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Our Guest Blogger, Jake Evanoff

January 24, 2020- Today, I have the pleasure of introducing fellow author, Jake Evanoff, creator of the children’s storybooks Jacob’s Ladder and Oswald’s Surprise. Check out what he has to say, below. Be sure to click on the links to purchase your copies!

https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/jacobs-ladder-by-jake-evanoff/

https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/oswalds-surprise-by-jake-evanoff/

Hey there! My name is Jake Evanoff and I’m really excited to be able to share my story with you, but first I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to Lacey Bakker and Pandamonium Publishing House for making this possible.

I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario and I’ve had a love for storytelling ever since I was a child. I shot my first film on my parent’s camcorder when I was 7 years old and I’ve been hooked ever since. All throughout high school, my friends and I filmed and posted comedic shorts to YouTube, which eventually brought me to Humber College where I took Film and Media Production. After deciding that I still didn’t quite know what I wanted to write, I went back for one more year to attend their Television Writing and Producing program. It was in this program that I discovered my passion for writing children’s content. I started out by writing spec scripts for my favourite kids’ shows and from there moved onto some original concepts.

After school, I knew that I wanted to be writing children’s content and I also wanted to get it out into the world in a way that would give me full control of the entire process. That was when I decided to start self-publishing my work. The first book I wrote was ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ – It’s about two best friends, Jacob and Halley. They meet up in Jacob’s treehouse every day after school to start their next adventure, but one day Halley doesn’t show up! We follow Jacob on his mission to find out just how far he’ll go to find her. The entire process from jotting down my first idea to physically holding a copy in my hands was about 7 months in total. I couldn’t believe how much I had learned in that time! From editing to working with an illustrator, to marketing not only my books but myself as an author
Writing Jacob’s Ladder was such a fun and exciting experience because it was something new to me. I was used to writing scripts for films and tv shows, where you had all of this time to lay down exposition and explore the world you’ve created at any pace you see fit. Whereas with kid’s books, you’ve got this extra challenge because you’re typically working with 24 pages of content and that’s it. Now, I’ve always written in a non-linear fashion, so what I’ll do first is jot all of my ideas down onto cue cards. It could be anything from a single word or phrase, to a specific interaction between characters or even just what I want the underlying message to convey. From there, I start to move them around like puzzle pieces until I find my story. I remember when I was doing this for Jacob’s Ladder, I wanted to be sure that every single page had value. So I wrote out all of my cue cards and if one could be removed without being a hindrance to the progression of the story, it would be scrapped. I’m incredibly happy with the way the book turned out, and if you want to check it out for yourself it’s available on the Pandamonium Publishing shop along with so many other wonderful books! I also just released my second book ‘Oswald’s Surprise’ and it’s about a golden retriever that wants nothing more than a family that will love him with all of their hearts. He finds just that when a young couple adopts him from the shelter, but over time he worries that his parents might be getting ready to bring home a new puppy and Oswald isn’t sure if he’s quite ready for a new sibling. It’s a story that I hold dear to my heart because it’s actually true!

If there’s one thing I can leave you with it’s that if you’ve got a story inside of you, I would strongly encourage you to share it in any way you can. Whether that’s with a book, or music, even an interpretive dance! Let’s all take a moment to put down the screens and pick up the pens because there’s a whole world out there waiting to hear your story.
-JE

 

 

 

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Guest Blogger, Christopher Botting-Unfrogged

January 10, 2020– Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to our very special guest blogger, Christopher Botting, the illustrator of Unfrogged! Let’s check out what he has to say about his experience as an illustrator with Pandamonium Publishing House.

