Posted on Leave a comment

Wherever You Go (There You Are)

September 24, 2020– Before COVID happened, I popped into an Indigo bookstore in my city. Bookstores are my happy place, and I love to browse the different sections and topics; I always seem to find my way into the children’s area. Often, the store has local author visits where writers can set up a table and sell their books to customers in-store.

I wandered over to the author’s table, and the woman looked up at me as she was sitting there reading a book. I was the first to engage in conversation; I asked her how it was going, and if she had been busy with customers. She told me she hadn’t, and she wasn’t really into the “sales part” of writing and that she preferred to write the books and stay “behind the scenes.”  I asked her what she thought would happen after she published her book, and she said that she hadn’t thought that far ahead. I asked her about her sales goals and if she had a plan for her book going forward. Again, she said she “hadn’t thought that far ahead.” She went on to tell me that she had spent a pile of money self-publishing her book and that now she had a garage full of unsold copies that she wasn’t sure what she was going to do with now. She also said that she wished she had more sales and that she wanted to, at minimum, break even.

I see this a lot, and it’s a shame because her book was quite good and the subject matter was interesting. As an author, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you where you want to be?
  2. What are you doing to get there?
  3. What can you improve?

If we use the woman above as an example to answer these questions, here’s what we come up with:

  1. She is not where she wants to be. What she wants is more sales, she wants to break even, and she wants to get rid of the inventory of books in her garage. She should be specific about her goals.
  2. She is going to book store events, but not much else. She needs to start brainstorming about how she can sell her books—Eg. Online platform, other book stores, schools, festivals and events etc.
  3. There are a lot of things she can improve; the first thing is engaging with customers when she has them in front of her, hand out literature, talk more about her book, get on social media etc.

You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. So are you where you want to be as an author? What goals do you have for your work? How will you get there? What plan of action will you take? How will you improve your current situation? These are important questions that need answers.

Posted on Leave a comment

Run Your Way to Inspiration

September 10, 2020-As long as it’s not raining, you can usually find me running outside in the early morning in my neighbourhood. I love saying hello to familiar faces and smiling back at the people who give me cheery grins and waves. There are people walking and biking, some are on rollerblades, and most have dogs; it’s usually the same crowd day in and day out with a few exceptions.

I like to make up stories about the people and things that I see while I run; Where are they going after this? What if their dog could talk? Does their dog talk to the other dogs it meets? Where does that staircase lead? What is that skunk doing, and what is he digging for? What if we were all running from Zombies? Would I survive? And the list goes on.

Sometimes the ideas are silly, and sometimes the ideas are stuff that I can work with. The point is that I’m observing the things around me and being inspired by them.

Inspiration comes in all forms; let’s explore:

  1. Setting-Sunsets, trees, trails, staircases, houses, waterfronts are all examples of settings you’ll see on your run that could make it into your story.
  2. Animals-Skunks, foxes, birds, squirrels, coyotes, and rabbits are all animals that I’ve seen on the running trail that would make great characters for stories!
  3. People-runners, rollerbladers, walkers, older adults, middle-aged people, workout buffs, personal trainers, kids, and teenagers are great examples of people to write about.
  4.  Professions-Garbage collectors, construction workers, road pavers, gardeners, roofers, dog walkers, and babysitters are some professions that could start your story off right.

Looking at this list inspires me! How many ideas can you think of using the list of things above? Happy Writing, X LLB

Posted on Leave a comment

Query Me This

August 10, 2020-Do you know what a query letter is and what purpose it serves for a publisher? If not, you’re missing some important information! Publishers expect several things when an author submits their manuscript for consideration, and one of those items is a query letter.

By definition, a query letter is what introduces you and your work to a publisher. Its primary purpose is to get the publisher interested in your book so that they want to read more! Well written query letters whet the publisher’s appetite and pique our interest, poorly written ones make us recycle your query and move on to the next one.

There are four essential parts to a query letter:

1) Title, word count, genre, and category-Including a working title is fine as well as where you would place your book in the market. The rest is self-explanatory for this first step.
2) Brief description of your story and the HOOK-The hook is what gets us hooked on your story! What does your character want? What will they do to get it? And who is preventing them from getting it? Remember to include the ending of your book. We don’t like to be kept guessing.
3) A bit about yourself-Credentials, awards, classes, continuing education etc. And why you wrote the book that you’re sending to us and any other relevant information.
4) Thank you and a closing line-Thanks for reading my manuscript. I hope to hear from you soon. Nice and clean and simple.

For more information on how to properly query, check out my book, Advice from a Publisher (Insider tips for getting your work published) here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/advice-from-a-publisher-insider-secrets-for-getting-your-work-published/

Query letters are essential! Don’t let this one page be the thing that stands between you and a publishing deal. X LLB

book cover publisher

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Putting the Pieces Together

July 17, 2020– She’s one of our own and we love her to bits! You know her as the author of Pants and Unfrogged, Tamara Botting; she’ll have two more books coming in 2021, so be sure to look for them in stores, on Amazon, and on our site. I’m thrilled to have her guest blog for us today!

