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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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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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It’s Never Too Late!

September 20, 2019- It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. Take it from Paul Tasner who worked for other people for 40 years, before he founded his own start-up at age 66, pairing his idea for a business with his experience and passion! Check out the video below:

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People Hate Change…So Who Gives AF?

April 22, 2019– Happy Easter, everyone. I trust that you enjoyed the time spent with your family over the long weekend and around here, our weekend was also about enjoying playoff hockey! Whatever you ended up doing, I hope that you had a nice time. Today’s blog post is about change and why humans hate it. It’s a bit of a rant on my part, so buckle up.

Recently I started going to a personal trainer because I want to get my endurance back and some strength back that I had lost over the past year. Someone who will remain unnamed, said the following right to my face, “Oh dear, I hope that you don’t get too bulky and start to look masculine.” WOW! Can you believe it? It took everything in me not to throw this person a beating. But, I digress. People don’t know how to keep their mouths shut and they seem to think that everyone is entitled to their opinions whether asked for or not.

So what if I get super ripped? So what if I start to look better and feel better about my strength and endurance levels? Does this person know that about a year ago after my concussion that I could barely stand? Do they know that I could not lift my left arm higher than my waist because the pain was excruciating? Do they know that I wasn’t able to exercise for a year without having massive anxiety attacks? Of course not. People only see what they want to see and they don’t ever have all of the facts.

The point is, people are judgemental idiots no matter what, but ESPECIALLY when the people around them start to change. People fear change. They fear it because they are uncomfortable with it and if you change too much, they may have to change too; they’re quite content doing what they’re doing and being who they are. They don’t want to have to step up their game or put in the work, or deal with change because that would require being uncomfortable on their part. They like things just the way they are.

That’s why people are going to say, “Oh, you’re writing a book? Isn’t that hard?” Or “I’ve heard it’s super hard being an indie author and most of them don’t make more than a few hundred dollars a year.” Or “How are you going to write a book, take care of your kids, and go to your job, isn’t that a bit selfish of you?”

The bottom line? Who Gives AF? Do what you want to do because life is too short. There will always be people who say you can’t do something or that you shouldn’t do something or that it will be too risky or too hard. Those people are showing you THEIR limitations, NOT yours.

So as they say in hockey, “Keep your chin up, kid,” and do whatever you want to do anyway. Never apologize for trying to be the best version of yourself no matter WHO you make uncomfortable.

Go Bruins, X LLB

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Did You Blow It?

April 12, 2019– Uh oh, did you totally screw up? Did you drop the ball? Did you blow your one and only shot at properly marketing your book? Well, the good news is, you can start over and begin again, this time more intelligently. Today we’re talking about the top three book marketing mistakes that authors make. Is this you? I hope not.

  1. Starting too late. This is the number one thing that will KILL your sales and have you spending money like it’s no one’s business. Waiting until your book is published before marketing it is a terrible idea. It is NEVER too early to start marketing your book. NEVER TOO EARLY.
  2. Scattered efforts. If your book is for everyone, it’s for no one. I say this all the time. Same goes for your book launch. If you’re scattering your marketing efforts then you’re also scattering your money and time. Please don’t market your book to everyone! This is a huge mistake and such a waste of energy.
  3. Phase Fatigue. Hold the phone, there’s more marketing? Honestly, where did you think you were coming today? Yes, of course, there is more marketing to be done. Marketing is like a human baby, if you don’t feed and water it daily, it’s going to die. Ok, maybe I should have used a plant as a better example. The book launch is only the FIRST phase of your marketing plan! If you don’t continue to nurture each phase of your launch, your book will wither and die (annnnd there’s the plant analogy).

If you’ve done any of these things or haven’t done them properly, stop. STOP. RIGHT. NOW. Focus your efforts, come up with a plan, and start again. I’m always here to help if you want a free consult (30 minutes) all you need to do is email me (pandapublishing8@gmail.com) and I’ll guide you back onto the yellow brick road.

Here’s to your success! X LLB

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This Could Be The Shortest Blog Post Ever…

April 3, 2019– Did you see the image that goes along with this blog post? It says, How to Sell Books Without Marketing. I’m going to tell you exactly how to do that in two simple words, YOU. CAN’T.  It makes me crazy when people go around spewing incorrect and irresponsible advice to self-published authors who really want to sell their books.

Marketing is the catalyst that moves EVERY business, not just the book business! Without marketing, how are prospective readers ever going to find out about your work? Without marketing how can they find where to buy your book? Where can they find out about you as an author and how can they find out about new releases you have coming out? ONE WORD. MARKETING. Let’s explore a couple of different options for the best ways to market your self-published book.

  1. Word of mouth. We all know that word of mouth is the best way to sell anything; from movie tickets, insurance, books, and everything in between, word of mouth is the most trusted source of marketing. Word of mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing because people trust the opinions of others (their peers, friends, relatives, and their immediate circle of people). Let’s say that you’re out on the weekend with some friends and one of them tells you about a fabulous new restaurant in your town; they talk about how excellent the service was, how fast their food came out, and the stunning decor of the restaurant. They also tell you that it was the best steak they’ve ever had and that you must try it! What are you going to do? You’re going to check it out of course! Same goes for books, readers who liked your book are more likely to tell others about it, this will lead to more sales of your title and at the very least, more hits on your website!
  2. Interactive marketing. This is also known as event-driven marketing which means that your readers have a two-way communication channel to connect them to your company. You as the author interact with your readers on many different levels and some of these include, shows, book signings, skype sessions, library talks, and any time you’re out in public. Interactive marketing is essential to your success because it lets your readers know that you care about them and what they have to say. It lets you meet them face to face and create a two-way relationship!

