February 13, 2019– First, let me say a very happybirthday to my momma. I love you and thanks for supporting me in everything. You are the best, and I’m so glad you’re my mom.
You read the title of this post correctly in that your next novel or storybook could very well be sitting on your bookshelf right now! I’m not talking about plagiarizing or copying other artists work, I’m talking about inspiration. As authors, we own a ton of different books that range from fiction to non-fiction, to romance, thrillers, biographies, magazines, historical fiction, and everything in between because we read as much as we write.
A few months back when I decided it was time to pitch a children’s story to some agents in New York, I knew I needed some fresh material. I also knew that I made a promise to myself that in 2019 I would use what I have. Now, normally, I would have gone to the bookstore and bought a bunch of books for inspiration, but this time, I went to my well-stocked library and pulled a book off the shelf. I was determined to take an idea and make it into a story, and that’s precisely what I did. I can’t give you any more details on this until it’s the right time, but I’ll update this post with news from what transpired with the agents:)
So, how can you use what you have on your shelf to write a great story that’s your own? Here’s how:
Start with non-fiction. You’ve heard the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction and if you’ve ever thumbed through a newspaper you’ll know that it’s true! Use headlines from your daily delivery that catch your attention. Here are few that I’ve put in my back pocket for later use: Woman searched for 24 years for the daughter she was forced to give up, Kitty hitches 40 km ride to Grimsby in a garbage truck, and Spiders Alive-The eight-legged exhibition. Also, think about using some headlines from around the world, a quick Google search will help you find inspiration.
Page 47, paragraph 2, sentence 3– This is a fun way to start a story! Quick, go to your bookshelf and choose a book. Turn to page 47, paragraph 2, sentence 3. Here’s what I found from the book that I chose by following the above directions: Toe wrestling began in the town of Wetton in 1970. How awesome is that for a starter? You can do this with any book and with any numbers you choose.
Turn to professional publications– I subscribe to a bunch of publications that are relevant to writing and publishing and one of my favourites is Writer’s Digest. It’s always packed full of information and good advice and sometimes even an idea or two. Pick up your trusted magazines either digitally or the ones that are covering the sofa and flip through them for ideas. Here’s one that I picked up from the most recent issue of Writer’s Digest: Investigative reporting often involves tracking down reluctant sources… Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What about a story about a reporter who goes to get answers from a source and they end up running for their life? What if they’ve uncovered a secret that’s too big to keep hidden? What if the reporter finds out that the reluctant source is their spouse? And the list of ideas go on and on.
There you have it; inspiration for your next book is almost certainly lurking in the corners of your bookshelf! It’s up to you to find it:) Happy Writing! X LLB
December 31, 2018– Well friends, it’s been an epic year in so many ways; I started some new adventures, made lots of new friends, traveled, and of course published a few books. But what about the books I read? It would be unfair of me not to mention them as some of them made such an impact on me, that my life and way of thinking will never be the same.
60 books in a year was my goal, and I’m happy to say that I reached it. For all of you numbers nuts, that works out to approximately 1.15 books per week. Now, remember that not all of the books I read were in paperback format, some of them were audio books, and e-books. This method of “reading” allowed me to listen to books while travelling and while doing mundane tasks. I know that without audio books, it would have been much harder for me to reach my goal of 60 books read for the year.
Let’s get on with it! Here is my list of books that I read in 2018: (A quick search on Amazon will show you details and the authors)
5 Thieves of Happiness
Murder, She Wrote- Hook, Line, and Murder
The Million Dollar Blog
Murder, She Wrote- Dying to Retire
Never Lose a Customer Again
Mind Over Mind
Outwitting the Devil
Murder, She Wrote- Scared to Death
Every Breath You Take
The Couple Next Door
You are Not so Smart
The Brain that Changes Itself
Tools of Titans
Make Your Bed
Discipline Equals Freedom
The Power of Gratitude
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
To Kill a Mockingbird
Do the Work
12 Rules for Life
The Checklist Manifesto
The 5 Second Rule
The Obstacle is the Way
The 10x Rule
33 Strategies of War
All Marketers are Liars
The Toyota Way
The Magic of Thinking Big
The 48 Laws of Power
Challenge Your Potential
Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
The Positive Power of Negative Thinking
How I write
On Writing (Stephen King)
The Psychology of Winning
1 Page Marketing Plan
The Art of War
The Idiot Brain
Screenwriting for Dummies
I See You
The Woman in Cabin 10
The Sales Bible
Save the Cat
Book Yourself Solid
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
So, there you have it! I look forward to reading another 60 books in 2019. Remember, you can never be overdressed or overeducated. Happy Reading! X LLB
December 10, 2018- This is super fun! Each one of our books is very special in their own right. Check out the details below on what’s hiding in our books!
