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Cancelled

June 19, 2020– Things in the world are so weird right now, but at least some restrictions are lifting, and hopefully, the quarantine will be entirely over soon. I know that there are things that are more important going on than the festivals and events that we look so forward to all year, but these chances to connect with the community face to face are so special to us, and they mean a lot.

So, there will be no It’s Your Festival, no SuperCrawl, no fall fairs, and no Peach Festival, to name a few events that we would have been scheduled to appear with our books and authors. Although these events have been cancelled, here is a list of things that are not:

  1. Reading to your kids. This is the most sacred time between parents and children that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Kids will remember reading bedtime stories and snuggling with you forever; reading with them will ignite their love of literacy and create lasting memories for both of you.
  2. Virtual book clubs. Book clubs, oh how we miss you, but virtual ones still make them possible. We are revamping our international book club program as we speak, so check back here for more information in the coming weeks! We’re doing a read around the world program where we feature books from different cultures and countries. I’m so excited, so stay tuned!
  3. Virtual storytime and book launches. I’ve had the pleasure of reading my storybook, Panda, the Very Bad Cat for Frontier College online. What a great idea to help kids find new books! We also do online book launches for our new releases, and it’s a great idea because you can still connect with your readers and audience through Facebook Live and Instagram Live; it’s a new way of doing things, but still a lot of fun.
  4.  Reading outdoors. Nothing beats a cold beverage on a hot day, except adding a great book into the mix! Hit the deck or patio and escape into another world for a few hours under the sun.
  5. Writing. Now is the time to work on your novel or next writing project. If you’re working from home and keeping typical hours, consider waking up a bit earlier to have some writing time. Get inspired with ideas by reading blogs and writing in a journal.
  6. Spending time in nature. This is one of our most favourite things to do at Pandamonium. Nature seems to reset us and allow us some much-needed downtime. This is also where some of our best ideas blossom! Grab a notebook and pen and head out for a hike or a walk, you’ll be glad you did.

While it’s easy to focus on all the things we still can’t do at this point, it’s better to focus on what we can do. Enjoy these summer days, and stay positive! X LLB

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The Idea Muscle

June 15, 2020-Did you know that it’s easier to come up with twenty ideas than it is to think of ten? Let me explain. If you’re thinking of ideas for storylines for your novel and you can’t think of ten ideas, then you’re putting way too much pressure on yourself. Perfection is the enemy of ideas. Stop stopping yourself and go ahead and write down those terrible ideas! How does this help?

1) It forces you to get uncomfortable. The bad ideas never have to see the light of day, so don’t worry about them coming to fruition, just get the ideas down on paper. Your brain will scream, NO! THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA! YOU’RE GOING TO EMBARRASS YOURSELF! Who cares, write it down.

2) A great idea will come from bad ones. The more bad ideas you write down, the better! Once we get the bad ones out of the way, there’s more room for the good ones. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own heads and stop overthinking. Here’s a terrible idea-Snow White and the Seven Sins.

3)You’ll take action. So, you’ve written down your ideas (good and bad), and now what you need to do is write down the first steps to take. Do this for ALL of your ideas, even the bad ones. Snow White and the Seven Sins: Step 1-Research what the seven sins are and leave it at that. Move on to the next idea and next step.

This method of idea generation has led me to some of the best ideas I’ve ever had and I know it will work for you too. Happy writing, X LLB

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Grow Your Author Mind

June 10, 2020-It’s crucial to have a mindset that allows you to grow as an author, and this attitude of continual learning will be imperative to your success! Ask yourself these five questions each day to stay on track and within a growth mindset.

1) What did you learn from today’s writing? E.g. I learned that I need to do more research about the topic I’m writing about in order to add credibility to my work.

2) What steps did you take to make yourself successful today? E.g. I wrote an entire chapter as soon as I got up in the morning and I didn’t check my phone for one hour while I was writing.

3) What are some different strategies you could have used during your writing to overcome any obstacles you faced? E.g. I could have shut the door to my office and disabled all Facebook notifications so that I wouldn’t get distracted.

4) How did you keep going when things got tough? E.g. I wrote myself into a corner and had to restart a chapter. I wrote complete garbage, but I reminded myself that writing anything is better than nothing.

5) What did you learn from any setbacks today? E.g. I learned that I need to be more disciplined in my writing, that I need to remove distractions, and that what matters most is getting words on the page.

