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Inside the Mind of an MG Reader

September 17, 2018– Middle-grade scripts are what I’m always looking for! There seems to be an infinite black hole in my line-up of offerings for this age group. My middle-grade submissions never close, so if you’re an MG writer, please submit! You can submit your query and one-page synopsis to pandapublishing8@gmail.com.

Now, let’s get inside the minds of our middle-grades, shall we? What is an MG reader? It’s a child between the ages of 8-12, and they seem to live in a world of conflict.

  1. Middle-graders love their families, and they are fiercely loyal to them, but at the same time, they crave independence.
  2. They want to fit in with friends and social groups at school, but they also want to be defined as unique, individual, and special.
  3. They want to grow up, make choices, flex their independence, but they also want to be a kid, be safe, and are emotionally not mature enough to make tough decisions when faced with them.

At this age, MG’s are finding their place in the world and getting their feet wet in different situations; they don’t want to completely abandon their childhood, but they don’t want to be treated as kids all the time either. It’s truly a tough spot to be in, not only for them but also, in relating to them as a writer!

Here’s what you need to know to be a successful MG writer:

  • Tweens are focused on themselves, but they’re also focused on how others see them. Peer opinions are super important to them.
  • Heroes and parents aren’t perfect anymore. MG’s are starting to see them as humans with flaws and all.
  • Things are complex at this time in their lives, and they may be experiencing things for the first time in their lives, e.g., first kiss, first time they’ve been grounded, first time they’ve been in trouble at school, first fight with parents, etc.
  • If there is romance, make it innocent. Crushes are fine but don’t go too far beyond this.
  • To echo the above point, keep it PG and don’t go all the way to Young Adult writing with edgy themes and romantic scenes. There is a very LARGE line in the sand on this one. Keep it clean because the edgier you make your novel, the less chance it has to enter school libraries and conservative households.

Now you know! Here’s to your success.

X LLB

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One of my most fave middle-grade novel series! 39 Clues- Check them out today! 
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Do Author School Visits Matter?

August 13, 2018- I do a lot of school visits as an author, and someone once asked me the question, “Do author visits make a difference in kids’ lives?” I took a second to think about that. “Yes, they do. And let me prove it to you.” More on this in a second.

I love, love, love going to schools as a visiting author with the opportunity to read my books to young people! It is such a unique and wonderful experience that no two schools are the same. I leave with a sense of gratitude for the young minds that allow me their attention for even a brief time and for the teachers and librarians that welcome me with open arms, into their schools and their spaces. The questions that the children ask are fun, funny, and sometimes very personal! But, enough about what we as authors get out of school visits, what do the children receive?

According to a recent study that was conducted in 2013, by California State University, children receive the following benefits from author school visits:

  1. Author visits motivate children to read more. Kids passion for reading is ignited before, during, and after an author visit. They get excited about things that they can relate to such as an in-person visit from someone who is real! I often hear them say that they too want to be authors when they grow up.
  2. Author visits inspire creativity and expression. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a school where the kids have created a comic book for me, complete with illustrations, or how many times they’ve created a poem or handmade card.
  3. Author visits motivate children to write more. Children often hurry home after an author has visited their school because they’ve suddenly caught the writing bug. They want to write about anything, and everything, plus, author visits can also spark ideas to write about.

It is always beneficial to have an author visit your school! There are so many reasons why you should book a visit for the upcoming school year. Not only is it fun, but it’s also educational and entertaining.

I do in-person school visits, but I also offer live Skype visits and readings with schools that are abroad. Please contact pandapublishing8@gmail.com for more information.

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NEW! Book Parties!

July 3, 2018- Did you know that Pandamonium Publishing House offers Book Birthday Parties? How awesome is that? Here’s how it works:

  1. We bring the books to the party! Select your 2 favourite titles that you’d like to have read from our online catalogue selection.
  2. The author reads the books at the party with one of our special mascots! Lots of time for pictures too!
  3. Each child takes a signed, personalized book home as whole or part of their goody bag and 2 activity sheets that compliment the book!

That’s it, it’s that easy!

Be sure to book today, as spots are filling up fast! Call 905-979-4949 or email pandapublishing8@gmail.com. 

Here is the pricing structure:

1-hour author visit with mascot: $100.00/hour 

1 author signed and personalized book for each guest: $8.00/book 2 activity sheets included. 

Make their wishes come true with a Book Birthday Party from Pandamonium Publishing House! 