I’ve had a longstanding love of Disney’s animated masterpiece, Beauty and the Beast. I wore out my first VHS copy of the film (yes, I’m that old and yes, it can be done). I bought the DVD as a teen, then bought the DVD again a few years later when the special collector’s edition came out. (So far, I’ve resisted the siren’s call of the Blu-ray). To this day, I can quote the opening of the film verbatim.

So, when I found a 1,000 piece Beauty and the Beast-themed puzzle, I decided to splurge a bit. (Hey, it’s not like I was going out, so why not bring a little entertainment home?) The thing is, as much as I like the idea of puzzles, I’ve only worked on a few over the years, mostly when I’m at a friend’s house, and they have one in progress.

Now that I’m working on one all on my own, I realize it’s a much bigger task than I’d anticipated. There’s a lot to work with, and a lot of pieces to try and fit together. And sometimes it takes a really long time to realize that what you thought was part of Belle’s dress is actually Beast’s waistcoat.

In a way, working on a puzzle is sort of like working on a book. Sometimes you find it’s easier to work on the framing; other times, you find yourself diving right into the middle of it. Sometimes the piece you thought should go in one place actually belongs in an entirely different spot.

It can be really easy to get discouraged when you have part of it coming together in one spot, part of it coming together in another, and for the life of you, you can’t figure out how those two parts come together.

But if you keep picking away at it, keep coming back to it, and keep on just telling yourself that you’re going to stick with this and get it done, eventually the parts will fit together. The bits that seem to have no home prove to actually be really important parts of the whole picture.

And once you have it all put together, you get to enjoy not only the completed project, but also the fact that your table is now clear, and you have room to work on a whole new project.

Because let’s be honest – whether writing or puzzles, it’s pretty hard to stop at just one.

beautyandthebeast

Posted on Leave a comment

Pumpkin-Ize Your Writing

July 6, 2020-I’m hoping to grow some massive, prize-winning pumpkins this year to the tune of 2500 pounds; knowing this is quite a feat, I thought I’d enlist the help of experts. I went to Amazon to look for a book on pumpkin growing when I stumbled across a book titled, The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz. The book is NOT about growing pumpkins, but growing your business like you would a gigantic pumpkin, there are steps that need to be taken! To grow a pumpkin, you need to:

  1. Plant seeds
  2. Water the seeds
  3. Remove diseased/damaged pumpkins
  4. Weed the plant
  5. Identify the stronger faster-growing pumpkin leaves and get rid of the rest, repeat until there’s only one pumpkin per vine
  6. Focus ALL of your attention on the big, beautiful, strong pumpkin and nurture it like a human baby
  7. Watch it grow

What does any of this have to do with your writing?

  1. Plant seeds. Brainstorm ideas for your writing, write down as many possible topics or themes as you can think of. Don’t hold back and don’t self-edit at this point.
  2. Water seeds, removed diseased damaged pumpkins, weed the plant and identify the fastest growing pumpkin leaving one per vine.  Pick one idea and go with it, get rid of the bad ideas and focus on your very best one. 
  3. Focus all of your attention on the strong pumpkin and nurture it. Focus on your idea for your novel and forget about writing anything else. Nurture your novel, take care of it, edit, rewrite, be thorough with your research and make necessary changes, add more plot twists, develop characters further etc.
  4.  Watch it grow. Put the work in and watch yourself grow as an author. Keep growing and developing your skills. 

Who knew that such good writing advice could come from pumpkin growing? Happy planting, X LLB

IMG-7470

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Guest Blogger, Annie Kittiphanh

May 15, 2020– It’s my pleasure to introduce our guest blogger, Annie Kittiphanh. She is the author of Dealer, a new thriller coming out on July 1st from Pandamonium Publishing House! Let’s hear a bit about Annie in her own words:

My name is Anne-Marie Kittiphanh, I’m 34 years old; I went through a lot of familial adversity & nearly lost my life from a hereditary disease, I had a huge comprehension issue growing up – I had a difficult time expressing myself verbally & literally, I wasn’t even able to write a correct “E” in my name it was the lower case, upside down & backwards(if being illiterate was an understatement & being only 3 years old).

As a toddler I was pulled out of normal lessons of classes to learn how to understand certain words in the English language when I was first taken for special lessons; in my mind, I thought I was in trouble for something I did, later on, I began to understand what I was doing & just went with it – I went from hating school to overly immensely enjoying my literary lessons.

As a preteen I wanted to do something in the medical field, helping people who were not well; giving back kind of thing, like being one of the front line people – someone who gets called to help in unpredictable situations, whether I get praised or not I know that I was doing something for someone.

As a teenager I had high hopes of becoming something or someone in the world, it wasn’t until I got faced with 2 different challenges of a lifetime one involving an older brother who was in a car accident & Lupus S.L.E. that nearly took my life straight from under me; I wasn’t exactly able to write anything down throughout my life, because of fear of what my family would think of me – as my brother’s ordeal got better, my condition slowly became worse.

