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Strive, Study, Try and Test

April 20, 2021-Sometimes we all need a push to get us to take risks. During April, we’re talking about how to push the envelope in your writing and today’s post takes that a bit further. Let’s talk about pushing the envelope by committing to yourself and your writing. Here are some great ways to take your writing to the next level:

  • Strive to learn new things. When is the last time you’ve taken a class, workshop, or writing seminar? What have you learned recently that will improve your writing? If you haven’t learned anything new, how can you expect to write differently or get a different result in your submissions? I’m a huge advocate for continuing education and learning as much as possible. But you have to put what you learn into action to have any result!
  • Study different methods. How can you possibly push the envelope in your writing if you don’t study different storytelling methods? There are so many ways to change the narrative, a ton of ways to outline, hundreds of different ways to push your characters to the max, and infinite ways to improve your writing. If you’re not learning new ways of writing and the elements that writing includes, you will be stuck until you change something.
  • Try out radical ideas. Remember when choose your own adventure novels were unheard of? Or collaborating with other authors on a series just wasn’t done? What about alternate endings? You owe it to yourself to test new ideas and see what develops. Who cares if it doesn’t work? At least you’re expanding the possibilities and trying new things.
  • Test the boundaries of what is safe or acceptable in any given situation. Have you heard of this book? Marian Engel’s 1976 novel Bear, which tells the story of a relationship between a woman and her bear (yes, the animal) lover, has been called one of the most controversial books in Canadian literary history. Yeah, pretty weird, but it pushed the envelope and is now infamous for its departure from the norm.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself in your writing; you never know where it can lead! To continue your education with us, 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, Course: Get Your Book Noticed and Increase Your Sales – Pandamonium Publishing House, Novel Writing Course – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Use Your Voice

April 17, 2021– As we continue to explore pushing the envelope in our writing this month, we need to discuss vulnerability as authors. Oftentimes we limit ourselves by not using our voices to write about things that matter. Here are some ways that you can challenge yourself and push the envelope in your writing:

  • Write a letter to the editor. Writing an opinion piece can do wonders for helping you break out of your writing comfort zone and help you express your ideas to a large audience. Each time you do this, you become more confident and self-aware of your beliefs and what matters most to you. Also, letter writing is a whole new world for some of you as this practice has generally fallen by the wayside, with email and texting now available. It’s always good to try something new.
  • Guest blog. Some blogs will allow submissions for guest posts, and it’s important to take these opportunities if they are presented to you. Not only will you be able to reach new readers, but you’ll be able to give a different perspective from the blog host to keep things fresh and interesting. I love inviting guest bloggers to submit articles for our site because why should readers only be exposed to my methods, techniques, and viewpoints? A unique take on an old subject can do wonders for helping you push the envelope in your writing.
  • Ask a question. If you have social media or a platform to connect with your readers, why not ask them a question? Get them involved in the discussion you’ve started, and watch as all the different points of view add up. Then, use some of those discussion points to challenge yourself in your writing life. You will see that there are two sides to every coin, and if you look close enough, you’ll see that they are actually multi-faceted when it comes to opinions and beliefs. You could incorporate the information you gather into a storyline, plot, or while developing characters.

Speak up, speak out, and use your voice as an author to change the world around you for the better.

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Conflicting Accounts

April 15, 2021– We’re halfway through the month, and we’re focusing on pushing the envelope in our writing. We hope that you have enjoyed the information so far! Today we’re going to focus on conflict, and no matter which genre you write in, whether it’s kids, historical fiction, sci-fi, or everything in between, your story needs conflict!

