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E-Books (The Future of Publishing?)

September 25, 2020– I attended the London Book Fair in England a few years ago, and I was fortunate enough to participate in many classes to continue my education. One of the subjects that came up was e-books, and how they are changing the face of publishing. Here are four reasons why electronic books are essential to offer your customers if you’re an author, especially a self-published one:

  1. Portability. You’ve just bought a new book series to read while on vacation-did you pack your paperbacks, or did you download the books onto your phone, tablet, e-reader, Kindle, Kobo, or laptop? I’m a fan of paperback books, don’t get me wrong, but when I’m on vacation, I like to lounge by the pool and read. I can’t fit all of the books I can read in a week in my suitcase, so I choose to download them instead.
  2. Sharable. A lot of e-books contain bonus information such as additional chapters or new release teasers via hyperlinks. We add hyperlinks to our e-books because our readers can click on a link and be brought to our website where they can find similar titles they may be interested in. Plus, e-books can be shared with friends.
  3. Highlightable. Non-fiction books especially fall into this category. Most people skim the contents looking for things that are relevant to them, and they can highlight which parts they want to remember or refer back to without ruining or damaging the book like they would have if they had highlighted a paperback.
  4. Environmentally friendly. There is no paper or ink or shipping materials used for e-books, which is an absolute advantage to the environment. There is no waste and nothing to throw away.

I’m not saying that I prefer e-books over print books by any means \(nothing beats the textile nature of holding a book in your hands, flipping the pages, and the smell of them). I’m saying that they have their advantages and have a place in publishing. As an author, make sure you’re offering e-books to your readers; it’s essential to give them as many options as possible to enjoy your work. If you search any of our books on Amazon, you’ll find a paperback version and an e-book version; this is just one of the ways we commit to serving you better.

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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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Pumpkin-Ize Your Writing

July 6, 2020-I’m hoping to grow some massive, prize-winning pumpkins this year to the tune of 2500 pounds; knowing this is quite a feat, I thought I’d enlist the help of experts. I went to Amazon to look for a book on pumpkin growing when I stumbled across a book titled, The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz. The book is NOT about growing pumpkins, but growing your business like you would a gigantic pumpkin, there are steps that need to be taken! To grow a pumpkin, you need to:

  1. Plant seeds
  2. Water the seeds
  3. Remove diseased/damaged pumpkins
  4. Weed the plant
  5. Identify the stronger faster-growing pumpkin leaves and get rid of the rest, repeat until there’s only one pumpkin per vine
  6. Focus ALL of your attention on the big, beautiful, strong pumpkin and nurture it like a human baby
  7. Watch it grow

What does any of this have to do with your writing?

  1. Plant seeds. Brainstorm ideas for your writing, write down as many possible topics or themes as you can think of. Don’t hold back and don’t self-edit at this point.
  2. Water seeds, removed diseased damaged pumpkins, weed the plant and identify the fastest growing pumpkin leaving one per vine.  Pick one idea and go with it, get rid of the bad ideas and focus on your very best one. 
  3. Focus all of your attention on the strong pumpkin and nurture it. Focus on your idea for your novel and forget about writing anything else. Nurture your novel, take care of it, edit, rewrite, be thorough with your research and make necessary changes, add more plot twists, develop characters further etc.
  4.  Watch it grow. Put the work in and watch yourself grow as an author. Keep growing and developing your skills. 

Who knew that such good writing advice could come from pumpkin growing? Happy planting, X LLB

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STOP DOING THIS

February 26, 2020-We’ve all done it at one time or another, and for some reason, whenever we do it, no matter how many good things are said, we tend to focus on the bad. I’m here to tell you to STOP! Stop Googling yourself. It can be tempting to find out what people think of us and our work, but trust me when I say that no good can come of it. Sure, you may have stellar reviews, lots of likes, and beautiful things said about you, but I think Dita Von Teese said it best, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” People are going to love your book and others will hate it. People will like you and others won’t. It’s all irrelevant at the end of the day, so don’t lend any weight to it.

There seems to be an epidemic of bullying, suicides, and overall meanness on social media. The more connected we become, the more disconnected we really are from each other.  Most things that people say from behind the protection of a screen and keyboard would never be told in person. We should follow the general rule that if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it to them online. This should be used in conjunction with, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Not everyone needs your opinion. And you certainly don’t need the opinions of others to justify your worth. You are worthy. PERIOD.

Keep writing, ignore the critics, take positive, constructive feedback to make your work better, and enjoy creating art. Do it for yourself, because no one else’s opinion matters.

