February 21, 2019– Check out this FABULOUS Ted Talk by Chip Kidd-Why Books Are Here to Stay! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS!
February 19, 2020– If I told you I liked your face, would you say thank you and then let it go or would you say, I like your face too and deflect my compliment? As authors, we’re pretty humble; after all, art is subjective, isn’t it? Not everyone is going to love us, but a lot of folks do! When people say they think we’re great authors, or they really liked our last book, or that they look forward to our next novel, why can’t we just say thank you and leave it at that? Why do we have to be self-deprecating? It can be for several reasons. There’s nothing more vulnerable than putting your words out in public for the world to read and to be able to refer back to until the end of time. So how can we overcome this over the top feeling of unworthiness as authors? Here’s how:
- No one can tell your story like you can. You have a unique power, and that is no one sees the world the way that you do. Remember that you have an individual perspective, which makes it impossible for anyone to tell your story but you. That’s pretty special, so remember that the next time someone pays you a compliment!
- You inspire others. Trust me. You inspire people who pretend to not even see you. The truth is, a lot of people want to be published authors and seeing you signing your books or on social media with your novel encourages them to perhaps do the same one day! So, every time you downplay yourself or your work, you’re quite possibly cheapening someone else’s dream. Imagine this conversation, “Wow, how exciting! You’re a real-life author!” “Yeah, it’s not that great…we aren’t that interesting.” Talk about making that person possibly question their choices or hopes for the future. Raining on their parade if you will. The way we speak to children, especially, is of utmost importance. Always speak well of yourself, not arrogantly, but kindly.
February 17-2020– Last week, when I was conducting interviews for a position on our team, the coordinator asked me a very interesting question, “How is the landscape of publishing changing? I’ve recently read in the news that more and more publications and publishers are filing for bankruptcy!”
Yes. A lot of publishers are indeed closing their doors because of the change in how people read and find information. But, that means that we have to evolve with the needs of our readers. Here’s what we’re doing to ensure that we stay in the book business for a very long time.
1) Every book we write is available as a digital download. We know that books are read on Kindles, iPads, phones, and other devices, so we MUST have our books formatted in a digital version for those who choose to read in this manner. Let’s face it; it doesn’t matter what kids read on; it matters that they’re reading.
2) We’re a boutique. I am very selective about what we publish and how we release books. We keep our title line small so that we can control the output and not end up with hundreds of boxes of overstocked books. We publish up to ten titles a year, and we don’t plan on getting too big, too quickly. Plus, with being a boutique, I get to meet our readers at local events, I get to speak with my authors and illustrators directly, and I know what’s going on in my House.
3) We do our very best to connect with our readers. We love our readers to the moon and back because we know that without them, there would be no Pandamonium Publishing House. We take their feedback seriously, and we continually try to bring their suggestions and ideas to fruition.
4) New ideas and innovative illustration techniques are what we strive to bring our readers. Especially with our children’s book collection! We’re moving in a direction this year that will show a range of unique characters with different abilities. We’re also going to show a mystical, mythological, darker side to our children’s books. Not to worry, they’ll still be rated E for everyone.
We constantly strive to bring our best work. We won’t stop bringing you stories until we have nothing else to write. And I’d like to think that that day will never come. Thank you for all of your continued support of our House and for showing our authors, illustrators, and artists that you care.
February 7, 2019– Today, I’ll be visiting a school in my neighbourhood where I’ll be reading my book, Mount Fuji has Free Wi-Fi, to some grade three classes. School visits are so exciting and fun for not only the students but for me too! Here’s why author visits matter.
- Kids can’t be what they can’t see. Children need to see the things that they can be. That’s why it’s essential as authors for us to go into schools to show them that we are just ordinary people behind all the stories that they see in the library and on bookshelves. And if we can be authors, so can they! As authors, we can use this opportunity to speak to them about the importance of education and what it takes to become authors from an academic perspective.
- We hope to ignite their passion for reading. Interactive and fun presentations of your books help get the kids excited about reading and writing! Get them involved with storytelling games and activities that will make them want to read and participate in your visit. I leave activity sheets after every presentation and challenge the class to read five more books each than they read last year.
- You learn something and get new ideas for new books. As much as we like to think that we teach the students something, we’re the ones who are being educated. Children are the best teachers, and the best stories come from school visits. I’ve never been asked more interesting questions than when I visit primary classrooms. Kids make us think and keep us on our toes. Some of the questions I’ve been asked range from what is my third favourite reptile (Komodo Dragon), to how much money I make (Buckets full), to how old am I (37) and what’s my mom’s name (Catherine). These visits have given me so many ideas for new books based on the characters I meet in classrooms.
