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Cancelled

June 19, 2020– Things in the world are so weird right now, but at least some restrictions are lifting, and hopefully, the quarantine will be entirely over soon. I know that there are things that are more important going on than the festivals and events that we look so forward to all year, but these chances to connect with the community face to face are so special to us, and they mean a lot.

So, there will be no It’s Your Festival, no SuperCrawl, no fall fairs, and no Peach Festival, to name a few events that we would have been scheduled to appear with our books and authors. Although these events have been cancelled, here is a list of things that are not:

  1. Reading to your kids. This is the most sacred time between parents and children that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Kids will remember reading bedtime stories and snuggling with you forever; reading with them will ignite their love of literacy and create lasting memories for both of you.
  2. Virtual book clubs. Book clubs, oh how we miss you, but virtual ones still make them possible. We are revamping our international book club program as we speak, so check back here for more information in the coming weeks! We’re doing a read around the world program where we feature books from different cultures and countries. I’m so excited, so stay tuned!
  3. Virtual storytime and book launches. I’ve had the pleasure of reading my storybook, Panda, the Very Bad Cat for Frontier College online. What a great idea to help kids find new books! We also do online book launches for our new releases, and it’s a great idea because you can still connect with your readers and audience through Facebook Live and Instagram Live; it’s a new way of doing things, but still a lot of fun.
  4.  Reading outdoors. Nothing beats a cold beverage on a hot day, except adding a great book into the mix! Hit the deck or patio and escape into another world for a few hours under the sun.
  5. Writing. Now is the time to work on your novel or next writing project. If you’re working from home and keeping typical hours, consider waking up a bit earlier to have some writing time. Get inspired with ideas by reading blogs and writing in a journal.
  6. Spending time in nature. This is one of our most favourite things to do at Pandamonium. Nature seems to reset us and allow us some much-needed downtime. This is also where some of our best ideas blossom! Grab a notebook and pen and head out for a hike or a walk, you’ll be glad you did.

While it’s easy to focus on all the things we still can’t do at this point, it’s better to focus on what we can do. Enjoy these summer days, and stay positive! X LLB

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Lunch Lady Heroes

April 24, 2020– I was lucky enough to meet Jarrett when I was in New York attending the SCBWI winter conference last year. He’s a fantastic speaker and a lovely guy. Check out his Ted Talk about Why Lunch Ladies are Heroes and his graphic novel!

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Virtual Insanity

March 23, 2020– With everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s normal to feel as if we’re getting a bit (or more than a bit) stir crazy. Social distancing is imperative at this time, and so is working from home if your position allows you to do so. I just want to say a huge thank you to all of the professionals who are still going to work because they provide essential services, we appreciate you and are thinking of you! If your an author who can work from home, here are some things you can work on to  help serve your readers in new ways:

  1.  Do a virtual book launch. If you have a new book coming out, but social distancing has closed down pubs, libraries, and meeting places where you’d like to have your gathering, don’t worry! You can hold your book launch online. Things like Facebook live and other online platforms have made it much easier to connect with readers.
  2. Do an online book signing. During this time, you may not be able to head into Indigo for your regular book signing date, but you CAN do a virtual book signing from the comfort of your own home. Set up a viewing party and invite readers to tune in at a specific time to get the party started. You can even take their questions, live,  depending on the platform you use.
  3. Hold a contest. Make things fun for your readers during this time of self-isolation. Do a scavenger hunt using one of your books, or have a colouring contest for younger readers. Whatever you do, make it entertaining and exciting.
There are so many things that are made possible by technology. Let’s be creative during this period of solitude so that we can continue to connect with and enjoy the company of others. X LLB
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Platform 9 and 3/4

March 18, 2020– First, let me say a very Happy Birthday to my Dad, and to my Nephew, who both celebrate their special day today!

Today we’ll talk about author platforms. What is an author platform, and why does it matter? Let’s get to work.

1) An author’s platform is the way that authors engage with their readers. This means it’s essential for authors to have a voice online and on social media. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, and blogs are all great ways to connect with people. It’s not just about being online, it’s about building and connecting with your readers so that you can share information that is valuable to them. Marketing materials such as feature sheets, postcards, and other handouts are essential parts of a giant cog.

2) Building your platform is a process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Build your brand (which is YOU) and create connections that are meaningful to all parties. If you’re not going to take the time to do things right, when will you make time to re-do them? Have a strategy going in and make sure that you are being clear about what your message is.

3) Your platform may get you a book deal with a publisher. Yes, we look at your online presence, we look at how many followers you have and the content you’re posting. We look at if you engage with your audience and we look at your online personality. These things matter because if you’re going to represent my House or anyone else’s for that matter, we want to know what and who we’re getting into. I’ve said this a million times before, we are WHO and WHAT we publish.

Keep your nose clean is all I’m saying. What you post online could make or break you.

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The Fifth Element

February 28, 2020-Contrary to the title of this post, I’m not talking about the movie with the same name, starring Bruce Willis. There are five elements to plot structure when writing, let’s talk about them.

