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Editing: The Greatest Challenge to my Writing by guest blogger, Paul Moscarella

April 30, 2021-Today we wrap up our theme of Pushing the Envelope in our writing! Thank you to everyone who read our posts and special thanks to my authors for sharing their methods and ideas in how they push the envelope in their own books. Paul Moscarella, author of Machinia, is our guest blogger today.


​The writing process for me has always been a peculiar outlet that demands my obedience yet gives no instruction for compliance. This manifestation of my active imagination into words began when I was in grade 4. I had selected a book on the shelf of our art class, The War of the Worlds, because the cover art intrigued me. It was a difficult read, but the tale of the Martian invasion had me riveted. After reading that book, I knew that I wanted to share the things that I imagined into something others could experience. But right away I saw that there was a limit to what I could express, mostly because at age 9 emulating the classic writing style of H.G. Wells was beyond my ability! It was a challenge, but I gave every story I submitted in my English class that extra effort that went well beyond what was required. The endeavour paid off as my submissions were always given praise (and high marks). Those were the exciting days, when what was put to paper rarely saw revision greater than a few erased words. The written word was magic, and my pen was the sorcerer’s wand.

​Since that time, the greatest challenge to my writing has been the revision process. Imagination for me has always come easy. Shaping the rough draft into a cohesive well-written form takes continuous effort. Too little self-editing and the rough edges mar the prose. Too much, and the creative inspiration becomes a bland stream of clarified beige. And then, more challenging still, the editor’s feedback! I can get a sentence or paragraph rewritten to the point where I feel it is perfect only to get comments that ask for clarification or a slash through the writing with a simple “No!” So, following the advice I was given numerous times, I’ve learned not to fall in love with sentences, or paragraphs, perhaps even whole pages.

​When the first draft of Machinia was completed in 1992, I never dreamed that a novel of over two hundred thousand words would ultimately be subjected to a thirty-year editing cycle. It eventually emerged as a ninety-thousand-word triumph. It taught me that no piece of writing worth reading ever reaches the published page without the struggle and meticulous challenge of revision. In many ways writing is revision, and each reread gives clarity to what we truly wanted to say in the first place. And whether it takes hours, days, or decades, I’ve learned to treat the revision process as if seeing the prose for the first time.*

*author’s note: this submission was subject to several revisions and my wife’s editing notes.

Get your copy of Machinia here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop/Machinia

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Pushing the Envelope with (the one and only) Tim Ford

April 28, 2021-I am so excited to wrap up this month’s theme of pushing the envelope in your writing! I hope that you will enjoy our guest blogger Tim Ford, who is the author of the Mitch Strongbow series! If you haven’t read his work yet, you’re missing out on a brilliant mind and even more brilliant storyteller. Here what he has to say:

My name is Tim Ford, and I am a writer. Well, truth be told, I am a storyteller, the editor truly makes me a writer. For me, my whole writing career has been a challenge, a challenge that I met head on, no surrender. I never graduated high school; in fact, I don’t even have grade 10 English. But as I stated above, I am a storyteller, self-taught.
Approx. 14 years ago, I was working night shifts over the Xmas holidays. I truly felt pissed off leaving my family, and heading to work. Everyone was enjoying Christmas dinner, and for me, well mine was packed up and taking to work to be nuked.
I have always had this storyline, character in my head. From time to time, I would write some stuff out, put it away until I felt the need to write out more of the story. So, while working over Christmas, I could have sulked, felt sorry for myself and turn that 12-hour shift, into a shift that seemed to never end, or do something that truly made me happy, my joy to my world, my celebration. Pulled out my notes, brought up a Microsoft Word page, and started to bang away on the keyboards. The feeling was rather euphoric, I felt so alive. Time meant nothing, that crazy Irish imagination of mine was firing on all cylinders. And you know what, I couldn’t wait to my next shift. To bring more of Mitchell Strongbow to life.
Now confidence is either your best friend, or worst enemy. I thought I had a solid storyline, but I realized, my lack of education quickly rose to the surface, we are talking warp speed. The fear was real.
Luckily for me, several curious coworkers asked what all was I doing pecking away on the keyboard like a chicken. I explained my story. I could tell I intrigue them by my storyline. They would ask for me to send them some stuff. Nervously I did, and the feedback was outstanding.
Originally my storyline was just this 17-year-old asking out a classmate to a New Year’s Eve party. Now, heck, I am in book 17 of the series.

