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Once Upon a Time by Sam Nemeth

April 28, 2021-I’d like to wish my sweet nephew, Harvey a very happy first birthday! We love you so much, Harvard and are so excited to watch you grow!

Our guest blogger today is our very own Samantha Nemeth! We’re continuing to talk about pushing the envelope in our writing and we’re so excited to get Sam’s perspective. Check out her book DJ the Terrible, here: DJ (Djeaneautha) The Terrible! – Pandamonium Publishing House

Once upon a time, there was an ordinary bookstore employee named Sam and every day she helped customers, worked the cash, and dreamed of being a writer. At home, she wrote for fun and through a stroke of serendipity, her first novel was published! She then spent her retail days dreaming of a summer filled with festivals and fairs to sell her beloved work of art…until the Pandemic hit and shook the foundations of life as she knew it. Retail was shut down, Festivals were cancelled, fairs postponed. And because of that she had a surplus of time, and nothing to dream about. What was a dreamer with no dreams to do?

Aha, she thought, I’ll work on my sequel! But the times were grim, inspiration was scarce, and she grew tired of sitting in the dark of writer’s block. So she reached for the shining blue light of her computer and took to the internet.

She gathered tips from her publisher and fellow writers and put them to practice. She made herself write when ideas were dry. She read genres she’d neglected before. She listened to music that embodied the tone for her tale. She enrolled in an improv class, stepping out of her comfort zone. She embarked on a quest for mindfulness to squash the gremlin who whispered lies that she was not good enough.

And because of that, she began to believe. In her story, in her characters, and in herself. She no longer had to force herself to write. She was alive with ideas! The ebbs and flows of the music that trilled through her headphones inspired twists and turns that thrilled the author. Her characters surprised her with uninhibited quirks, quips, and moments of growth. Her story grew into something more fantastical than she ever could have imagined when her journey began. Her fingers flew across the keyboard and committed to paper the escapade unfolding in her mind’s eye. And as the decadent hum of the printer faded into the night, she held up her fresh, shiny precious with a grin. Her outline was complete.

And because she’d written such an outline, she was faced with the age old question…to submit to the publisher, or not to submit? She was afraid. She loved what her story had become and the fear of rejection was strong. But thanks to her tactics, her newfound confidence was stronger. She didn’t shy away, but took the fear with her as she bravely hit that Gmail send button.

She spent the afternoon biting her nails as she awaited a reply. What if she hates it? The gremlin whispered until finally, a blipideboop rang out from her computer. She had a reply, and it was good!

And ever since, Sam has spent her days not as a dreamer, but as a writer, nurturing that outline into her sequel, and being happily entertained by her own creation.

***

In case you’re wondering, that girl is me. Hi, I’m Sam. The theme of this month is all about pushing the envelope and trying new things, so I wanted to try something a little quirky with my story above. I actually have been utilizing all of those tactics in addition to simply writing more often. When I look back at my first book and compare it to what I’ve written of my second, I can see a definite change; for the better in my humble opinion.

The most important thing for me was to get out of my own way; to figure out how to believe in myself and my imagination. Mindfulness has been huge for me in that sense. The next thing that has been super fun in terms of broadening my horizons, has been improv. I’m also an actor, so performing has been a part of my life for a long time, but improv was always this big scary beast that I cowered from. When I started to embrace it, I realized that it was an excellent way to get into the moment, let ideas fly without fear of looking “dumb”, and to see things from a different perspective.

In this class, I also learned about something called the Once Upon a Time Story Spine, which was developed by Pixar and is used in the movie industry to pitch plot ideas. I actually challenged myself to use that Story Spine format to write my story up above. Here’s the general flow of it.

  1. Once Upon a Time there was (insert description of your character)…
  2. Every day (this happened, or they did this, etc)…
  3. Until (insert some course changing event)
  4. And Because of That (what did they do?)
  5. And Because of That…
  6. And Because of That…
  7. Until finally, (some big crux happens)…
  8. And ever since (their world and their ‘every day’ has been changed)…

So, I challenge you to write a Pixar movie plot about yourself. Who knows, maybe the hero your writing needs, is you!

Thanks, Sam! We can’t wait for your next book! If you’re looking for inspiration in your writing, check out my number 1 best selling book here: Advice From a Publisher (Insider Secrets for Getting Your Work Published!) An Amazon Best Seller – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Reluctant Readers

December 29, 2020-Let’s talk about reluctant readers! What are they and what can we do about it? Reluctant readers are defined as any child who does not show an interest in reading. They may actively resist reading, mask their dislike by clowning around or misbehaving when asked to read, become easily frustrated during reading, or need to be coaxed into picking up a book.