Person vs. Person is pretty typical and is what most stories focus on—person vs. person is one against the other, good vs. evil, the good guy always wins, there are a protagonist and an antagonist. But let’s explore something far more interesting that can help you push the envelope in your writing by talking about the three most boundary-pushing types of conflicts there are:

  1. Person vs. Society-Struggles between individuals and social codes in their world. There is a conflict between what a character desires and what society demands or expects. This could be where a character doesn’t quite fit into societal norms and finds themselves on the fringes or rebelling against society in general. For example, in a historical fiction book, society could dictate that women should be seen and not heard, not have children out of wedlock, and wear dresses, but your main character goes against that, stands up for herself and what she believes in, and bucks the norm. For an excellent read that showcases Person vs. Society, click here: Duty’s Daughter – Pandamonium Publishing House
  2. Person vs. Supernatural-Conflicts between characters and otherworldly events, entities, or paranormals. Conflict occurs when a character faces resistance from a supernatural force such as magical forces, otherworldly beings, deities, or unexplained energies. Many Hollywood blockbusters touch on this type of conflict (a la Stephen King, IT and pretty much everything he’s written).  A great example of this type of writing and story is available here: Once Upon a Vision – Pandamonium Publishing House
  3. Person vs. Technology-Conflict between characters and scientific discovery. In this type of conflict, the character is usually faced with a battle against technology that has become too powerful, too invasive, or is being used by another force for evil. A fabulous take on this type of conflict can be found here: Machinia – Pandamonium Publishing House

Now that you know there are ways to change the conflict in your writing to push the envelope, what are you waiting for? Get to work! Check out our entire collection here including books, courses, and services: Products – Pandamonium Publishing House

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That’s Debatable

April 13, 2021– As we continue with our theme of pushing the envelope this month, it would be crazy for us to leave out this next tip. Opinions, fashion choices, relationship choices, food preferences, and more may not always line up with what we know and what we choose for our own lives, and that’s the beauty of life; no one is the same, so why should our writing be? Here are some ways that you can push the envelope in your writing:

  • Expand your views of the world. You don’t have to agree with everything that’s going on around you, but it’s important to know that there are many sides to a story and many opinions and beliefs that differ from yours. By expanding your view of the world, you become a better writer, perhaps become more understanding or empathetic, or learn about issues and things you may not have known before. The point is to incorporate this into your writing, and when you expand your views, you expand your mind.
  • Read new authors. Who was the last author you read? Someone mainstream? An indie author that you found at a little bookstore in Prague? Have you ever read anyone other than your favourties? Reading new authors allows us to have a whole new experience as readers and writers. We get to hear new tones of voice, new perspectives, observe new techniques, and perhaps a unique type of dialogue, especially if it’s a regional one. Studying and enjoying all types of authors will help you become a better writer and will help you push the envelope in your writing.
  • Debate both sides of an issue. It’s easy to get stuck with an I’m right mentality when we cannot see both sides of an issue. As a writer, I challenge you to debate the opposite side of something that you believe. When we do this, we open our minds to new possibilities, and these will translate into our writing. Don’t get stuck believing the same old things, talking about the same old issues, and writing in the same way when you haven’t explored both sides of a story.

It’s time to get out of the box with your thinking and writing. Try something new and push the limits for yourself and your work. If you haven’t yet read any of our authors at Pandamonium Publishing House, here’s your chance! Check out our collection: Products – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Challenging your Characters

April 9, 2021– Today, we’re talking about pushing the envelope with your characters as we continue to explore our theme this month! But what does this all mean? Here are a few ways to stack the odds against your character and challenge them to reach their potential in your writing.

  1. Increase the stakes. There’s no better way to keep your reader on the edge of their seat rather than putting your character into a life-or-death situation. For children’s books, we must be mindful of threatening situations, but the rest of the genres are fair game. Perhaps the main character is in a car accident, and their car plunges off a bridge and into a river. Maybe your character comes face to face with a stranger who gives them an ultimatum, or perhaps they have to fight their way out of a dire situation that requires physical and mental stamina. However you choose to up the stakes, make sure you’re making them relevant to the story.
  2. Take a risk. What are the risks that your character needs to take, and how can you make them even riskier? Think of the best-selling book by Stephen King, IT. We know that Georgie took a risk and followed his paper boat down the flooded streets and into the sewer, where he was greeted by a sinister, homicidal, supernatural clown. This is an integral part of the story that sets the tone and without the risk of Georgie following his boat, the book certainly wouldn’t have come to life. And if we think of all the additional risks the characters take to defeat IT; their challenges make for an incredible journey of triumph over evil.
  3. Back them into a corner. You should always back your characters into a corner while writing because it allows your reader to relate to them. We’ve all experienced what feels like impossible situations at times, but the good news is, we have survived 100% of our bad days. If you can make your reader care about your characters, they’ll care about your book. Backing your characters into corners can include situations like not having money to pay the bills, a threat of eviction, being fired, and experiencing a breakup all at the same time. When you get your reader to sympathize with your character and root for them (whether good or bad), you’ve done your job as a writer. It also allows your readers to see that anything is possible, any situation can be overcome (one way or another), and the strength of the human spirit. Give your readers hope that they too can get out of tricky situations.