My new challenges are not repeating the same storylines. Remember who all the characters and plotlines are, and also for each contract kill Mitch performs, it has to be unique, not the same bang-bang their dead.
I have also recently retired. I preferred to work night shifts. I would say 80% of my writing would take place between 22:00 and 04:00. My thought process would peak during these hours. Now, no way can I stay up that late. So, I need a new peak writing time, that has been a bit of a challenge, discipline will be the key for me.
And also, the Covid world, it is truly a dark world, not much sunshine in the world these days. The Strongbow series gets very dark at times. It was hard going down the Strongbow rabbit hole as when I came back up, the world much like Mitch’s world, still surrounded by darkness.

Check out his collection here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop

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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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Start, Stop, Never Finish

March 8, 2021– We’ve got a great question today that seems to plague a lot of authors! Let’s dive right in:

Q: “I’m a new writer with a ton of ideas and a very active imagination. I have (no exaggeration) hundreds of story starters which help me write a few chapters, but then my writing fizzles out. I can never seem to finish what I start! This includes not only writing, but hobbies, crafts, and classes. Please help!”

A: I hear this a lot, so you are not alone. It’s wonderful that you have so many story starters; sometimes starting a novel is difficult, but it sounds like the ending is the hardest part in your case. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you writing yourself into a corner? Sometimes what happens is that we write ourselves into a corner. What this means is that we write with no clear direction and we end up hitting a dead end with no where else to go. Outlining can provide you with a specific plan that allows you to know everything you need to know about your story to keep writing.
  2. Are you outlining? Outlining, as mentioned above, allows us to know what happens in our story in regards to characters, character developments, plot, climax, and all of the elements of our book. Without outlining, we don’t have a target. And you can’t hit a target that you can’t see!
  3. Are you setting a specific time to write each day? Sitting down to write every single day is a discipline that takes dedication. Carving out time in your schedule to get the words on the page is the best way to ensure that you finish your work. If you’re having a hard time starting, set a timer to write for ten minutes.
  4. Are you beginning with the end in mind? I’ve never written a book where I didn’t have a clear picture of how it ended. If you don’t write with the end in mind, you’re more likely to get stuck and not finish what you’ve started. Some writers like to have their characters tell them what to write, but I prefer to direct them to where I want them to go.
  5. Are you remembering your past successes? Sometimes we can be discouraged when we write and feel as though we’re getting nowhere. But, take a second when you’re feeling low to remember all of your past successes and everything that you’ve finished! You can do this, you just need to get organized and excited to write!

If you’ve answered these questions and you’re still having trouble with finishing your work, we can help! Send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com for more information and 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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Stepping Out

February 1, 2021– All this month we’ll be focusing on stepping out of our comfort zones  in our writing and career!  As many of you know, my life is about to change dramatically; want to talk about stepping out of comfort zones, I’ve got a story for you! I recently sold my house and have purchased a Pandamonium Publishing House tour bus, that I will be travelling cross country in, for the next 2-5 years. Yep, I’m all in and totally committed to adventure, new experiences, getting out of my comfort zone, and spreading the word across Canada and the United States (when the border opens) about our fabulous authors, artists, and company.

I chose this topic as the next one in our series because I think it’s important. Anything that makes us uncomfortable helps us grow and it’s up to each of us to create the type of life that gets us excited to wake up in the morning! Here are some ways that you can begin to step out of your comfort zone.

