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.
April 13, 2020– We know that every story must have conflict and resolution, but did you know that there are six different types of story conflict? Let’s explore:
Person vs. Person– This is the most common type of conflict in novels. It is the protagonist vs. antagonist (hero vs. villain). A good example of this type of conflict is…well…take any Disney movie; Gaston vs. the Beast, Ariel vs. Ursula, Mulan vs. the Huns and so on. There are too many examples to list of this kind of conflict!
Person vs. Nature– This means conflict between characters and environment such as natural disasters etc. Some perfect examples of this type of conflict are the books/movies Twister or Dante’s Peak.
Person vs. Self- I like to think that my novel Becoming James Cass (coming soon from Pandamonium Publishing House) is an excellent example of the conflict between the main character and himself. He’s always struggling to fight off his demons and has a ton of inner-conflict and self-destructiveness.
Person vs. Society– The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is an excellent example of this type of conflict. Struggles between individuals and the social codes in their world are what this type of conflict is all about.
Person vs. Supernatural– We’re talking about pretty much any book by Stephen King. Pet Sematary is one of my favourites, but so is It…these are excellent examples of conflict between characters and the supernatural/paranormal world.
Person vs. Technology–Machinia by Paul Moscarella (coming October 2020 from Pandamonium Publishing House) is an example of Protagonist vs. Technology. This is the conflict between character vs. scientific discovery. Also see, Terminator and Robocop for some other great examples.
What type of conflict does your novel have? Happy writing, X LLB
March 6, 2020– On March the eighth, we celebrate International Women’s Day, but as far as I’m concerned, women should be celebrated every day. There have been so many women that have gone before us, and many of which will come after us, that have changed the world and will continue to do so. We appreciate them. Let’s take a look at some female writers and characters who refused to be boxed into an ideal of what society says they should be and women who were fearless enough to tell their stories.
1) Let’s start with our own, Duty’s Daughter by K.G. Watson. Anna-Helena is a woman who gets pregnant in the 1800s before marriage and this all but destroys her family’s social status in the community. She marries a man who her father doesn’t approve of, sneaks into territory that is forbidden, and she lives life on her terms. She is courageous, brave, and fearless throughout her life. She says what she thinks and doesn’t care who agrees or disagrees.
2) The Diary of Anne Frank. In 1942, Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in German-occupied Amsterdam. They were discovered by soldiers in 1944 and sent to concentration camps. The only person to survive was Anne’s father. Anne’s diary of her family’s experience, which was first published in 1947, is one of the most widely read accounts of the Holocaust and has been translated into 70 languages.
3) Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser. This book is about the legends and lives of the women that have led armies and empires. Cleopatra, Isabella of Spain, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi, among others, are featured. A must-read and an “intelligent and artful study of women rulers who have commanded in battle.“- NY Times.
4) The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou. “This book combines the best and worst of the American experience in an achingly personal way. Angelou has chronicled her remarkable journey and inspired people of every generation and nationality to embrace life with commitment and passion.”- Penguin Randomhouse. This is a beautiful soul-bearing memoir and is definitely on my to-read list.
Happy International Women’s Day to each and every woman who strives to make the world a better place. X LLB
October 4, 2019– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, cozy romance books are my guilty pleasure. With the weather turning cooler and my favourite holiday (should be) in precisely twenty-seven days, romance is in the air! Snuggle up and read with one of my favourite books to get you in the mood for autumn. Happy Reading! X LLB
August 14, 2019– Our guest blogger today is Giuliano Enciso, author of On Blank Pages. I had the pleasure of being introduced to him a few months ago and I’m captivated by his poetry and truth. I know that when you read his work that you’ll feel the same way.
My name is Giuliano Blaquera but I publish under the name Giuliano Enciso, I am a poet and author. My mother passed away from cancer and I publish under her maiden name. She was always a huge supporter of everything artistic, and everything I did, and only wish she could read and hear my words today. Every time my words touch paper or a microphone, they will always be dedicated to her.