Hello friends and fans of Pandamonium Publishing! My name is Chris Botting, and I am the illustrator for the ‘Unfrogged’ book; Pandamonium Publishing’s second book offering. One day back in two thousand and too far back to remember right now, my sister (Tamara Botting), had written a story she greatly desired to publish someday. She was asking me to do the artwork for it. I made a half-hearted attempt at some rough ideas, but in the end, I told her that publishing companies would have the final say on the art direction they were looking for and not necessarily something I may come up with. That it would be a waste of time to try anything before a publisher picked up her manuscript. What a big bother brother I quite often turn out to be. Well, time went on and one day I did receive a phone call….from a publisher…wow! (Good for little sis, she stuck with her dream and never gave up). Pandamonium Publishing’s very own Lacey Bakker was interested in seeing a sample of my art portfolio. She was hooked! She absolutely loved the idea of a brother/sister team working on their first published book together. (Bucket list items for both siblings!). There were meetings and deadlines made. The rough copy art sketches were approved and used for the final pieces after colour and corrections were added. Did I ever learn a thing or two about books;  They have chapter titles to illustrate. They have front covers to draw. They have a back cover too…what? Whodathunk? Do you know what else they have? A spine that needs artwork! My first book art job, and it was a ton of work! But it was all well worth it! Someday, when I see a well-worn copy on a used book store shelf, I’ll know a second generation is about to enjoy something my sister and I put so much of ourselves in to; I’ll know we’ve ‘made it’. I believe that when you do something or create something, in the brief second that follows the last pen stroke, or saw cut, or screw turn, or musical note, or whatever; that your creation, your project, art piece is instantly a classic. Just in that moment, the passing of time. Because, when you look back at your accomplishment, finished or not, there’s that feeling of ‘I remember doing that’. And ‘it’s out there, other people are going to see it, and remember seeing it, and to them, it instantly becomes a classic. Because they’ll remember it too. Something ‘vintage’ with the passing of more time’. I know people enjoy our work, I can tell by the time they spend absorbing it and taking it in. By how long someone will look deep into a drawing I have done, and make positive comments. I really enjoy doing art and sharing it with other people. I hope it makes them feel good inside, peaceful. Open a sense of awe in them and myself that the world can be a beautiful place. I am so thankful for the experience of working with Pandamonium Publishing and my little bother sister on ‘Unfrogged’. They are creating great friendships and books along the way. Check them out and enjoy some instant classics!

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Wake Up!

January 6, 2020– You should be up early, especially if you’re are or want to be a writing entrepreneur. Yes, I’m aware that most writers have day jobs or work shift work or have families and responsibilities other than themselves, but that’s what makes this post so important. What do I mean?

  1. When you get up an hour earlier (or for my shift working friends, go to bed later), you have uninterrupted time. The kids are asleep, the dog is snoring softly in the corner, and all you can think about is the perfect silence that encompasses you at that very moment. No one is demanding more jam for their toast; no one is complaining that they can’t find their favourite hairband, no one is asking for anything from you. This is the ideal time to write with abandon because this time belongs to you and your characters.
  2. When you get up an hour earlier, you have a great sense of accomplishment. You train yourself for greatness. Look at everything you’ve completed as the world slept! Most CEO’s and business owners are up at 5 am. Why? Because they know the value of getting in their fitness time, the value of reading an article in their line of work, the importance of meditation, and the calm that comes when they’ve already shaved down the items on their to-do list. I get up at 4:30 some days, but mostly 5 am, and the first thing I do is hit the treadmill because if I don’t do it then, I probably won’t. Then I’ll write a couple of blog posts for the month or schedule some social media and review my daily list of things that need to be done. This puts me miles ahead of where I would be if I started my work at 9 am. It gives me a sense of control and helps me feel in charge of my day. Plus, at 1 pm, I’ve put in 8 hours, if I need to go to an appointment, or I want to visit with my nephews, I don’t feel guilty because I’ve already knocked off my daily items.
  3. When you get up an hour earlier, your life changes. You start to realize that you’re up chasing your dreams instead of letting them pass you by as you hit the snooze button four times in a row. You start to develop a sense of pride because you’re doing something that not everyone does. You learn more over the course of a year, you become a better writer just by using an extra hour a day to hone your craft, and you have the potential to get healthy if you use your hour to amp up your fitness routine or plan your meals for the day. The point is, this one extra hour can change your life if you want it to.

Don’t pound the alarm. Embrace the quietness of the extra hour of YOU time and use it to realize your potential. X LLB

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Inspiration is Sitting Right Next To You.

January 3, 2020– I’m sure that we’ve all had an excellent rest and a fantastic holiday. Time spent with family and friends is never wasted, especially if you’re a writer. We’ve all been there, gathered around the dinner table, enjoying a meal with our family when all of a sudden, our great uncle Larry decides he’s going to regale us with a hopelessly inappropriate story of when he was young and reckless. As your sister ushers her kids away from the dinner table and says a silent prayer that they didn’t hear about that time in Reno, I hope that you’ll keep your ears open for writing GOLD. Here’s how your writing can be inspired by the people around you!

