher. I would recommend either getting educated in the space of book marketing etc. or hiring a company such as ours, to help you. It can be a daunting task and if you don’t have a business education, then you need to enlist the experts. That also goes for the authors who are traditionally published. Gone are the days where the traditional publisher does everything on behalf of the author. The truth is, unless you are extremely well known (think Stephen King, James Patterson, and the like), your publisher is less likely to sink major dollars into a marketing campaign for your book. That means that you have to put the work in! As for how much money you can expect to make as an author, the answer as said before, the sky is the limit. A well marketed and excellent book/series can earn more than enough to cover your bills and monthly expenses. Some people are able to quit their day jobs and spend their full time writing for a living. Self-published authors especially, have no cap on their income because they earn and keep 100% of their profits.

I know that was a long way around to get the answer, but I hope I answered it to your satisfaction!

If you’d like more information about the services that we can provide, check us out here: Course: Get Your Book Noticed and Increase Your Sales – Pandamonium Publishing House or send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com for a personalized quote based on your specific needs.

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When Am I Ready?

March 4, 2021- Today’s question from an author is something that I get asked a lot. Follow us all this month as I dig into reader’s questions and answer them from the perspective of fellow author and publisher. You can send us your questions to pandapublishing8@gmail.com. Let’s dig in!

Q:“I’ve always wanted to write a mystery novel because I love to read them! But I don’t think that I’ve got what it takes yet. There’s still a ton I need to do before I could ever think of sitting down to write my own book. When will I know when I’m ready?”

A: Thanks for your question. When would be a good time to write your mystery novel? Now. Now. Now. Do it, get started, who cares if you don’t have all the details or your ducks in a row, get going! Let me ask you this, have you always been an expert in everything you’ve ever tried to do? What about the first time you learned to ride a bike? Did you pick it up instantly and flawlessly? Probably not. But you tried, and practiced, and fell off, and got back on, until eventually, you were successful! You didn’t know the mechanics of bike riding or what muscles needed to be activated for balance and forward motion, but you did it anyway, so what in the world is stopping you now? I’ll tell you what it is. Fear. Because as soon as you write anything for publication, you’re immediately vulnerable. You’ll have some people that won’t like your work, but who cares? The point is that you’re about to do something that you’ve always wanted to do and that’s pretty special! It doesn’t matter if you’ve got all the details yet, beginning anything even when we aren’t ready, gives us momentum to move forward. Think of it this way, have you ever driven at night? The headlights on your truck only allow you to see a couple hundred feet in front of you, but as soon as you start moving, the light reveals another few hundred feet, and another few hundred feet until you finally arrive at your destination. You don’t have to see the whole road, just turn on the truck and start driving! The same goes for writing, starting is always the hardest part, but as soon as we commit to it, we’ll never turn back; it’s an addiction, a calling, an obsession. The fact is, no one is ever ready. But wouldn’t you rather see what happens than never try at all and spend the rest of your life wondering what could have been? If you need help, bring in the experts, but you don’t need to do that to begin; all you need is to put your fingers on the keyboard or pen to paper. Start writing now.

If you need help with your writing, check out some of our classes here: Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House,  Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

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The Positive Aspect of No

February 18, 2021-As authors, we hear the word “no” a lot more often than we’d like to. But what if I told you that there’s a positive aspect to “no”.  Let’s back up for a minute, rejection can be painful, but it’s part of life. You’re not the only one who’s ever been rejected by a publisher, magazine, blog site, or writing contest; rejection is common and I’m here to tell you to embrace it!

We fear rejections as humans because it’s part of our make up, our biology, and is reinforced by our instincts to keep us alive. That good ole reptilian brain is alive and well! Rejection lights up the same part of the brain that allows us to feel physical pain, can you believe it? Rejection=physical trauma according to brain scans done on subjects by the U of Michigan Medical School. There is an evolutionary foundation to the trauma associated with rejection. Being left out by our tribe during the caveman days would leave us to face dangerous animals, or challenging environments on our own and that could lead to injury or death! No wonder we hate rejection, it’s a built in survival tool.

I receive approximately 175 manuscript submissions per month and I reject most of them for various reasons. Perhaps it’s not a good fit for our House, or we have enough subject matter of a particular topic in our roster, or we’ve filled our schedule for the next two years with new releases. No matter the reason, it’s NEVER personal. Rejection is never a judgement on who you are. We need to rethink what rejection means; it’s merely a subjective opinion. The entire world isn’t evaluating your skills/abilities, it’s just me and maybe I’ve got it wrong.