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Publisher’s Corner…

June 21, 2019– Wow, this is an excellent question! Let’s dive right in.

Q: “Lacey, my family doesn’t support my dream of becoming a writer. They tell me that I won’t make any money and that I should focus on getting a real job. Writing is something I love, but I understand that I will need to pay my bills at the same time. How do I convince them that I’m doing something that I love and that this will pay off?”

A: Whoa…for a second after reading this, I was at a loss for words. I’ll break it down because there are a couple of hidden questions in here and I don’t want to miss them.

  1. My family doesn’t support my dream of becoming a writer. Sometimes, families aren’t supportive of our dreams. They mean well, but then again, some of them don’t. Some families don’t support the arts, and they don’t understand or appreciate any form of artistic expression. This can be very difficult. You have to follow your OWN path and whatever journey that leads you on. No one can decide what you should do with your life. If you want to be a writer, by all means, do it! Find others that will support you in all of your endeavours no matter what they are.
  2. They tell me I won’t make any money and I should focus on getting a real job. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this has been said to me time and time again. “Writer’s don’t make any money,” “How are you going to pay your bills?” “No one is going to buy your books,” “Who do you think you are?” Yep, it hurts. But, that’s what makes victory so sweet. The fact is, there are millions of writers out there who make plenty of money writing books. And there are so many ways to make a living writing! You can write for magazines, you can do copywriting, editing, content creation, blogging, journalism, and hundreds of other things that revolve around writing. Focus on honing your skills and getting as much experience as possible. Last time I checked, which was 56 seconds ago, writing was a real job.
  3. How can I convince them that I’m doing something I love and that this will pay off? You can’t and you never will convince them so stop trying. Do what you want to do because YOU want to do it. Life is way too short to be living your life based on what other people want you to do, say, or think. Getting up in the morning is a gamble, crossing the street is a gamble, travelling is a gamble, and the list goes on. There are no guarantees in life except that we only have one shot at it. Don’t spend your life wondering what if. If this is what you want to do, you don’t need anyone else’s approval. I can’t tell you that this will pay off, but what I can tell you is that you won’t regret trying. We only regret the chances we never take.

Keep your head up. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

If you have a question you’d like answered, please send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com.

X LLB

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People Hate Change…So Who Gives AF?

April 22, 2019– Happy Easter, everyone. I trust that you enjoyed the time spent with your family over the long weekend and around here, our weekend was also about enjoying playoff hockey! Whatever you ended up doing, I hope that you had a nice time. Today’s blog post is about change and why humans hate it. It’s a bit of a rant on my part, so buckle up.

Recently I started going to a personal trainer because I want to get my endurance back and some strength back that I had lost over the past year. Someone who will remain unnamed, said the following right to my face, “Oh dear, I hope that you don’t get too bulky and start to look masculine.” WOW! Can you believe it? It took everything in me not to throw this person a beating. But, I digress. People don’t know how to keep their mouths shut and they seem to think that everyone is entitled to their opinions whether asked for or not.

So what if I get super ripped? So what if I start to look better and feel better about my strength and endurance levels? Does this person know that about a year ago after my concussion that I could barely stand? Do they know that I could not lift my left arm higher than my waist because the pain was excruciating? Do they know that I wasn’t able to exercise for a year without having massive anxiety attacks? Of course not. People only see what they want to see and they don’t ever have all of the facts.

The point is, people are judgemental idiots no matter what, but ESPECIALLY when the people around them start to change. People fear change. They fear it because they are uncomfortable with it and if you change too much, they may have to change too; they’re quite content doing what they’re doing and being who they are. They don’t want to have to step up their game or put in the work, or deal with change because that would require being uncomfortable on their part. They like things just the way they are.

That’s why people are going to say, “Oh, you’re writing a book? Isn’t that hard?” Or “I’ve heard it’s super hard being an indie author and most of them don’t make more than a few hundred dollars a year.” Or “How are you going to write a book, take care of your kids, and go to your job, isn’t that a bit selfish of you?”

The bottom line? Who Gives AF? Do what you want to do because life is too short. There will always be people who say you can’t do something or that you shouldn’t do something or that it will be too risky or too hard. Those people are showing you THEIR limitations, NOT yours.

So as they say in hockey, “Keep your chin up, kid,” and do whatever you want to do anyway. Never apologize for trying to be the best version of yourself no matter WHO you make uncomfortable.

