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Our Guest Blogger Today Is…

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

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

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

The story follows DJ as she navigates the roller-coaster ride of being the new kid in a suburbia where everyone plays by the rules, no one has any uniqueness, and they haven’t even heard of deep-fried waffle tacos. When she realizes that these people don’t like her because she’s different, she quickly decides to go undercover with her sidekick Godfrey the Super Cat to assimilate with her new neighbours, AKA “The Borings”, gain their trust, then turn the town on it’s head! The only thing is…blending in simply isn’t DJ’s strong suit. With her inventive, mischievous mind, wild hair, and clumsy demeanour, Terrible trouble follows this Terrible girl wherever she goes!

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

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

 

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Publisher’s Corner…

August 2, 2019– Here’s the question of the week and it’s a great one!

Q: “Lacey, I’ve set goals for myself as writer and I’ve reached a few of them. I really want to be a famous author, but I can’t stay on track no matter how hard I try. Should I throw in the towel and do something else with my life?” 

A: Whoa, this question is deep; first of all, congratulations on reaching some of your goals, you’ve proven that it can be done and if you’ve done it once, you can certainly do it again! I’m a firm believer in never giving up no matter what and I know that some of you reading this will say it’s easier said than done. But, if we all gave up when things got hard, none of us would accomplish anything. Today, I’m not going to talk about tips to stay disciplined or organized in your writing routine, nor will I give you my opinion on what you should and shouldn’t do with your life because frankly, it doesn’t matter what I think. I’m going to dive into the WHY part with a super simple exercise.

It’s called 7 Whys…(I ended up calling the person who sent me this questions and went through this with him, with his permission, I’ve posted his actual answers and he definitely gained clarity).

  1.  Start with a statement of what you want for your life: I really want to be a famous author. 
  2. Why do you want to be a famous author? Because I want people to read what I have to say.
  3. Why do you want people to read what you have to say? Because what I have to say is important and I want to make lots of money at the same time.
  4. Why is what you have to say important and why do you want to be rich? Because I’m tired of being silenced and not respected by friends and family and I’m tired of just being barely able to pay my bills.
  5. Why are you tired of being silenced and not respected by friends and family, why are you tired of barely being able to pay your bills? Because they look down on me, I don’t have as much education as them and they think my opinion and voice doesn’t matter. Because I want to control my life and I don’t want to make decisions based on how much money I do or don’t have, ever again.
  6. Why do they think your opinion and voice doesn’t matter and why do you want to be in control of your life? Because I’ve never stood up for myself before, I usually just go along with whatever they say. I want to be in control because I’m sick of being controlled and decided for.
  7. Why do you go along with whatever they say, why are you sick of being decided for and controlled? Because I don’t trust myself and because I don’t believe in my own capabilities. I’m sick of being controlled because I know that I can do better and that I can make better decisions. I want my family to stop being ashamed of me and I want to make them proud, I want to make myself proud.
  8. Why do you want to make yourself and your family proud? Because I know that  I can do better than I currently am. I’m just as able as my brothers and sisters to make something of myself.

I honestly felt like crying after this conversation. It was difficult for him to answer the questions, but he tells me he’s glad he did.

So in essence, this person wanted to be a writer because he wants to make himself and his family proud and he wants to make something of himself and his life. This is his ultimate reason for writing and when the dark days come, he can look at his reason why and keep going. The other reasons before this one were superficial at best. They wouldn’t be enough to keep him on track.

Wow…we dug deep, didn’t we? The point of the exercise is during the first few whys, the brain gives a nice, neat, acceptable answer, but after the 5th why, it starts to get subconscious. Write down what you want and ask yourself why 7 times, building on the previous answer. Don’t go any further. You have your reason to continue or your reason to quit.

X LLB

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Publisher’s Corner…

July 26, 2019– Here’s another great question from a reader! If you have a question for my team or myself, send us an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com.

Q: “Lacey, you have a ton of content on your site, how do you think of fresh ideas all of the time?” 