The above two types of marketing are obviously not an exhaustive list of all the options that are available, but they are an excellent and most important place to start.

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All Of Your Books Have Money In Them…

April 1, 2019– It’s the first day of April! Yay! Let’s hope that spring is in the air and that we’ll finally be able to venture outside sans parka. Today, I want to talk about the value of the books that you already have on/in your bookshelf, Kindle, iPad, phone, and digital libraries; it may seem crazy to think that every single book you own has the potential to make you a lot of money. I can’t remember who said it, maybe it was Mark Cuban, but whoever it was said, “Each book I read has at least one, million-dollar idea inside.” How do you find the money? Let’s explore!

  1. Inspiration to write your own book. This is definitely one way to make some dollars especially if you’re already a writer with an established reader base, but even if you aren’t, you can always find ideas to write about that could be the key to unlocking a potential book deal with a publisher!  Looking through books you already have can spark a new idea for a book of your own. After all, where do new ideas come from, right?
  2. Advice you can follow. If you have books about investing, the stock market, how to save money, and other financial advice, imagine implementing just one idea and how far ahead you could be this time next year! This happened to me personally when I read the book titled Profit First-it changed the way I budget for my business and I’ve never looked back!
  3. An idea that you can implement. Let’s say that you’re a cat lover/expert and you’ve got Modern Cat Magazine strewn across your furniture and on every nightstand in your home; it may be enough to spark a new idea that can make you money such as developing a new toy for cats, or a cat sitting business, or hosting a cat show that you’re going to spearhead in your city. Maybe you know enough about cats to query the magazine for a writing gig; you never know when inspiration can hit like a pound of catnip!
  4. A new view on an old perspective. This happens a lot in medical journals with new information coming to light all the time. First coffee was bad for us (this sentence was difficult to write and totally blasphemous), now it’s good. Then it was too much sleep, too little sleep, cell phones are bad, cell phones are good (debatable), and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective to open up a new side of your brain and spark an idea. By solving new problems, you can make a lot of dough. For example, you’ve been doing a lot of reading on the benefits of essential oils, perhaps you could host a workshop where people can make their own combinations or host a talk at your local health food store about how essential oils changed your life! The possibilities are endless.

We know that knowledge is freedom, but did you know that knowledge is also financial freedom if you act on it? Here’s to your success now and always! X LLB

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The Benefits of Writing Groups

March 8, 2019- Up until about a year ago, I was a regular member of a local writing group that met each Saturday at a coffee shop in town. It was super relaxed and there were around eight of us, laptops in hand, armed with new ideas, and ready to write. It was a fantastic experience and some of the things I learned along the way, I still carry with me today. The only reason why I stopped going was that I ran out of time and my writing business took over with events that were held on weekends. Being part of a casual writing group was a great experience and here’s why you should consider joining one:

  1. You’ll get inspired and beat writer’s block. There’s something to be said about gathering in a small group and sharing ideas. Some of my best book ideas have come from just chatting with others and listening to their perspectives on different topics.
  2. You’ll develop discipline. Every Saturday for two hours from 9 am until 11 am is when our group met and started writing. This helped me develop discipline; it made me realize that I could sit down for two consecutive hours and write, uninterrupted.
  3. You’ll get and be able to give constructive criticism. This was the most important thing that I got out of joining a writing group. My comrades gave me constructive criticism and made me take a hard look at my writing. They saw the holes that I was blind to. They asked the tough questions that made me a better writer and for that, I’m eternally grateful. I was also able to give feedback and trust my instincts that I knew what I was doing and what I was talking about as a writer.
  4. You’ll get to network with like-minded people and make some friends. There are people that I’m still friends with from this group and I’ve also been able to do business with a few of them. We still talk about writing and bounce ideas off each other every once in a while.

I highly recommend joining a local writer’s group! You’ll have a blast and be able to hone your skills at the same time. Happy writing! X LLB

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Things You Should Know…

February 25, 2019-I had a fantastic trip to New York this month, and I learned so much at the SCBWI conference. The Society of Book Writers and Illustrators is just one of the many excellent organizations you can join as an author; the guidelines and specifications are online, so be sure to check them out if you’re interested in becoming a member.

Being an author is a tough business, but you should never give up if story writing is your dream. Here are a  few things that you should know:

  1. You are way more capable than you believe. You can do this, you can deal with the rejections, you can write something special and meaningful. Some days it may seem like you’re banging your head against the desk because the words won’t come, but I assure you, you can do this! Keep going.
  2. Lots of people believe in you and want to see you succeed; they also want to help you in achieving your goals. Your family, friends, community, spouse, loved ones, and teachers all want to see you make it! They’re cheering you on, and if you ever need help, all you need to do is ask them, and they’ll be thrilled to do so. We can’t be in this business alone, and we won’t get very far by ourselves.
  3. You have a choice. You can choose to listen to those who want to try and change your purpose, your work, your ideas, your vision, and your path, or you can go with your gut and keep writing and sharing the stories you want to tell.
  4. The truth is, the publishing and writing industry is contradictory at times, and you never seem to get a straight answer. Keep digging for information and advice and go with the choices that speak to you. If you’re a children’s author and you think you need an agent, don’t hesitate to go with your gut even when you get conflicting information.
  5. This is a business. Our business is books and storytelling. Our job is to tell the stories and then sell the stories.

I hope that you get the chance to visit New York and see all that it has to offer! From museums to sporting events, to Broadway and beyond, the arts and inspiration are around every corner. X LLB

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One of the breathtaking pieces of art that I saw at the MET, Alexander the Great