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Editing: The Greatest Challenge to my Writing by guest blogger, Paul Moscarella

April 30, 2021-Today we wrap up our theme of Pushing the Envelope in our writing! Thank you to everyone who read our posts and special thanks to my authors for sharing their methods and ideas in how they push the envelope in their own books. Paul Moscarella, author of Machinia, is our guest blogger today.


​The writing process for me has always been a peculiar outlet that demands my obedience yet gives no instruction for compliance. This manifestation of my active imagination into words began when I was in grade 4. I had selected a book on the shelf of our art class, The War of the Worlds, because the cover art intrigued me. It was a difficult read, but the tale of the Martian invasion had me riveted. After reading that book, I knew that I wanted to share the things that I imagined into something others could experience. But right away I saw that there was a limit to what I could express, mostly because at age 9 emulating the classic writing style of H.G. Wells was beyond my ability! It was a challenge, but I gave every story I submitted in my English class that extra effort that went well beyond what was required. The endeavour paid off as my submissions were always given praise (and high marks). Those were the exciting days, when what was put to paper rarely saw revision greater than a few erased words. The written word was magic, and my pen was the sorcerer’s wand.

​Since that time, the greatest challenge to my writing has been the revision process. Imagination for me has always come easy. Shaping the rough draft into a cohesive well-written form takes continuous effort. Too little self-editing and the rough edges mar the prose. Too much, and the creative inspiration becomes a bland stream of clarified beige. And then, more challenging still, the editor’s feedback! I can get a sentence or paragraph rewritten to the point where I feel it is perfect only to get comments that ask for clarification or a slash through the writing with a simple “No!” So, following the advice I was given numerous times, I’ve learned not to fall in love with sentences, or paragraphs, perhaps even whole pages.

​When the first draft of Machinia was completed in 1992, I never dreamed that a novel of over two hundred thousand words would ultimately be subjected to a thirty-year editing cycle. It eventually emerged as a ninety-thousand-word triumph. It taught me that no piece of writing worth reading ever reaches the published page without the struggle and meticulous challenge of revision. In many ways writing is revision, and each reread gives clarity to what we truly wanted to say in the first place. And whether it takes hours, days, or decades, I’ve learned to treat the revision process as if seeing the prose for the first time.*

*author’s note: this submission was subject to several revisions and my wife’s editing notes.

Get your copy of Machinia here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop/Machinia

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Pushing the Envelope with (the one and only) Tim Ford

April 28, 2021-I am so excited to wrap up this month’s theme of pushing the envelope in your writing! I hope that you will enjoy our guest blogger Tim Ford, who is the author of the Mitch Strongbow series! If you haven’t read his work yet, you’re missing out on a brilliant mind and even more brilliant storyteller. Here what he has to say:

My name is Tim Ford, and I am a writer. Well, truth be told, I am a storyteller, the editor truly makes me a writer. For me, my whole writing career has been a challenge, a challenge that I met head on, no surrender. I never graduated high school; in fact, I don’t even have grade 10 English. But as I stated above, I am a storyteller, self-taught.
Approx. 14 years ago, I was working night shifts over the Xmas holidays. I truly felt pissed off leaving my family, and heading to work. Everyone was enjoying Christmas dinner, and for me, well mine was packed up and taking to work to be nuked.
I have always had this storyline, character in my head. From time to time, I would write some stuff out, put it away until I felt the need to write out more of the story. So, while working over Christmas, I could have sulked, felt sorry for myself and turn that 12-hour shift, into a shift that seemed to never end, or do something that truly made me happy, my joy to my world, my celebration. Pulled out my notes, brought up a Microsoft Word page, and started to bang away on the keyboards. The feeling was rather euphoric, I felt so alive. Time meant nothing, that crazy Irish imagination of mine was firing on all cylinders. And you know what, I couldn’t wait to my next shift. To bring more of Mitchell Strongbow to life.
Now confidence is either your best friend, or worst enemy. I thought I had a solid storyline, but I realized, my lack of education quickly rose to the surface, we are talking warp speed. The fear was real.
Luckily for me, several curious coworkers asked what all was I doing pecking away on the keyboard like a chicken. I explained my story. I could tell I intrigue them by my storyline. They would ask for me to send them some stuff. Nervously I did, and the feedback was outstanding.
Originally my storyline was just this 17-year-old asking out a classmate to a New Year’s Eve party. Now, heck, I am in book 17 of the series.