Push the envelope and find out what your characters are made of! Happy Writing X LLB

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Expand Your Chances

April 8, 2021– As authors, it’s important to grow in our writing and as artists. Part of pushing the envelope in your writing life means that you need to be bold in your submissions. Here are new ways to expand your chances of being published.

  • Submit to publications that are new to you. Nothing will get you out of your comfort zone faster than writing about something you’re not familiar with. Do your research, find your voice, and write something awesome. When we write outside of the box that we are familiar with, we offer a fresh perspective on potentially old topics. A word of caveat is to read the publication and know what they are publishing e.g., You’re not going to submit a fashion piece to Scientific America magazine.
  • Follow up. Have you ever heard the saying the fortune is in the follow-up? It’s true. Be sure to follow up on your submissions in such a way that is timely, respectful, and confident. Publishers are inundated with work and sometimes we don’t get the chance to respond to each submission in a timely manner. There’s no harm in sending a friendly email to check on the status of your manuscript if you haven’t heard from us in the suggested timeline according to our guidelines.
  • Upgrade your social media. Publishers are looking for authors with an established platform. It’s never too soon to start building your following by putting out content that is fresh, interesting, and provides your readers with value. Push the envelope by posting regularly, finding a niche, and interacting with your audience. Sometimes it’s hard for authors (most of them are introverts) to be in the public eye, but it’s a necessary practise because readers need to know who you are and where to find your books.

Push yourself beyond your limits! Wouldn’t you much rather live a life of why not instead of what if?

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on Podbean where we continue to discuss pushing the envelope every Tuesday and Thursday during the month of April, plus new themes each month. Download the Podbean App from iTunes or the Google Play store, it’s free! Search Pandamonium Publishing House and bring us with you wherever you go.

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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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Fresh Four

April 6, 2021– We’re talking about pushing the envelope in your writing this month and as we go down the rabbit hole, we’ll explore various topics and ideas that will help you grow as an author. Here are four fresh new ways to do something different and new in your writing.

  1. Explore topics that aren’t usually written about. This is great for blogs, and very niche markets, especially for e-books. People will pay for specialized information that they can have at their fingertips just when they need it! For example, let’s say it’s tax time and you’re an accountant, you could write A Tax Guide for Canadian Small Business Owners with Income Less than $50,000 Per Year (You Could Be Missing These Essential Write offs!) as an example. The narrower your focus, the better chance you have at becoming a best seller and reaching a group of people who need info fast and are willing to pay for it.
  2. Recreate yourself/your sound (narrative). Artists are always re-creating themselves. If we look at authors who have explored different genres, written in different narratives, and have used pen names, we’d have a long list! Some notable authors who have done this include Stephen King, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Lemony Snicket, and Stan Lee. Some authors have had complete makeovers and changed their lifestyles to become more interesting or mainstream or talked about, we’re looking at you E.L. James and your fabulous red-carpet collection of gowns!
  3. Include something that grabs your reader’s attention. Perhaps it’s a contest, or exclusive access to a choose your own adventure series online, anything that engages and grabs your reader is essential in keeping them interested in your work. Maybe it’s an official soundtrack or an alternate ending that you’ve included that helps you push the envelope not only in your writing, but what readers can expect from you as an author.
  4. Collaborate with other authors. This is a great way to expand your writing and your skills. Teaming up with other authors in a collaborative book will help motivate you to step up your writing game. It can push you to explore new ideas and write in a way that you don’t typically write; it can be a fantastic way to get your head out of the box and unleash your creativity.