  1. List your fears. By making a list of things that scare us the most, we give ourselves the opportunity to find solutions. We can only confront and change what we are willing to acknowledge. What are your fears for your writing life?
  2. Find solutions. The only way to overcome our fears is to look them straight in the eye. Whatever your fear may be there is always a solution. For example, if one of your fears is that you’ll never finish your book, the solution may be to schedule writing time each day, or to hire a ghostwriter.
  3. Take immediate action. I really don’t like running the stairs, but I know that it’s beneficial to my health. So, instead of thinking about it, dreading it, and making excuses as to why I should do it tomorrow, I do it immediately before my brain talks me out of it. Same goes for my writing life; there are some things I really don’t like to do (accounting and necessary paperwork), but I count down from 5 and by the time I hit 1, I’m already started. I don’t give myself an opportunity to cop out and neither should you. Do it, get it done, and move on.
  4. Do the hardest thing first. Do you need to rewrite chapter eight of your novel? Do you need to put together a marketing plan? Do the hardest thing first! You’ll thank yourself later because when you get the hard stuff out of the way, you’ll feel less stressed, more accomplished, happier, and more productive. You won’t have the task hanging over your head and you can do the things you love to do without worrying about what you should be doing.

This month, I can’t wait to explore a whole host of writing exercises, challenges, and topics surrounding getting out of our comfort zones, with you! For more advice, 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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Descriptions Matter

January 28, 2021- What’s the first thing we do when we pick up a book? We flip it over to read the back cover. Why do we do this? Because we want to know what’s inside! Hopefully the description of the story  intrigues us and helps us make a buying decision. How you write your book description can make or break your best selling author status! Think of your book description as a teaser for a movie. Here’s how to write a great description that can entice people to buy your book:

  1. Ask a question-Asking a question to your reader on the back cover, immediately engages your audience. For example, for my book Obsessed with Her, I posed the question, What would you do if your child was missing? How far would you go to find out what happened to her? The reader will personally and internally answer these questions on the spot! If my child was missing, I would go out of my mind, I would be beside myself. I would do whatever it takes to find her. What happened to the child? What if they never find her? I need to know and I need to read this book! See how that worked? A question posed will never go unanswered.  Obsessed with Her: Amazon.ca: Colling, L. L.: Books
  2. Leave them hanging-Give your potential reader a tiny taste of what’s in the book. My biggest pet peeve is when movie trailers give up all their best parts in the trailer; it’s so disappointing when we’ve already seen the ‘meat’ of the movie this way. Don’t make the same mistake with your book description, give your audience just enough to leave them wanting more. Here’s a great example from the book Machinia-Cybersecurity officer Damon Maxwell wakes from cryogenic sleep expecting to be ten years into his future but instead finds himself in the robot ruled empire of Machinia, 2156! Welcomed by Machinia’s omnipotent leader, the Universal, Damon learns that his extraordinary journey is part of a complex plan by the Universal to bait Machinia’s deadly enemy, the Underground into action. But the Universal’s brilliant robot aide, Nepcar, fears his leader’s dangerous scheme and pairs Damon with the beautiful and mysterious Cynthia Lhan hoping their union can prevent a catastrophe. Yet, even as the Universal’s plans fall into place an enigmatic figure appears in Damon’s life that even the mighty Universal is powerless to control. Will Damon ultimately be the destroyer of the robot race or its saviour? Machinia: Amazon.ca: Moscarella, Paul A., Goubar, Alex: Books
  3. Brief Synopsis– Could you imagine reading a book with no description? That would certainly be an odd experience! A brief synopsis of the book let’s your reader decide if they are interested enough about what’s inside to buy the book. Here’s my book Becoming James Cass as an example: It’s business as usual for James Cass, who is a doctor, a father, a husband, and a murderer. With a penchant for prostitutes and an appetite for alcohol, his life spirals out of control, one terrifying event at a time. Will he ever be able to atone for his sins? Or will his demons drag him to his grave? Becoming James Cass: Amazon.ca: Colling, L.L., Goubar, Alex: Books

The methods above work for every genre from kids books to thrillers and everything in between. When describing you book ensure that it’s intriguing to you too; always read the description from your reader’s perspective-you’ll instantly know if it works or not. We’re wrapping up Best-Seller Bootcamp January 4th-31st – Pandamonium Publishing House tomorrow, thanks to everyone who joined us during this exciting course, we hope you enjoyed it!