A: Thank you for noticing first of all! I try so hard to bring fresh ideas and new things for us to talk about! Some days it can be a struggle that’s for sure, especially when we have a blog, Youtube channel, podcast, and various social media to keep up with. I do my best not to duplicate content, so you won’t get a podcast that has the same info or material as on our blog, etc. When it comes to finding inspiration for content, here’s what I do: 

  1. I scour the news. Yep, it’s depressing at times, but I look for things that I can talk or write about especially when it comes to creative writing. Sometimes the headlines can inspire a book idea or a skewed perspective for a topic that I can share.
  2. I listen to conversations. Eavesdropping? Check. When I’m out getting coffee or I’m shopping, or anywhere in public, I listen to the people around me. Sometimes waiting in line at a place can provide lots of great ideas!
  3. I read trade publications like Writer’s Digest and subscribe to magazines in my field of work. This allows for a lot of ideas on topics that are relevant for our readers and writers who visit and subscribe to our content. It also means that staying up to date on all things publishing is essential in bringing the most relevant topics to our media.

Thank you for all of the questions! X LLB

 

 

 

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TED Talk…Great Introduction Carolyn Mohr

April 24, 2019-Hello, friends; I love this short and sweet Ted Talk about the Power of a Great Introduction. Click on the link below to check out the video!

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How to Make Your PowerPoint Presentation Not Look Like Sh*t…

April 22, 2019– We’re (and I mean, me) are getting pretty creative with titles around here as of late (insert eye-roll here). As authors we often find ourselves teaching seminars and workshops about writing and the business of writing. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, one as a teacher and the other as a listener; there’s nothing worse than having/listening to a terrible presentation that is boring and non-educational. PowerPoint presentations can be valuable tools for your audience if done correctly, so naturally, let’s chat about what makes a sh*tty PowerPoint presentation.

  1. Crowding slides with too much text. Your audience isn’t here to read every word you write, they’re here to LISTEN to your presentation and maybe jot down a few important points. Leave your slides with plenty of blank spaces, not only does it look better, but it allows you to stick to the most important points and dialogue with your audience. If all of your content is on the slides why would your audience need you?
  2. Visual distractions. I’m talking about graphics (too many, too large, too small, too stupid) and backgrounds. Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Same goes for meaningless animation-save it because this is business.
  3. Impossible to read. There’s a client of mine who used a font in his email that looked like handwriting; it drove me nuts because I had a hard time figuring out what he was trying to say. Not only did this waste both of our time, but it also came across as extremely unprofessional. Use your fonts wisely and make sure that whatever you choose, that it’s readable. Remember that every PowerPoint presentation is a VISUAL aid for a live presentation.

The bottom line is to create a presentation that will engage your audience rather than overwhelm/put them to sleep.  X LLB

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Middle-Grade Vs. Young Adult…(What you need to know!)

February 4, 2019– A lot of aspiring authors get confused when asked by publishers who their novel is for. It can be tricky to differentiate between middle-grade novels and novels for young adults, so I thought that we would explore that topic today and clear things up.

Middle-Grade:

  1. For ages 8-12
  2. Length is 30,000 to 50,000 words
  3. No profanity, graphic violence, or sexuality. Romance in middle-grade novels is limited to first kiss or crush.
  4. Age of protagonist is 10-13 (ten for the younger MG and 13 for the older readers)
  5. Focus on friends, family, and the immediate world of the main character and their relationship to it. The characters react to what happens to them with zero to minimal self-reflection.
  6. Voice is usually third person.

Young Adult:

  1. For ages 13-18
  2. Length is 50,000 to 70,000 words
  3. Profanity, graphic violence, romance, and sexuality (except for eroticism) are all allowed thought NOT required/necessary.
  4. Age of protagonist is 14-18 BUT NOT yet in college/university. Young adult protagonists can be 14-15 years old for the younger reader, with safer content aimed at the middle school crowd. For older and edgier young adult protagonists, the can be up to 18.
  5. Focus on how they fit into the world and what their place is beyond their friends and family. They spend more time discovering who they are and reflecting on the choices they make. They are analytical with the meaning of things.
  6. Voice is usually first person.

This is a quick and easy way to know which group your novel fits into. Happy writing! X LLB

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Where to Get Great Ideas…When Great Ideas Aren’t Coming

October 26, 2018– Content is hard to come by, for me anyways. I often wonder how many other bloggers have this problem, especially those who write daily. I blog three times a week, or twelve times a month and let me tell you, it can become difficult. I know it’s hard to think, but sometimes it feels as though we’ve run out of things to talk about. The truth is, there’s always something to talk about, and there are still lots new ideas for content, we just aren’t being creative enough, and we aren’t thinking outside of the box.