1) Listen. Does great Uncle Larry speak with a German intonation, or does he pause for effect after every sentence? Does he swear a lot, a little, or not at all? Does he speak fast or slow or a combination of the two? Is he monotone and boring, or does he command the room? The way someone speaks tells a lot about them. The same goes for the characters you create; it shows their education level, their level of openness or closed-mindedness, it can show your reader which part of the world they’re from, and it sets the tone for who your character is.

2) Watch. Look at great Uncle Larry’s mannerisms as he speaks. Watch his body language and how he gestures. Is there a character that you can model after him ever so subtly in your writing? Are there things about his personality or the way that he tells stories that will make your characters more interesting? Maybe it’s how he raises an eyebrow or how he shakes his fist at the ceiling. Perhaps it’s how he leans forward or backward in his chair while reminiscing about the good old days. Is there a deep crease in his forehead from years of worry, or does he have an epic beard? Whatever it is, take note because gestures,  body language, and appearance help develop your character more thoroughly. We don’t want to read about wooden people who just sit there like untouched dolls on a shelf. And remember not to describe their physical traits so much that the reader gets bored or loses interest. We comment on the remarkable, note-worthy things about our characters and leave the rest up to our readers’ imaginations.

3) Combine. Does your Aunt Edna roll her eyes every time great Uncle Larry tells his story? Does she fold her hands or throw them up in the air as if to say, not again! Does your mother fiddle with her left earring when she’s uncomfortable, but trying not to seem rude, while deep inside, she’s hiding a burning rage that tempts her to tell great Uncle Larry to shut the hell up?  Combining character traits help deepen your characters and make them seem more realistic. Don’t go overboard, or you’ll end up doing the exact opposite.

Inspiration is all around us always. We just have to be aware of it, and as writers, I find that we are the most observational people on the planet. Keep a notepad close; your family and friends are a character development goldmine. X LLB

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New Year, New You? Probably Not.

January 1, 2020– Happy New Year, Friends! What is it about a new year that gives people so much hope and promise? Is it the turning of a new page on the calendar? Is it the thought of a fresh start and a new beginning? Is it the chance to start over and better ourselves, to break bad habits and create healthy new ones? Or are they all just lies we tell ourselves?

I’m going to go with; They’re all just lies we tell ourselves, Alex for $200! Why so cynical? Because science, that’s why. Researchers at Scranton University did a study that showed only eight percent of people were able to achieve their New Year’s resolutions, the other eighty percent failed, and the remaining twelve percent did what you should do-not make any resolutions in the first place.

Setting goals are entirely different than making resolutions; here’s how:

  1.  Goals are Specific. For example, you may want to set a goal of writing for one hour per day, whereas your resolution could be to become a better writer. The best way to word this is to combine the two; To become a better writer, I will write for one hour per day, five days a week.
  2. Goals involve Planning. For example, you resolve that this year you’re going to submit your work to a publisher for consideration. Sure, that sounds great, but have you planned for this? Where will you submit your work? Have you done research on which publisher is the best fit for your manuscript? Do you have an email address of the person you will be submitting to? Without a proper and REALISTIC plan, YOU WILL FAIL. That’s all there is to it. Remember the adage that still rings true; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
  3. Goals involve Action. For example, you can be as specific as you want to, you can plan what you’re going to do until the cows come home. But without taking action, you’ll never achieve anything. I know someone who has over 2,000 (not an exaggeration) email leads, from various shows she attended as a vendor, that are sitting in a box on her desk doing absolutely nothing and have been doing nothing for years. Sure, she had good intentions to use them one day, but that day never came, and now most of them are expired, moved, or dead ends. If you don’t take action on the goals you’ve set, what’s the point of setting them?

What are you doing each day to move closer toward your goals? My point is, I hope that you’re not the eighty percent of people who make resolutions and dump them by January 12th. I hope that you succeed in everything you do and know that anything is achievable if you are specific, create a plan, and take action.

Happy New Year, everyone. May the best be yet to come. X LLB

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Forests Ontario…Plant All The Trees!

November 7, 2019– During the month of December, Pandamonium Publishing House will donate to Forests Ontario in support of tree planting. We know that our business uses precious resources and we want to help balance things out by donating the amount of dollars for the amount of books that we printed this year. For example, if we printed 500 books, then we will donate $500.00 and so on. It’s important for us to remember that everything we take from the environment, we need to, at the very least, return what we’ve used. (Also, all of our books are available as e-books!)