My new challenges are not repeating the same storylines. Remember who all the characters and plotlines are, and also for each contract kill Mitch performs, it has to be unique, not the same bang-bang their dead.
I have also recently retired. I preferred to work night shifts. I would say 80% of my writing would take place between 22:00 and 04:00. My thought process would peak during these hours. Now, no way can I stay up that late. So, I need a new peak writing time, that has been a bit of a challenge, discipline will be the key for me.
And also, the Covid world, it is truly a dark world, not much sunshine in the world these days. The Strongbow series gets very dark at times. It was hard going down the Strongbow rabbit hole as when I came back up, the world much like Mitch’s world, still surrounded by darkness.

Check out his collection here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop

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A Special Greeting!

January 15, 2021-Today we have our very own Paul A. Moscarella joining us with a personalized greeting for our Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club! This month we are reading his debut novel, Machinia. Join us every Friday morning at 11 am on Facebook Live as we chat about his new science fiction book. http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/machinia

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Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club 2021!

December 30, 2020– I’m so excited to announce our book club lineup for 2021! We’ll be reading books from our very OWN authors at Pandamonium Publishing House. Here’s what you can look forward to and the best part? If you’re a book box subscription member, you’ll get all of our book club selections included! 

January- Machinia by Paul A. Moscarella Cybersecurity officer Damon Maxwell wakes from cryogenic sleep expecting to be ten years into his future but instead finds himself in the root ruled empire of Machinia, 2156! Welcomed by Machinia’s omnipotent leader, the Universal, Damon learns that his extraordinary journey is part of a complex plan by the Universal to bait Machinia’s deadly enemy, the Underground, into action. But the Universal’s brilliant robot aide, Nepcar, fears his leader’s dangerous scheme and pairs Damon with the beautiful and mysterious Cynthia Lhan hoping their union can prevent a catastrophe. Yet, even as the Universal’s plans fall into place an enigmatic figure appears in Damon’s life that even the mighty Universal is powerless to control. Will Damon ultimately be the destroyer of the robot race or its saviour? Machinia – Pandamonium Publishing House

February- Life Supports by K.G. Watson Is it because we don’t have stuff anymore that we feel so lost in a place like this? I ask myself this all the time. When we give up those memory chains Hiram spoke of, do we lose the anchor they connected us to? I don’t think I feel it as keenly as some others here. I have my organ and wall of memories for refuge when I feel unable to bear the loneliness of others about me as well as my own. It is the time between concerts, like now, when I find myself most strongly in retreat.  “Life supports by K.G. Watson is a wonderful reminder of what matters most and his work asks us to think about what our legacy will be.” Life Supports – Pandamonium Publishing House

March-Once Upon a Vision by Gina Collins Ramkissoon and Lindsay V. Rose Becky hoped for a life full of adventure in New York City, but after a failed marriage and business, she returns to her childhood roots in Savannah, Georgia, to start over. Unsure of what her future holds, she settles into a charming loft above a Carriage House on a beautiful estate where she meets the Riley Family members. Was it by chance, or was it meant to be? Instinct draws her to read Tarot at a quaint Tea House down by the river. Becky finds her inner-self emerging. One day a mysterious woman comes into her life, and then another. Is there a connection between these two women? Will Becky’s intuition expose a hidden family secret? Will Becky trust her inner strength to unfold the mystery? Once Upon a Vision: Amazon.ca: Collins Ramkissoon, Gina, Rose, Lindsay V: Books

April-Becoming James Cass by L.L. Colling The prequel to Obsessed with Her, Becoming James Cass, is finally here. Find out what makes James the man he is today and what life-changing events forced him to take inventory of his life. Will he become the man he needs to be, or will he be left with no options except to fight his way out of the cage that he’s built around himself? This psychological thriller from L.L. Colling will make you question human behaviour and will leave you wondering just how much one person can take. Rated R for violence, language, and explicit content. Becoming James Cass – Pandamonium Publishing House

