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Rhyming Prose No’s

May 7, 2021– Today we’ll be talking about rhyming prose as we continue with our theme this month of Writing for Kids. A lot of manuscripts that are submitted to us are for children’s books and more often than not, the submissions sent in are rhyming stories. There are a few problems with writing rhymes, let’s take a look:

  1. The flow/cadence is off. The cadence and flow refer to the rhythm and tempo of the verse. Oftentimes writers submit their work without paying mind to this essential part of rhyming stories. If you read this verse aloud,  Panda the Cat was a very bad boy, he loved to find mischief more than a toy, you’ll see that the flow and tempo are smooth and equal. Here’s an example of poor rhyming and cadence, The bat sat with the cat who lost his hat in a wooden slat. See the difference?
  2. The story doesn’t make sense. Writer’s rhyme things because they think it’s easy to do. Perhaps they have the flow and cadence done correctly, but the story doesn’t make sense! Rhyming without the story making sense is not a good thing. I’d much rather read an intriguing story that doesn’t rhyme than a poorly written book that does.
  3. Words are invented to rhyme. Another mistake that authors make is when they make words up to fit the rhyming verses. We’re not talking about Dr. Seuss here, we’re talking about examples like this one: I love chocolate milk, dogs, and toys, I listen to the stories and the noise from boys. I like to play games and sing and run, huffleump and scrumple are my favourite ones. This makes zero sense. We cannot simply make up words in order to finish our story or because we’ve painted ourselves into a corner and have no way to get out.

The point is to focus on the story and the characters. Rhyming prose has to be done to perfection or else it can be a huge mess that publishers will reject. Write well instead of trying to rhyme.

To learn about everything you need to know for writing for children, check out our masterclass here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

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You Want to be a Children’s Author?

May 6, 2021– So, you want to be a children’s book author! What are your goals?  I often see that children’s authors don’t have any benchmarks for their book figured out or written down, and even worse, when I ask them who their book is for, they say, ‘everyone’. Well, you’ve heard me say this a million times before; if your book is for everyone, it’s for no one. You must be specific in who you’re targeting with your book, or you’re going to waste a ton of money and time on ineffective marketing. We’ll talk about niches and narrowing down targets in another monthly theme later in the year, but right now, let’s talk about how to set goals for your children’s book.

  • Define what success means to you-Success is different for everyone. By defining what success means to you, you’ll be able to know when you get there. What do you want to achieve with your book?
  • Get SMART-We all learned this in business school. SMART is a mnemonic acronym that stands for Specific (narrow down your goal for your book to be as specific as possible. If you said, ‘I want more money’ and I gave you a dollar, you would have more money…see what I mean?), Measurable (how will you measure your results of what you’ve specified in step 1?), Actionable (what steps can you take to reach your goal?), Realistic (Is your goal realistic for you? If you want to sell a million copies in 10 days does that seem realistic? If yes, get to work!), and Time-based (when will you complete your goal by?) The problem with not putting a timeline on reaching your goal is that you’ll take forever to reach it, or it will fall by the wayside, and you’ll never get it done. This is simply human nature. Also, the more time we give ourselves to achieve a goal, that’s the amount of time it will take, e.g., 5 years, 1 year etc. Parkinson’s theory explains in detail if you want to Google it.
  • Dream Big– If you knew that you would reach your goal, would you set a piddly little one? No, of course not. What would you do with your book if you knew you could not fail? Make that your goal!
  • It’s got to mean more than money-Listen, I know that money makes the world go round, but oftentimes, people don’t end up reaching their goals because they make it all about the money. I know that bills need to be paid and that you want to cover your investment and make a profit, but your purpose and your book’s purpose must be tied to something higher than that or else when the rough days come, you’ll be more likely to give up. What is your main purpose for your book? To be enjoyed by young readers in every country? To be used as a teaching tool for reluctant readers? To be used to combat illiteracy? Your purpose will remind you to keep going during the hard days.

Write it down, make a plan, and work on it every day. That’s how you reach your goals!

We hope you’ll join us for our Children’s Book Writing Masterclass; check it out here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

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5 Steps to Outlining Your Children’s Book

May 5, 2021-Writing for Kids is our theme this month, and today we’ll touch on the importance of outlining your children’s picture book. Outlines are essentially blueprints for your story, and some people make the error of thinking that because of the length of picture books that they’re simple to write and that no outline is needed, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every story needs an outline, and writing for kids aged 3-7 is actually more difficult than writing a full-sized novel because you only have about 850 words to explain your story, develop your characters, and wrap it up with a bow. Here are 5 steps to outlining:

  • Introduction– Start where the action is! This goes for every book that we write, not just kid’s books. We need to grip the reader from the very first pages because children have short attention spans, and we need to keep their attention for them to finish our story. We introduce the protagonist right away.
  • Rising Action-This is where we build up to the climax by introducing a problem or challenge. This is something that the protagonist overcomes, and here we introduce the antagonist that stands in the way of the main character getting what they want.
  • Climax-Here’s where the rubber meets the road. The challenge is clear, and it’s at a boiling point (think Hansel and Gretel when the witch tries to trick them into climbing into the oven, but Gretel pushes the witch in instead!).
  • Falling Action-The protagonist defeats the antagonist, and the adrenalin in the story returns to normal. The character gets to take a deep breath and return to normal life.
  • Ending-The challenge/conflict is resolved, questions are answered, and there’s a happy ending; the lost pet is found, the monster under the bed is now a friend, and the very bad cat is caught and bathed.

When writing for kids, be sure that you create an in-depth outline. Outlining also stops you from painting yourself into a corner that you can’t get out and lets you know if an idea doesn’t work. It allows you to see the story as a whole and shines a light on what you could be missing.