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Coming in Spring 2018! Introducing Phillip Star

December 8, 2017- Hi Friends, I’m really excited to share a little piece of a book that our very own Shamayal Hayat is working on as we speak! It will be released in the spring of 2018, and the title of this children’s book is Phillip Star. Phillip Star is larger than life and I can’t wait for you to meet him! Stay tuned for more updates and new releases from Pandamonium Publishing House. We have some really exciting things in our lineup for the next 2 years not only for kids but for adults too. Remember to follow us on Facebook!

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Writing Prompts-(This is going to be fun!)

December 1, 2017- I absolutely love coming across new writing prompts. Not only does it help writers sharpen their skills, but it also allows us to write about things that we may not normally write about. There are different types of writing prompts and here are a few examples below. Try a couple of these per day!

#WritingPrompt: Perhaps it is not a sad occasion for all present. www.writersrelief.comYou find a stack of Missing Persons news clippings under your parents' bed. All with your photo.:

Something about this image makes me feel uneasy

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A Couple of Things I learned in London!

November 30, 2017-Well, it took me long enough! After visiting the London Book Fair, the largest book fair in the world, in March of this year, I’ve finally decided to share a few of my notes. The presenters were phenomenal, and I learned so much. I’m happy to say that at Pandamonium Publishing House, we are constantly trying to implement these ideas in our works. Here’s just a taste of a seminar I attended titled, Children’s Picture Books, Today and Tomorrow which was presented by Christine Baker…she’s the person who introduced Harry Potter to France!

  • Visual and aesthetic changes based on what is coming out of Europe
  • Core is sharing a story between kids and adults
  • Globalization of illustrative talent
  • Smaller publishers=different esthetics, different graphic styles, RETRO styling and online media influence of graphic styles
  • The changes currently are in regards to children’s books polarization in how to sell to people in the market. Books about food (donut on the front or about a shopping trolley sell insane amounts of books in supermarkets)
  • There is a large spectrum of illustrations, and a slightly alternative style is forthcoming
  • DIVERSITY IS HUGE. Be willing to take risks and be experimental, this will open a lot of doors. It’s good to see things from other countries because that itself lends to diversity. The Gruffalo is a great example of this.
  • Rhyming books can be hard to translate, and books for kids don’t always need to rhyme, but rhyming is fun if you do it right!
  • Non-Fiction Narrative is up and coming in this market
  • Unusual measurements-BIG HUGE books are popular
  • Push the boundaries of art
  • The scale is almost furniture size for up and coming picture books. A couple of kids gathered around a huge book as they read it in front of the fireplace on the floor. ­­­
  • Digital content-This is not so important to have books in an app because there isn’t really a demand for it.
  • Non-fiction books can have illustrations rather than photographs. Eg. Great White Shark
  • Screens and tablets can never replace books
  • Physical touching of a book is best, kids with their parents turning the pages, sitting on laps
  • Apps are only good if what you’re doing is interactive. It must be intelligent because apps are difficult to sell.
  • Heavily illustrated early reader novels (5-8 years) are here to stay!
  • Kids always read up!
  • Cross over books are books between picture books and middle-grade novels
  • Tons of writing is told in the imagery
  • Be untraditional, non-traditional, odd, with a different style. Don’t look like everything else in the market! Stand out!
  • Define and describe new categories illustratively
  • Your book is a work of art, be unique and interesting.
  • It’s all about fantastic stories, adventure, characters kids care about that they want to share with their parents, intriguing covers make you want to know what the book is about.
  • The US is the biggest market for books right now, but the UK is the biggest market for picture books.

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Just in Time for Halloween…Next Year:) Super Special Collector’s Edition!

October 30, 2017- I know that Halloween isn’t until tomorrow, but I thought that I’d share some fun news from Pandamonium Publishing House! Next year, just in time for Halloween, The Adventures of Milan and Friends (Trouble with Trolls) will be published. This book will be available for A LIMITED TIME in a LIMITED QUANTITY as a COLLECTOR’S EDITION to celebrate my favourite time of year! Be sure to get your copy and feel free to contact me if you’d like to go on a pre-release list.

This children’s picture book is geared towards children in the age range of 3-5+ and will be available in major bookstores as well as online through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Stay tuned for sketches, later next summer, as well as sneak peeks behind the scenes of character development and illustration. I’ll also be releasing some information about each character and what the inspiration is behind it!

Thank you so much to each and every person who continues to support my work and who make it possible for me to do what I love. Without you all, there would be no point.

XO LB

 

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The inspiration behind The Adventures of Milan and Friends, Trouble with Trolls, A Halloween Tale (Yes, his name is actually Milan in real life!) 