Did you know that in Miranda the Very LOUD Mouse, there is a hidden piece of cheese on almost every page? Can you find them? Also, on the page where Miranda is at the museum, there are some pretty famous art pieces that include Michelangelo’s David statue, Starry Night painting by Van Gogh, The Scream painting by Edvard Munch, and of course, The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
The book Pants, by Tamara Botting, has different pieces of fabric that were digitally scanned in to get the colours and textures on the page. This book also contains colouring pages at the back for kids to design their very own pair of pants!
Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog and Spiders Wearing Sweaters are both hand painted and then scanned in digitally to an illustration program! That’s why both books have such a unique look. Also, Spiders Wearing Sweaters can be ordered with or without the adorable plush spider that came in your kit!
Sammy, the Singing Cat, features some very famous Jazz artists on the wall of one of the music schools; Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra make a cameo, but this time in animal form!
The Adventures of Milan and Friends; Trouble with Trolls (A Halloween Tail) has the titles of our books on the spine of the books that are featured in the treehouse! Plus, there’s a tribute to all of our animal friends that we have lost, on the wall of the same page. Also, Milan is a real golden retriever in the author’s life!
Phillip Star has the best ending! You’ll have to read it😊
Panda, the Very Bad Cat, is based on the author’s real cat named Panda and a smug shot of said cat is featured in the back of the book. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this title is donated to animal shelters to help animals in need.
Deer Diary features a sneak peek on an overlapping character! There is a poster on the wall of the last page that features the character Frog from Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog.
All of the books by Lacey L. Bakker, feature a PANDA in one form or another as a hat’s off to the book that started this entire company and adventure which was Panda, the Very Bad Cat!
Unfrogged, by Tamara Botting, features a princess named Meredith who is based entirely on the author and how clumsy she is. Tamara let this book sit for ten years before getting it published!
The Old Farmer’s Treasure– is based on the author’s husband’s childhood in Northern Ontario. There is also a sequel to this book coming in 2019 where the boys are all grown up!
Obsessed with Her– Was consulted on by the head of the Toronto Homicide Unit for not only credibility in some scenes, but also accuracy! This book is rated R and had to have a sticker put on the front of it because of the complaints that we were receiving. It has mature themes, language, and violence, and is not for the easily offended or squeamish. Also, the PREQUEL to Obsessed with Her, titled, Becoming James Cass, will be available for pre-order on our site in January 2019 and will be released in February 2019. This book currently has a 4.5-star rating on Good Reads. While the author was writing this book, her husband was away for five weeks, and she had to stop writing because she was scared to be alone! A lot of people think the author of this book is a man, but they are mistaken. And one more thing? The front cover gives away the ending:)
November 30, 2018– C.S. Lewis’ birthday was technically yesterday (November 29) but Mark Twain’s is today! Let’s celebrate both authors right now by sharing some interesting facts about them and their works. We’ll start with C.S. (the beloved author of Chronicles of Narnia)!
C.S. stands for Clive Staples. He was known by his initials rather than his full name because, at the time, it was considered more formal and intellectual to be known professionally by initials rather than first name.
He hated his first name. So much so that he nicknamed himself “Jacksie” after his childhood pet (a dog) that was struck and killed by a car. As an adult, he went by the name Jack.
J.R.R. Tolkien was one of his BFF’s. Both met at Oxford University in England where they were professors. They were life-long friends even after some heated discussions and disagreements about each other’s work!
Let’s talk about Mark Twain, most famously known for writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (two of my most favourite books ever!)
He wasn’t expected to live. Mark Twain, whose real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was very sickly as a baby and well into childhood to about the age of seven. Twain was born two months early and was the sixth of seven children. He was one of three to survive into adulthood.
He almost drowned… nine times. Before the age of thirteen, Twain almost drowned a documented, nine times. I wonder how many times weren’t documented!
He was born two weeks after Halley’s Comet. The comet crosses the Earth’s skies every 75 years. In 1909 Mark Twain predicted that he would die with Halley’s comet the next year. Just as Mark Twain predicted, he passed the night after the comet lit up the sky at the age of 75. It was the second death he predicted, the first being his brother’s.
I hope that you’ll take the time to celebrate both of these iconic authors by reading some of their works! Happy Birthday to C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain.
November 28, 2018– I know that authors are usually introverts who enjoy spending a lot of time alone. If we didn’t enjoy our alone time, we’d never get anything done. Spending time in solitude is essential when trying to finish your novel, but spending too much time by your lonesome is detrimental to your business and sales.
