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A Letter From Your Future Self

June 10, 2021– As we continue to dig into our Author Mindset theme this month, I’ve come across a really cool exercise! I want you to write a letter to yourself now from your future self. Yep, write a letter to your author self from the future and see what you’ve accomplished and achieved. Here’s an example of one that I wrote for myself.

Dear Lacey, 

I’m so excited to tell you that five of your books have become best sellers. I know that status doesn’t matter all that much to you, but it’s a big accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself. Your tour across Canada and the United States in the Pandabus was a huge success. You made so many wonderful friends and important connections for Pandamonium Publishing House and the illustrators and authors that work there, plus you had a blast doing it! Your donation of the entire Pandamonium Publishing House collection to schools and literacy programs has made such a difference in the lives of young readers. You have helped ignite a love of reading among children with the stories you publish. 

Your continuing education has paid off; I know that the hours were long, and it was difficult to stay focused at times, but you made it. You have so much new knowledge to propel you to exciting heights in your career, business, and writing life. Hard work and perseverance paid off. You get what you work for, not what you wish for. But you’ve always said that best. 

Working towards getting the Pandamonium Collection into the hands of readers around the globe is no small task, but I believe in you, so you need to continue to believe in yourself. Great things are coming, don’t give up no matter how hard it gets. Literacy matters, and that is the goal that you must continue to focus on. Literacy is freedom and power for those who have it and use it. 

Things get tough sometimes, but on the bad days, I want you to remember why you’re doing this, to make a difference in the world and to leave a legacy of literacy. You have an army of people who are rooting for you and who stand beside you in your mission. When you think you can’t keep going or that there is too much darkness to endure, remember who is watching. Be the light you want to see in the world. When everything is going against you, remember that airplanes take off against the wind, not with it. You’re going to be better than fine, I promise. 

Keep working hard, and remember, the risk you’re afraid to take could be the one that changes your entire life. 

See you soon, 

LLB

By doing this exercise, we do two things that set us up for author success:

  1. Visualization. The letter from our future self allows us to visualize all of the success that we want to see. When we hold images in our minds and work toward them, they have no choice but to manifest. Visualizing everything you want to achieve, be, have, and do, is a powerful exercise that can give us a glimpse of what we’re working toward.
  2. Renewal. The letter we’ve written to ourselves renews our ambition. It reminds us to keep going and that our goals are reachable. It gives us a renewed sense of responsibility to ourselves, our readers, and our teams and urges us to realize that what we are working toward is so much bigger than ourselves.

I hope that you’ll do the exercise and that you’ll keep the letter in a place where you can read it often. Here’s to your success and an unbreakable author mindset.

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I Say Goodbye by S.P. Taylor

April 16, 2021– You’ll remember last week when we asked writers to submit their stories to be featured on our blog based on the photo writing prompt above. It was all about pushing the envelope, and I’m pleased to say that one writer has certainly done that with her submission. Please join me in congratulating S.P. Taylor as our winner. We received 45 entries! Great work, everyone. Here is S.P. Taylor’s story, I say Goodbye:

I say goodbye.

The sun warm on my face. The breeze gentle. Hard to believe that I will never return but determined not to. The funny thing, a spark of longing already. But why? The knowing. The everyday. Is it routine? I am not certain. A comfort, maybe? I couldn’t find the words if I tried. The reality of it all a blur. Dazed, as if I have just awoken from a dream. That moment of wakefulness clouded by the mystery of sleep. Oh, how I wanted to break free. A promise to myself. Get out of this one-horse town, I joked. Deep inside, I felt as if I was a caged bird on a tiny swing, looking out through the bars wanting desperately to fly. And now, here I am. Packing myself into the old Ford pickup. Rusty and broken yet chock-full of memories. Dreams too. I had many of them while sitting in the rackety front passenger side over the years. I watch the blue country house fade in the distance, almost mystical. The sun beating down so intensely, waves breaking the sky like a matrix or a time machine.

I say goodbye.

Memories flashing before my eyes. The winding road overcome with dust that could be sliced with a knife. How it chokes me. My breathing laboured. Responsibilities hounding from the recesses of my mind. Reminding me of my place. Where I belong. Who I should become. Yet I say goodbye and with that close my eyes. Drown out the noise of the critics who pollute my conscience. Those unkind words that stop a being from moving forward. Akin to fear. Is that not the driving force for everything? Fear? It can change your life in an instant. Guide you down a path you may not have otherwise taken. In my case, I chose to embrace it. But I am scared as hell.

