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Multi-Tasking Myth

June 3, 2020-What are you doing while reading this post? Maybe checking social media, drinking coffee, talking on the phone? According to Wikipedia, Human multitasking is an apparent human ability to perform more than one task, or activity, at the same time. An example of multitasking is taking a phone call while driving a car. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention. If one becomes proficient at two tasks, it is possible to rapidly shift attention between the tasks and perform the tasks well/proficiently.

Let’s do a test to see if we can prove that multitasking is a time-waster. You’ll need a pen and a piece of paper.

Instructions: We are going to write out the word multitasking, one letter at a time. BUT, each time we write a letter, we will write a number underneath. For example, write the M first and then the number 1 underneath. Switch back and forth.

M  U  L  T  I T A S K I N G

1  2   3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

How long did that take? A lot longer than it should have. Now, if we simply write the word multitasking and, when completed, write the corresponding numbers underneath, we’ll be more efficient, and two things will be completed much more quickly when we focus on one thing at a time.

If you’re working on your novel, answering emails, talking on the phone and listening to a podcast, I urge you to stop! Do one thing at a time until it’s finished, or you’ll spend more time on tasks than you need to, and you’ll never get anything done. Another thing to remember is that time doesn’t always equal quality. You can spend a year on a novel, and it can be complete garbage whereas you could spend three months on a novel and it could be a best-seller, the point is, your reader doesn’t care about how long it took for you to write the book, only that it’s well written and well developed. Well written and well-developed books come from preparing beforehand. What’s that old saying? If you had 6 hours to cut down a tree, you should spend 4 of those hours sharpening your axe.

Stick to one thing at a time, prepare well, and you’ll be shocked at what you can accomplish. X LLB

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The OHIO Method

June 1, 2020– Have you heard of the OHIO method? Did you know that this way of doing things can increase your productivity by 80 percent?

The OHIO method stands for Only Handle It Once. A lot of the time, we go around in circles trying to multi-task and completing things on our to-do list that aren’t really that important. Here’s how you can improve your writing life and publishing business by sticking to this simple principle:

  1. Chunk into groups. If it takes 2 minutes or less to complete, do it right away. For example, emails, social media status updates, scheduling meetings, paying a bill, or rebooking a client, taking 2 minutes to deal with these things will ensure that you only handle it once.
  2.  Prioritize big tasks. If you’re writing a novel, you know how difficult it can be to start writing and to continue to write long after the spark and ideas have gone. But, it’s essential to keep going and finish what we start as authors. What is the most significant task that you have today to write your novel? Is it outlining? Perhaps it’s character development or plot lines, whatever it is, choose the most important and get to work. Remember, this is not about editing, it’s about getting words onto the paper at this point. By doing this, you only handle it once, and you can go back later and refine your work.
  3. Set limits. The OHIO method is a great time saver because it frees up our options. I do this with my illustrators- every Friday like clockwork, they give me a progress report. This lets me know what they’re doing and how things are moving along and how close we are to completion on projects. By setting limits on when you’ll respond to emails or when you have staff meetings, this allows you to utilize your time more effectively and only handle it once.

The OHIO method works great once implemented, and you’ll realize that you have more time for the things you need to do and want to do.

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Excerpt from chapter 2-My Name is Jessica Westlake

May 29, 2020– I’m almost done my next thriller novel titled, My Name is Jessica Westlake. Today I thought I’d share an excerpt from chapter two. I hope that you enjoy it! Look for it online and in stores on July 1st, 2020.

Sunlight drips through the window and onto the floor. I open my eyes and disappointment sets in; I had hoped I wouldn’t wake up, and I wish that I hadn’t made it through the night. I feel cheated because I want nothing more than to join Benjamin, to hold him, and tell him that I love him. I want to apologize to him because I failed as a mother. My one job was to protect him, and I didn’t. I would give my life a hundred times over for him to have a chance at survival; every thought is of him, and every second of consciousness torments me and shreds my soul into strips of grief. There is no way that I can go on; there is no point anymore because the mother that I prepared myself to be is gone, and an empty shell takes her place. Cloudy thoughts and tears fill every moment; it is as if there is an unquenchable reserve of fresh torture that replays over and over each time I wake up. I can’t help but think that teenage girls who are barely out of high school can have children; women who live in Third World and war-torn countries are able to deliver a child who is not born asleep. I wasn’t even able to manage that. Each breath feels like wasted effort; I’ll never hear him laugh, never see him smile, and I’ll never be able to rest his body on mine or feel his heartbeat. What is the worst part? All of it. Every single horrific moment.