Please join us in our efforts of planting trees by clicking on the link and considering a donation. Thank you for your support! X LLB

https://www.forestsontario.ca/community/get-involved/donate/   Forests Ontario

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The Upside of Disaster…

November 1, 2019-I read an article somewhere that talked about the calming effect of acting instead of waiting. It was about a group of soldiers (special forces) that became super calm when they heard that they were just about to experience an overwhelming attack from the enemy. Why? Most people when put in any situation that is hard (let alone facing the threat of death) would immediately panic, so why didn’t the soldiers?

  1. They had a plan of action.
  2. They had a sense of mastery and relied on their training.
  3. They knew they were in control of their next move.

All of the things above made them feel less anxious than just waiting around, waiting to see what could happen. Now, I’m not comparing being an author to the insanely important job of being a soldier. What I’m saying is that we can take a lesson from those who protect our freedom.

Let’s use a real-life example. I had an author friend who I was chatting with tell me that they just suffered an enormous set back. Their book was being bounced from their current publisher and their deal got squashed at the last minute for a much anticipated sequel from a more well known writer. My friend told me that she was absolutely beside herself with anxiety and panic because she had just been completely blindsided and rejected once again after so much promise. What would YOU do? Here’s what I would do using the special forces way of thinking.

  1. My plan of action would be to get to the bottom of what happened. I would see if there was a way around the situation and I would find an alternative route. If there was no alternative route available (there almost always is) then I would move on to my next step:
  2. Rely on my training. I’ve submitted manuscripts to hundreds of publishers over the course of my writing career which has made me a master at querying and the submission process. I’d rely on my training in this area (I’ve taken probably fifteen if not more, courses on querying to publishers) and get started submitting to other Houses. Then I would:
  3.  Remember that I’m in control of my next move. I can start sending out submissions or I can wallow in my disappointment. The soldiers were probably filling sandbags and cleaning their weapons. They were probably stockpiling ammo and getting whatever else ready before an attack. I would get out my submission list, check the requirements, and start the querying process. The point is, I’m in control of my future, no one else. What do I want? And how am I going to build a plan of attack to get it?

The point is, there will be disappointments. But the upside of disaster is that sometimes something better comes out of it-self reliance, a better deal (in my friend’s case), knowledge of self, inner strength, and confidence in knowing that you can handle anything that comes your way.  We would just like to say Thank You for your service to each person who protects our freedom.

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November Giveaway…

October 30, 2019– I’m so excited to share this with you! During the month of November, we will be matching purchases and donating them to schools to promote literacy. What does this mean? It means that any time you purchase one of our books on our site, in person, at an event, or at the book store, we will send a copy of that book to a school that we’ve chosen. We believe that literacy matters and that knowledge is freedom! If you would like to have your school considered for this amazing event, please send us an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com. We will be choosing four schools to send our books to this month. You can see the titles we offer by clicking on the link:

https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop/?orderby=popularity

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When You’re Struggling…

October 25, 2019– We all struggle. Every single one of us struggles at something or at some point in our lives. Difficulty is part of the process so trust it. Could you imagine if everything was easy and just handed to you on a silver platter? Part of being a human is overcoming challenges. When we find a solution to our challenges we end up building confidence, trusting ourselves, and believing that we can do whatever we set our minds to. Here are three ways that you can help yourself if you’re struggling with an aspect in your writing career:

  1. Get out of your comfort zone. When things feel uncomfortable, that’s a really good indicator that you’re on the right track. Maybe it’s making that phone call or tracking down that distributor or writing while being vulnerable, whatever it is, make sure you do it because getting out of your comfort zone has the power to change the trajectory of your entire life. Try to do one thing a day that makes you uncomfortable and watch your life change.
  2. Put a timeline on it. There are some days that are rougher than others. When you’re having a tough time, put a timeline on feeling sorry for yourself. Give yourself five minutes at most to feel crappy about the situation (it’s important to recognize the bad so that we can appreciate the good) and then roll up your sleeves to start fixing it. Do you need to scrap the entire intro to your novel? Do you need to have that hard conversation with one of your employees?
  3.  Know that it will pass. “My mamma told me there’d be days like this and man, she wasn’t foolin.” Aerosmith sure nailed that on the head. The good news is that time marches on. Whatever you’re dealing with, just know it’s a moment in time…it will pass and then you’ll be on to the next thing. If it won’t matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes worrying about it. That’s a personal rule that I keep.

The point is, there is no success without struggle. Keep going, you’re doing great. X LLB

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