I say goodbye.

A picture-perfect town with its window boxes and tiny white picket fences. How would life have fared if I had been born to one of them? Those perfect families with their 2.5 children and model cars. I still wish it even though here I am alive and different. So far removed. The church bell rings in the distance. A sad bong that resonates, lifting the hairs on my arm as my heart hums in return. Row upon row, we pass like a funeral procession. Slow motion. Do the houses whisper as we roll by? She won’t be back. She will never be back. One, of course, will cackle and say loudly, oh yes, she will. She can’t escape. She is born and bred to stay. To that one, I lift my chin in defiance. Just watch me. I promise to never set foot again. This sleepy town. Charming but not for me. Never for me. I walk alone. Distinct. Separate.

I say goodbye.

A side glance at the driver beside me. My champion. My other half. We shared a womb. Every milestone met together. The hardest part of leaving would be leaving him. He will take my place so that I can go. He will journey in what should be my life while I escape. Why should it be me? I ask myself. A million times a day, it seems. It should not be me, but he won’t go. The voices so hell-bent on having him stay. The responsibilities keeping him rooted. And so, his sacrifice is my freeing. The very thought makes me want to change my mind again. A hundred times, rehearsed, and over and over again, I say goodbye.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. It sounds so comical. I hate to say it out loud, but it is truth. When I say I have never stepped foot at the great station, I mean it full heartedly. I never once even set eyes my eyes in it. The towering walls, the great hall. A staple to the town. How can that be, you wonder? Well, If I told you I was sheltered, that would be a bit of an understatement. Another story, for another day. Another picture. For now, I focus on saying goodbye. I hear the trains in the distance pulling in with a whistle, leaving with a sigh. Oh, how I imagined them. The tracks bright with golden dreams calling. Egging onlookers to take a chance. A boy once died on those splendid tracks. Did his family think differently of them after? Did they ride the train out to the great big world still? Each time passing where their loved one fell. Where a life was stripped and taken.

I see smiling faces all about. If you watch closely, the energy buzzes with love. Like a bubble encompassing each person, protecting and warm. Hands holding, tight embraces, kissing. I linger on the kissing. Heat rising on my skin like I am witnessing something holy. Families, lovers, businessmen. They are everywhere. Passing others like ships in the night. I watch intently and imagine their thoughts. I feel all my life I have people watched. A silent narrative and I, a fly on the wall. Or perhaps I am better described as a bee. A busy worker bee never stopping. Always moving, not straying far. And yet, I am leaving the hive, albeit not with a swarm. Alone. How will I fair? No thoughts such as those, I tell myself. And my eyes search the crowds again, intent to soak it all in. Dreamlike, I scan the people, the busy. I catch a glimpse of sorrow. If I am careful and really strain to look, I see it clearly. Mommas saying goodbye to their sons. Sadness. Goodbyes are hard. This I know.

“All set,” he says gently, and the reality begins to settle. A heaviness in my heart as I gaze at the ticket in his hands. Somehow the noise stops. The people disappear. We are alone. His hands are rough and dirty, I notice, but I am not appalled. Young hands tainted with hard work and determination. No one could imagine the strength in those hands. They carry a body. The train ticket stark white, beckoning. Sunbeams break through the thick train station windows that are trimmed all around the building. I can see particles floating slowly, filling the space, and I feel faint. That moment just before you know you are going to fall. A panic settles in my bones, and I tremble. He touches my face and lifts it so that I am forced to look into his eyes. My eyes. And he whispers softly. I hardly hear it, but my mind translates. You got this. You. Got. This. With every fail, I heard that voice, those words. With every worry, they came swiftly. You got this, a whisper on the wind that would follow me everywhere I go.

I say goodbye.

And turn to walk away. Onto the train. Towards my future. If I could but only see what will become of me. My head held high, shoulders straight.

I say goodbye.