May-Duty’s Dad by K.G. Watson Duty’s Dad is a story of bravery, loss, life and love. It accompanies the book, Duty’s Son, by K.G. Watson. “Watson,” he said without preamble, “I want you to print up a poster offering a reward for the apprehension of Mr. William Lyon Mackenzie and his rebel leaders-one thousand pounds for Mackenzie and five hundred pounds for the others!” Richard was stunned by the size of the rewards. That sort of money was a life-long pension that would keep any family in comfort. He flashed back to his youth in Limerick when similar rewards for rebels or their weapons were shouted out in the parade square of Limerick Castle. He recalled the silent response, hundreds strong, from his neighbours facing the regiment and its gold-braided Colonel. He remembered that not one person claimed the reward. Would it be the same here? Would your barn ever be safe if you turned in any one of them? Duty’s Dad – Pandamonium Publishing House

June-Duty’s Son by K.G. Watson A delightful, historical fiction novel that Hamiltonians will enjoy! Lots of entertaining facts about the city as well as major events that shaped Canada. Dundurn Castle, Niagara Falls, and The Great Western Railway are just a few of the places featured. Duty’s Son by K.G. Watson is a wonderful trip back in time. John Harvey Watson was a courageous soldier, a gentleman, and a man of duty. This is his story. Duty’s Son – Pandamonium Publishing House

July-Duty’s Daughter by K.G. Watson Duty’s Daughter is a remarkable story about a courageous young woman who refuses to play by the rules. She is vibrant, fearless, and defiant. This historical fiction novel by author K.G. Watson is part of a series that includes Duty’s Son and Duty’s Dad. Duty’s Daughter – Pandamonium Publishing House

August-Obsessed with Her by L.L. Colling  What would you do if your child was missing? How far would you go to find out the truth about what happened to her? Obsessed with Her is every parent’s worst nightmare; with twists and turns so shocking, it will leave you breathless until the very last page. “Totally shocking, disturbing and NOT for the easily offended or squeamish.”-Goodreads “Thrilling, scary, jump off the edge of your seat entertaining. “-Goodreads “Four stars for scaring the bejeezus out of me.”-Goodreads “Don’t read this when home alone if you are bothered by gore.”-Goodreads  Obsessed with Her Novel – Pandamonium Publishing House

September-DJ the terrible by Samantha Nemeth This hilarious middle-grade novel will make you stand up and cheer for DJ the Terrible and her equally terrible cat, Godfrey. Djeaneauth (D.J) decides to go undercover with her sidekick Godfrey the Super Cat to assimilate with her new neighbours, AKA “The Borings”, gain their trust, then turn the town on its head!  The only thing is…blending in simply isn’t DJ’s strong suit. With her inventive, mischievous mind, wild hair, and clumsy demeanour, Terrible trouble follows this Terrible girl wherever she goes! DJ (Djeaneautha) The Terrible! – Pandamonium Publishing House

October-Unfrogged by Tamara Botting Her parents are gone, she’s a klutz, and her cousin hates her. Plus, there’s a weird frog! This is the story of Princess Meredith and her unforgettable adventure of friendship, courage, and tea with three shakes of pepper and a pinch of hot sauce. This is definitely not a typical fairy tale! Unfrogged – Pandamonium Publishing House

November-From One Christmas to the Next by K.G. Watson He hadn’t counted on going in. He’d just been too darned lonely house-sitting the place while its owner studied overseas. He really resented the inane or gratuitously violent TV offerings. So, after his TV dinner, he’d just gone out, walking, till he got tired enough to sleep – just like every other night for the past six months. But who counted? He had seen the bustle from a block away. Cars had been trying to get into the plugged parking lot. Lines of bundled-up families chatted excitedly and called to each other as they converged. Bright light bathed the spire and filled the windows. He found himself trapped between clumps of people ahead and behind and fenced in by the solid row of parked cars to his left. The human tide simply herded him off the sidewalk with them and up the broader approach to the double doors. Rather than step out of the line into the knee-deep snowbanks, he decided he’d just go with the flow. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the drill. It was Christmas Eve. How many similar services had he conducted through his lifetime? It’s just he couldn’t do it anymore. And he had nobody to not do it with either since Margaret had died back in the Spring. From One Christmas to the Next – Pandamonium Publishing House

December-Acts of Remembrance by K.G. Watson  Revolution is in our land.  In Amsterdam and Rotterdam, cannons stand on every street corner.  A Curfew is at 7:30, but the people are standing by the front door listening to others who are rioting. The rioters are so fed up with things they are marching through the street singing. For punishment, they have no light or water. It was not smart. Many were shot. Now, what do you do? A death sentence is carried out on everyone who does not obey.  These words are straight from the pages of a young girl’s (Engelina Aasman Hummel) diary during the Second World War. They are true, haunting, and raw. Acts of Remembrance is a book that you’ll never forget. Acts of Remembrance by K.G. Watson and Engelina (Aasman) Hummel – Pandamonium Publishing House

