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Cancelled

June 19, 2020– Things in the world are so weird right now, but at least some restrictions are lifting, and hopefully, the quarantine will be entirely over soon. I know that there are things that are more important going on than the festivals and events that we look so forward to all year, but these chances to connect with the community face to face are so special to us, and they mean a lot.

So, there will be no It’s Your Festival, no SuperCrawl, no fall fairs, and no Peach Festival, to name a few events that we would have been scheduled to appear with our books and authors. Although these events have been cancelled, here is a list of things that are not:

  1. Reading to your kids. This is the most sacred time between parents and children that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Kids will remember reading bedtime stories and snuggling with you forever; reading with them will ignite their love of literacy and create lasting memories for both of you.
  2. Virtual book clubs. Book clubs, oh how we miss you, but virtual ones still make them possible. We are revamping our international book club program as we speak, so check back here for more information in the coming weeks! We’re doing a read around the world program where we feature books from different cultures and countries. I’m so excited, so stay tuned!
  3. Virtual storytime and book launches. I’ve had the pleasure of reading my storybook, Panda, the Very Bad Cat for Frontier College online. What a great idea to help kids find new books! We also do online book launches for our new releases, and it’s a great idea because you can still connect with your readers and audience through Facebook Live and Instagram Live; it’s a new way of doing things, but still a lot of fun.
  4.  Reading outdoors. Nothing beats a cold beverage on a hot day, except adding a great book into the mix! Hit the deck or patio and escape into another world for a few hours under the sun.
  5. Writing. Now is the time to work on your novel or next writing project. If you’re working from home and keeping typical hours, consider waking up a bit earlier to have some writing time. Get inspired with ideas by reading blogs and writing in a journal.
  6. Spending time in nature. This is one of our most favourite things to do at Pandamonium. Nature seems to reset us and allow us some much-needed downtime. This is also where some of our best ideas blossom! Grab a notebook and pen and head out for a hike or a walk, you’ll be glad you did.

While it’s easy to focus on all the things we still can’t do at this point, it’s better to focus on what we can do. Enjoy these summer days, and stay positive! X LLB

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The Idea Muscle

June 15, 2020-Did you know that it’s easier to come up with twenty ideas than it is to think of ten? Let me explain. If you’re thinking of ideas for storylines for your novel and you can’t think of ten ideas, then you’re putting way too much pressure on yourself. Perfection is the enemy of ideas. Stop stopping yourself and go ahead and write down those terrible ideas! How does this help?

1) It forces you to get uncomfortable. The bad ideas never have to see the light of day, so don’t worry about them coming to fruition, just get the ideas down on paper. Your brain will scream, NO! THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA! YOU’RE GOING TO EMBARRASS YOURSELF! Who cares, write it down.

2) A great idea will come from bad ones. The more bad ideas you write down, the better! Once we get the bad ones out of the way, there’s more room for the good ones. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own heads and stop overthinking. Here’s a terrible idea-Snow White and the Seven Sins.

3)You’ll take action. So, you’ve written down your ideas (good and bad), and now what you need to do is write down the first steps to take. Do this for ALL of your ideas, even the bad ones. Snow White and the Seven Sins: Step 1-Research what the seven sins are and leave it at that. Move on to the next idea and next step.

This method of idea generation has led me to some of the best ideas I’ve ever had and I know it will work for you too. Happy writing, 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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It’s Time

April 22, 2020– What if I told you that you could totally transform your life by doing one simple thing? Would you believe me? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s true, but there’s a catch…You have to decide which one thing. As writers we are often absent-minded, disorganized dreamers who would lose our head if it wasn’t screwed on; I may be only referring to myself in that last sentence, but I digress. So, what is it that you must do right now to change your entire writing life? Here’s the secret: CHANGE ONE THING.

Yep, that’s it. That’s the magic right there. You know the areas of your writing life that need improving, but for ease of explanation, I’ve included some examples below. Pick ONE thing to change because studies show that making too many changes at once, results in failure. Once you’ve changed one thing and have stuck with it for 21 days, pick another thing to change while still adhering to your new habit.

1. Change your frequency. If you’re writing infrequently it’s time to increase your daily word count. Make a schedule and stick to it. Try to write as many days in a row that you can. It will help you develop discipline and a routine; before you know it, you’ll have finished writing that novel.

2. Change your mindset. Get away from negative thinking. I cannot stress this enough-what you focus on EXPANDS, so concentrate on what you WANT. See yourself as a professional and start showing up as her. If you’re not published yet or have received a bunch of rejection letters, welcome to the club, that just means that with every NO, you’re that much closer to a YES.

3. Change your space. Is your desk or writing area a disaster? Do you lose the same things over and over again, such as pens and pages of your manuscript? Do you spend more time looking for stuff than you do writing? If yes, it’s time to make a change and get organized.

4. Change your timing. Get up earlier or go to bed later if that’s what it takes to change your writing life. Don’t wait for inspiration to write because if you do, I promise you won’t write another word. Writing and being an author is a discipline that needs commitment. We don’t write when we’re inspired, we write and then the inspiration shows up. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Pick your area of weakness and change one thing about it. Old ways won’t open new doors. X LLB

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Work It to Make it Worth It

March 13, 2020- I attend no less than three writer’s conferences per year. I need to keep up with information and trends in the industry, and I think that attending the workshops makes me a better writer and publisher. There is a lot to learn, and I always come back feeling refreshed, inspired, and ready to get to work.

Conferences can cost quite a bit of dough, so to make the most of your time and money, I’ll give you some advice.

1) Make a list. Who is going to be there? Who do you want to meet? Which speakers do you want to listen to? Organization is the key to success in all areas of life.

2) Don’t be dull. Make yourself memorable, everything from your pitch to your appearance should be interesting and should make an impression.

3) Make an appointment, if possible. There are some opportunities that you can sign up for in advance that will allow you to meet with potential agents and publishers.

4) Collect cards. Get as many relevant business cards as you can while meeting other attendees and guests. Jot down any pertinent info about the person or what you chatted about so that when you send them a follow-up email, you’ll remember who they were and the connection that you made.

Find a list of conferences in your area by doing a quick search online and see which ones would be suitable for your writing goals. Remember to have fun and make friends!

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We Don’t Do Drama or Distraction

March 2, 2020– Happy March, Friends! I trust that this will be a good month because you will make it one! I get a lot of emails each week from authors looking for advice, and this week, I got a doozy of a letter. Let me share it with you.

“I’m having a tough time with a couple of things. The first thing that’s really getting to me is people (friends and family) saying that artists can’t make a living and the arts are a waste of time (I want to be a writer), and second, I’m letting their comments distract me from writing, and they’re getting into my head. I’m spending more time defending my position than I am writing. How do I fix this and get back on track?”

Girl, let me help you, please send me their address, and I’ll teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget, but seriously, please remember that you are a BADASS, a talented writer, and an artist who is GOING TO MAKE IT.  And you’ll probably make more money as a writer than all of those people COMBINED, who bring you down.

Here are somethings that you need to do IMMEDIATELY to get back to where you need to be.

  1. Get rid of all distractions. Put the phone down, get off social media, and recalibrate yourself. We spend so much time being distracted by what’s going on online that it destroys our creativity.  Every notification is like a virtual tap on the shoulder that takes our attention away from tasks that are much more important, like living in real life and washing our hair. Focus, girl- you’ll be so glad you did.
  2.  Get rid of negativity. When I was recovering from my concussion, I knew that I could not afford to have another negative thought enter my mind if I was going to heal. The same goes for you; you cannot afford to have negative people around you because they will bring you down and will stifle your progress and stop you from becoming the writer you could have been. They will make you a shadow of who you could become. I am insanely protective of who comes into my space, onto my team, and into my life, and if we can’t build together, we can’t be together. Focus on the positive and take care of your needs first, if someone drains you, cut them loose and cancel them from your life, you’ll be better off, and if you can’t completely get away from them,  limit your time with them severely. You can’t pour from an empty cup, being the best for you, will help you be the best for yourself, your readers, and for the people that believe in you.
  3. Chew, Chew, Chew, because they hope you choke. Prepare, that’s what this sentence means. Some people don’t want you to become all that you’re capable of becoming because it’s not comfortable for them. Some people want you to fail, and they want you to see you f*ck up. That’s how some people feel better about their own lives, I guess; how pathetic and sad for them. When I say chew, chew, chew, I mean that you need to make sure you don’t fail, that you don’t choke, that you properly arm for success by setting yourself up to succeed. Plan what you need to do, show up every single day, learn everything you can, and be better than you were the day before.

So, to the people who don’t believe in you, to the ones who think you’ll never make it, I have two words that you need to hear. I think you already know what they are. You’re either on our team or in our way and you will be treated accordingly. No matter what, dear writer, never give up.

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You Are Worthy

February 19, 2020– If I told you I liked your face, would you say thank you and then let it go or would you say, I like your face too and deflect my compliment? As authors, we’re pretty humble; after all, art is subjective, isn’t it? Not everyone is going to love us, but a lot of folks do! When people say they think we’re great authors, or they really liked our last book,  or that they look forward to our next novel, why can’t we just say thank you and leave it at that? Why do we have to be self-deprecating? It can be for several reasons. There’s nothing more vulnerable than putting your words out in public for the world to read and to be able to refer back to until the end of time. So how can we overcome this over the top feeling of unworthiness as authors? Here’s how:

  1. No one can tell your story like you can. You have a unique power, and that is no one sees the world the way that you do. Remember that you have an individual perspective, which makes it impossible for anyone to tell your story but you. That’s pretty special, so remember that the next time someone pays you a compliment!
  2.  You inspire others. Trust me. You inspire people who pretend to not even see you. The truth is, a lot of people want to be published authors and seeing you signing your books or on social media with your novel encourages them to perhaps do the same one day! So, every time you downplay yourself or your work, you’re quite possibly cheapening someone else’s dream. Imagine this conversation, “Wow, how exciting! You’re a real-life author!” “Yeah, it’s not that great…we aren’t that interesting.” Talk about making that person possibly question their choices or hopes for the future. Raining on their parade if you will. The way we speak to children, especially, is of utmost importance. Always speak well of yourself, not arrogantly, but kindly.
So, my challenge to you, fellow authors, is to take compliments and believe them. Don’t deflect, don’t change the subject, take the compliment and feel great about who you are and what you do. There’s no one like you.
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Get Punched.

January 22, 2020– I read a quote recently that said, “Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.” (-David Barr Kirtley)

More real words have never been spoken. Of course, being rejected sucks, it hurts, and it makes us question our capabilities and sometimes even our sanity. But, I’m here to tell you to embrace the suck. I’m here to say, stick out your chin and get punched as many times as possible. Because the only way that you’re going to get a YES is by taking all of the NO’s that come before it and using them to your advantage. When we fail, we become better. We can see where we went wrong, and we can tweak things to improve our writing. No one is born as a fantastic writer. Nope, not even Shakespeare, King, or Hemingway. They’ve all seen their fair share of rejection, and if you don’t believe me, Google it.

As writers, we MUST write because it’s who we are, and we can’t imagine doing anything else with our lives. That’s why I’m telling you to get punched. Get punched and get punched hard, because it’s part of the process in making you a better writer, in causing you to wake up and change your strategy, and it will give you a much sweeter victory than it would if you’d never been punched in the first place.

Being rejected is part of the gig. You want to be a writer? You’re going to be rejected… a lot. But who cares? You’re in great company. The point is, you have to keep going. I personally have enough rejection letters that I could wallpaper the side of my house. And I keep them in a special box that I go through when I need motivation. I look at the comments that say, “Consider a different career,” “Too out of the box, not saleable,” “Go back to school and learn proper grammar,” and my favourite, “Your writing is unoriginal, and frankly, boring.”

So what did I do when I received these comments? I read them, thought about them for a few days, changed a few things in my storytelling approach, hired a professional editor, and then KEPT WRITING. There’s a big difference between arrogance and self-belief. Arrogance says that everyone is an idiot except for you and that anyone who criticizes you is a dumbass. Self-belief is when you take constructive criticism to improve yourself because you KNOW that you can do whatever you want to with enough hard work and practice. Do you think that the first time that Wayne Gretzky picked up a hockey stick, he was perfection? Don’t answer that, what a terrible example…You get my point.

So dear friends, today, I hope that you get punched. X LLB

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