The first part of my book, On Blank Pages, is an entire chapter of pieces inspired by my mother. It’s a short chapter but the pieces speak the loudest in my opinion. The rest of the book follows love and heartache, self-discovery and personal growth because as writers, one of our aims is to always learn and grow in our craft. I have a second project in the works, that looks at growth both in the individual pieces and the growth of mywords as an artist.
As a child, I’ve gone through plenty of change and as a teenager, it’s hard to find an outlet or even the right ways of expression. Moving countries, changing friends, relearning how to start over, all things that went into creating who I am. I went to school for psychology and always enjoyed trying to understand how different people interact with one another and have always been intrigued by the relationships we have. I started writing while in school, and found myself gravitating towards poetry.
The hope is that anyone who reads my book, can find something that speaks to them, something they can relate to, and something that let’s them know, whatever it is that’s going on in their lives, they’re not alone.
March 13, 2019– If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have seen me post about a book I was reading last week; The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, is an excellent read for anyone who wants to know how self-control works and how our brains process things. There are three key sentences that really stuck out and I’ve since employed them for the business/writing tasks that I don’t love to do.
That’s it, pretty simple, right? Now, let’s combine them to make a powerful statement. If you’re struggling with doing mundane tasks consider the examples below. The more specific you are, the better this works!
I will write 500 words in an hour and I won’t get distracted by social media during that time because I want to reach my goal and finish my book.
I will wake up early to finish my blog post and I won’t answer return emails until this afternoon because I want to go for a walk with my spouse after breakfast.
I will finish my fabulous presentation on grammar by Tuesday and I won’t turn on my phone until it’s completed because I want to show my boss that I deserve a raise.
You guys get the point! This will work in many areas of your life such as organization, education, writing, reading, leisure activities, relationships, and more. It works because I will, I won’t, and I want, allow us to be clear on what our priorities are and they draw a firm line in the sand showing us what we are willing and not willing to do and what the pay off is. This technique works really well and I hope that you’ll try it yourself! Let me know if you do and if it worked for you by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 1, 2019– I was boarding a flight in Toronto recently, and while we were getting on the plane, I overheard a woman and her son talking about a book. Of course, I’m always interested in book recommendations, so I continued to eavesdrop. The young man said quietly to his mother, “This book is amazing, it’s easy, straightforward, and I think this will work for what I’m trying to accomplish!” The book that he had in hand was titled, Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. I headed to my seat and took out my phone because the boy had piqued my curiosity. Of course, I had no idea what he was trying to accomplish in his life, but I thought the book sounded intriguing and he sure seemed to believe in it!
I looked up the book jacket info on Amazon and read some of the reviews; they were pretty impressive. I downloaded the audio version and plugged in while we waited on the tarmac. The book, in a nutshell, is about how most of our behaviour happens on autopilot and if we set small goals such as a single push up, once we’re in position, we’ll always do more. Eventually, these small goals will become habits, and we will operate from a place of automation instead of force. So, how can mini habits change your writing life? I’m so glad you asked!
You’ll exceed your goals if you start small. When I first became an author, I created mini habits unbeknownst to myself; I would write every day for only fifteen minutes. Soon those fifteen minutes each day became a habit and the fifteen minutes turned into an hour or more. I have an author friend who started writing only fifty words per day. Soon, his fifty words per day multiplied into fifteen pages per day. The point is, if you set a small goal and stick to it, you’ll reach your goal, and you’ll be motivated to do more.
You’ll create discipline without out even realizing. If you create a mini habit of listening to a business audio book every time you get in the car, or a mini habit of reading one page of a book per day, you’re creating discipline in your life and discipline equals freedom. You would have a massive amount of knowledge in one year if you read one page per day or listened to something while traveling! These mini habits will translate into big results because they will become as automatic and as disciplined as brushing our teeth before bed. Why do we brush our teeth before bed? I don’t know, because it’s a habit that we’ve had since childhood and we just do it. See what I mean?