We know that literacy matters and that it’s the key to success; that’s why we need to encourage children to enjoy reading at a young age, the sooner they learn to love books, the better! Illiteracy impacts 12 million Canadians, here’s how to ensure that your child does not become a statistic: 

  1. Start early-One of the most critical time frames for brain development in children is 6-12 months old. Read with your child. Although they may not understand what you’re saying or the words on the page, you’re setting them up for success! You’re introducing them to sounds, words, visual stimulation, and spending valuable time with them bonding over books. 
  2. Start small-If your reluctant reader is a bit older, start small-start by reading the back of the cereal box, street signs, grocery items, and other daily use items. Label the items in your home and make a game of it! 
  3. Focus on their interests– Whatever your kid wants to read, let them! Whether it’s short stories, Manga, poetry, comic books, or graphic novels, let them read! Do they love sports? Maybe they love fashion, adventures, or animals! Whatever they want to read about that interests them, encourage it!
  4. Go graphic-Graphic novels are still novels! Yes, they have pictures, but if your child enjoys reading these types of books, allow them. Any reading is better than none. 
  5. Read together-Spending time reading together as a family makes magical memories that will last a lifetime! Take turns reading to each other and carve out some time each day to read. Treat it as a ritual, something sacred and special!
  6. Make it fun– Pair interactive activities to encourage reading. Have your kids read the book before seeing the movie and have a discussion afterward of which was better and why. Host a scavenger hunt with themed items from the book e.g. An acorn, bird’s nest, a daisy, a blue car, etc. Set up a reading chart with stickers for each book completed and see how many books can be read by the end of the year for an epic prize (maybe a new book, bookmark, or digital book download). 

Reading is power! Books are portable magic that expand our minds and imaginations! You cannot be a good writer if you don’t read-remember that. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the tools to write, it’s that simple. 

Here are some of our favourite options for the reluctant reader in your life: 

The Old Farmer’s Treasure – Pandamonium Publishing House
Unfrogged – Pandamonium Publishing House
DJ (Djeaneautha) The Terrible! – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Guest Blogger, Samantha Nemeth

October 6, 2020– Today our guest blogger is Sam Nemeth, author of DJ the Terrible! Check out her book here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/dj-djeaneautha-the-terrible/ and her blog post below:

Covid Blues & Soul Searching- It’s your friendly neighbourhood, Sam, here to talk about what I’ve been reading! But first, I need to discuss what led me to it. If you ask anyone who knows me, they would probably say I’m smiley, bubbly, goofy; like DJ in my book, DJ the Terrible. However, though I might often appear this way, I am not always sunshine and rainbows. As one of the only members of my family in the highly scrutinized arts industry, I’ve cultivated the self-inflicted need to validate myself by always being bigger, better, and more exciting. If I’m not, I’m my own biggest bully.

2019 was amazing for me. I was on set multiple times, my debut novel was published, I went to the Alps; I always had something new and thrilling to talk about. 2020 was meant to continue that momentum. The world had other plans. Suddenly, I was quarantined and out of work. I couldn’t travel, couldn’t get married, and struggled to promote myself. Instead, I was on the couch doing nothing, crippled by thoughts of how I was letting everyone down, and how I was meaningless in our new 2020 world. I still dread that little question everyone asks: “What have you been up to?” The voice in my head: “Nothing, nothing, nothing, I am nothing.”  On the outside: Smiling, “I took up Yoga. I can do the splits now.”

After some serious soul searching, the desire to create some positive habits led me to The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The book explains what habits really are, how to create new ones, and about the habit loop: Cue, Routine, Reward. Ithought, could my negative self-talk be a habit? My cue: sitting on the couch doing nothing. It started in my high school days where I wanted to have good grades. Relaxing was the cue, negative self-talk was the routine that led to me studying and getting an awesome grade: the reward. 

I think I carried that perfectionistic cycle with me and without my go-to activities to combat the voice, my negative self-talk played on repeat. It dug me into a hole that was harder and harder to climb out of; especially when restrictions lifted and my peers raced to continue their successful careers. What started as a self-improvement tactic became what is holding me back.  The Power of Habit teaches how to analyze the habit loop and how to identify cues. I’m using this as a tool, among others, on my journey home to the person I want to be; the person DJ the Terrible is based on. For anyone hoping for more DJ & Godfrey adventures, fear not; I am not giving up on them. I’m slowly but surely plotting out their journeys.

If you have habits or thoughts that are getting you down, you’re not alone. I encourage you to pick up The Power of Habit. Oh, and for any entrepreneurs out there, it also talks about how you can use the habit loop as a strategy for your business! 

* Lacey here, I read The Power of Habit in 2012 when it first came out, a great book with lots of info on why we do what we do:)

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How Many Books?

