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Advice From A Publisher

September 28, 2020-Today, I’ve taken a page out of my book Advice from a Publisher  (Insider Secrets to Getting Your Work Published) to talk about Synopsis’. This is critical info if you want a shot at being published!

How to write a synopsis: Do you want to know what will make a publisher absolutely lose their mind and throw their laptop onto their front lawn? Read on to find out. No, I don’t mean read on to find out; I mean, when authors say, “Read the book to find out!” Let me explain: The job of a synopsis is to tell the publisher what happens in your book from beginning to end. It’s a snippet of the big picture and gives us the information that we need to know. If you remember from the previous chapter, How to Properly Query, you’ll know that a query letter is a sales pitch. A synopsis is an overview of your book which allows the publisher to identify any major problems with your manuscript, lets us determine if your book is a good fit, and helps us decide if your work is exciting, intriguing, and fresh enough to publish.

Your synopsis must include:

The main character and why we should care about them. What is at stake, and what motivates this character to take action?

The conflict. How does the main character succeed or fail in dealing with the conflict?

Conflict resolution? How is the conflict resolved, and has the character changed or learned anything? THIS IS THE ENDING! DO NOT PUT READ ON TO FIND OUT because your letter will be recycled, and you’ll never hear from us again. Seriously, this drives us crazy.

DO NOT:

Summarize each scene or every chapter. This will take way too long, and you must get your summary across quickly and concisely.

Write this with the tone of a book jacket or back cover. It’s not a marketing piece for readers that builds excitement.

Make your synopsis longer than one page.

Get weighed down with specifics such as supporting character names, detailed settings, and descriptions.

Talk about character back story. We don’t need to know, and frankly, we don’t care. Yes, even for you sci-fi writers, leave it out!

Get wordy. Don’t use eight words when four will do.

For examples of good and lousy synopsis’ check out chapter 7 in my Amazon Number 1 Best Seller book found here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/advice-from-a-publisher-insider-secrets-for-getting-your-work-published/

Insider Secret: Write your synopsis in the third person narrative even if your manuscript is told in first person. Write in the present tense and remind the publisher of the category and genre of your work. Reveal EVERYTHING and never use; it was all a dream endings or beginnings.

Best of luck! I can’t wait to read your work.

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Support and Celebrate Living Artists

September 27, 2020- Legendary hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz is on a mission to revolutionize the way artists do business. In this talk, he shares some of the ways he’s helping fellow creatives thrive, including a roving art fair that gives artists 100 percent of their sales, a new commission system for galleries to fund living visual artists and Verzuz, online musical celebrations that bring joy to fans — and sales to musicians. “If we’re not protecting the arts, we’re not protecting our future,” he says. Check out his TedTalk below:

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Run Your Way to Inspiration

September 10, 2020-As long as it’s not raining, you can usually find me running outside in the early morning in my neighbourhood. I love saying hello to familiar faces and smiling back at the people who give me cheery grins and waves. There are people walking and biking, some are on rollerblades, and most have dogs; it’s usually the same crowd day in and day out with a few exceptions.

I like to make up stories about the people and things that I see while I run; Where are they going after this? What if their dog could talk? Does their dog talk to the other dogs it meets? Where does that staircase lead? What is that skunk doing, and what is he digging for? What if we were all running from Zombies? Would I survive? And the list goes on.

Sometimes the ideas are silly, and sometimes the ideas are stuff that I can work with. The point is that I’m observing the things around me and being inspired by them.

Inspiration comes in all forms; let’s explore:

  1. Setting-Sunsets, trees, trails, staircases, houses, waterfronts are all examples of settings you’ll see on your run that could make it into your story.
  2. Animals-Skunks, foxes, birds, squirrels, coyotes, and rabbits are all animals that I’ve seen on the running trail that would make great characters for stories!
  3. People-runners, rollerbladers, walkers, older adults, middle-aged people, workout buffs, personal trainers, kids, and teenagers are great examples of people to write about.
  4.  Professions-Garbage collectors, construction workers, road pavers, gardeners, roofers, dog walkers, and babysitters are some professions that could start your story off right.

Looking at this list inspires me! How many ideas can you think of using the list of things above? Happy Writing, X LLB

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Prepared or Not Prepared (that is the question)

September 2,2020-I was at the nail salon the other day getting my manicurist, Brian, to work his magic on my tattered, overused nails. Thanks to my profession, it’s hard to keep my fingernails long and beautiful, thank you keyboard, but I do what I can to make them look nice yet functional.

So, I’m sitting there and Brian and I are chatting when I overhear a conversation at the table next to me; two women strike up a conversation and the one asks the other for a business card. The woman rummages through her purse and comes up empty-no business card to give to a prospective client, how terrible and what a wasted opportunity. She turns back to the woman and says with a flush of embarrassment, “Sorry, I don’t have any with me.”

Don’t let this happen to you! Be prepared to do business!

Here’s what’s in my bag/truck that I never leave the house without and you shouldn’t either as a writer!

1) Business Cards-This is the easiest way to make an impression and the simplest thing to hand out. Invest in a high quality business card made of premium material. There’s no quicker way to squash a potential deal than to have a crappy business card. The worst offenders are the print at home kind because they never look professional. Be sure to include your name, phone number, website and email on your card as well as your company name.

2) Brochures-These are great when you want to show off your available services or product collection. Get a high quality brochure made from a professional printer and stick with a glossy finish for maximum punch. You can showcase your book titles beautifully with this approach.

3) Product Samples-I keep a few books in the truck at all times so that I’m always ready should they opportunity present itself for me to give one away or sell one. Your products are your most effective form of communication! Do not leave the house without your books.

Don’t miss any opportunity to talk about your books or your business! Be prepared because you never know what can happen.

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It’s Funny

August 5, 2020-No matter what you’re writing, an element of humour should be present. This is especially true for those of us who write mysteries, thrillers, and psychological books. I think Josh Whedon said it best, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” It’s important when writing heavy subject matter to relieve your readers once in a while! Here are three ways to inject humour into your manuscript:

1) Dialogue-Get your character to say something funny. Have a weird exchange between two characters, get your character to reminisce about something humorous that happened to them.

2) Situation-Put your character in a situation where something funny happens to break the tension (when it fits) such as tripping or ripping their pants, or mistaking one thing for something else. In my book Obsessed with Her, James overheard a conversation he thought for SURE was about the girl he was holding hostage, but it turned out to be a missing dog.

3) Embarrass them. Embarrassing things happen to us all the time and I’m sure to me more than others…sigh. Embarrass your character eg. spinach in teeth, static underwear stuck to the back of their outfit, spilling coffee on themselves etc.

The point of adding an element of humour to your writing is to make your characters three dimensional, real, and relatable.

Happy Writing! XLLB

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Daring to Read

July 27, 2020- In some parts of the world, half of the women lack basic reading and writing skills. The reasons vary, but in many cases, literacy isn’t valued by fathers, husbands, even mothers. Photographer and TED Fellow Laura Boushnak traveled to countries including Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia to highlight brave women — schoolgirls, political activists, 60-year-old moms — who are fighting the statistics.

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A Healthy Mindset for Starting a Business and De-bunking Stigmas

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: 

Pants!

Miranda the Very Loud Mouse

Grandma’s Table

Check out Erin’s portfolio site at www.illustrationsbyerin.com. You can also follow her Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/illustrationsbyerin/) or (https://www.instagram.com/inkling.illustrations/).

 

 

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Putting the Pieces Together

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.

beautyandthebeast

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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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