We hope that you’ll join us for this year’s line up as we celebrate Canadian authors! For more information please email us at pandapublishing8@gmail.com 

 

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Advice From A Publisher

September 28, 2020-Today, I’ve taken a page out of my book Advice from a Publisher  (Insider Secrets to Getting Your Work Published) to talk about Synopsis’. This is critical info if you want a shot at being published!

How to write a synopsis: Do you want to know what will make a publisher absolutely lose their mind and throw their laptop onto their front lawn? Read on to find out. No, I don’t mean read on to find out; I mean, when authors say, “Read the book to find out!” Let me explain: The job of a synopsis is to tell the publisher what happens in your book from beginning to end. It’s a snippet of the big picture and gives us the information that we need to know. If you remember from the previous chapter, How to Properly Query, you’ll know that a query letter is a sales pitch. A synopsis is an overview of your book which allows the publisher to identify any major problems with your manuscript, lets us determine if your book is a good fit, and helps us decide if your work is exciting, intriguing, and fresh enough to publish.

Your synopsis must include:

The main character and why we should care about them. What is at stake, and what motivates this character to take action?

The conflict. How does the main character succeed or fail in dealing with the conflict?

Conflict resolution? How is the conflict resolved, and has the character changed or learned anything? THIS IS THE ENDING! DO NOT PUT READ ON TO FIND OUT because your letter will be recycled, and you’ll never hear from us again. Seriously, this drives us crazy.

DO NOT:

Summarize each scene or every chapter. This will take way too long, and you must get your summary across quickly and concisely.

Write this with the tone of a book jacket or back cover. It’s not a marketing piece for readers that builds excitement.

Make your synopsis longer than one page.

Get weighed down with specifics such as supporting character names, detailed settings, and descriptions.

Talk about character back story. We don’t need to know, and frankly, we don’t care. Yes, even for you sci-fi writers, leave it out!

Get wordy. Don’t use eight words when four will do.

For examples of good and lousy synopsis’ check out chapter 7 in my Amazon Number 1 Best Seller book found here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/advice-from-a-publisher-insider-secrets-for-getting-your-work-published/

Insider Secret: Write your synopsis in the third person narrative even if your manuscript is told in first person. Write in the present tense and remind the publisher of the category and genre of your work. Reveal EVERYTHING and never use; it was all a dream endings or beginnings.

Best of luck! I can’t wait to read your work.

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Wherever You Go (There You Are)

September 24, 2020– Before COVID happened, I popped into an Indigo bookstore in my city. Bookstores are my happy place, and I love to browse the different sections and topics; I always seem to find my way into the children’s area. Often, the store has local author visits where writers can set up a table and sell their books to customers in-store.

I wandered over to the author’s table, and the woman looked up at me as she was sitting there reading a book. I was the first to engage in conversation; I asked her how it was going, and if she had been busy with customers. She told me she hadn’t, and she wasn’t really into the “sales part” of writing and that she preferred to write the books and stay “behind the scenes.”  I asked her what she thought would happen after she published her book, and she said that she hadn’t thought that far ahead. I asked her about her sales goals and if she had a plan for her book going forward. Again, she said she “hadn’t thought that far ahead.” She went on to tell me that she had spent a pile of money self-publishing her book and that now she had a garage full of unsold copies that she wasn’t sure what she was going to do with now. She also said that she wished she had more sales and that she wanted to, at minimum, break even.

I see this a lot, and it’s a shame because her book was quite good and the subject matter was interesting. As an author, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you where you want to be?
  2. What are you doing to get there?
  3. What can you improve?

If we use the woman above as an example to answer these questions, here’s what we come up with:

  1. She is not where she wants to be. What she wants is more sales, she wants to break even, and she wants to get rid of the inventory of books in her garage. She should be specific about her goals.
  2. She is going to book store events, but not much else. She needs to start brainstorming about how she can sell her books—Eg. Online platform, other book stores, schools, festivals and events etc.
  3. There are a lot of things she can improve; the first thing is engaging with customers when she has them in front of her, hand out literature, talk more about her book, get on social media etc.