Facing rejection is just a matter of trying again, it’s a statistical/numbers game. One of the first things that I learned while studying marketing, was that if you want one person to say yes, you have to get 99 people to say no. If we flip that around, all we need to do is ask 100 people for what we want before one of them says yes. 99 people may say no, but all it takes is one yes!

The most successful authors I’ve had the pleasure of working with, have always done one thing differently than others who have been rejected before them. They ask how. Not how could you possibly reject my wonderful writing, but instead, how can I improve my writing? How can I improve my chances of getting a publishing deal? How can I get better? That’s what separates the haves from the have nots.

So, the next time you’re feeling upset about being rejected (it’s going to happen more than once, trust me) remember these things:

  1. Have you asked enough people? Remember the 1/100 rule. 99 no’s will equal 1 yes.
  2. Is the rejecting person’s opinion subjective? Probably, because especially in the art field, art is always subjective.
  3. Are you taking rejection too personally? Rejection is not a reflection. Nothing in this business is personal.
  4. Have you asked how you can improve? What can you do to improve your writing? What can you do to hone your skills? Are you open to resubmission after I fix what you’ve mentioned? etc.
  5. Have you set the stage for yes? This means, have you checked the submission guidelines? Have you addressed the correct person for your query? Have you polished your final draft? Have you built your author platform? Have you followed the industry standards for your submission? etc.

So, I’m telling you to embrace the word no. Because every no gets you closer to yes. To check out my number 1, best selling book Advice from a publisher, click here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca

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Photo Writing Prompt Featured Author

February 12, 2021– Last week we did a photo writing prompt and received over thirty submissions from authors locally and abroad. There was one that stood out from the crowd. I was blown away by this when I read it, and in parts, it took my breath away! This is titled Breaking Free of the Past by our very own Tonya Cartmell. To check out her book (illustrated by Emily James), The Twelve Days of Rescue, click here: The Twelve Days of Rescue: Cartmell, Tonya, James, Emily: 9781989506219: Books – Amazon.ca

Breaking Free of the Past by Tonya Cartmell

“Stop whining.  Sit Down. Shut up and type.”  The words ran like ice water down her spine, chilling her to her core. Reluctantly, she slid down hoping to melt into the chair.  Running her long fingers over the dusty, old, worn, round typewriter keys, she let her mind drift back to happier times.  There were long periods where she loved to sit in this small attic room she had converted to an office.  Her grandmother had helped her set it up with an old antique desk, chair, lamp and of course this typewriter that she knew today, would bring her death. She glanced into the cold, hard, steel blue eyes and whispered, “Why do I listen to you?”

“What was that?  Why are you fighting so hard against the inevitable?  You always knew how your story would end.  You used to plan for it; sitting alone in the dark feeling sorry for yourself when life got hard.  It is time.  Your novel is done and what better way to instant fame then to leave your fans wanting more when you won’t be here to give it to them.  This letter will become the prelude to your life’s work.  People will remember you.  You should be happy and thanking me, not questioning me now when you are at the finish line.  We had a deal.  Finish it.”

She slowly slid open the desk drawer.  It moved quietly and smoothly from centuries of use.  Reaching in she pulled out a single sheet of paper and slowly fed it into the typewriter roller; turning until the paper reached typing height.  She turned on the single bulb lamp near the right edge of the desk, not for the light it offered but for the comfort the warm glow provided. A single tear slid down her cheek as she looked at her fingers resting on the keys.  Nails that were once long and covered with bubble gum pink polish, now sat bitten and bleeding from the stress of the last few months. She shook her head gently from side to side, her long dark hair brushing across her back as she tried to clear her head.  She had tried her best to fight but now realized nothing she did would lead to her coming out the winner in this situation.  Resigned to the fact there was nothing else she could do; she began to type.

Breaking Free of the Past, has been a labour of love and exploration of the depths of my sadness.  Like many of you who read this book, my life has never been easy.  It has been filled with struggles, adversary and pain intermixed with some joy, laughter, and moments filled with love. The decisions I have made may not have won the popular vote and I’m sure many people would not always understand them, but they were my decisions and I stand by them.  My moto has always been that is ok to make mistakes if you learn from them and move on.