If you’d like to the chance to collaborate with us on a book, now is your chance; we want your pet stories! Send us stories about how your pet changed your life for the better to pandapublishing8@gmail.com and for submission guidelines/details.

If you’d like more advice on what publishers are looking for, check out my number 1 best selling book 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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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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The Best Part and Biggest Challenge

March 31, 2021-We made it! We’ve answered your questions all this month and are so thankful to each reader who sent us an email. Just because the theme of the month is over doesn’t mean that we won’t continue answer your questions. Email us any time at pandapublishing8@gmail.com. We’re always happy to hear from you! Let’s dig into our final question for March.

Q: What is the best part of being an author and what is the biggest challenge?

A: What a great question to end our theme with this month! There are a lot of “best parts” of being an author to me. These are some of my personal favourites.

  • Seeing people enjoying your book in public-There’s no feeling quite like this. Seeing people enjoying my books is priceless. One of my favourite things to ever happen was when I was travelling on vacation. I was boarding a plane and heading to my seat when my husband tapped me on the shoulder. He said, “Look! That kid is reading your book!” I peered over the seat and saw a child reading Panda the Very Bad Cat. My husband said to the child, “Hey! Guess what? This is the author of that book!” The kid looked up from their book, took one look at me, and said, “No it’s not.” And went back to reading. Talk about being humbled LOL!
  • Receiving emails from readers- I’ve certainly had a lot of these this month and I’m so grateful! Any time readers reach out to me, I make it my duty to respond. Some emails are wonderful and complimentary, some ask questions, and some look for advice; I enjoy reading each one of them and hope that I can help them find their writing path in some small way.
  • School visits- Definitely one of the highlights of my career is reading to kids and lecturing in schools and universities. Sharing my knowledge and stories is extremely fulfilling and I hope to help ignite a love of literacy within them. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the question and answer period in Kindergarten classes! I’ve been asked a number of hilarious questions such as, “How much money do you make?” “Are you famous?” “What is your third favourite reptile?” and my personal favourite, “Is that your real hair?” LOL!
  • Book signings- Meeting my readers in person is an honour. To have people read my books and tell me what they thought is such a thrill. Connecting with readers is what it’s all about and I learn so much from our interactions.I’m beyond grateful for all of our readers and hope to enrich their lives in some small way, even for a brief moment, through storytelling.
  • Continuing Education– I’ve been so fortunate to be able to continue my education around the world. I’ve studied publishing and writing in Boston, New York, Toronto, and London, England. I’ve completed courses at Wharton, Copenhagen University, and Stanford and am excited to continue to learn and grow as an author and publisher. Learning never stops in this business and I’m always trying to find new and innovative ways to tell stories and to put our books into the hands of readers. I think that I’ll always be a perpetual student.
  • Publications- It’s pretty cool to walk into Walmart or a bookstore and see my name on the shelf. Whether it’s in a magazine, a newspaper, or book, it’s always thrilling. One of the highlights of my writing life so far, is picking up a magazine at the checkout of the grocery store and seeing an article I wrote. Women’s World is a magazine I write for quite frequently and their readership is 1.6 million people worldwide. That’s epic if you ask me that that many people are reading my stories. Chicken Soup for the Soul was another thing I celebrated (I’ve been published with them twice so far) seeing on the shelf because to join such an amazing and well respected publication was icing on the cake! They’ve sold 11 million copies around the world and to have my stories as part of that is such a great feeling.

While trying to answer the second part of your question, I’m sitting at my laptop watching the cursor blink on the page. This question took me a lot longer to answer. What is the biggest challenge of being an author? This is so hard for me to answer because I love what I do so much and am so fortunate to write for a living. After thinking for awhile, I guess I’ll say that rejection is the hardest part of being an author, but even that, we learn from. Rejection is something that we never really get used to and if we take it to heart, it can be really destructive. But the good outweighs the bad. It’s a career that I highly recommend!

If you’d like to continue to get advice on your writing and publishing questions, check out my number 1 best selling book here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca