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Writing Prompt

We’re currently travelling to Arizona, and we’ve passed a lot of fun billboards on our route, particularly one that said Meramec Caves explore Jesse James’ hideout! Let me give you a bit of background about the caves and their connection to the American outlaw.

Meramec Caverns is the name for a 4.6 mile cavern system in the Ozarks and is the most visited cave in Missouri, with around 150,00 visitors a year! The caverns were formed from the erosion of limestone over millions of years. Mike and I counted around 50 billboards pertaining to the Caverns, and I can certainly appreciate their commitment to marketing:) Speaking of marketing, in 1935, Lester B. Dill introduced the caves to the public as a tourist attraction and promoted the attraction by inventing the very first bumper sticker! How cool is that?

Meramec Caverns was also an important station on the Underground Railroad that housed thousands of slaves on their way to freedom.

According to local legend, James and his partner in crime, Frank, used the caves as a hideout in the 1870s! The caverns have also provided a setting for Hollywood in movies such as Tom Sawyer and Deep Impact.

A fun fact about Jesse James is that he handed out ‘press releases’ to witnesses at the scenes of his crimes; one read: “The most daring robbery on record. The southbound train on the Iron Mountain Railroad was stopped here this evening by five heavily armed men and robbed of ____ dollars… The robbers were all large men, none of them under six feet tall. They were masked and started in a southerly direction after they had robbed the train, all mounted on fine-blooded horses. There is a hell of an excitement in this part of the country!” *source

Also, after his death, his body was exhumed and proven to be him due to the missing finger bone that he had accidentally shot off while cleaning his pistol.

For today’s writing prompt, I’d like you to write a 1,000-word story using the photo prompt below, written in the third person narrative using crime as the genre. Feel free to submit your stories to for your chance to have your story featured on our blog!

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Countdown to Literacy, Pa’s Hockey Sweater!

December 7, 2021– Literacy matters! That’s why we’re counting down each day with a video storytime! Our special guest today is none other than our very own author Tonya Cartmell. Check out the video of her reading Pa’s Hockey Sweater here:


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Media Madness

November 2, 2021– We’re finding our way around the theme this month, which is an idea a day to promote yourself and your work! This includes best practices and tips to help you navigate the waters of book promotion, advertising, marketing and publicity.

Today’s post is pretty straightforward when it comes to approaching the media. Do what the media likes and stay away from what they don’t like. Here are the likes:

  • News: Above all else, the media wants something newsworthy. News is what people talk about around the dinner table and with friends, family, and colleagues. The main goal of the media is FIRST to entertain, then to educate/sell.
  • Top 3: Money, sex, and health are what the media thinks the public is obsessed with. If you can link your books to any of these topics, they’ll be more likely to pick it up and publicize it because it increases the media appeal.
  • Conciseness: Why use eight words when four will do? Get to the point, make your press releases/info/emails short and sweet and never longer than a page.
  • Targeting: Just like writing, if your book is for everyone, it’s for no one. The same goes for the media. Research the audience you want to reach and target, target, target your approach for the best media outlet to pick up your story.
  • Relationships: Everything is about building relationships! Folks in the media build relationships, and they prefer to work with those around for the long term rather than one-hit wonders. Once you’ve made a connection, foster it with a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.

Here are the dislikes:

  • Too long press releases: Get to the point and make sure you have a hook in your first sentence that piques the editor’s interest. Again, no more than one page! They don’t have the time or the inclination to read anything longer.
  • Links that don’t work: Let’s face it; everyone gets annoyed when they click on something, and the link doesn’t work, is broken, leads nowhere, or takes too long to load. What’s more, is that this looks highly unprofessional and is seen as a waste of time.
  • Misrepresentation: Don’t lie, exaggerate, or make things up just to fit your publicity narrative. Your article, idea, or release has to be relevant. Don’t fudge numbers or anything else (bestseller list, sales figures, who endorsed you etc.).
  • Name dropping: It’s not who you know, but who knows you! No, but seriously, don’t name-drop. It makes you look desperate and ridiculous. It’s fine to mention someone who previously wrote an article on your book if you’ve kept up the relationship; if not, don’t bother mentioning them.
  • No follow-up: The fortune is in the follow-up! So many people don’t get what they want because they don’t follow up and find out where their request is or if there have been any developments or progress on your ask.

Follow the tips above while reaching out to the people in the media to chat about your book! Here’s a list of our courses that you may be interested in: Virtual Courses, Classes, and Workshops – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Daily Challenge for Authors

October 27, 2021– Is there such thing as a perfect day? Or does perfection not exist? I think that many days in my life have been perfect so far and that there’s a common theme that makes them this way; I get to spend the day doing what I want with who I want. It’s as simple as that for me!

Sleeping in, writing, great coffee, cuddling the cats, hiking with Mike and Luna, exploring new places, watching old movies, reading, and playing board games, are some things that my perfect day includes. What are yours?

For today’s writing challenge, I want you to write a 1000-word short story about your perfect day or your idea of an ideal day and what that consists of. I like this challenge because it’s so personal and lets us see how much we have to be thankful for and that it’s the little things that matter. Notice how none of the items on my list cost money? They say the best things in life are free-I agree.

Have fun with this! If you’d like to check out some of our classes, click here: Virtual Courses, Classes, and Workshops – Pandamonium Publishing House

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We’re Watching You!

August 3, 2021-During August, we’re talking about what publishers want (and what they don’t want) from authors. We’re going to touch on a subject today that can quite honestly make or break your career (pretty much any career), so pay close attention!

When it comes to social media, like anything in life, there are good and not so good aspects. Let’s break down each.


  1. Content. New, fresh, consistent content that is relevant to your audience is always a good thing. Talking about your upcoming book, the books you’re reading, inspiring quotes, behind-the-scenes photos of you working on your manuscript, and appropriate hashtags and visuals are looked upon by publishers as an excellent indicator of your commitment to your craft.
  2. Engagement. Publishers love it when we see our authors interact with their followers. This shows us that you care about your readers and that you’re invested in building a relationship with them on social media.
  3. Professionalism. Everything from your user name to your email address is important to publishers as this is your public persona. We want to see that you’re more or less an upstanding citizen who contributes to society through your craft and that literacy matters to you.

Not so good: 

  1. Pictures. Pictures of you binge drinking, using drugs, or passed out in an alleyway are all detrimental to your brand (and ours) as you are an extension of the publisher. Don’t expect to get a publishing deal if you’re posting ridiculous images of yourself that aren’t going to make you a role model for readers. It doesn’t matter what you write (kids books to thrillers and everything in between); you need to conduct yourself with integrity.
  2. What’s in a name. Everything. I’ve told my students this (who co-op and volunteer with my company) hundreds of times-your handle matters, what you call yourself online matters. I once received a resume with the handle methhead99 and recycled it upon receipt. Do you honestly think that a publisher will sign you with their House if you’re not even mature enough to have a professional social media name? You’re not worth the risk of embarrassing ourselves by having your horrible handle plastered all over our accounts.
  3. Hate speech. We will not tolerate hate speech, racism, sexism, or bullying of any kind. Liking comments, images, or posts that are inflammatory (it doesn’t matter if they’re on your page or someone else’s) is still a disqualifier for us. We care who you are, what you participate in online and in real life.

Your social media presence and conduct matter, and we WILL be checking before we even consider bringing you onto our team. We’ll check your Facebook, your Instagram, your LinkedIn, your YouTube, your TikTok, your Snapchat, and you’d better believe we’re going to Google you. All businesses do this, so be sure to keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble. Everyone who works for Pandamonium Publishing House is an extension of me. I choose my authors, illustrators, clients, and employees very carefully because of this. And so will every other company.

For more tips on what publishers want check out my book here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books –