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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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Guest Blogger, Christopher Botting-Unfrogged

January 10, 2020– Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to our very special guest blogger, Christopher Botting, the illustrator of Unfrogged! Let’s check out what he has to say about his experience as an illustrator with Pandamonium Publishing House.

Hello friends and fans of Pandamonium Publishing! My name is Chris Botting, and I am the illustrator for the ‘Unfrogged’ book; Pandamonium Publishing’s second book offering. One day back in two thousand and too far back to remember right now, my sister (Tamara Botting), had written a story she greatly desired to publish someday. She was asking me to do the artwork for it. I made a half-hearted attempt at some rough ideas, but in the end, I told her that publishing companies would have the final say on the art direction they were looking for and not necessarily something I may come up with. That it would be a waste of time to try anything before a publisher picked up her manuscript. What a big bother brother I quite often turn out to be. Well, time went on and one day I did receive a phone call….from a publisher…wow! (Good for little sis, she stuck with her dream and never gave up). Pandamonium Publishing’s very own Lacey Bakker was interested in seeing a sample of my art portfolio. She was hooked! She absolutely loved the idea of a brother/sister team working on their first published book together. (Bucket list items for both siblings!). There were meetings and deadlines made. The rough copy art sketches were approved and used for the final pieces after colour and corrections were added. Did I ever learn a thing or two about books;  They have chapter titles to illustrate. They have front covers to draw. They have a back cover too…what? Whodathunk? Do you know what else they have? A spine that needs artwork! My first book art job, and it was a ton of work! But it was all well worth it! Someday, when I see a well-worn copy on a used book store shelf, I’ll know a second generation is about to enjoy something my sister and I put so much of ourselves in to; I’ll know we’ve ‘made it’. I believe that when you do something or create something, in the brief second that follows the last pen stroke, or saw cut, or screw turn, or musical note, or whatever; that your creation, your project, art piece is instantly a classic. Just in that moment, the passing of time. Because, when you look back at your accomplishment, finished or not, there’s that feeling of ‘I remember doing that’. And ‘it’s out there, other people are going to see it, and remember seeing it, and to them, it instantly becomes a classic. Because they’ll remember it too. Something ‘vintage’ with the passing of more time’. I know people enjoy our work, I can tell by the time they spend absorbing it and taking it in. By how long someone will look deep into a drawing I have done, and make positive comments. I really enjoy doing art and sharing it with other people. I hope it makes them feel good inside, peaceful. Open a sense of awe in them and myself that the world can be a beautiful place. I am so thankful for the experience of working with Pandamonium Publishing and my little bother sister on ‘Unfrogged’. They are creating great friendships and books along the way. Check them out and enjoy some instant classics!

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Wake Up!

January 6, 2020– You should be up early, especially if you’re are or want to be a writing entrepreneur. Yes, I’m aware that most writers have day jobs or work shift work or have families and responsibilities other than themselves, but that’s what makes this post so important. What do I mean?

  1. When you get up an hour earlier (or for my shift working friends, go to bed later), you have uninterrupted time. The kids are asleep, the dog is snoring softly in the corner, and all you can think about is the perfect silence that encompasses you at that very moment. No one is demanding more jam for their toast; no one is complaining that they can’t find their favourite hairband, no one is asking for anything from you. This is the ideal time to write with abandon because this time belongs to you and your characters.
  2. When you get up an hour earlier, you have a great sense of accomplishment. You train yourself for greatness. Look at everything you’ve completed as the world slept! Most CEO’s and business owners are up at 5 am. Why? Because they know the value of getting in their fitness time, the value of reading an article in their line of work, the importance of meditation, and the calm that comes when they’ve already shaved down the items on their to-do list. I get up at 4:30 some days, but mostly 5 am, and the first thing I do is hit the treadmill because if I don’t do it then, I probably won’t. Then I’ll write a couple of blog posts for the month or schedule some social media and review my daily list of things that need to be done. This puts me miles ahead of where I would be if I started my work at 9 am. It gives me a sense of control and helps me feel in charge of my day. Plus, at 1 pm, I’ve put in 8 hours, if I need to go to an appointment, or I want to visit with my nephews, I don’t feel guilty because I’ve already knocked off my daily items.
  3. When you get up an hour earlier, your life changes. You start to realize that you’re up chasing your dreams instead of letting them pass you by as you hit the snooze button four times in a row. You start to develop a sense of pride because you’re doing something that not everyone does. You learn more over the course of a year, you become a better writer just by using an extra hour a day to hone your craft, and you have the potential to get healthy if you use your hour to amp up your fitness routine or plan your meals for the day. The point is, this one extra hour can change your life if you want it to.

Don’t pound the alarm. Embrace the quietness of the extra hour of YOU time and use it to realize your potential. X LLB

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Inspiration is Sitting Right Next To You.

January 3, 2020– I’m sure that we’ve all had an excellent rest and a fantastic holiday. Time spent with family and friends is never wasted, especially if you’re a writer. We’ve all been there, gathered around the dinner table, enjoying a meal with our family when all of a sudden, our great uncle Larry decides he’s going to regale us with a hopelessly inappropriate story of when he was young and reckless. As your sister ushers her kids away from the dinner table and says a silent prayer that they didn’t hear about that time in Reno, I hope that you’ll keep your ears open for writing GOLD. Here’s how your writing can be inspired by the people around you!

1) Listen. Does great Uncle Larry speak with a German intonation, or does he pause for effect after every sentence? Does he swear a lot, a little, or not at all? Does he speak fast or slow or a combination of the two? Is he monotone and boring, or does he command the room? The way someone speaks tells a lot about them. The same goes for the characters you create; it shows their education level, their level of openness or closed-mindedness, it can show your reader which part of the world they’re from, and it sets the tone for who your character is.

2) Watch. Look at great Uncle Larry’s mannerisms as he speaks. Watch his body language and how he gestures. Is there a character that you can model after him ever so subtly in your writing? Are there things about his personality or the way that he tells stories that will make your characters more interesting? Maybe it’s how he raises an eyebrow or how he shakes his fist at the ceiling. Perhaps it’s how he leans forward or backward in his chair while reminiscing about the good old days. Is there a deep crease in his forehead from years of worry, or does he have an epic beard? Whatever it is, take note because gestures,  body language, and appearance help develop your character more thoroughly. We don’t want to read about wooden people who just sit there like untouched dolls on a shelf. And remember not to describe their physical traits so much that the reader gets bored or loses interest. We comment on the remarkable, note-worthy things about our characters and leave the rest up to our readers’ imaginations.

3) Combine. Does your Aunt Edna roll her eyes every time great Uncle Larry tells his story? Does she fold her hands or throw them up in the air as if to say, not again! Does your mother fiddle with her left earring when she’s uncomfortable, but trying not to seem rude, while deep inside, she’s hiding a burning rage that tempts her to tell great Uncle Larry to shut the hell up?  Combining character traits help deepen your characters and make them seem more realistic. Don’t go overboard, or you’ll end up doing the exact opposite.

Inspiration is all around us always. We just have to be aware of it, and as writers, I find that we are the most observational people on the planet. Keep a notepad close; your family and friends are a character development goldmine. X LLB

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New Year, New You? Probably Not.

January 1, 2020– Happy New Year, Friends! What is it about a new year that gives people so much hope and promise? Is it the turning of a new page on the calendar? Is it the thought of a fresh start and a new beginning? Is it the chance to start over and better ourselves, to break bad habits and create healthy new ones? Or are they all just lies we tell ourselves?

I’m going to go with; They’re all just lies we tell ourselves, Alex for $200! Why so cynical? Because science, that’s why. Researchers at Scranton University did a study that showed only eight percent of people were able to achieve their New Year’s resolutions, the other eighty percent failed, and the remaining twelve percent did what you should do-not make any resolutions in the first place.

Setting goals are entirely different than making resolutions; here’s how:

  1.  Goals are Specific. For example, you may want to set a goal of writing for one hour per day, whereas your resolution could be to become a better writer. The best way to word this is to combine the two; To become a better writer, I will write for one hour per day, five days a week.
  2. Goals involve Planning. For example, you resolve that this year you’re going to submit your work to a publisher for consideration. Sure, that sounds great, but have you planned for this? Where will you submit your work? Have you done research on which publisher is the best fit for your manuscript? Do you have an email address of the person you will be submitting to? Without a proper and REALISTIC plan, YOU WILL FAIL. That’s all there is to it. Remember the adage that still rings true; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
  3. Goals involve Action. For example, you can be as specific as you want to, you can plan what you’re going to do until the cows come home. But without taking action, you’ll never achieve anything. I know someone who has over 2,000 (not an exaggeration) email leads, from various shows she attended as a vendor, that are sitting in a box on her desk doing absolutely nothing and have been doing nothing for years. Sure, she had good intentions to use them one day, but that day never came, and now most of them are expired, moved, or dead ends. If you don’t take action on the goals you’ve set, what’s the point of setting them?

What are you doing each day to move closer toward your goals? My point is, I hope that you’re not the eighty percent of people who make resolutions and dump them by January 12th. I hope that you succeed in everything you do and know that anything is achievable if you are specific, create a plan, and take action.

Happy New Year, everyone. May the best be yet to come. X LLB

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Stop Thinking Small…

August 28, 2019– I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately…I know, I know, uh oh! But seriously, I’ve been re-evaluating some things in my life and I’m not sure it’s because Mercury is in retrograde or that the stars aren’t aligned, but what I do know is that I feel stuck. July has been a hell of a month and I’ve received a ton of good news! Something inside me is tugging me toward the end of the year; I can’t explain it, but for some reason this month, for me, seems to be moving backward.

In a nutshell, I’m bored AF with the routine that I have going on. It’s strange to think that perhaps I’m finally organized and maybe this is what it feels like to  have some kind of pattern in my life. Maybe I just need to have more fun. Whatever it is, I need a change. And before you shout, “Girl…DO NOT GET BANGS!,” chill, I would never go to that extreme. I LOVE what I do, so it’s not that…and I feel like I should be careful what I wish for because I have a pretty killer track record of manifesting what I want.

It’s time to take risks, it’s time to think big, and it’s time to get uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone. I’m making some huge changes for the way that I conduct business, the direction of my company, and what I want for the future. I’m sick of the small moves, the ones that bring no rewards, the moves that are lateral, and the lack of growth both personally and professionally. It’s time for a change…a big one, so stay tuned…I’ll let you know what it is when I figure it out. 

X LLB

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Publisher’s Corner…

August 16, 2019– Let’s dive right into the question of the week!

Q: “Lacey,  As a writer how do you keep yourself from getting overwhelmed? How can you possibly stay organized with all of the books and projects you have?” 

A: There are certainly days where I feel overwhelmed at times, but then I take a deep breath, remind myself that nothing is a crisis that can’t be handled, and I immediately stop what I’m doing to do something else. It’s very important that when you start to feel the walls closing in on you, that you change anything. Change your space, change your position in the room, stand up if you’re sitting, get a fresh perspective and stop what you’re working on! This is your brain’s way of telling you that you need a few minutes to regroup. Take as much time as you need, take the afternoon off, go do something wild or out of your comfort zone, do whatever it takes to make sure that you’re ok. You can’t be any good to yourself or anyone else if you’re burnt out and uninspired. It is ok to rest, it’s ok to let go, it’s ok to shut off your devices. It’s essential to your wellbeing every once in a while to just be. 

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I have pretty amazing systems in place that take a lot of the pressure off. I have a social media scheduler that allows me to plan my posts for 30 days at a time, I’ve got a dry erase calendar in my kitchen that has all of my things to do for the week in order of importance, and I use technology to streamline as many processes as possible such as pre-planning my blog posts and YouTube videos. If I had to post every day without this help, it would be near impossible to do so and would be a time-consuming pain. 

Find ways that you can help yourself get organized and how you can make your life a bit easier and less stressful by putting systems in place that become automatic.  X LLB

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Our Guest Blogger Today Is…

August 7, 2019– I’m thrilled to invite author, Samantha Nemeth to our blog to guest post today! She’ll be talking about all things Terrible and she’ll give you a sneak peek of her book! Check out her post below:

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a vivid imagination and I’ve loved telling stories; I didn’t want to be read to, I wanted to do the reading. Before I could even read I’d sit with a book and come up with my own stories from the pictures. I’d write plays with my friends and force our families to watch, and our favourite game was “spies”. We’d come up with these crazy stories about people being kidnapped with us being the heroines to save them. Before you ask, yes we roamed the streets not-so-sneakily “spying” on passersby who were our imaginary kidnappers and then run away giggling when they noticed us. So, I guess you can say that being an author, creating something from nothing but a thought, is somewhat of a childhood dream of mine.

My book “DJ the Terrible”, is definitely inspired by my friends and I and all the trouble we got ourselves into, but the original idea for it came from a drawing. My now-fiance and I were being silly one night coming up with the funniest sounding names we could, and drawing pictures to match them. Our favourite was titled, “Djeaneautha, la Terrible Jeune Fille”, who had crazy hair, a unibrow, and a evil genius cat named Godfrey. After that, I just couldn’t stop thinking about all the chaos that this terrible girl and her cat would have caused and from there, DJ grew into this wacky, fanciful character who reflects all the awkwardness, burning curiosity, and complete comfort with herself that my friends and I grew up with.

The story follows DJ as she navigates the roller-coaster ride of being the new kid in a suburbia where everyone plays by the rules, no one has any uniqueness, and they haven’t even heard of deep-fried waffle tacos. When she realizes that these people don’t like her because she’s different, she quickly 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 it’s 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!