To find out more information on writing for kids, check out our Children’s Book Writing Masterclass: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

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We’re In the News, Dale Shipley

May 4, 2021– I absolutely had to share this article by our very own Dale Shipley. Her book Empowering Parents is out now and available here: Empowering Parents Meeting Children’s Learning Needs in the Kindergarten and Primary Years – Pandamonium Publishing House Click on the link to read her article in today’s edition of the Hamilton Spectator: The challenge of remote learning for younger students | TheSpec.com

Way to go, Dale! We absolutely need educational reform in Canada.

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Comic Books and Kid’s Education

May 4, 2021– We thought that we should chat about comic books in honour of May the 4th (be with you)! Many people often think that comic books don’t count when writing for kids, but they do! Anything that kids are going to read let them read. Kids are growing up in a visual culture, so as a children’s author, do not discount the power of comic book writing. Also, remember that your comic book could be used as a teaching tool in schools and the marketing opportunities are endless. Today’s TedTalk is: Comic books and graphic novels belong in every teacher’s toolkit, says cartoonist and educator Gene Luen Yang. Set against the backdrop of his own witty, colourful drawings, Yang explores the history of comics in American education — and reveals some unexpected insights about their potential for helping kids learn. Check out our own take on a comic book for kids, Cake for Snakes, available here: Cakes for Snakes!: Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506325: Books – Amazon.ca

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Pare it Down and Blow it Up

May 3, 2021– Today, we kick off a month-long series about writing kid’s books! We’re going to teach you what you need to know when writing for kids and this whole series complements what you’ll learn in our Children’s Book Writing Masterclass available here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

Here are three not so typical ways to find inspiration for writing kids books:

  • Take an idea and pare it down to the bones. What is your child struggling with? What are they afraid of? What questions do they ask? Chances are that if your child is asking these questions and has these challenges, that other children are too. Take a complex idea like bedwetting and break it down into a single, simplified idea.
  • Blow it up. Make things larger than life. I’m talking about whales in swimming pools, pizzas that are so large they could feed an entire town, and seven-foot ants that are terrorizing a city. The bigger, the better.
  • Don’t be afraid to go there. Talk about death, talk about bullying, talk about step-siblings and any other issues that can be sticky but matter. Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and while we don’t want them to grow up too fast, we need to touch on subjects of importance to them. Keep it age-appropriate and speak to them in a way they will understand, but don’t dumb it down.

Using the above information, let’s do an example; feel free to write your own after brainstorming a few ideas!

Bare Bones Idea: Bedwetting

Blow it Up: A monster that struggles with bedwetting but has a solution (a checklist before bed), e.g. No drinks after a certain time, favourite stuffed animal, nightlight, a flashlight to check in the closet and under the bed, signing a nice song, and reading a fun book etc.

Go There: Nightmares. The monster has nightmares, and that’s why he wets the bed.

Synopsis: Cliff is a big, green, furry monster who needs help at bedtime. Some nights Cliff has bad dreams about giant slices of pizza chasing him, and sometimes Cliff has accidents. But with the help of his monster mom, he has a special trick for chasing the bad dreams away and making bedtime fun!

Of course, this was off the cuff and something that I thought of quickly. It would need to be refined, but you get the idea. So, start writing! What are you waiting for?

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Editing: The Greatest Challenge to my Writing by guest blogger, Paul Moscarella

April 30, 2021-Today we wrap up our theme of Pushing the Envelope in our writing! Thank you to everyone who read our posts and special thanks to my authors for sharing their methods and ideas in how they push the envelope in their own books. Paul Moscarella, author of Machinia, is our guest blogger today.


​The writing process for me has always been a peculiar outlet that demands my obedience yet gives no instruction for compliance. This manifestation of my active imagination into words began when I was in grade 4. I had selected a book on the shelf of our art class, The War of the Worlds, because the cover art intrigued me. It was a difficult read, but the tale of the Martian invasion had me riveted. After reading that book, I knew that I wanted to share the things that I imagined into something others could experience. But right away I saw that there was a limit to what I could express, mostly because at age 9 emulating the classic writing style of H.G. Wells was beyond my ability! It was a challenge, but I gave every story I submitted in my English class that extra effort that went well beyond what was required. The endeavour paid off as my submissions were always given praise (and high marks). Those were the exciting days, when what was put to paper rarely saw revision greater than a few erased words. The written word was magic, and my pen was the sorcerer’s wand.

​Since that time, the greatest challenge to my writing has been the revision process. Imagination for me has always come easy. Shaping the rough draft into a cohesive well-written form takes continuous effort. Too little self-editing and the rough edges mar the prose. Too much, and the creative inspiration becomes a bland stream of clarified beige. And then, more challenging still, the editor’s feedback! I can get a sentence or paragraph rewritten to the point where I feel it is perfect only to get comments that ask for clarification or a slash through the writing with a simple “No!” So, following the advice I was given numerous times, I’ve learned not to fall in love with sentences, or paragraphs, perhaps even whole pages.

​When the first draft of Machinia was completed in 1992, I never dreamed that a novel of over two hundred thousand words would ultimately be subjected to a thirty-year editing cycle. It eventually emerged as a ninety-thousand-word triumph. It taught me that no piece of writing worth reading ever reaches the published page without the struggle and meticulous challenge of revision. In many ways writing is revision, and each reread gives clarity to what we truly wanted to say in the first place. And whether it takes hours, days, or decades, I’ve learned to treat the revision process as if seeing the prose for the first time.*

*author’s note: this submission was subject to several revisions and my wife’s editing notes.

Get your copy of Machinia here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop/Machinia