July 1st-I know that we’re moving at breakneck speed lately when it comes to pumping out books around here, so to ensure that no one is lost or unaware of what’s available and what’s coming up, let’s recap our collection:

Children’s book (ages 3-8 depending on reading level)

-Panda the Very Bad Cat
-Panda the Very Bad Cat Farm Frenzy
-Panda the Very Bad Santa Claws
-Deer Diary
-Phillip Star
-The Adventures of Milan and Friends; Trouble with Trolls (A Halloween Tail)
-The Adventures of Milan and Friends; Baseball Bedlam
-Sammy the Singing Cat
-Spiders Wearing Sweaters
-Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog
-Mount Fuji has Free Wi-Fi
-Miranda the Very Loud Mouse
-Pants!
-Grandma’s Table
-Zoe’s Princess Pants
-Lost and Monkey Around (Coming October 2020)
-Twelve Days of Rescue (Coming October 2020)
-The Midas Haircut (Coming October 2020)
-The Clouds Above Lamasol Island (Coming July 2020)

Middle-Grade Novels (Grade 4-6 depending on reading level)

-Unfrogged
-DJ the Terrible
-The Old Farmer’s Treasure
-Grandpa’s Gift (Coming September 2020)

Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction

-Obsessed with Her
-Becoming James Cass
-Duty’s Dad
-Duty’s Daughter
-Duty’s Son
-Acts of Remembrance (Non-fiction)
-Life Supports
-Dealer
-114 World Series in 1 Book (Non-fiction)
-Advice from a Publisher (Non-fiction)
-Machinia (Science Fiction, Coming October 2020)
-Silent Anvil (Coming October 2020)
-My Name is Jessica Westlake (Coming August 2020)
-Acts of Kindness (Non-Fiction, Coming November 2020)

All of the books are and will be available on our site under SHOP and available on Amazon as paperbacks and e-books. We’re also exploring film options and audiobooks, so stay tuned for more information!

Thank you for supporting our work, we appreciate you.

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DJ the Terrible!

May 18, 2020– If you haven’t read DJ the Terrible by Samantha Nemeth, illustrated by Nikki Ernst, you don’t know what you’re missing! Meet the Terrible girl with the Terrible name and her Terrible Cat! DJ 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 its 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! The perfect book for the middle-grade reader in your life!

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1:

Djeaneautha closed her diary with a thump and let her chair scrape the floor as she pushed herself away from her desk. She bounded over to the mirror and judged her reflection. “If we’re going to gather Intel on the locals, we’ll have to integrate and blend in with them, Godfrey!” She said as she examined herself.  

Now, blending in is not something that came naturally to Djeaneautha, and there are a couple things you should know about her. Number one:  Everyone that she met said, “Djeaneautha? What a Terrible name and a Terrible girl.”  “I’m not Terrible, I’m just unique,” Djeaneautha would say, but no one ever heard.  Djeaneautha didn’t think her name was Terrible at all. It was created from herGrandmother’s names, Jeanneau and Dorothea. She was proud of her name and ignored all the teasing from the other children. They would scream and taunt her, “D-d-jeaneautha, D-d-jeaneautha, she’s Terrible it’s the Truth-ah!”  “It’s JEN-OOTH-AH! The D is silent!” Djeaneautha would correct them. But no one ever heard.  Number two: In most ways, Djeaneautha was like all the other girls her age. She liked going on adventures, art class, ballet and of course playing with dolls. But in some ways she was quite different; her feet were too big, her legs too short, her arms too long, her two eyebrows had grown into one…and her hair?  While the other girls had soft, smooth hair that their mothers could braid or pull into flowing ponytails, Djeaneautha had frizzy lion hair with a mind of its own. If Djeaneautha wanted it straight, it went curly, if she wanted it curly, it went flat. With every attempt at a ponytail, more and more hair would slip out of the tie and tickle her face. Every morning her mother would say, “What shall we do with the Terrible hair?” But no matter what they tried, every day, her Terrible hair sat smugly like a dust bunny on her head.
 
Djeaneautha, with her dust bunny hair and awkward limbs, spent most of her time with Godfrey, her best friend. The cat was rather round, his belly almost scraped the floor, and his grey fluffy fur grew in a tuft that decorated his head like a majestic crown. He had a sassy smirk, the mind of a genius, and was always ready for adventure. Djeaneautha’s favourite thing about him was that he refused to meow like all the other cats and would simply chirp like a bird. Godfrey also shared the love of Djeaneautha’s favourite snack: cheese.  Many days Djeaneautha would open up her bag at lunch to find that Godfrey had snuck into her backpack and hitched a ride to school. Much to her dismay, she’d also find that he had eaten all of her cheese!

and check out my interview with Samantha on our Pandamonium Publishing House channel on Podbean (available for download on Google Play and iTunes) https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-xixvs-ba6201
cover with name crossed
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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!