October 1, 2020- A few weeks back, we had posted a photo writing prompt on our blog asking readers to send in a 500-word short story, poem, or journal entry about what Autumn means to them. Here is the entry we’ve chosen, written by Kinga Ulazka McDonald:
July 20, 2020-I’m so proud to introduce our guest blogger today! It’s our very own Erin Cutler! Check out what she has to say below: (We love you, Erin!)
Picture a young artist after 4 years of post-secondary education, finally receiving their Bachelor’s Degree of Illustration and ready to jump headfirst into the big wide world of opportunity. Looks hopeful right? Well for me, anxiety-inducing was a better word.
A year ago today, thinking about my future in freelance illustration and starting my career triggered avoidance, negative thinking, massive anxiety and sometimes tears. When you dream big in a world of conforming and financially contributing to society, how do you start small? How do you take this beautiful, authentic and creative passion that is larger than life and turn it into a reality? If these questions riddle you and hold you back from going after what you love… then read on my friend, I was you. I sometimes still am you, and I’m reporting back with good news!
So, what’s the good news? First and foremost, the good news is that you are enough and you deserve success on your own terms. Society has a vision of success and a work till you break mentality to achieve it. Though that lifestyle works for some, it may not be beneficial for everyone and it may be the reason you feel held back. Starting your creative career is daunting enough, having expectations to conform to anyone else’s standards other than your own is crazy talk. Start with focusing inwards. Figure out who you want to be in the world and what success means to you. Take care of yourself and find a work-life balance that makes you feel good.
I struggle a lot with anxiety and one of my most useful techniques is dreaming big but thinking small. The prospect of the future brings me great fear and uncertainty, it’s this giant unknown you just can’t control no matter what you do. Starting small means literally doing the very first step that you need to do to get to where you want to go. For me it meant walking into my office space, sitting in my chair, opening my laptop and writing down a list of all the companies I want to work with. Focusing on each step until it is complete, quickly took me from looking up companies to reaching out to companies. If I never focused on the next small task, I’d still be worrying about how I was going to make rent 5 years from now. Focus is everything.
My last word of advice, for all my fellow creatives, is to be kind to yourself. Being an artist can come with the pressure to produce creatively invigorating work with every brush stroke. The reality is, sometimes you might be working on 100% and other times you could be giving it 50% because the other half of you is putting your energy somewhere else…and that’s okay. I’ve had breakthrough moments where I was producing amazing art and feeling really healthy at the same time. I’ve also had moments of anxiety, grief and health concerns that severely divided my attention from my work. It’s healthy to take a break from being the best artist that you possibly can be. When you work on yourself and put focus into different areas of your life, your career will flourish. A healthy mind and a well-balanced life will encourage creativity and a willingness for growth.
So now picture this, a recent anxiety-riddled grad goes to therapy, adapts cognitive-behavioural tools, builds confidence in their abilities and redefines success. What we are seeing here is the beginning of a healthy, flourishing creative career. Big dreams take patience and tender care, they take love of oneself and the ability to prioritize the small steps.
Lastly, you got this! Go get that dream career, anxiety is real but it’s also manageable and you are strong and capable.
Erin Cutler is a Canadian Freelance Illustrator. She has illustrated 3 children’s books for Pandamonium Publishing House and works in editorial. Some of the books she’s illustrated include Pants, Miranda the Very Loud Mouse, and Grandma’s Table. Her work can be seen in Murze, Shameless, Geez and Harpy Magazine.
You can purchase Erin’s books here:
Check out Erin’s portfolio site at www.illustrationsbyerin.com
July 17, 2020– She’s one of our own and we love her to bits! You know her as the author of Pants and Unfrogged, Tamara Botting; she’ll have two more books coming in 2021, so be sure to look for them in stores, on Amazon, and on our site. I’m thrilled to have her guest blog for us today!
I’ve had a longstanding love of Disney’s animated masterpiece, Beauty and the Beast. I wore out my first VHS copy of the film (yes, I’m that old and yes, it can be done). I bought the DVD as a teen, then bought the DVD again a few years later when the special collector’s edition came out. (So far, I’ve resisted the siren’s call of the Blu-ray). To this day, I can quote the opening of the film verbatim.
So, when I found a 1,000 piece Beauty and the Beast-themed puzzle, I decided to splurge a bit. (Hey, it’s not like I was going out, so why not bring a little entertainment home?) The thing is, as much as I like the idea of puzzles, I’ve only worked on a few over the years, mostly when I’m at a friend’s house, and they have one in progress.
Now that I’m working on one all on my own, I realize it’s a much bigger task than I’d anticipated. There’s a lot to work with, and a lot of pieces to try and fit together. And sometimes it takes a really long time to realize that what you thought was part of Belle’s dress is actually Beast’s waistcoat.
In a way, working on a puzzle is sort of like working on a book. Sometimes you find it’s easier to work on the framing; other times, you find yourself diving right into the middle of it. Sometimes the piece you thought should go in one place actually belongs in an entirely different spot.
It can be really easy to get discouraged when you have part of it coming together in one spot, part of it coming together in another, and for the life of you, you can’t figure out how those two parts come together.