If you ask yourself these five questions every day, you can’t help but succeed! Happy Writing! X LLB

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Lunch Lady Heroes

April 24, 2020– I was lucky enough to meet Jarrett when I was in New York attending the SCBWI winter conference last year. He’s a fantastic speaker and a lovely guy. Check out his Ted Talk about Why Lunch Ladies are Heroes and his graphic novel!

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It’s Time

April 22, 2020– What if I told you that you could totally transform your life by doing one simple thing? Would you believe me? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s true, but there’s a catch…You have to decide which one thing. As writers we are often absent-minded, disorganized dreamers who would lose our head if it wasn’t screwed on; I may be only referring to myself in that last sentence, but I digress. So, what is it that you must do right now to change your entire writing life? Here’s the secret: CHANGE ONE THING.

Yep, that’s it. That’s the magic right there. You know the areas of your writing life that need improving, but for ease of explanation, I’ve included some examples below. Pick ONE thing to change because studies show that making too many changes at once, results in failure. Once you’ve changed one thing and have stuck with it for 21 days, pick another thing to change while still adhering to your new habit.

1. Change your frequency. If you’re writing infrequently it’s time to increase your daily word count. Make a schedule and stick to it. Try to write as many days in a row that you can. It will help you develop discipline and a routine; before you know it, you’ll have finished writing that novel.

2. Change your mindset. Get away from negative thinking. I cannot stress this enough-what you focus on EXPANDS, so concentrate on what you WANT. See yourself as a professional and start showing up as her. If you’re not published yet or have received a bunch of rejection letters, welcome to the club, that just means that with every NO, you’re that much closer to a YES.

3. Change your space. Is your desk or writing area a disaster? Do you lose the same things over and over again, such as pens and pages of your manuscript? Do you spend more time looking for stuff than you do writing? If yes, it’s time to make a change and get organized.

4. Change your timing. Get up earlier or go to bed later if that’s what it takes to change your writing life. Don’t wait for inspiration to write because if you do, I promise you won’t write another word. Writing and being an author is a discipline that needs commitment. We don’t write when we’re inspired, we write and then the inspiration shows up. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Pick your area of weakness and change one thing about it. Old ways won’t open new doors. X LLB

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Your Service to Your Customers

April 6, 2020– Do you know what killed brick and mortar stores and traditional retail? Poor customer service did, along with a laundry list of other unfortunate events. How can you survive in this day and age without providing excellent customer service? Short answer, you can’t and you won’t. We live in a time where people don’t have to settle; they don’t have to put up with crappy attitudes from employees, or a lack of common courtesy, or not being acknowledged when they walk into an establishment, heck they don’t even have to put up with long line ups or store hours or ever leave the comfort of their own home for that matter. The landscape of doing business has changed, so what does this mean for you as a bookseller/author. In this post I’m not going to talk about the importance of being able to sell your work online, I’m talking about providing customer service for your readers and clients who purchase your products from your online store.

In my company, we use something that I came up with, it’s called the HOUSE method. Here’s what it looks like:

H-Hear your customers/readers. Really listen to what they’re telling you. Find out what they want to see more of and what they want less of. What matters to them? How can you tailor their experience so that they receive the biggest benefit of doing business with you? What makes them happy, and what do they like most about your company? What do they like least? Ask them why they read your work and why they don’t.

O-Offer them more than they expect. Include things like free samples of your work, additional bonus products for free, give them a chance to experience a different part of your product line or flash fiction. Go above and beyond their expectations! Let them know that you appreciate them and that their support of your business and work means everything.

U-User friendly experience. Are your site and online store easy to use? Are your downloads working? Are your readers/customers able to access everything they need? If they run into an issue, can it be solved quickly, and will it be a good experience where you can go above and beyond to help them? Are you easy to find and easy to connect with?

SSolve the problem before it becomes a problem. Maybe you need to use a new platform to connect with readers that will allow you to respond to messages more quickly. Anticipate all of the areas of your business that could go wrong and put systems in place to solve them immediately. This is a what-if scenario that will allow you to give your readers/customers the best possible experience and outcome should things go awry. What if your online site goes down, what’s your back up plan? What if your online payment software glitches? How can customers still purchase from you? This is something that we do BEST because the boss is a bit of an anxiety-ridden, back-up-plan-making, worst-case scenario kind of person. She likes to stay five steps ahead at all times.

E-Edit your game plan. If something isn’t working, you need to stop and pivot in a new direction. Is there someone on your team that needs more training on customer service? Do you need to fire them? Are people enjoying your newsletter and are you providing value to your readers? If not, is it time to find a new writer or drop your newsletter all together? (Ours is coming back, don’t worry! We’re revamping it.) Are you using software that’s causing delays in ordering? It’s time to get rid of the old and bring in the new so that you can serve your readers and customers better.