By the time I was 16 my older brother was better & I ended up fighting for my life, the one thing that helped me get through my darkest year; is the music of my favourite boyband(The Backstreet Boys “BSB”), when I was finally able to get better at 17 I was able to meet the youngest member of the band which helped give me a full recovery; by this point, I was only able to do some writing, mostly diary entries one every day to help with my thoughts – which helped a little bit while dealing with bullying & peer pressure.

The year I turned 20, I did research on what I had Lupus S.L.E & my favourite boyband(BSB); I found out that there was something in common, an older sibling of one of the members had passed from Lupus Cancer – I was able to meet that band member through their foundation(DLF) when I met that band member he gave the biggest sound advice of my life.

When I explained to the band member what I had, he said “You’re strong, you can help others with your story”; after that everything else became history, I began to research fan fiction. I have done lots of visuals, several novels(some lost or deleted); from aspiring Nurse to Author.

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming this remarkable writing to our House! We can’t wait for you to meet her.

Dealer cover

 

Posted on Leave a comment

The Value of Book Clubs

March 20, 2020-Book clubs can be a valuable source of ideas and recommendations from one reader to the next. Here’s what you can learn from becoming a member of a book club in your area. *Due to recent world events, the availability and creation of online/digital book clubs are an excellent idea!

  1. You widen your views, ideas, and perception of the world. Have you ever discussed a book with a colleague and you each took away a different message from it? Of course, you have! No one sees the world the way that you do, and that’s what’s most exciting! A good debate/discussion around a topic gets new ideas flowing and expands our thinking. It allows us, even for a brief moment,  to experience the world through another person’s eyes.
  2. It betters your own writing skills. We know that the more we read, the better writers we become. Reading different genres that are offered at book clubs, expand our horizons and help us leave our reading comfort zones. Perhaps we’ve only been reading historical fiction, and our book club picks a new psych thriller! This will only help you in the long run as an author because it will expose you to different voices, points of view, narrative, and dialogue, as well as plot structures and character development.
  3. You’ll gain new friends. There will be people who you instantly connect with in your reading club and people who you won’t. That’s ok! Bonding over books is magical, and book clubs help develop life-long friendships in places all over the world.
  4. You’ll finish the book. This is an important one! I knew a woman who said one of the reasons she joined a local book club was because she had a reading goal that year, and the club was the only way that she was going to reach it! A book club will “force” you to finish the book, which is a good thing.

We’re working on a lot of things around here and with the current outbreak, we are trying to find new ways to connect with our readers. Soon, we’ll have an online book club that you’ll be able to participate in each month. We’re just figuring out the dynamics of that and the best way to communicate with our book club members remotely. Stay tuned for more details!

woman-1839798_640

Posted on Leave a comment

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!

Posted on 1 Comment

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!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Publisher’s Corner…(I answer your most burning questions)

April 26, 2019– Do you guys think that we should have a weekly blog post titled Publisher’s Corner (inspired by Coach’s Corner with the ever fabulous Don Cherry)where I answer your most urgent questions about publishing/writing? I do and last time I checked, I own the place so I can do whatever I want. Every Friday from here on out, we’ll do it! Sound good? Let’s get started.

I received an email last week that asked, “When should I send my novel to a publisher for consideration?”

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind for submitting your work to a publisher.

  1. AFTER your manuscript is completed.
  2. AFTER you do your research (see who is accepting manuscripts and if that publisher is accepting your genre)
  3. AFTER you query the publisher and they REQUEST your manuscript. Your query better be good by the way.

“But Lacey, why wouldn’t I query first to see if they’re even interested? Then if they are, I’ll finish my book.

Think of it this way, you send us a killer query letter, we love it, and want to see the manuscript, imagine our disdain if your manuscript is unfinished. You’ve completely wasted your time and ours. This is comparable to a real estate agent saying to you, “I’ve found your dream home! It’s got everything you want, a pool, a big backyard, and three car garage!” You’re excited, right? Then she says, “But it’s not for sale.”  That’s how publishers feel when you tell us the manuscript is incomplete. Don’t ever do this, make sure your work is finished before ever considering querying us.

“But Lacey, can’t I just send my book out to a bunch of publishers to better my chances?” 

No. Next question. Just kidding; all kidding aside though, you need to research the publisher that is the best fit for your work. Let’s say that you wrote a middle-grade adventure novel and you sent your manuscript to a publisher who only publishes romantic fiction for adults…again, you’ve wasted your time and ours. Do your research, know who you are submitting to, and know what they publish. If you submit something to us that is totally out of our scope, we realize that not only did you NOT do your research but maybe you don’t care enough about a book deal to do your homework. It also makes us leery of working with you because you’ve shown us that you can’t follow instructions.

“But Lacey, can’t I include my manuscript with the query? It will be more efficient and I won’t have to wait as long for a response.”

Do NOT send your manuscript with the query. If we want it, we’ll ask for it. You also need to be aware of the guidelines. A lot of the time publishers request the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the BODY of the email. We don’t open attachments so if you’ve ignored the guidelines and sent us your query and manuscript together…you may as well consider it trashed because we won’t open it.

I know that a lot of this advice seems a bit harsh, but this is the reality of publishing. I want you to have your best shot at success. X LLB