But if you keep picking away at it, keep coming back to it, and keep on just telling yourself that you’re going to stick with this and get it done, eventually the parts will fit together. The bits that seem to have no home prove to actually be really important parts of the whole picture.
And once you have it all put together, you get to enjoy not only the completed project, but also the fact that your table is now clear, and you have room to work on a whole new project.
Because let’s be honest – whether writing or puzzles, it’s pretty hard to stop at just one.
May 15, 2020– It’s my pleasure to introduce our guest blogger, Annie Kittiphanh. She is the author of Dealer, a new thriller coming out on July 1st from Pandamonium Publishing House! Let’s hear a bit about Annie in her own words:
My name is Anne-Marie Kittiphanh, I’m 34 years old; I went through a lot of familial adversity & nearly lost my life from a hereditary disease, I had a huge comprehension issue growing up – I had a difficult time expressing myself verbally & literally, I wasn’t even able to write a correct “E” in my name it was the lower case, upside down & backwards(if being illiterate was an understatement & being only 3 years old).
As a toddler I was pulled out of normal lessons of classes to learn how to understand certain words in the English language when I was first taken for special lessons; in my mind, I thought I was in trouble for something I did, later on, I began to understand what I was doing & just went with it – I went from hating school to overly immensely enjoying my literary lessons.
As a preteen I wanted to do something in the medical field, helping people who were not well; giving back kind of thing, like being one of the front line people – someone who gets called to help in unpredictable situations, whether I get praised or not I know that I was doing something for someone.
As a teenager I had high hopes of becoming something or someone in the world, it wasn’t until I got faced with 2 different challenges of a lifetime one involving an older brother who was in a car accident & Lupus S.L.E. that nearly took my life straight from under me; I wasn’t exactly able to write anything down throughout my life, because of fear of what my family would think of me – as my brother’s ordeal got better, my condition slowly became worse.
By the time I was 16 my older brother was better & I ended up fighting for my life, the one thing that helped me get through my darkest year; is the music of my favourite boyband(The Backstreet Boys “BSB”), when I was finally able to get better at 17 I was able to meet the youngest member of the band which helped give me a full recovery; by this point, I was only able to do some writing, mostly diary entries one every day to help with my thoughts – which helped a little bit while dealing with bullying & peer pressure.
The year I turned 20, I did research on what I had Lupus S.L.E & my favourite boyband(BSB); I found out that there was something in common, an older sibling of one of the members had passed from Lupus Cancer – I was able to meet that band member through their foundation(DLF) when I met that band member he gave the biggest sound advice of my life.
When I explained to the band member what I had, he said “You’re strong, you can help others with your story”; after that everything else became history, I began to research fan fiction. I have done lots of visuals, several novels(some lost or deleted); from aspiring Nurse to Author.
I hope you’ll join me in welcoming this remarkable writing to our House! We can’t wait for you to meet her.
May 13, 2020– Today I have the pleasure of introducing our guest blogger, Scott Morissey, who I had the wonderful experience of working with on his book, 114 World Series in 1 Book (Fun, Interesting, and Amazing Facts about the World Series). Scott knows more about baseball than anyone I’ve ever met! So without further delay, let’s read what he has to say.
Sometime in the summer holiday of 1990, my father bought me my very first sportsbook, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Tennis. For all of $6.99. Back then, my family would take long trips to New Brunswick to visit my grandparents. My father believes I had the whole tennis book memorized by the time we returned to our home in Dundas about two weeks later. My path towards a sports encyclopedic-life had officially begun.
While at my grandparent’s place, I’d stumbled upon old copies of old baseball books written in the 1950s. I made sure to return East with them. In the coming yeas, other books, such as Roger Kahn’s classic, “The Boys of Summer,” and a book about “Shoeless Joe Jackson”, were brought back home. My baseball library was including books from decades past. My love of sports history was expanded to baseball (My older brother and father were Jays’ fans back then, getting some autographs of Toronto players in Spring Training of 1988), and then soon hockey by around the time I was twelve.
The Toronto Blue Jays finally won in 1992, and I made it a point to see the World Series that year. I saw White’s catch in game three. It nearly started a triple play. There’s only been one in the Fall Classic, back in 1920. And it was unassisted!
As I grew up, my father would tell me stories of following the New York Yankees in the Mickey Mantle-era. There was heartbreak, though, despite reaching the World Series eight times in the 1950s and five straight times in the 1960s. The Yankees lost a memorable seven-game classic to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.
In 1993, having sat next to a passenger with a magazine that previewed the upcoming baseball season, I must have made an impression with him. When exiting the plane after landing was delayed, the passenger (Who of course, I was destined never to see again) gave me the magazine. I still have it my possession, and I hope I thanked him for it.
The next year, we drove down to the Keys, with three extra days added to my (And two brothers) March Break. I brought my copy of the 1993 World Series to Cheeca Lodge where we had the use of a VHS. While there, I met a young couple playing golf. They were from Philadelphia. I panicked. The Toronto Blue Jays had beaten the Philadelphia Phillies a mere five months earlier. Were they Phillies fans? Of course. I told them I was a Toronto Blue Jays fan from Southern Ontario. It seemed that no matter where I travelled, I couldn’t get away from baseball if I tried. By that time, I was collecting the Toronto Blue Jays media guides for 1993 and 1994 (I had the one from 1987, too).
