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I’m All Out of Inspiration

March 25, 2021– Happy Thursday, Friends! We’ll be wrapping up our most asked questions in the next week, and we hope that you learned some new things. On April 1st, we’ll be starting a brand-new theme called, “How to push the envelope in your writing” and we certainly hope you’ll join us.  Let’s jump into today’s question.

Q: “Lately I’ve been feeling really uninspired in my writing. I want to write a children’s book, but I can’t seem to come up with any good ideas. You’ve written a lot of kid’s books, where do you get ideas from?”

A: Sometimes it’s hard to be inspired I agree, but if we look around, we can find plenty of ideas. A lot my children’s book subject matter comes from real life experience and people that I’m close to. My nephews and niece inspire me like crazy; they range in age from 17 years old to 3 months and the toddlers tend to have amazing ideas that make it onto my books. For example, most recently I wrote a book called Cakes for Snakes and it came about at my kitchen table in the Pandamonium Publishing House Tour Bus; my three-year-old nephew, Denver asked, “Auntie, who makes cakes for snakes?” I grabbed a pen and started taking notes. We’re formatting Cakes for Snakes in a whole new way as a full colour comic book for kids with the one and only Alex Goubar, stay tuned for more information on a release date! Check in with your friends and family (especially the kiddos) and think about changing your environment. You can head to the park, the outdoor bike/walking trails, the mall, and other places to find inspiration around every corner. Be sure to ask yourself questions. I wrote The Extreme! Supreme! Dogwalker, Darlene after walking my own pup, Luna. I thought to myself, what would make someone an ultimate dogwalker? What tools would they have to make their job easier? What would they do to keep the dogs occupied? Etc. Jot down every idea because you never know where it will lead. Keep in mind when writing for kids, the crazier the plot and the bigger and more exaggerated the story, the better. Another tip is to pick up books that inspired you as a child and read them once again; what did you love about them? What parts spoke to you the most? And so on.

If you need help with writing for kids, let me mentor you! Check out my masterclass here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

Remember, discipline beats motivation every single time. Even though you aren’t inspired it’s important to sit down and write. Put the words on the page. Happy Writing! X LLB

 

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A Special Greeting!

January 15, 2021-Today we have our very own Paul A. Moscarella joining us with a personalized greeting for our Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club! This month we are reading his debut novel, Machinia. Join us every Friday morning at 11 am on Facebook Live as we chat about his new science fiction book. http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/machinia

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The Queen’s Gambit

November 13, 2020-I’ve been watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix; what a show! It’s so good, and I’ve never wanted to learn how to play chess more in my life than right now. If we look at the main character, Beth Harmon, we see why she’s so successful in her career. We can use her obsession with chess to inspire our own work ethic when it comes to writing and creating. Here’s how Beth made it big:

  1. She put in the work. Beth practiced playing chess each day for hours, and when she wasn’t playing, she read books, studied the greats, and played hundreds of hours of games.  We need to do the same and schedule our writing time and remain consistent on the path to our author goals. Imagine where you would end up at the end of the year if you started writing a few pages each day!
  2. She sacrificed. When people were partying, Beth was learning all she could about the game. She sacrificed time with friends and time spent doing other activities to perfect her craft, and sometimes we need to do the same to become successful authors.
  3. She had a network of support. Beth’s friends supported her; she had the support of her adopted mother, the janitor at her previous school who taught her how to play, and her previous roommate. She also had the support of people she played against, albeit not at first. You have so many people cheering you on as an author, and you are someone’s favourite writer. People are hoping for your success, buying your books, sharing your posts, and spreading the word about you.
  4. She was generous. Beth took care of those around her, especially her mother. She was generous with her winnings, and when her mother said she would manage her for 10% commission, Beth offered her 15%. Being generous to those who have helped us get where we are is important. We can’t do this alone as authors, and we should thank those who have believed in us from the start and pushed us to fulfill our potential.
  5. She believed in herself and her abilities. A lot of people didn’t believe in Beth, especially when she first started. But that didn’t matter, she believed in herself, and she refused to give up. The same thing happens to us as authors; people ask how we’re going to survive on an artist’s income, or are we sure that we want to write a book and be totally vulnerable to everyone who reads it. We must believe in ourselves and our abilities as artists. People will always have something to say, but it’s our belief in ourselves that matters most.

If you haven’t watched it yet, I hope you’ll tune in to The Queen’s Gambit. It’s a remarkable take on fulfilling one’s destiny and the work that needs to be done to get there.

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Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club

October 7, 2020- Each Friday on our Facebook Page (Pandamonium Publishing House), we discuss the book of the month that we’re reading. For the past three months, we’ve chosen a book from 6 of the 7 continents (Antarctica has been impossible to find an author), but we’ve visited South America (Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist), Asia (Bali Kaur Jaswal, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows), North America (Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes) and now, Europe (Alex Michaelidis, The Silent Patient). We’ll be visiting Australia and Africa next! Each week, we discuss themes, political issues, character development, plot, conflict, and narration within the books. We take questions and comments from readers sent in via email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com. If you’ve ever thought of joining a book club, but haven’t had the opportunity, here’s your chance! Send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com, and we’ll add you to our member’s list.

The benefits of book club:

  1. Reading goals. Did you know that most adults read 1 book or less per year? Yikes, that’s not a good thing! By joining our book club, you’ll be able to set and reach your reading goals!
  2. Perspective. Since we chat about the book each week, we can get a different perspective on the characters, themes, and plot from everyone who participates in the discussion.
  3. Unique/Diverse Voices. We choose books that maybe you’d never think of reading because it’s outside your genre, or you’ve never heard of the author. We try to include authors’ unique and diverse voices from a wide range of countries, backgrounds, beliefs, and writing styles.
  4. Friendship. Joining a book club allows you to chat with other members, find things in common, and forge friendships that will last a lifetime.

We hope that you’ll join our Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club! We’ve got some exciting new titles for the rest of the year and 2021. Hope to see you online:)

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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.