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Personally…

May 27, 2020– I get asked by my co-op students and high school volunteers for advice on how to write different types of papers; one topic, writing personal essays as instructed by their professors, can leave them scratching their heads.  What exactly is a personal essay? Simply put, it’s about something that matters to you and can include a person, event, or life lesson. The whole purpose of it is to share something about yourself. It’s important to think about the reader when writing your paper because you want them to think about what you’ve written, and make them feel something. That’s the whole point of writing, to make the reader feel something, to get them to ask questions, to get them to put themselves into someone else’s shoes.

As with all writing, you should use an outline, and your work should have a beginning, middle, and end. Ensure that you revise and tighten just like you would with any other piece of writing. If you’re stuck for ideas on what to write about for your personal essay, browse the list below for possible topics:

  1.  A “first” in your life
  2. How you overcame adversity
  3. Something that scares you the most
  4. Something you’d never do again
  5. A loss
  6. Something that fundamentally changed you
  7. A person who has influenced you or a personal hero
  8. A childhood memory

Remember to focus on a single topic and don’t get confused with a memoir or autobiography, which is entirely different. Show, don’t tell and be honest; don’t sugarcoat your story.

I challenge you to write your personal essay this week. Happy writing! X LLB

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Teach Me to Read

May 25, 2020-Literacy matters. The sooner we teach our children to read, the better! People who have low literacy skills have problems finding and keeping employment, they’re afraid to get medical help because they’re unable to prescription orders or read discharge papers. And what’s worse? Their illiteracy has a long-term effect on children because their kids will never hear a bedtime story or get homework help because the parent can’t read. Illiteracy has the potential to become intergenerational and here’s what we can do to help our kids learn to read:

  1. Pre-reading. Awareness of print, tracing the letters with fingers and saying the letters of book text aloud. Rhyming is important as well as sounds such as CH, CK, AH, BL, ST etc.
  2. Learning letters. Repetition matters! Don’t be afraid of the alphabet being spoken out of order, that can come later. Lots of visual exercises should be incorporated such as flashcards and labelling things around the house such as Door, Sink, Toothbrush etc.
  3. Sound it out. Visual cues are important in this step as you should point to the word and blend the sounds. For example, if there is a picture of a cat, sound it out and blend the letters together. Start with C-A-T, CA, T, CAT.
  4. Sight words. These are short words that should be used frequently! Flashcards and games help with memorization and visualization.
  5. Word families. Start with 3 letter words with short vowels. E.g. if they can read Hat, they can read Cat, Sat, Bat, Fat, and Pat.

Ignite the love of literacy in your children by reading to them as much as possible!

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SPICE Up Their Life

May 20, 2020-An excellent way to develop characters is to use the SPICE method that I’ll explain below. Even though not all of these elements will make it into your character’s story, you need to know everything about them as a writer.

  • S-Social status. What is your character’s social status? What is their importance in relation to other people in society? Where do they fit in?
  • P-Political/Religious beliefs. What does your character believe in? Where do they stand from a political viewpoint? What matters to them, and why?
  • I-Interaction with their environment. How does your character interact with the world around them? How do they function in their space? What does their home look like? Are they organized or disorganized?
  • C-Cultural aspects. What kind of clothes do they wear? What do they like to eat? What is their ethnic background? What type of music do they listen to? What is their highest level of education?
  • E-Economic status. What is their career? Do they have a job? How much money do they make? What do they spend their money on? What does their lifestyle look like? Are they materialistic? Are they philanthropic? Are they a spendthrift? Are they a saver?

Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a good handle on who your character is. Again, don’t include every single thing about them in your story, just the important parts; let the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks you leave. Happy writing! X LLB

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DJ the Terrible!