Thank you S.P. Taylor for this wonderful story. I hope you stepped out of your comfort zone and pushed the envelope on what you thought was possible for this photo and for yourself. If you’d like to read more of S.P. Taylor’s work click here: Acts of Kindness: Bakker, Lacey L ., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506240: 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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Stretch Yourself

February 5, 2021– Today we’ll be doing an exercise that is going to stretch your writing muscle! I love posing these types of challenges to my writers because it’s not only fun, but it helps them grow as authors. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and we find ourselves coming up with stagnant ideas for plots and character development. This is a great tool!

Photo writing challenge: Using the photo above, please write a 1200-word short story. Ensure that you have 1 character, 2 conflicts/challenges, and wrap it all up with a bow. This sounds really difficult to do, but I know that it’s possible! Plus, if you send your submission to pandapublishing8@gmail.com, you will get the chance to have your story featured on our blog in a future post! Also, if you want some guidelines on what publishers are looking for, check out my number 1, best selling book, here: Advice From a Publisher (Insider Secrets for Getting Your Work Published!) An Amazon Best Seller – Pandamonium Publishing House

 

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Girl in the Red Coat

December 15, 2020– A few weeks back we posted a writing prompt of a little girl in the snow with a pair of skates draped over her shoulder. We asked our readers to submit their work for the chance to be featured on our blog. Check out K.G. Watson’s story, Girl in the Red Coat below:

“Hey!  Girl in the red coat.” The call rang across the snow. She’d been spotted.  She walked on pretending not to hear.  Another call. “Please don’t go.  We need another player.” She turned to see who, in the group, had called.  It sounded like another girl but everyone was in hockey gear, skating circles and passing a puck on the newly-frozen pond.   The caller was short, like herself.  “I see your skates and you were watching us.  Can you come and play three-on-three?”  The speaker hopped the snowbank and walked up the bank as she spoke. “These are figure skates,” she said as the other girl got close.   She nudged them with resignation. “I see that.  They’ll do.  You were watching us for a while.  You are coming from a lesson?” “Yep.” “Can you skate backwards?” “Of course.” The girl in red replied indignantly.  Her cold hands holding skate laces under her velvet collar slid into her pockets.  Mittens should have been there.  They were home, clipped to the hot air register. The hockey girl noticed.  “I have a pair of mine inside hockey gloves, and a spare stick and helmet.”  She nodded towards bags at the log where the kids had been lacing their skates. “I’ve always wanted to try hockey besides in the driveway when my brother is out.  Mom says it’s a boy’s game.   And I’m too small.  I have to take figure skating.”  She watched the others.  “Poor skaters,” she decided. “Well …  Can you stay?” “Mom dropped me and I took the bus home.  I live over there.”  She nodded at the mansion on the edge of the park as she checked her phone.  “She took my brother to his hockey game.  He won’t be home for half an hour.” As they walked down the bank, her hockey hostess explained how she could start easily.  “You can play defence. We have no goalie, just two forwards and a defence.”  She pointed to the piles of snow that marked off the goalposts.   “If you can skate backwards, stay just to the centre side of anyone coming at you.  They’ll cut outside along the boards.  Just back up, keep in place and angle them into the snow.  When they fall, shoot the puck to a forward.” The others turned to welcome her; ponytails and stray ends peaked from under helmets; they were all girls.  She appreciated the warmth of the woollen gloves lining the padded hockey ones that were set beside her while she laced up.  She hefted the battered hockey stick.  “Same as my brother’s,” she decided and glided into position.  The other team was bringing the puck up from their end. Her greeter met the attack early but was late with a stab to free the puck.  It shot to the other forward who cut inside theirs for the pass and was under-speed as she crossed centre ice, bearing down on the girl in the red dress coat.    Red stepped to the attacker’s right leaving an opening on her left. The forward took the bait.  But she hadn’t expected the quick response.   With a little more speed, she’d get around the guard.  A couple fast strides.  The girl in red remained, preventing a shot on goal.    She made one more spurt and ran out of ice at top speed; the puck slid free and … The girl in red stopped. “Are you OK?”  The other girl was struggling up in a cloud of snow.  “Never had that happen. Where did you learn that?” “What?” “You really deked me out.  I was sure I could get around you. You let me commit and then moved me over like my dad’s dog herds sheep. The next try was unsuccessful too.  The attacker stopped short but the girl in red poked the puck free and flipped it over the teammate’s stick to her own forward who sent a long lead pass to their player racing around their defence to score. She was complimented on the lift she put on the puck to get it past the opposition.  “You handle a stick well.  This isn’t your first time.” “My brother plays,” was all that Red said.  As the sky slowly darkened, the girl in red learned stick tricks to block passes or poke checks.  The streetlights were on when a van pulled into a parking place. “That’s my Dad.  We have to go.” The girl in red looked at her watch,”. “Oh-oh.  I’m late.”  When she realized she still wore a borrowed helmet it was hard to find her red hat in the snow at the end of the log. “Maybe we can do this again,” the hockey player said.  “What’s your name?” Laura,” said the figure skater.  “What’s yours?” “Haley,” she said.