There is one decision that almost broke me.  One that took all my strength and energy to crawl my way back from.  Perhaps, I never fully made it out of the black void it left behind in my life.  The decision I made to stay behind on that snowy day while they went out.  Safe and warm at home waving goodbye from the window as they climbed into the car.  My husband was annoyed I wouldn’t join them.  Did his anger lead to the death of my family on that slippery road?  Was he distracted?  This is the one event that I truly need to break free from. Yet as I sit at my old desk, in the office of my youth, writing this preface on the typewriting I used before I was married; I realize that I will never be free of the past. I have prayed for forgiveness.  I have begged for it.  I thought I had found peace, but the nightmares have returned and are dragging me down again.  There is a constant reminder that I failed; that the empty hole my family used to fill is my fault.  That the silence will never again be filled with laughter.  That love will never warm my heart again. My despair runs deep, and I have never felt so alone.  I hope reader, that you never experience this pain, loss, sadness and numbness.  Please seek help before you reach this point.  I hope you find the light in the dark that I lost.  Learn from me.

She finished typing and hung her head as her tears flowed.  When they had subsided, she wiped her face with her sleeve then reached into her bag and pulled her manuscript.  The envelope was already addressed to her publisher.  She used the return bar to remove the paper from the typewriter.  Each ding pierced the quiet in the darkening room. She added it to the top of the pile of pages and then sealed the envelope.  She set it off to the side of the desk under the lamp.

“Finally, you are done.  One last hurdle to get over and then everything will be completed.  You won’t feel sadness anymore.”

“I don’t want to”, she said quietly refusing to look up.

“It is your obligation.  You should have been in the car with them.  Maybe if you had gone, he wouldn’t have been driving so quickly.  Maybe you could have asked him to slow down or told him to watch out for that curve. If you were there, your daughter might be downstairs laughing instead of sitting on the mantel in a metal urn.  You know what you need to do.”

She looked over at the firearm on the desk.  Almost surprised to see it sitting there.  She didn’t remember bringing it here or putting it on the desk.  The black matte finish of the Glock 9mm handgun made it almost disappear in the fading light.  Only one round sat on the desk beside the empty magazine.  Her husband had taught her how to safely handle and fire the gun.  She loaded the single round into the magazine before slamming it into the receiver.  Then drew back the slide to chamber the round.  With her shaking hand, she placed it back on the desk.

“What are you doing?  This is the last step.  You must do this.  Pick it up.  Join them.”

She took a deep breath and raised her head.  Starring deep into those eyes that haunted her for years.  She was so tired of fighting.  Tired of pushing every day to just get out of bed.  To try and find something to live for.  She looked down at the locket on her chest.  Inside was a picture of her husband and daughter.  She finally realized it was time to let go.  They would not want her to live this tortured life.

She picked up the gun and fired without hesitation.  The sound was deafening, and the smell of gunpowder filled the air.  The mirror above the typewriter shattered.  The voice in her head was finally silenced.  She placed the gun back on the desk.  Tomorrow would be another day.

Thank you, Tonya for this moving and heart wrenching story! You are a very talented writer and we are so proud to know you. X LLB

 

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Contest Alert!

January 6, 2021-Contest Alert! YOU COULD WIN! To celebrate our Best Seller Bootcamp, we’re giving away (GIVING AWAY FREE  ) a brand new iPad mini! 64 GB, silver, newest generation model, weighs less than a pound, has a 7.9-inch Retina display, and a battery life of 10 hours! Plus, it will come with Obsessed with Her and Becoming James Cass already loaded! All you have to do is send an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com with Best Seller in the subject line AND follow our blog!  Contest closes January 15. Good luck! Follow us on Facebook here: (2) Pandamonium Publishing House | Facebook and on Instagram here: Lacey L Bakker 📚 (@laceybakker) • Instagram photos and videos

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Photo Writing Prompt

December 1, 2020-WOW! Can you believe that it’s already December? Time flies. We’ve got a ton going on this month, but I wanted to start December with a beautiful photo writing prompt to keep our creative juices flowing well into the new year. Send us your 500-800 word story based on the photo below for a chance to be featured on our blog on December 15th! All you have to do is email us pandapublishing8@gmail.com to submit your work. Best of luck!