May 18, 2020– If you haven’t read DJ the Terrible by Samantha Nemeth, illustrated by Nikki Ernst, you don’t know what you’re missing! Meet the Terrible girl with the Terrible name and her Terrible Cat! DJ decides to go undercover with her sidekick Godfrey the Super Cat to assimilate with her new neighbours, AKA “The Borings,” gain their trust, then turn the town on its head! The only thing is…blending in simply isn’t DJ’s strong suit. With her inventive, mischievous mind, wild hair, and clumsy demeanour, Terrible trouble follows this Terrible girl wherever she goes! The perfect book for the middle-grade reader in your life!

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1:

Djeaneautha closed her diary with a thump and let her chair scrape the floor as she pushed herself away from her desk. She bounded over to the mirror and judged her reflection. “If we’re going to gather Intel on the locals, we’ll have to integrate and blend in with them, Godfrey!” She said as she examined herself.  

Now, blending in is not something that came naturally to Djeaneautha, and there are a couple things you should know about her. Number one:  Everyone that she met said, “Djeaneautha? What a Terrible name and a Terrible girl.”  “I’m not Terrible, I’m just unique,” Djeaneautha would say, but no one ever heard.  Djeaneautha didn’t think her name was Terrible at all. It was created from herGrandmother’s names, Jeanneau and Dorothea. She was proud of her name and ignored all the teasing from the other children. They would scream and taunt her, “D-d-jeaneautha, D-d-jeaneautha, she’s Terrible it’s the Truth-ah!”  “It’s JEN-OOTH-AH! The D is silent!” Djeaneautha would correct them. But no one ever heard.  Number two: In most ways, Djeaneautha was like all the other girls her age. She liked going on adventures, art class, ballet and of course playing with dolls. But in some ways she was quite different; her feet were too big, her legs too short, her arms too long, her two eyebrows had grown into one…and her hair?  While the other girls had soft, smooth hair that their mothers could braid or pull into flowing ponytails, Djeaneautha had frizzy lion hair with a mind of its own. If Djeaneautha wanted it straight, it went curly, if she wanted it curly, it went flat. With every attempt at a ponytail, more and more hair would slip out of the tie and tickle her face. Every morning her mother would say, “What shall we do with the Terrible hair?” But no matter what they tried, every day, her Terrible hair sat smugly like a dust bunny on her head.
 
Djeaneautha, with her dust bunny hair and awkward limbs, spent most of her time with Godfrey, her best friend. The cat was rather round, his belly almost scraped the floor, and his grey fluffy fur grew in a tuft that decorated his head like a majestic crown. He had a sassy smirk, the mind of a genius, and was always ready for adventure. Djeaneautha’s favourite thing about him was that he refused to meow like all the other cats and would simply chirp like a bird. Godfrey also shared the love of Djeaneautha’s favourite snack: cheese.  Many days Djeaneautha would open up her bag at lunch to find that Godfrey had snuck into her backpack and hitched a ride to school. Much to her dismay, she’d also find that he had eaten all of her cheese!

and check out my interview with Samantha on our Pandamonium Publishing House channel on Podbean (available for download on Google Play and iTunes) https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-xixvs-ba6201
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Guest Blogger, Annie Kittiphanh

May 15, 2020– It’s my pleasure to introduce our guest blogger, Annie Kittiphanh. She is the author of Dealer, a new thriller coming out on July 1st from Pandamonium Publishing House! Let’s hear a bit about Annie in her own words:

My name is Anne-Marie Kittiphanh, I’m 34 years old; I went through a lot of familial adversity & nearly lost my life from a hereditary disease, I had a huge comprehension issue growing up – I had a difficult time expressing myself verbally & literally, I wasn’t even able to write a correct “E” in my name it was the lower case, upside down & backwards(if being illiterate was an understatement & being only 3 years old).

As a toddler I was pulled out of normal lessons of classes to learn how to understand certain words in the English language when I was first taken for special lessons; in my mind, I thought I was in trouble for something I did, later on, I began to understand what I was doing & just went with it – I went from hating school to overly immensely enjoying my literary lessons.

As a preteen I wanted to do something in the medical field, helping people who were not well; giving back kind of thing, like being one of the front line people – someone who gets called to help in unpredictable situations, whether I get praised or not I know that I was doing something for someone.