Go Bruins, X LLB

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Habits-The Good, The Bad, and The Stackable…

March 20, 2019- Ahhh, habits! When we think of the word habits it’s often with a negative connotation. Bad habits include not exercising, exercising too much, smoking, too much alcohol, not enough sleep, shopping, spending, and whatever you think bad habits should be defined as. We all have habits and most of the time we run on autopilot because of the habits that we’ve created. For example, when you walk into Starbucks, what do you order? Why? Because it’s a habit and it’s automatic.

However, habits are useful when we use them properly; new habits can be built into our daily routine or stacked on top of the habits that we already have (habit stacking)! Habit stacking should not be confused with multi-tasking which is completely inefficient. The new habit should include a time of five minutes or less to complete, should be simple, should improve your life, and should fit nicely into your daily routine. Let’s look at a couple of examples of how you can incorporate this simple method into your daily life (I’ll use some of the things that I do as an illustration):

  1. Upon waking, I brush my teeth with my opposite hand (creates new neuropathways and increases creativity) and silently repeat five positive affirmations until I’m done brushing.
  2. Every time I exercise, I listen to an audiobook. I’m working out for an hour, but I also am “reading” an hour in my field.
  3. Any time I’m driving somewhere, I listen to a Ted Talk. They’re short and packed full of information that is useful.
  4. Every time I sit down to write, I turn off my phone. This minimizes distraction and is a simple thing that is automatic.
  5. Any time I have to wait somewhere like my doctor’s office or if I arrive at an appointment early, I always bring along a notebook with paper and write down as many new ideas for books as I can before I get called in.
  6. After dinner, I always put on the kettle and while I wait for the water to boil I plan my tasks for the next day from the most important to the least.

All of these actions are non-invasive, they don’t take up any additional time, and you don’t have to overhaul your life to fit them in. So, make a list of the simple, good habits, that you want to create for yourself and see where you can stack them! I’d love to hear if this worked for you; send me an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com and me about your experience. X LLB

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The Willpower Instinct…

March 13, 2019– If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have seen me post about a book I was reading last week; The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, is an excellent read for anyone who wants to know how self-control works and how our brains process things. There are three key sentences that really stuck out and I’ve since employed them for the business/writing tasks that I don’t love to do.

  1. I will.
  2. I won’t. 
  3. I want. 

That’s it, pretty simple, right? Now, let’s combine them to make a powerful statement. If you’re struggling with doing mundane tasks consider the examples below. The more specific you are, the better this works!

  1. I will write 500 words in an hour and I won’t get distracted by social media during that time because I want to reach my goal and finish my book.
  2. I will wake up early to finish my blog post and I won’t answer return emails until this afternoon because I want to go for a walk with my spouse after breakfast.
  3. I will finish my fabulous presentation on grammar by Tuesday and I won’t turn on my phone until it’s completed because I want to show my boss that I deserve a raise.

You guys get the point! This will work in many areas of your life such as organization, education, writing, reading, leisure activities, relationships, and more. It works because I will, I won’t, and I want, allow us to be clear on what our priorities are and they draw a firm line in the sand showing us what we are willing and not willing to do and what the pay off is. This technique works really well and I hope that you’ll try it yourself! Let me know if you do and if it worked for you by sending me an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com.

 

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How to Write a Book Review

February 18, 2019– Today we’re talking about book reviews; wait a second, there is a format for writing a book review? Let’s get real, there are formats for every piece of writing that you could ever think of!

Book reviews offer you a chance to share your perception of a book’s good and bad parts and to share info with other readers that they may find useful. Of course, book reviews also allow others to decide whether they should read the book themselves.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of writing a book review:

  1. Do provide a general overview of the book. Include the author, title, publication info such as the publisher and year of publication, and genre. In a few sentences us a taste of the book and your overall opinion of it.
  2. Do say WHY you liked or disliked the book. Be specific! What did you love about it? What did you hate about it? What could have made it better?
  3. Do take a stand. The whole point of a book review is to make a recommendation to your reader. Remember that it is possible to like and dislike parts of the same book! Don’t be afraid to share your opinion!
  4. Don’t give too much away. If you’re reviewing fiction don’t give away key points of plot or the ending or twists that could ruin it for other readers.
  5. Don’t make your review too long. A paragraph or two will do. Pick the thing that interests you most and the thing that you think will most interest your readers.
  6. Don’t be a jerk. If you didn’t enjoy the book, that’s fine, but don’t be insulting. Let your reader know why you were disappointed in the book while still being calm and unemotional.

So there you have it! I look forward to reading your reviews online for some books I’m thinking of reading!