I was lucky enough to grow up in a time before social media and its high standards really hit its peak and I was able to truly be myself, let it all hang out, and simply be a kid; mistakes, tangled hair, unfashionable hand-me-downs, and all. Along with making kids laugh, and sparking creativity, I hope that “DJ the Terrible” can help show today’s youth that it’s okay to be yourself, to be different, and in fact, our differences are something to be celebrated, not hidden away. I would love for at least one reader to walk away from the book knowing that what matters isn’t having the most friends, or the coolest hair, or following the trends. What matters is staying true to yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

Her book DJ the Terrible will be available on October 1st…but we have a special announcement coming soon!

 

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Publisher’s Corner…

June 21, 2019– Wow, this is an excellent question! Let’s dive right in.

Q: “Lacey, my family doesn’t support my dream of becoming a writer. They tell me that I won’t make any money and that I should focus on getting a real job. Writing is something I love, but I understand that I will need to pay my bills at the same time. How do I convince them that I’m doing something that I love and that this will pay off?”

A: Whoa…for a second after reading this, I was at a loss for words. I’ll break it down because there are a couple of hidden questions in here and I don’t want to miss them.

  1. My family doesn’t support my dream of becoming a writer. Sometimes, families aren’t supportive of our dreams. They mean well, but then again, some of them don’t. Some families don’t support the arts, and they don’t understand or appreciate any form of artistic expression. This can be very difficult. You have to follow your OWN path and whatever journey that leads you on. No one can decide what you should do with your life. If you want to be a writer, by all means, do it! Find others that will support you in all of your endeavours no matter what they are.
  2. They tell me I won’t make any money and I should focus on getting a real job. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this has been said to me time and time again. “Writer’s don’t make any money,” “How are you going to pay your bills?” “No one is going to buy your books,” “Who do you think you are?” Yep, it hurts. But, that’s what makes victory so sweet. The fact is, there are millions of writers out there who make plenty of money writing books. And there are so many ways to make a living writing! You can write for magazines, you can do copywriting, editing, content creation, blogging, journalism, and hundreds of other things that revolve around writing. Focus on honing your skills and getting as much experience as possible. Last time I checked, which was 56 seconds ago, writing was a real job.
  3. How can I convince them that I’m doing something I love and that this will pay off? You can’t and you never will convince them so stop trying. Do what you want to do because YOU want to do it. Life is way too short to be living your life based on what other people want you to do, say, or think. Getting up in the morning is a gamble, crossing the street is a gamble, travelling is a gamble, and the list goes on. There are no guarantees in life except that we only have one shot at it. Don’t spend your life wondering what if. If this is what you want to do, you don’t need anyone else’s approval. I can’t tell you that this will pay off, but what I can tell you is that you won’t regret trying. We only regret the chances we never take.

Keep your head up. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

If you have a question you’d like answered, please send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com.

X LLB

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Publisher’s Corner…

May 24, 2019-On this week’s segment of Publisher’s Corner, I tackle a subject that is close to my heart. Let’s check it out!

Q: “Lacey, You say reading is important for writers, but I barely have time to breathe let alone read! How do you find time to read so many books?” 

A: I love this question! In 2018 I read 60 books; to be clear, I should say that I completed 60 books because I used a variety of mediums to do so. Here’s what I recommend to help you reach your reading goals: 

  1. Audiobooks– These are fantastic for people who are constantly on the go. I use audible.com and iTunes to download books on all topics and I love their portability. You can listen to them anywhere-I listen to them while I drive, while I’m waiting at the airport, on the beach, on planes, exercising, and while I’m doing household chores. You wouldn’t believe how many books you can get under your belt just by popping in a pair of earphones.
  2. E-books– Of course, I prefer paperbacks, but when in a crunch, I pull out my trusty e-reader. Again, the portability is great because you can download as many books as you want without taking up a bunch of room in your suitcase. You can whip out your phone and read a few pages of a book any time you have to wait somewhere!
  3. Read in-between time– During the day we find ourselves with a few minutes here and there. Sometimes we have time between meetings or half an hour before our kids get home from school and we end up playing on our phones or checking our email. I urge you to consciously look for the times-in-between and use them to get some reading done! Five minutes here and there add up over time and before you know it, you’ll be done a novel or two.
  4. Set a realistic goal– 60 books a year may not be realistic for you based on your lifestyle. Set a goal that you’ll be able to reach based on what you think you can achieve-don’t set a marker so high that it’s unattainable, but not so low that it’s unmotivating.

Reading is addictive and once you start, you may not be able to stop. Consider yourself warned:) X LLB

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