As a teenager I had high hopes of becoming something or someone in the world, it wasn’t until I got faced with 2 different challenges of a lifetime one involving an older brother who was in a car accident & Lupus S.L.E. that nearly took my life straight from under me; I wasn’t exactly able to write anything down throughout my life, because of fear of what my family would think of me – as my brother’s ordeal got better, my condition slowly became worse.

By the time I was 16 my older brother was better & I ended up fighting for my life, the one thing that helped me get through my darkest year; is the music of my favourite boyband(The Backstreet Boys “BSB”), when I was finally able to get better at 17 I was able to meet the youngest member of the band which helped give me a full recovery; by this point, I was only able to do some writing, mostly diary entries one every day to help with my thoughts – which helped a little bit while dealing with bullying & peer pressure.

The year I turned 20, I did research on what I had Lupus S.L.E & my favourite boyband(BSB); I found out that there was something in common, an older sibling of one of the members had passed from Lupus Cancer – I was able to meet that band member through their foundation(DLF) when I met that band member he gave the biggest sound advice of my life.

When I explained to the band member what I had, he said “You’re strong, you can help others with your story”; after that everything else became history, I began to research fan fiction. I have done lots of visuals, several novels(some lost or deleted); from aspiring Nurse to Author.

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming this remarkable writing to our House! We can’t wait for you to meet her.

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Be Our Guest (Blogger)

May 13, 2020– Today I have the pleasure of introducing our guest blogger, Scott Morissey, who I had the wonderful experience of working with on his book, 114 World Series in 1 Book (Fun, Interesting, and Amazing Facts about the World Series). Scott knows more about baseball than anyone I’ve ever met! So without further delay, let’s read what he has to say.

Sometime in the summer holiday of 1990, my father bought me my very first sportsbook, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Tennis. For all of $6.99. Back then, my family would take long trips to New Brunswick to visit my grandparents. My father believes I had the whole tennis book memorized by the time we returned to our home in Dundas about two weeks later. My path towards a sports encyclopedic-life had officially begun.

While at my grandparent’s place, I’d stumbled upon old copies of old baseball books written in the 1950s. I made sure to return East with them. In the coming yeas, other books, such as Roger Kahn’s classic, “The Boys of Summer,” and a book about “Shoeless Joe Jackson”, were brought back home. My baseball library was including books from decades past. My love of sports history was expanded to baseball (My older brother and father were Jays’ fans back then, getting some autographs of Toronto players in Spring Training of 1988), and then soon hockey by around the time I was twelve.

The Toronto Blue Jays finally won in 1992, and I made it a point to see the World Series that year. I saw White’s catch in game three. It nearly started a triple play. There’s only been one in the Fall Classic, back in 1920. And it was unassisted!

As I grew up, my father would tell me stories of following the New York Yankees in the Mickey Mantle-era. There was heartbreak, though, despite reaching the World Series eight times in the 1950s and five straight times in the 1960s. The Yankees lost a memorable seven-game classic to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.

In 1993, having sat next to a passenger with a magazine that previewed the upcoming baseball season, I must have made an impression with him. When exiting the plane after landing was delayed, the passenger (Who of course, I was destined never to see again) gave me the magazine. I still have it my possession, and I hope I thanked him for it.

The next year, we drove down to the Keys, with three extra days added to my (And two brothers) March Break. I brought my copy of the 1993 World Series to Cheeca Lodge where we had the use of a VHS. While there, I met a young couple playing golf. They were from Philadelphia. I panicked. The Toronto Blue Jays had beaten the Philadelphia Phillies a mere five months earlier. Were they Phillies fans? Of course. I told them I was a Toronto Blue Jays fan from Southern Ontario. It seemed that no matter where I travelled, I couldn’t get away from baseball if I tried. By that time, I was collecting the Toronto Blue Jays media guides for 1993 and 1994 (I had the one from 1987, too).

My father bought me a book called, World Series, when I was fifteen. I poured over it especially concentrating on an alphabet-listing of trivia for the Fall Classic. It included teams, players and managers, and even politicians.

So, sometime in 2010, I’d accumulated enough sports knowledge to start my own sports blog. Even though I’d include some hockey, basketball and tennis, it seemed baseball was my focus of expertise, given how there were 101 different stats to choose from. I soon realized that I could keep this blog going.