My father bought me a book called, World Series, when I was fifteen. I poured over it especially concentrating on an alphabet-listing of trivia for the Fall Classic. It included teams, players and managers, and even politicians.
So, sometime in 2010, I’d accumulated enough sports knowledge to start my own sports blog. Even though I’d include some hockey, basketball and tennis, it seemed baseball was my focus of expertise, given how there were 101 different stats to choose from. I soon realized that I could keep this blog going.
In a short time, I came up with some niche’s, most of all, baseball. Then I began writing my own interpretation of the various trivia from what I learned in my research. Reading World Series was a great inspiration; but I realized it covered up 1993, forcing me to really dig deep to find Fall Classic trivia. My intense read led me to find errors which I then enjoyed correcting as I wrote my comments. Soon I had enough material to cover almost every World Series year. When I reached 2015 without having a 2014 entry of trivia, I’d make sure to come up with one.
About six years ago, I stumbled on an article, Making Money Because of Your Blog – Indirect Methods (https://problogger.com/making-money-because-of-your-blog-indirect-methods/) and while I determined there was no chance of making cash via any of the nine ways suggested in the article, what I read intrigued me. The very first reason listed was “consulting”. Though it didn’t say it directly, I took this to mean that if you wrote enough about any topic, you could be perceived as an expert. And I knew one of my schticks was having a great memory for detailed sports history. Also mentioned was “Book Deals”. I had not decided to go ahead with my first book at this point. Business partnerships were mentioned, too. “One of the benefits of blogging about a niche topic that interests you is that you will begin to connect with others who have similar interests and expertise.” Indeed, some of my posts had certainly caught the attention of one reader to the point where I was asked a question in the comment section of my blog. Then, there were speaking opportunities, a potential venue to demonstrate myself as having great expert knowledge.
At times when I became frustrated with my writing, my parents were concerned that I was in over my head. But I was not discouraged for long and was determined to go ahead with it. One of my own fears was spending nearly a quarter of a decade of eating and breathing sports stats and history and then not knowing quite how I would use all the material. The blog was one way to use it and get feedback. The book, though, that was something new altogether. I imagined feeling great self-satisfaction if it was well-received. Having a book published, a piece of my own creation, would give me such a sense of pride. My dream was that all my research would finally come together and be appreciated; what a great feeling.
In the summer of 2019, when Lacey Bakker at Pandamonium Publishing told me she’d shown my manuscript to various baseball people who were impressed, I felt like I finally was recognized as an author with genuine baseball expertise. My book became a reality, a very exciting moment in my life. Moreover, to create my own page on Facebook, and add a book slideshow to YouTube, have helped me to achieve recognition, not just as a bona fide baseball junkie, but also as an author with expert background research.
I consider myself a lifelong baseball devotee with a unique take on the sport I love. Anyone who reads my commentaries will appreciate that they are, without a doubt, based on my dedicated analysis of details and honed skill. Recently, someone wrote on my Facebook (Author) page: “No doubt among one of the best sportswriters out there! Scott makes you feel like you are actually there; very vivid, the stories flow. Great reading from cover to cover!”
Follow Scott on social media: @sportsscott (Twitter), @hardballfacts (Twitter), @scotty7676 (Instagram) http://scottsportsworld.blogspot.com/ and purchase his book here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/114-world-series-in-1-book/
August 14, 2019– Our guest blogger today is Giuliano Enciso, author of On Blank Pages. I had the pleasure of being introduced to him a few months ago and I’m captivated by his poetry and truth. I know that when you read his work that you’ll feel the same way.
My name is Giuliano Blaquera but I publish under the name Giuliano Enciso, I am a poet and author. My mother passed away from cancer and I publish under her maiden name. She was always a huge supporter of everything artistic, and everything I did, and only wish she could read and hear my words today. Every time my words touch paper or a microphone, they will always be dedicated to her.
The first part of my book, On Blank Pages, is an entire chapter of pieces inspired by my mother. It’s a short chapter but the pieces speak the loudest in my opinion. The rest of the book follows love and heartache, self-discovery and personal growth because as writers, one of our aims is to always learn and grow in our craft. I have a second project in the works, that looks at growth both in the individual pieces and the growth of my words as an artist.
As a child, I’ve gone through plenty of change and as a teenager, it’s hard to find an outlet or even the right ways of expression. Moving countries, changing friends, relearning how to start over, all things that went into creating who I am. I went to school for psychology and always enjoyed trying to understand how different people interact with one another and have always been intrigued by the relationships we have. I started writing while in school, and found myself gravitating towards poetry.
The hope is that anyone who reads my book, can find something that speaks to them, something they can relate to, and something that let’s them know, whatever it is that’s going on in their lives, they’re not alone.
You can purchase a copy of Giuliano’s work from our webstore https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/on-blank-pages-a-book-of-poetry/