Networking is essential to your business of writing, whether you’re traditionally or self-published. Aligning yourself with like-minded individuals allows you to connect and build relationships, and after all, isn’t that the point? Here are some tips below on how to get networking:
Join a professional association. I am a member of three writing associations that make sense for what I write about. I urge you to do the same. Do a quick Google search for writing associations that you can apply to. The first association I belong to is the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in Canada, the second is The SOA (Society of Authors) in the United Kingdom, and the third is Sisters in Crime, the American National Chapter. All of these associations have publications that I subscribe to, and they offer networking opportunities around the world. For example, this coming February I will be attending a weekend conference in New York City with the SCBWI, where I am excited to meet my colleagues to build new and existing relationships. All of these have local chapters which I drop in on from time to time. Joining professional associations has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because not only does it help sell my books, it also allows me to keep on top of what is going on in the industry and has unlocked many new doors and opportunities. You never know who you’re going to meet that can change your life or who’s life YOU can change!
Join your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI. BNI stands for Business Network International, and it’s a very valuable source of referrals for people. I just recently became a member, and after the first meeting, I had three people ask me about what services I offer and if they could get a price quote on some special projects. Your Chamber of Commerce is also a great place to network and meet new people who could be looking for your services as a writer, or even wanting to read your next book. Don’t forget, wanting referrals is great, but you MUST build meaningful relationships first. It’s not only about what other people can do for you, but it’s also what you can do for them too.
Give back. Support a cause that you believe in. At Pandamonium Publishing House, we support a lot of causes that are close to our hearts; AAA minor hockey for a local team, Concussion, and Brain Injury clinics, kids derbies of all kinds, and of course, animal rescues and charities. Doing this fills our bucket, and we meet a ton of people along the way. Give freely without expecting anything in return. Talk to people, enjoy their company, and make a difference at the same time.
So go! Get out there and start connecting with people, you’ll be so glad that you did.
November 26, 2018– We’re talking about the business of writing again and this goes for authors too so listen up! One isn’t the loneliest number, it’s the most dangerous and here’s why; if you’re relying on one of anything, you’re about to have major problems.
The number one makes your business fragile, brittle, and wobbly. Here are some things that are bad when it comes to the number one:
You only have one book.
You only have one source of leads.
You only have one major supplier.
You only have one type of product.
You only have one major customer.
You only have one type of service.
You only have one source of income.
Why is this so bad? Because having one of anything simply leads to ONE, SINGLE point of failure. This means that any small change in circumstances could devastate your business and your career. Don’t put yourself in this situation, start working on multiples. Multiple books, multiple income streams, multiple buyers and suppliers and products. This way, if one thing fails, you can pivot to the next thing. I run my business under the constant question of, “WHAT IF?” and this way of thinking has saved me more than once.
What if your largest customer leaves you for the competition or they don’t require your products/services anymore?
What if your main source of leads dries up?
What if your main marketing strategy stops working?
What if your supplier goes out of business?
What if you don’t have e-books and the bookstore you have your book in goes out of business?
What if, what if, what if? Some people may disagree with my way of thinking and say that I’m being pessimistic and looking at the glass as half empty. Think what you will but this strategy allows me to prepare for the worst and hope for the best; it also allows me to have a plan of action should the crap hit the fan. This way of thinking allows me to feel more in control and that I can handle anything that gets thrown my way because I constantly have a backup plan.
As an author and entrepreneur are you prepared for the worst? Things change constantly and change is the only constant. Be prepared and get to work with new books, new products, new strategies, and new contacts.
November 21, 2018– This was a really fun idea for us to come up with and I’m so excited to share it with you guys! Pandamonium Publishing House is offering you a chance to read what we’re reading each month with a surprise book, mailed right to your home. Currently, this option is for adults only, but I’m sure we’ll have something for kids in the works, soon!
We read a ton of books around here, last year the total was sixty! We read everything from non-fiction, self-help, business development, mystery, romance, thrillers, all types of fiction, and basically anything that we can get our hands on.
Our surprise book is shipped out every month on the 5th. Your book comes gift wrapped for an extra element of fun! Here’s how the program works:
Go to SHOP at the top of this page
Click on the MYSTERY BOOK OF THE MONTH option
Enter your payment and shipping info
Wait for your surprise book to come in the mail
That’s it! Pretty simple and there are no subscriptions required if you want to join one month but not the next, no problem, the choice is yours!
As an added bonus, there will be a list of questions emailed to you for discussion with us or your book club. We’ll review each book on our site as well. This makes a fabulous and unique gift for the hard to buy for person in your life…we all have one;)
November 14, 2018– We read a lot of books around here at Pandamonium Publishing House, as we should because we are writers. I’m a firm believer that the more you read, the better you write. We like to read all types of books including books that aren’t always in our genre. I’m currently reading an interesting and pretty short book that’s non-fiction and it’s written by Admiral William H. McRaven (talk about a cool name) who is retired from the United States Navy. The book is called, Make Your Bed, Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world.