  1.  Exposition-This is the introduction of characters and setting to your story. You don’t have to explain everything in minute detail, in fact, it’s much better if you simply show us what the character’s normal is so that the reader can see when things start to go awry, which they will begin to, in the next step.
  2. Rising Action-This is my favourite part to write as an author. I LOVE torturing my characters by setting them up for problems. Sadistic? Maybe, but is there any other way? (Insert maniacal laugh here). Here’s the point in your story where you raise the stakes on your character and build to the climax. Be very clear as to what’s at stake so that your audience isn’t confused.
  3. Climax-This is the moment that matters most, the point at which everything before this has been building up like a volcano that ready to burst. Well, it’s time for the lava to hit the ground, which leads to the next point in your story.
  4. Falling Action-The lava (climax) is now dripping down the sides of the volcano and onto the ground. We take our readers with us, nice and slowly. We answer some questions that they’ve had up until this point and start to wind the story down.
  5. Resolution– This means that the conflict in your story has been resolved. Wrap it up with a bow for your reader, because there is nothing that makes them more disappointed and homicidal than the author leaving things unfinished with a ton of questions.

So, there you have it! The five elements of plot structure. Happy Writing! X LLB

 

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Actual footage of me on the phone trying to explain my plot to friends

 

 

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Bankrupt.

February 17-2020– Last week, when I was conducting interviews for a position on our team, the coordinator asked me a very interesting question, “How is the landscape of publishing changing? I’ve recently read in the news that more and more publications and publishers are filing for bankruptcy!”

Yes. A lot of publishers are indeed closing their doors because of the change in how people read and find information. But, that means that we have to evolve with the needs of our readers.  Here’s what we’re doing to ensure that we stay in the book business for a very long time.

1) Every book we write is available as a digital download. We know that books are read on Kindles, iPads, phones, and other devices, so we MUST have our books formatted in a digital version for those who choose to read in this manner. Let’s face it; it doesn’t matter what kids read on; it matters that they’re reading.

2) We’re a boutique. I am very selective about what we publish and how we release books. We keep our title line small so that we can control the output and not end up with hundreds of boxes of overstocked books. We publish up to ten titles a year, and we don’t plan on getting too big, too quickly. Plus, with being a boutique, I get to meet our readers at local events, I get to speak with my authors and illustrators directly, and I know what’s going on in my House.

3) We do our very best to connect with our readers. We love our readers to the moon and back because we know that without them, there would be no Pandamonium Publishing House. We take their feedback seriously, and we continually try to bring their suggestions and ideas to fruition.

4) New ideas and innovative illustration techniques are what we strive to bring our readers. Especially with our children’s book collection! We’re moving in a direction this year that will show a range of unique characters with different abilities. We’re also going to show a mystical, mythological, darker side to our children’s books. Not to worry, they’ll still be rated E for everyone.

We constantly strive to bring our best work. We won’t stop bringing you stories until we have nothing else to write. And I’d like to think that that day will never come. Thank you for all of your continued support of our House and for showing our authors, illustrators, and artists that you care.

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Get Punched.

January 22, 2020– I read a quote recently that said, “Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.” (-David Barr Kirtley)

More real words have never been spoken. Of course, being rejected sucks, it hurts, and it makes us question our capabilities and sometimes even our sanity. But, I’m here to tell you to embrace the suck. I’m here to say, stick out your chin and get punched as many times as possible. Because the only way that you’re going to get a YES is by taking all of the NO’s that come before it and using them to your advantage. When we fail, we become better. We can see where we went wrong, and we can tweak things to improve our writing. No one is born as a fantastic writer. Nope, not even Shakespeare, King, or Hemingway. They’ve all seen their fair share of rejection, and if you don’t believe me, Google it.

As writers, we MUST write because it’s who we are, and we can’t imagine doing anything else with our lives. That’s why I’m telling you to get punched. Get punched and get punched hard, because it’s part of the process in making you a better writer, in causing you to wake up and change your strategy, and it will give you a much sweeter victory than it would if you’d never been punched in the first place.

Being rejected is part of the gig. You want to be a writer? You’re going to be rejected… a lot. But who cares? You’re in great company. The point is, you have to keep going. I personally have enough rejection letters that I could wallpaper the side of my house. And I keep them in a special box that I go through when I need motivation. I look at the comments that say, “Consider a different career,” “Too out of the box, not saleable,” “Go back to school and learn proper grammar,” and my favourite, “Your writing is unoriginal, and frankly, boring.”

So what did I do when I received these comments? I read them, thought about them for a few days, changed a few things in my storytelling approach, hired a professional editor, and then KEPT WRITING. There’s a big difference between arrogance and self-belief. Arrogance says that everyone is an idiot except for you and that anyone who criticizes you is a dumbass. Self-belief is when you take constructive criticism to improve yourself because you KNOW that you can do whatever you want to with enough hard work and practice. Do you think that the first time that Wayne Gretzky picked up a hockey stick, he was perfection? Don’t answer that, what a terrible example…You get my point.

So dear friends, today, I hope that you get punched. X LLB

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