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Tag (You’re It)

January 21, 2021-As we enter the final week of our Best Seller Bootcamp, here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/best-seller-bootcamp-january-4th-31st/  we have a number of things to still cover! As an author with a platform . are you using your social media to connect ideas with readers? Did you know that there is a specific way to do that? With hashtags! Hashtags are still an effective way to get more people to see your posts when using platforms such as Instagram, and using relevant, targeted hashtags is one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences.

Hashtags # work by organizing and categorizing videos and photos. A post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 13% more audience engagement than posts without a hashtag. If you add a hashtag to a post on your Instagram account, the post will be visible on the matching hashtag page that acts as a directory of all the photos and videos that were tagged with the same hashtag e.g., #writersofinstagram.  Hashtags are most effectively used on Instagram although we do see them on Facebook sometimes, but not as often because people are less likely to read/care about them. Quick tips:

  1. Use a minimum of 10 hashtags on your post. This will ensure that you cover your bases and include tags that are relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach. Use a mixture of very popular tags and less popular tags to make sure that your post gets traction e.g. #authorsofinstagram (4.7 million posts) and #authorscommunity (156,000 posts). You can use up to 30 hashtags on a regular post and 10 on your Instastory.
  2. Think outside the (hashtag) box. It’s important to use relevant tags, but most people don’t get overly thoughtful when hashtagging. They use the common, most popular tags, but they’re missing out on a potential segment that could see their post by not being creative. Let’s say that you wrote a science fiction novel, some of the less obvious hashtags could include #manvsmachine, #robothero, #riseofthemachines, #machinesvsman, #newrelease, #dystopianuniverse etc.
  3. Hashtag in the comments. Don’t put hashtags directly in your post, put them into the comments section of Instagram and be sure to include your company or book hashtag e.g. #pandamoniumpublishinghouse.

There is so much more to talk about when it comes to hashtags and using them most effectively to promote your work and your posts and to connect with your audience, so check out our Best Seller Bootcamp where we dive deeper into this subject: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/best-seller-bootcamp-january-4th-31st/ and more!

 

 

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We Want Your Pet Stories! Official Story Call-Out

January 18, 2021- We’re looking for YOUR pet stories! We’re doing another collaborative book with authors who want to tell us how their pet has made a difference in their life. This book will come out in July/August 2021 and the proceeds will be donated to animals in need. All you have to do to participate is:

  1. Write your story. Please keep it to 1200 words or less.
  2. Send it to pandapublishing8@gmail.com and in the subject line write Pet Story Submission.
  3.  We will contact you to let you know if your story has been chosen.

You will receive a free copy of the book, with the opportunity to purchase additional copies at a discounted rate, and the proceeds will be donated to animals in need. Here’s your chance to become a published author and see your name in print! Submissions will be closed on June 1st. 

Possible topics include: 

-Service/guide animals
-Fostering animals
-How your pet has made a difference in your life
-Therapy animals
-Animal Heroes
-A funny story about your pet (make us laugh out loud!)
-A heartwarming story about your pet
-The joy your pet brings you
-Pet Bereavement and keeping their memory/signs from above that they still watch over us
-Quirky personality traits or habits that your pet has

All pets are welcome! Tell us your story, we can’t wait to read it.

 

 

 

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Publisher vs. Author Role

January 15, 2021– We are officially half-way through our Best-Seller Bootcamp!  Today we’ll be talking about the Publisher vs. Author role when it comes to marketing a best seller. For my self-published friends, guess what? You’re both! You are the Publisher AND Author, so you especially will get a lot from this post. The publishing industry has changed in the fact the publisher is no longer solely responsible for the marketing of your book. The author and publisher together are responsible for collaborative efforts to get the book to the top of the best-seller list! So let’s break it down to see what the expectations are; that way we find clarity, and there are no miscommunications between either party.

