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
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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com, and we’ll add you to our member’s list.
The benefits of book club:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:)
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.
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.
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- People-runners, rollerbladers, walkers, older adults, middle-aged people, workout buffs, personal trainers, kids, and teenagers are great examples of people to write about.
- 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
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.
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
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.
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