I hate rehashing the same old stuff over and over, so that’s why I try my absolute hardest to come up with new and exciting tips and topics! Here are a few of my personal tips about where to get great ideas:

  1. Shower. A lot. Seriously, some of my best ideas come to me when I’m standing there in the shower with the water beating down on me. Apparently, this is a thing, and there’s even science to support it! Brains give us our best ideas when a lot of dopamine is released, and dopamine is released by, you guessed it, taking a shower! Dopamine equals happiness and the next great idea.
  2. Subconscious. This is a true story; when I was in college, I remember doing some crazy math problem and no matter which way I tried it, I couldn’t figure out the formula. I finally said screw it and went to bed. I swear to you that when I woke up, I had the answer and the formula was as clear as day in my mind. Yep, to this day, I never go to bed without asking my subconscious a question and rarely does it not answer or work out a solution. Try it, it works!
  3. Study. Read everything you can get your hands on. The newspaper, magazines, online, books, tutorials, instruction manuals, and so on. Why? Because this alone will trigger an idea to write about. You can write about the time you were so blocked in your writing that you became desperate and read the instruction manual to your vintage VCR. But seriously, read it all. Especially stuff that is regularly out of your genre. That’s where some of my greatest ideas have come from.

There it is, my ideas for creating content. And remember, when you’re stuck, get unstuck by following the above tips.
X LLB

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This is Cool and Useful…

October 12, 2018– Ok, fellow writers; I found this online and it’s pretty exciting! Check out this list of bones, organs, cells, and blood in the human body. Why is this interesting and valuable you ask? Because depending on the genre that you write, a list like this may come in handy especially if your characters are going to be fatally injured. Once again it all comes down to credibility in your writing!

Let’s say your character gets cracked in the ribs or needs open heart surgery, now you know a bit more about what you’re talking about and your reader will appreciate your knowledge. Here’s a little taste of a scene I just cooked up; I hit him so hard that the next day in emergency, the x-ray showed I had fourteen broken bones in my left hand. I never thought I’d be a southpaw when it came to fighting, but I guess it was just a matter of survival. 

Happy Writing! X LLB

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Fall Reading Challenge…

October 5, 2018– Ahhhhhh Fall; what a wonderful season! It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up and read. Check out the fall reading challenge below, but feel free to substitute where you need to. Happy fall and happy reading!

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What is Stormwriting? Do You Know?

September 5, 2018- We’ve all heard of brainstorming and I’m confident that as writer’s, we tend to do this to a fault. I say to a fault because of how much time we spend brainstorming instead of writing, which is really what we should be doing instead.

Brainstorming, as we know, is where you start with a blank piece of paper in front of you and you’re supposed to come up with new ideas. There’s a problem with the rigidity of this. We think that we’re just supposed to write down ideas, single words, and we are encouraged to think laterally.

What if I told you there was a better way? Enter Stormwriting! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Gather writing materials
  2. Find a cozy place
  3. Write down your idea at the top of the page
  4. Write down EVERYTHING that has to do with your idea.
  5. Use Yes and What if as your guiding questions.
  6. Keep writing, don’t edit! Just get it on paper.

Let’s do an example from one of my own novels set to launch next year:

My Name is Jessica Westlake (is the title so I put this at the top of the page)

  • Her name is Jessica Westlake, why is her name Jessica Westlake? Has this always been her name?
  • She is blonde with blue eyes, tall, trim, married, no children, having an affair with her neighbour
  • Her husband is a high profile lawyer, he cheats on Jessica with the mistress that works for him
  • They are rich in money but poor in morals
  • They have a big house, a maid, and nice cars
  • Jessica grew up poor, her parents were horrible and they did things to her that are inexplicable
  • They live in Boston in a very expensive neighbourhood
  • Her husband is abusive and treats her like garbage
  • What if the husband catches Jessica and the neighbour? What if he seeks vengeance for what they’ve done?
  • What if things were more complicated? What if the neighbour was also cheating with the husband?

See what I mean? It’s pretty easy to go down the rabbit hole on this exercise, isn’t it?

Also, this contains ZERO  spoilers for my next novel:) I wouldn’t ruin it for you! Now get stormwriting!

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