Publishers are responsible for: 

  1. Formatting, publishing, editing, and designing your book. We know what’s saleable and we know what the market is looking for in terms of genre, look, voice, and story. We work with teams of people to bring your book to the marketplace and to put it into the hands of readers.
  2. Marketing materials/digital advertising. Signage, postcards, brochures, business cards, press releases, and displays. We craft the messages and deliver the materials to publicists, the media, book sellers, our social media, and to the public. We create specific, targeted marketing plans for our individual authors and their works and then we execute those plans.
  3. Book signings/ events. The publisher is responsible for booking events and signings on your behalf. We make sure that you’re in the spaces that you need to be such as book stores, community events, digital events, and special events such as Comicon etc. We pay for you to be there to chat with your readers and sell copies of your books.
  4. Getting your book into distribution channels. Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Booksellers, independent and local bookstores, online stores, and different countries around the world are where we send your books! As publishers, we work hard to ensure that your book gets exposure by being available to readers everywhere and in as many places as possible.
  5. Digital copies. We ensure that your work is formatted as an e-book so that readers can enjoy it as a digital download. We don’t want any barriers to getting your book to the masses.
  6. Sales. We are responsible for sales (not solely) and royalty payments to the author. Why in the world would we put in all the work above and behind the scenes if we didn’t care about sales? Publishing is a business!

Author responsibilities: 

  1. Writing and edits. Write a great book, this is just the *beginning*of your job as an author. Once you’ve written the book, the real work begins. The editor will make notes and suggested corrections and you are required to fulfil them.
  2. Social media. You are responsible for your author platform. You need to be engaging with your audience, you need to be consistently posting your work and behind the scenes stuff that your readers care about. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon author page etc. are all places to start if you already haven’t. Your author platform should be built BEFORE your book hits the shelves.
  3. Availability. You need to let your publisher know your schedule so that you can be available for upcoming events including in-person and virtual. Commit to doing your part in making your book as successful as it can be. If you put in the work and do it consistently, your book will be a huge success.
  4. Code of conduct. You represent your publisher and are a DIRECT representative of the company. We do not tolerate racism, hate speech, inequality, or anything else that is a violation of the way that we interact with our readers and the public. We expect you to treat others the way you want to be treated and to treat them with kindness, respect, and authenticity. Don’t be rude, check your attitude at the door, and realize that you have an opportunity that most people never get.
  5. Sales. Yep, you read that right. You’re responsible for part of your sales. You are not the only author that the publisher is responsible for, so you had better get to work. If you want that nice, juicy royalty cheque, then take initiative by helping sell your work. You do this by all of the things listed above and by having the right work ethic and attitude. You can tell by your royalty cheque each month how much effort you’re putting in. Don’t like the numbers? Then put the work in and they’ll start to change.

If you’re leaving it up to your publisher to do the work that you need to be doing, you need to re-evaluate your role and contemplate if you should even be writing at all. If you decide that your work ends when you finish writing the book, you will be sadly disappointed. Your publisher has published your book, completed the behind the scenes things such as metadata, marketing, online events, press releases and more, but now the public wants to meet YOU. Have you ever looked at the inside of the book for the publisher name? Probably not. Why? Because we don’t matter, the author matters and the illustrator/graphic designer. The AUTHOR is who people want to meet.

Don’t disappoint your publisher either by doing a half-assed job on your part. Pull your weight, do the things that you’re responsible for because if you don’t, why should we invest SO much time, energy and MONEY into someone who doesn’t care. Plus, if you let us know that you’re not willing to put the work in and do your part, or if you flake out on commitments, or make excuses for not doing your share,  we probably (me ESPECIALLY) won’t invest another CENT into publishing your work or any future works. If you’re not committed, why should we be? That’s the hard truth and I’m not the only publisher who abides by this code of conduct. You want to be a professional author? Then act like it. If you show me that you don’t care, I’ll double down. Those are the rules if you want to play on my team. And if you think that’s harsh, find another publisher, because I won’t lower my standards. DO. YOUR. JOB. because I always do mine.

We want you to succeed! We want you to be a best-seller, but if you don’t do your part, it won’t happen. It’s a lot of work, but worth it! Check out our Best-Seller Bootcamp here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/best-seller-bootcamp-january-4th-31st/

 

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A Special Greeting!

January 15, 2021-Today we have our very own Paul A. Moscarella joining us with a personalized greeting for our Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club! This month we are reading his debut novel, Machinia. Join us every Friday morning at 11 am on Facebook Live as we chat about his new science fiction book. http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/machinia