Literacy matters. And the children are our future.
January 31, 2019– Listen up fellow writers, what I’m about to tell you is absolutely imperative to set you on the path of successfully getting published, not only with my company but also, with other potential agents/publishers. Here’s the thing, writing is hard work, and we receive approximately 175 submissions give or take per month, so narrowing down the field of manuscripts is essential. Here is what will cause your work to be automatically rejected.
- You didn’t follow the submission guidelines. When a potential author doesn’t follow the submission guidelines that are posted on every publisher’s site, you give us the clear indication that you cannot follow instructions. If you can’t follow directions, how are we going to work together longterm? Easy answer-we can’t. Here’s a link to our submission guidelines: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/about/
- You sent your entire manuscript in an attachment. I don’t open attachments. Ever. Next.
- Your query letter/synopsis didn’t grab me. If you don’t know how to query a publisher, I suggest that you find information online that is accurate and trustworthy. Also, your synopsis is something that is your HOOK! It is exciting and makes me want to read more of your manuscript. It’s like a movie trailer for an upcoming attraction. For expert help, you can click on this link to our products page to find out how to write the perfect query: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/mini-course-crafting-the-perfect-query/
- Your opening pages were boring. The first few pages in your writing must be attention-getting not only for me but for your readers! If the opening of your story is dull, if it starts with a cliche (it was a dark and stormy night), or if it starts out as a dream, your chances of getting a publishing deal have pretty much vanished. Understand that yes, introductions to stories can be fixed, but you only have one chance to make a first impression. If I read your first five pages and I do not love it, what’s going to make me think that the rest of the book is any better? Start where the action is; the rest can be explained later and sprinkled throughout your story.
- You weren’t patient. You decided to call my bluff (or not) and say that another publisher was interested in your work, and you tried to rush me into making a decision. You needed an answer in two days or by five o’clock, or before Cinderella’s carriage turned back into a pumpkin, these things take time, and when I’m pushed to decide in a rush, my answer will always be no. Please understand that it takes between 4-6 weeks for me to review your work, sometimes longer based on how many submissions I have. Your patience is appreciated, and I will always respond, either way, so you know where you stand with your submission.
So, those are five ways to get rejected. We hope you’ll follow our advice, X LLB
January 27, 2020– Check out this fabulous Ted Talk from Lisa Bu about how books can open your mind.
January 22, 2020– I read a quote recently that said, “Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.” (-David Barr Kirtley)
More real words have never been spoken. Of course, being rejected sucks, it hurts, and it makes us question our capabilities and sometimes even our sanity. But, I’m here to tell you to embrace the suck. I’m here to say, stick out your chin and get punched as many times as possible. Because the only way that you’re going to get a YES is by taking all of the NO’s that come before it and using them to your advantage. When we fail, we become better. We can see where we went wrong, and we can tweak things to improve our writing. No one is born as a fantastic writer. Nope, not even Shakespeare, King, or Hemingway. They’ve all seen their fair share of rejection, and if you don’t believe me, Google it.
As writers, we MUST write because it’s who we are, and we can’t imagine doing anything else with our lives. That’s why I’m telling you to get punched. Get punched and get punched hard, because it’s part of the process in making you a better writer, in causing you to wake up and change your strategy, and it will give you a much sweeter victory than it would if you’d never been punched in the first place.
Being rejected is part of the gig. You want to be a writer? You’re going to be rejected… a lot. But who cares? You’re in great company. The point is, you have to keep going. I personally have enough rejection letters that I could wallpaper the side of my house. And I keep them in a special box that I go through when I need motivation. I look at the comments that say, “Consider a different career,” “Too out of the box, not saleable,” “Go back to school and learn proper grammar,” and my favourite, “Your writing is unoriginal, and frankly, boring.”
So what did I do when I received these comments? I read them, thought about them for a few days, changed a few things in my storytelling approach, hired a professional editor, and then KEPT WRITING. There’s a big difference between arrogance and self-belief. Arrogance says that everyone is an idiot except for you and that anyone who criticizes you is a dumbass. Self-belief is when you take constructive criticism to improve yourself because you KNOW that you can do whatever you want to with enough hard work and practice. Do you think that the first time that Wayne Gretzky picked up a hockey stick, he was perfection? Don’t answer that, what a terrible example…You get my point.
So dear friends, today, I hope that you get punched. X LLB
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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?
- They had a plan of action.
- They had a sense of mastery and relied on their training.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.