Admiral McRaven gave a commencement speech to the University of Texas students, which you can view on Youtube. His school of thinking is that if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have accomplished the first task of your day. He also believes that making your bed reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter and if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
This is my second time reading this book in a year. I read it at the beginning of the year and I’m re-reading it now. This book is fantastic because McRaven is right! I made my bed every single day except for four days over the past year and let me tell you, boy did it make a world of difference when I didn’t! When I neglected to make my bed, I went to bed restless, had a terrible sleep, couldn’t shut off my brain, and felt unsettled. That’s not to say that every day that I did make my bed was a great day, but the point was that no matter what life threw at me, I could come home, get into my perfectly made bed, and disappear from the world. Daily life requires structure and making your bed is the first step.
I hope that you’ll read this book as there are a lot of fantastic stories and lessons within. (My favourite chapter is number four, the sugar cookie story!)
November 5, 2018- It really depends on the generation that you grew up in as to how you answer the question above! I personally think that e-books have their place in the world, but nothing beats a paperback.
I love e-books for specific things, especially non-fiction because quite rarely do I ever read a non-fiction book from cover to cover. I end up skimming the pages for the information I need, highlighting it, and then leaving with the info that I came for. It’s easy and free when you subscribe to something like Kindle unlimited.
That being said, nothing beats the smell of a paper book. The feeling of turning the pages, the sound of the pages turning, folding down the corner of the page to mark where you left off (I know, I’m a monster!), and the kinesthetic involvement of the entire experience is the absolute best. E-books don’t hold a candle to traditional paper in my opinion.
Now, I know what some of you are going to say, “But I love my Kindle for the portability of the books when I go on vacation!” Yes, I do too, but if I could bring along seven or eight of my favourite paperbacks without taking up too much room in my suitcase, I would.
Let’s look at some reasons why paperbacks are making a come back.
Physical books make a better gift. When was the last time that you gifted someone an e-book? That’s what I thought, probably never. There’s something about the process of wading through a bookstore to find the perfect book for someone you love. They open the gift bag or tear off the wrapping paper and immediately flip the book over to read the back cover, then they thumb through the pages and tell you that they can’t wait to snuggle up and read it tonight!
Physical books are easier to share. Yes, you can share e-books and lots of people do, but paperbacks are easily shared from reader to reader. Do you know how many times I’ve lent friends books never to see them again…the books not the friends. Yep, it’s true, paperbacks make their way into the hands of many people. My suggestion is that if you love a particular title, buy two of them because the one you lend will never return.
Reading a print book sets a good example for your kids. We want kids to read, we want them to experience the magic of books, and we want them to use their imagination. What better way to get kids to read than to be caught reading, ourselves? Monkey see monkey do.
Paper books are easy to scribble on. I know that some people are gasping in horror while reading this sentence. Yes, I mark important passages in books and I even scribble down thoughts in the margins. As an author, there are a lot of ideas that pop into my head while reading and sometimes a certain passage will speak to me. I highlight the words, underline sentences, and box off really important points.
So, which camp are you in? E-books or paperback? Sound off in the comments below!
October 31, 2018– Halloween is officially my favourite holiday. Ok, so it’s not really a holiday, but I think of it as one. The decorating with skulls, black cats, and spiders inside and outdoors, candy, and of course, costumes! What is there NOT to like? I admit we go all out for Halloween because it’s the most wonderful time of the year. So, in celebration of this beautiful day, I’m going to share some interesting facts with you about one of the greatest spooky books of all time, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she was only 18 years old and by this time, had two children. Frankenstein was published by the time she was 20!
Frankenstein was born out of an unusual climate. It was when Lord Byron suggested a ghost story competition while the Shelley’s visited Switzerland during the year without summer. The group of friends was forced to stay inside most of the time because of the immense amount of rain and they read ghost stories to beat the boredom. Of course, Mary was the winner!
Mary got the idea for Frankenstein from a dream. She began working on her story the next day, and said, “What terrified me will terrify others.”
Frankenstein is the name of the doctor, not the monster! Victor Frankenstein is the scientist. The monster remains unnamed and is referred to throughout the book as monster, creature, demon, and it.
The book was slammed by critics. Of course it was, insert eye roll here, because people didn’t understand it. In 1818 when the book came out, critics bashed it and said about the work, “What a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity this work presents.” Sigh, I hope one day someone will say that about my works.
I hope you learned some things you didn’t already know about this amazing novel, written by an equally fantastic woman. If you haven’t read Frankenstein, I highly recommend it. Have a safe and happy Halloween from all of us at Pandamonium Publishing House!
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