In a short time, I came up with some niche’s, most of all, baseball. Then I began writing my own interpretation of the various trivia from what I learned in my research. Reading World Series was a great inspiration; but I realized it covered up 1993, forcing me to really dig deep to find Fall Classic trivia. My intense read led me to find errors which I then enjoyed correcting as I wrote my comments. Soon I had enough material to cover almost every World Series year. When I reached 2015 without having a 2014 entry of trivia, I’d make sure to come up with one.

About six years ago, I stumbled on an article, Making Money Because of Your Blog – Indirect Methods (https://problogger.com/making-money-because-of-your-blog-indirect-methods/) and while I determined there was no chance of making cash via any of the nine ways suggested in the article, what I read intrigued me. The very first reason listed was “consulting”. Though it didn’t say it directly, I took this to mean that if you wrote enough about any topic, you could be perceived as an expert. And I knew one of my schticks was having a great memory for detailed sports history. Also mentioned was “Book Deals”. I had not decided to go ahead with my first book at this point. Business partnerships were mentioned, too. “One of the benefits of blogging about a niche topic that interests you is that you will begin to connect with others who have similar interests and expertise.” Indeed, some of my posts had certainly caught the attention of one reader to the point where I was asked a question in the comment section of my blog. Then, there were speaking opportunities, a potential venue to demonstrate myself as having great expert knowledge.

At times when I became frustrated with my writing, my parents were concerned that I was in over my head. But I was not discouraged for long and was determined to go ahead with it. One of my own fears was spending nearly a quarter of a decade of eating and breathing sports stats and history and then not knowing quite how I would use all the material. The blog was one way to use it and get feedback. The book, though, that was something new altogether. I imagined feeling great self-satisfaction if it was well-received. Having a book published, a piece of my own creation, would give me such a sense of pride. My dream was that all my research would finally come together and be appreciated; what a great feeling.

In the summer of 2019, when Lacey Bakker at Pandamonium Publishing told me she’d shown my manuscript to various baseball people who were impressed, I felt like I finally was recognized as an author with genuine baseball expertise. My book became a reality, a very exciting moment in my life. Moreover, to create my own page on Facebook, and add a book slideshow to YouTube, have helped me to achieve recognition, not just as a bona fide baseball junkie, but also as an author with expert background research.

I consider myself a lifelong baseball devotee with a unique take on the sport I love. Anyone who reads my commentaries will appreciate that they are, without a doubt, based on my dedicated analysis of details and honed skill. Recently, someone wrote on my Facebook (Author) page: “No doubt among one of the best sportswriters out there! Scott makes you feel like you are actually there; very vivid, the stories flow. Great reading from cover to cover!”

Follow Scott on social media: @sportsscott (Twitter),  @hardballfacts (Twitter), @scotty7676 (Instagram) http://scottsportsworld.blogspot.com/ and purchase his book here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/114-world-series-in-1-book/

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What a Novel(la) Idea

May 15, 2020– Did you know that adults have an average of five minutes per day to read recreationally? I’m not kidding. We are so pressed for time because of the pace of society that we skip reading in favour of other things. As authors, how does this information help us? Novellas. But wait, what exactly is a novella, how do you write one, and why should you write one?

What it is: A novella is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.

How to write one: Publishers typically accept a word count of 15,000 to 40,000 for novellas depending on the House. Be sure to pack your book with action from beginning to end. There is no time for backstories, and your characters need to be fully developed in less time. Because the word count is so low, you have to make your point and make it fast! Your manuscript should be nice and tight in order for your story to be wrapped up within the allotted word count. Don’t leave loose ends!

Why you should write one: A novella will test your skills as a writer, and will make you a better writer by forcing you to cut the unnecessary words and dull plot points. With such a strain on time for readers, it makes sense that authors should write books that fit busy lifestyles. Not only will you have the potential to sell more books, but you’ll also churn your books out more quickly; instead of writing a book a year, you could do 2 or more.

Novellas are here to stay! Check out Bookshots (books that are under 150 pages and leave out all the boring parts! All thriller, no filler) by James Patterson. Happy Reading! X LLB

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