 

 

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Hope That You’ll Join Us!

June 7, 2017- The week is marching on and before we know it, Saturday, June 10th will be here! That means that you can catch us at Concession Street Fest from 11 am to 7 pm at our booth with my book Panda the Very Bad Cat. You can even win 2 passes to FLYING SQUIRREL TRAMPOLINE PARK in Hamilton by entering a draw when you see us on Saturday. Looking forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones. Oh, and one more thing, Panda the Very Bad Cat is going into the Pandamonium Publishing House vault on October 1, 2017! That means that you won’t be able to get it after that until I decide to re-release it! Get your copy this weekend if you haven’t already. A portion of the proceeds from each book sold is donated to animals in need. See you soon!

LLB

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Introducing…Tamara Botting!

Interview With Our Newest Author Tamara Botting!…

April 17, 2017- I would sincerely like to welcome new author Tamara Botting to our team at Pandamonium Publishing House. She brings with her not only a wonderful story of magic, adventure, and friendship through her book Unfrogged which is slated for release on July 1, 2017, but also an extensive writing and interviewing background. We are so happy to have her aboard, and I can’t wait for you guys to read her book! And here’s a fun fact, her brother, Christopher Botting is the illustrator of Unfrogged; it’s pretty cool to see a brother and sister team up on this one! Let’s see what she had to say about becoming an author.

Lacey: Why did you decide to become an author?

Tamara: I knew pretty early on, probably Grade 2 or 3, that I wanted to write for a living. I did a co-op at a community newspaper in high school, and after I graduated from university, I called the editor to ask for a reference. He offered me a job instead, which I gratefully took. I’ve been there ever since.

It was years later, through my job as a community newspaper reporter, that I connected with Lacey Bakker and Pandamonium Publishing (actually, re-connected, because we went to high school together).

I guess the moral of my story is, work hard and be nice to people in your youth because you never know how it will affect your life as an adult! (laughs)

Lacey:  How long have you been writing for?

Tamara: Since I’ve known that I wanted to write for most of my life, I’ve pretty much always been making up stories. Over the past decade, I’ve been very blessed in that I’ve gotten to write and pay my bills with my job at the newspaper.

Lacey: What is your favourite book now and your favourite book when you were a child?

Tamara: I’ve always been an avid reader, so it’s kind of hard to limit myself to just a few books!

Except for Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, both of which I discovered in high school, these are a few of the books that I read as a kid and still love today: Virgil Nosegay and the Wellington Boots, Robert the Rose Horse, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Little Women.

Lacey: Tell us about Unfrogged and where you got your idea for the story from.

Tamara: I wrote Unfrogged probably about ten years ago, if not longer. As I recall, I did it kind of as a writing exercise. I’ve always loved fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast and the Frog Prince being among my favourites. Since I didn’t think I could bring anything new or different to the story of Beauty and the Beast that hadn’t already been done before, I decided to write a novelization of Frog Prince.

Even though I love fairy tales, I always did find them a bit annoying on some parts, in particular, that the princesses always seemed to be so perfect, and that the romance generally springs up out of nowhere. I wanted my version to be more realistic; I hope I’ve achieved that.

In my story, the princess, Meredith, is very much a fish out of water. She’s living with her aunt and uncle, the queen and king because her parents have passed on. Her father was the kingdom’s second-born prince, so Meredith had never been expected to act like a princess before. Add to that the fact that she’s very clumsy and withdrawn. When she meets Frog, they become very close friends, and he encourages her to come out of her shell more.

Lacey:  Is there a particular character that you relate to the most in Unfrogged?

Tamara: Frog’s sarcasm is all me, unfortunately. (laughs) Also, I’d say I’m a lot like Meredith at the start of the book, because she’s such a hot mess; something I definitely relate to! (laughs).

Meredith at the end of the book is more who I’d like to be: someone who’s confident, using her unique talents and abilities to help others, and not letting fear stop her from doing what she knows she should do.
Lacey:  Anything else you want to tell us?

Tamara: A story that has always resonated with me is the one about a man watching a young boy walking along the beach, throwing starfish that have washed up on shore back into the ocean.

The man goes up to the boy and tells him that he’s wasting his time; there’s no way he can save all the starfish. What he’s doing isn’t going to make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

The boy bends down, picks up another starfish, and throws it back into the ocean.

“Made a difference for that one,” he says.

One of the messages that I hope people take away from this book is that we all have special talents and abilities. You are the only person who can make your unique contribution to the world. So use your gifts to serve others, to make this world a kinder place. Even if you have to do it one day, one person, at a time.

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