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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!

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Falling For You (Your story could be featured!)

September 14, 2020– It seems that in our part of the world (North America), that fall is here! The weather has changed drastically almost overnight, and there has been a decrease in temperature that is downright chilly. This time of year brings such a change in nature, and I fully embrace the season with all of my senses.

The writing prompt for today is Autumn.  When I think of Autumn I think of:

  • Leaves changing colour to orange, brown, rust, gold, and red
  • Apple cider/apple picking
  • Pumpkins/pumpkin patch
  • Blankets, sweaters, fuzzy socks, and scarves
  • Thanksgiving
  • Halloween
  • Fireplace
  • A good book
  • Warm drinks and artisan coffee
  • Rain
  • Soup

Here’s an easy writing exercise to get you in the mood for fall:

  1. Make a list of everything that reminds you of Autumn.
  2. Use the list you’ve made to write a 500-word short story, poem, or journal entry.
  3. Submit your story to pandapublishing8@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on our blog on Thursday, October 1st!

 

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Brain Dump

September 12, 2020-Today, we’re going to talk about a very therapeutic exercise that will help you clear your mind. It’s easy to do, and all you need is a pen and a piece of paper. The point of this writing tool is to let you get all of your thoughts down on paper so that you can effectively sort them. Here’s how it works:

  1. Write down what you’re having a problem with-whether it’s a plot issue or character development or your book not selling, whatever it is, write it down. I’ll use the example of slow book sales. 
  2. Write down whatever comes to mind while reading your problem-do not edit; this is really important because you don’t want to stifle your creativity.  Using the above example, here’s what I wrote down: Give free samples and ask for reviews while promoting our other books, send customers to our Amazon links and website links, make shopping easy and hassle-free for them, put books on sale for a limited time only (maybe a collection), talk about our books on social media or do a live reading, mail out brochures, send out a newsletter to our readers, run a promotion…and so on.
  3. Implement the best solution-after you have a full-page, re-read all of the ideas you have and go with the best solutions. I can’t tell you how many times this worked for me when I first started writing, and I continue to use this method even now. Here’s the solution based on the example given: Do all of the above.

This method of writing also helps when you’re unable to sleep. There are so many thoughts that keep us awake at night that sometimes it’s helpful to get them all down on paper so that we can clear our minds and deal with things with a fresh set of eyes in the morning.

Dump those thoughts and clear your mind! Happy writing, X LLB

 

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Taken From the Headlines

January 29, 2020– Could your next book idea be right in front of your nose? Absolutely! While I was writing this post a few weeks ago, I scanned the headlines online from around the world. Here are a few of them that inspired the inner writer in me:

  1.  Woman wakes up to find intruder in her bedroom.
  2. Man drives off cliff and escapes with no injuries in ‘Miracle’ Crash.
  3.  Baby born during record blizzard, last name Snow.
  4. Huge asteroid expected to skim past Earth today.
  5. Fly me to the moon for an out of this world date.

Inspiration is everywhere! Using news headlines is a great way to beat writer’s block and to get the creative writing juices flowing. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of a nudge from international headlines to write your next best seller! I challenge you to find two headlines and write a 500-word short story for each. If you want to really challenge your writing muscles, merge the two headlines together and start writing. X LLB

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Photo Writing Prompt

January 5, 2020– It’s been a while since we’ve done a photo writing prompt. For some reason, the picture below really spoke to me when I was looking for something to write about. I hope that it speaks to you too. If you would like to share your 500 words or less story with us, please email pandapublishing8@gmail.com and put Photo Writing Prompt in the subject line. We’ll pick one person’s submission to share on our site!

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