Readers don’t NEED to read your books. Customers don’t HAVE TO shop with you. Remember that there are a whole host of other choices out there and it’s your PRIVILEGE to serve them.

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Hierarchy by Maslow

April 3, 2020– Before I became an entrepreneur and author, I studied marketing and advertising among other areas of interest. In marketing, we are taught Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs pretty early on in the course in order for us to identify where our potential clients are,  and where our products would fit in their lives. It’s important for us to remember that this is the way that our characters will experience their lives throughout our book.

For example, a character cannot be self-actualizing if they are worried about food and shelter. I urge you to review your manuscript to ensure that your character is following the hierarchy, not only does it lend to your credibility as a writer, it will speak to your reader on a very personal level as this is all of humanity’s experience.

Maslow’s hierarchy will help develop your characters fully and will let your reader know what motivates them to do what they do and be who they are. Please remember that none of these levels in the pyramid can be skipped, they can be stretched however, but only slightly. Also be aware that there is a expanded version of this hierarchy. If you do happen to skip a level, your reader will question the believability of your work. This entire theory of the hierarchy is that humans have a series of needs, some of which must be met before they can turn their attention towards others.

A homeless character would be focused on food and shelter, the first level of the hierarchy rather than the stock market. Of course, in Hollywood especially, there are always exceptions to the rule. I hope that you will use the resource below to make your characters as real as possible.  If you’re interested in developing your characters fully, please email us for more information on our upcoming Character Development course at pandapublishing8@gmail.com Happy writing, friends! X LLB

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Platform 9 and 3/4

March 18, 2020– First, let me say a very Happy Birthday to my Dad, and to my Nephew, who both celebrate their special day today!

Today we’ll talk about author platforms. What is an author platform, and why does it matter? Let’s get to work.

1) An author’s platform is the way that authors engage with their readers. This means it’s essential for authors to have a voice online and on social media. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, and blogs are all great ways to connect with people. It’s not just about being online, it’s about building and connecting with your readers so that you can share information that is valuable to them. Marketing materials such as feature sheets, postcards, and other handouts are essential parts of a giant cog.

2) Building your platform is a process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Build your brand (which is YOU) and create connections that are meaningful to all parties. If you’re not going to take the time to do things right, when will you make time to re-do them? Have a strategy going in and make sure that you are being clear about what your message is.

3) Your platform may get you a book deal with a publisher. Yes, we look at your online presence, we look at how many followers you have and the content you’re posting. We look at if you engage with your audience and we look at your online personality. These things matter because if you’re going to represent my House or anyone else’s for that matter, we want to know what and who we’re getting into. I’ve said this a million times before, we are WHO and WHAT we publish.

Keep your nose clean is all I’m saying. What you post online could make or break you.

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International Women’s Day

March 6, 2020– On March the eighth, we celebrate International Women’s Day, but as far as I’m concerned, women should be celebrated every day. There have been so many women that have gone before us, and many of which will come after us, that have changed the world and will continue to do so. We appreciate them. Let’s take a look at some female writers and characters who refused to be boxed into an ideal of what society says they should be and women who were fearless enough to tell their stories.

1) Let’s start with our own, Duty’s Daughter by K.G. Watson. Anna-Helena is a woman who gets pregnant in the 1800s before marriage and this all but destroys her family’s social status in the community. She marries a man who her father doesn’t approve of,  sneaks into territory that is forbidden, and she lives life on her terms. She is courageous, brave, and fearless throughout her life. She says what she thinks and doesn’t care who agrees or disagrees.

2) The Diary of Anne Frank. In 1942, Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in German-occupied Amsterdam. They were discovered by soldiers in 1944 and sent to concentration camps. The only person to survive was Anne’s father. Anne’s diary of her family’s experience, which was first published in 1947, is one of the most widely read accounts of the Holocaust and has been translated into 70 languages.

3) Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser. This book is about the legends and lives of the women that have led armies and empires. Cleopatra, Isabella of Spain, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi, among others, are featured. A must-read and an “intelligent and artful study of women rulers who have commanded in battle.“- NY Times. 

4) The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou. “This book combines the best and worst of the American experience in an achingly personal way. Angelou has chronicled her remarkable journey and inspired people of every generation and nationality to embrace life with commitment and passion.”- Penguin Randomhouse. This is a beautiful soul-bearing memoir and is definitely on my to-read list.

Happy International Women’s Day to each and every woman who strives to make the world a better place. X LLB

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