You’ll get out of your comfort zone. I make it a mini habit of handing out one business card per day. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the course of a year it sure adds up! You can cover a lot of ground and grow your writing business if you just implement this one small thing. You could use this approach for sending out queries, submitting manuscripts, connecting with a stranger, or meeting new people. Having a mini habit is an excellent way to get you out of your comfort zone and into a better writing life. Imagine sending 300+ queries out to publishers or agents in a year? That’s a lot of action, and statistically, something is bound to happen!
Start with small mini habits and watch them grow into something amazing! In a later post, perhaps we’ll talk about taking this concept one step further with habit stacking. Stay tuned!
February 28, 2019– I had the absolute pleasure of meeting author Jarrett J. Krosoczka at the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators conference in New York City. He was the keynote speaker and in my opinion, one of the best speakers at the event bar none. His story was moving, emotional, and hard to listen to at times. I hope that you’ll check out his YA graphic novel, Hey, Kiddo, it’s fabulous and beautiful. Here’s a video of Jarrett talking about his book. Enjoy!
December 31, 2018– Well friends, it’s been an epic year in so many ways; I started some new adventures, made lots of new friends, traveled, and of course published a few books. But what about the books I read? It would be unfair of me not to mention them as some of them made such an impact on me, that my life and way of thinking will never be the same.
60 books in a year was my goal, and I’m happy to say that I reached it. For all of you numbers nuts, that works out to approximately 1.15 books per week. Now, remember that not all of the books I read were in paperback format, some of them were audio books, and e-books. This method of “reading” allowed me to listen to books while travelling and while doing mundane tasks. I know that without audio books, it would have been much harder for me to reach my goal of 60 books read for the year.
Let’s get on with it! Here is my list of books that I read in 2018: (A quick search on Amazon will show you details and the authors)
5 Thieves of Happiness
Murder, She Wrote- Hook, Line, and Murder
The Million Dollar Blog
Murder, She Wrote- Dying to Retire
Never Lose a Customer Again
Mind Over Mind
Outwitting the Devil
Murder, She Wrote- Scared to Death
Every Breath You Take
The Couple Next Door
You are Not so Smart
The Brain that Changes Itself
Tools of Titans
Make Your Bed
Discipline Equals Freedom
The Power of Gratitude
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
To Kill a Mockingbird
Do the Work
12 Rules for Life
The Checklist Manifesto
The 5 Second Rule
The Obstacle is the Way
The 10x Rule
33 Strategies of War
All Marketers are Liars
The Toyota Way
The Magic of Thinking Big
The 48 Laws of Power
Challenge Your Potential
Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
The Positive Power of Negative Thinking
How I write
On Writing (Stephen King)
The Psychology of Winning
1 Page Marketing Plan
The Art of War
The Idiot Brain
Screenwriting for Dummies
I See You
The Woman in Cabin 10
The Sales Bible
Save the Cat
Book Yourself Solid
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
So, there you have it! I look forward to reading another 60 books in 2019. Remember, you can never be overdressed or overeducated. Happy Reading! X LLB
November 14, 2018– We read a lot of books around here at Pandamonium Publishing House, as we should because we are writers. I’m a firm believer that the more you read, the better you write. We like to read all types of books including books that aren’t always in our genre. I’m currently reading an interesting and pretty short book that’s non-fiction and it’s written by Admiral William H. McRaven (talk about a cool name) who is retired from the United States Navy. The book is called, Make Your Bed, Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world.
Admiral McRaven gave a commencement speech to the University of Texas students, which you can view on Youtube. His school of thinking is that if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have accomplished the first task of your day. He also believes that making your bed reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter and if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
This is my second time reading this book in a year. I read it at the beginning of the year and I’m re-reading it now. This book is fantastic because McRaven is right! I made my bed every single day except for four days over the past year and let me tell you, boy did it make a world of difference when I didn’t! When I neglected to make my bed, I went to bed restless, had a terrible sleep, couldn’t shut off my brain, and felt unsettled. That’s not to say that every day that I did make my bed was a great day, but the point was that no matter what life threw at me, I could come home, get into my perfectly made bed, and disappear from the world. Daily life requires structure and making your bed is the first step.
I hope that you’ll read this book as there are a lot of fantastic stories and lessons within. (My favourite chapter is number four, the sugar cookie story!)
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