You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. So are you where you want to be as an author? What goals do you have for your work? How will you get there? What plan of action will you take? How will you improve your current situation? These are important questions that need answers.

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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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What Do You Do?

September 9, 2020– How many times have you been asked, “What do you do?” Probably a lot, especially when at a gathering where you’re meeting new people. I was at a party once where this question came up (which was not directed toward me), and the person answered, “Oh, I’m just an author. Well, not really an author, I publish my own stuff, but I don’t have a publisher or anything…” From across the room, I watched as the woman squirmed in the corner and shifted her feet with cocktail in hand, and I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, look into her eyes, and say, “Start again, this time with confidence! Repeat after me, I AM AN AUTHOR. Period. That’s a complete sentence.” 

How many times have you downplayed your writing skills or talents? A few, I’m willing to bet, especially since most authors are introverts who don’t like to toot their own horn. But it’s crucial that you say you’re an author with conviction because if you don’t believe it, no one else will. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re published, unpublished, in the submission phase, have a few things in small publications, a blogger, a poet or whatever else, YOU ARE AN AUTHOR. 

Why does this matter? Because sooner or later, what you say and think about most, becomes reality. As long as your writing and improving your craft, it’s only a matter of time before someone says yes after a whole bunch of no’s. It drives me insane when authors say that they’re not real authors because they’ve self-published. All that means is (if they did it right and invested in a quality editor, cover designer, and formatter) that they wanted to keep control of their project and work from beginning to end. Yes, there are a few self-published works out there that give the good guys a bad name, but for the most part, self-published books (when executed properly) are impossible to tell from traditionally published books. 

So, start believing in yourself! You’ll be glad you did. X LLB 

 

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An Excerpt from Life Supports

August 12, 2020-If you haven’t read Life Supports by KG Watson, you should. It’s a fantastic book that examines the important things in life. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“It was during a search of my basement music storage for material that the ladies unexpectedly came across the box of cookbooks. I had forgotten I put them there, maybe I didn’t, maybe the kids put them there when they cleaned out the kitchen prior to the arrival of the students.

The Evercare bus had dropped me off at my house after the service. After I handed my just-used material back to the digitizers, I went to find what I thought I needed for next week. I had pointed to the boxes I wanted to look through and Margaret had hoisted them up the stairs and onto a cleared corner of the dining room table for sorting.

When I opened the first box there they were rank on rank of cookbooks, ragged with loose paper sticking out of them it was not what I expected. While Trudy and Jessica continued their perfected ballet with my music scores and the electronics, Margaret diverted her attention to scan this new trove. If it looks like a book, Margaret is helpless within its sight. The kitchen library has been stacked into the box spine up. There were fat volumes of cookbooks separating words of pamphlets on the top layer.

With the removal, a packet of letter size sheets and plastic archive folders that have been stuffed down the side, fell over onto the lower layer of pamphlets. Margaret pulled a page and couldn’t help noticing the title on the top peeking from beneath the rusting pinch clamp that held the clump together. Gingerbread Cookies it said in bold print, I sighed.”

There are recipes included in this book and I think that we should attempt to make a couple of them. Gingerbread just happens to be my absolute favourite cookie of all time!

I hope you enjoyed the above excerpt from Life Supports by KG Watson. Now available on Amazon and soon on our site!

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It’s Funny

August 5, 2020-No matter what you’re writing, an element of humour should be present. This is especially true for those of us who write mysteries, thrillers, and psychological books. I think Josh Whedon said it best, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” It’s important when writing heavy subject matter to relieve your readers once in a while! Here are three ways to inject humour into your manuscript:

1) Dialogue-Get your character to say something funny. Have a weird exchange between two characters, get your character to reminisce about something humorous that happened to them.

2) Situation-Put your character in a situation where something funny happens to break the tension (when it fits) such as tripping or ripping their pants, or mistaking one thing for something else. In my book Obsessed with Her, James overheard a conversation he thought for SURE was about the girl he was holding hostage, but it turned out to be a missing dog.

3) Embarrass them. Embarrassing things happen to us all the time and I’m sure to me more than others…sigh. Embarrass your character eg. spinach in teeth, static underwear stuck to the back of their outfit, spilling coffee on themselves etc.

The point of adding an element of humour to your writing is to make your characters three dimensional, real, and relatable.

Happy Writing! XLLB