Posted in Cool Stuff

The Difficult Job of Staying on Task…Writing from Home…

April 7, 2017- Writing from home is excellent! I love being able to write comfortably from anywhere, but there’s something to be said about writing from home specifically, but I will say that lots of people I’ve met and talked to think that this line of work is fun and games all of the time. They believe that we stay home in our pyjamas, plugging away on our laptops in inspired thought surrounded by fluffy white duvet covers, purring cats and someone who tends to our every need for a fresh cup of coffee.

Hmm…not exactly. It’s about to get real. Writing from home takes DISCIPLINE. You need to treat your time at home as a 9-5 job. This is a BUSINESS. Rather than bring you on a tour of my day, I’ll share the things that you need to do to stay focused and be successful while working from home.

  1. Stick to a schedule-This is so important because, without a clearly defined day, other things can steal your attention. For example, I know that my day starts at 9 and ends at 5. That is 8 hours of productive time, and during this period I act as though I’m at any business. That means I’m not throwing in a load of laundry or cleaning the garage, it means from 9-5 I’m working on my business.
  2. Block of chunks of time-This goes into further detail about the point above. Yes, I may have 8 hours of work to do but what work am I talking about? That’s why I block off chunks of time for different things. From 9 am until 11 am I write, I schedule 1 hour for returning emails, calls, and inquiries. I schedule 2 hours for marketing and building new business, we don’t spend time talking about things that aren’t important. I go in with an agenda, and we get right to it. I schedule another 2 hours to meet with my authors and illustrators. I spend another hour getting my blog posts for the week started. Boom…8 hours vanished.
  3. Put down your phone-Put down the phone and turn off notifications for anything that is going to distract you. This includes email, Facebook, Pinterest, the internet and cat videos. Seriously, super distracting and not good for work or productivity.
  4. This is your business and life so treat it as such– Have a business banking account, an accountant, write off’s, a business license and whatever else you need to set up your writing as a BUSINESS. Yes, it’s up to you to ensure the success of your company, your writing, your future, your employees and yourself but that being said, remember to pay attention to the people in your life. Take a break from things when you can, make your spouse/loved ones/kids/pets/family feel important by giving them your undivided attention. That means when the work day is over, it’s over. Let voicemail pick up the call from the client that can wait until tomorrow, leave a few unfinished things on your desk so that you can play with your kids, turn off your laptop, unplug and call it a day. The work will still be there in the morning.

As always, thank you for reading and stay tuned for more tips for success.

LLB

female-entrepreneur

Posted in Cool Stuff, pandamonium publishing house

Exploring Genres…Part 1 of 3

I’m really excited to do this three part segment about exploring genres. As many of you know, I write and also publish different genres that include, but are not limited to: Picture Books for Children, Middle-grade Novels, and Adult Thrillers. Well, today I’m excited to talk about one of my guilty pleasures, but I’ll get to that in a second. I think that as an author it’s imperative to explore genres that are outside of your realm of writing. Not only does it make you a better writer but it also allows you to open up your mind to some really fun possibilities.

Most writers are voracious readers, it’s all part and parcel of what we do! I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi or fantasy books, but I do put effort into reading them every once in a while.

So, let’s dig right in and talk about one of my recently found favourite genres when you need something that is light, uplifting, and cozy! The genre we’re talking about today is called Cozy Mysteries or just Cozies. A Cozie is a subgenre of crime fiction where violence is downplayed, and the crime and detection take place in a small town that is a socially intimate community. I stumbled upon this genre when I was looking to take a break from some of the heavier, violent, mind-bending thriller fiction that I was writing and reading. It was time to find something a bit lighter and, well, cozy. Cozy mysteries are perfect for the beach or in front of a crackling fire or sitting by the window with a cup of tea as you listen to the rain tap at the window. These books make you want to snuggle up and disappear between their pages.

If you haven’t tried Cozy Mysteries just yet, I urge you to do so. It’s a great way to take a break, to have fun and read something a bit more relaxed than usual fiction. I particularly like the author Laurie Cass and her book Borrowed Crime. It’s a really cute book and the cover has a picture of a cat and a bookmobile…SOLD!

I hope that if you haven’t already, that you’ll check out this genre and expand your reading list a bit. It’s refreshing to read something that doesn’t make you overthink or keep you up at night. Try it and tell me what you think in the comments below!

LLB

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Posted in Cool Stuff, News

Tips to Succeed at Events as a Vendor/Business Owner…Part 3 of 3

March 27, 2017-I hope that you’ve enjoyed this mini-series of tips to succeed at events as a vendor/business owner and that you’ve started incorporating them into your game plan.

Here are the final keys to success!

7) Make friends with the vendors and the event organizer-You never know who you’ll meet at any of these shows so it’s best to arrive early and set up so that you can take a few moments before the show starts to scope the place out. I’ve had more vendors buy my products at shows than I can even count. People want to know what you’re selling, but more importantly, they want to make a connection with you. All of us have something in common, we’re all at the same show and we’re all trying to make money and contacts. At every single show, I gather business cards from other vendors tables to keep in my files. I’ve made so many contacts this way and have even hired people to do work for me because I liked what they were selling. I also hand out MY business cards in case I have something that another vendor is interested in. Maybe they aren’t but know someone who is. The opportunities are tremendous! Be sure to thank the organizer for having you and keep in touch with them, so they’ll invite you to their upcoming events in the future.

8) Have a draw at your table-A chance to win a prize is always a cool way to draw people to your table. I NEVER do a draw for the product I’m selling on my table because people say, “Let’s hold off buying the book in case we win the draw!” See the problem? You want people to buy your product, but you also need people to come to your table. If they come to your table and you engage them, they’ll probably buy what you’re selling. I use a prize draw at my table for two reasons, 1) To entice people to come to my table and 2) to collect information about my customer. Here’s how it works: I’ll do a draw for a $25 gift card to either the movies or for a pre-paid Visa card. The chance to win is displayed clearly on my table, and I have cards laid out with some pens so that people can enter the draw. On the draw card, I ask for their name, phone number and e-mail address and a little box that they need to check off saying it’s ok for me to contact them via e-mail. The customer fills it out and drops their entry card into a fishbowl. I contact them later to say thank you for entering the draw, I let them know if they won the prize and also invite them to follow my blog. 99 times out of 100 they’ll follow! This info is invaluable to your business but be careful not to break any privacy laws.

9) Enjoy yourself-This seems like a silly tip but I want you to know that it’s super important. It’s necessary to have fun and enjoy yourself because people can feel tension. They can sense desperation and if you’re trying to hard-sell them. This is not only a major turn-off for potential buyers but it causes you, the seller, unnecessary stress. Life is too short to be broke and stressed! You’ll be both if you take yourself too seriously. Body language is essential because most of what you don’t say is what people pick up on. Uncross your arms, stand up, smile and engage your customers. Be interested in what they have to say and enjoy the connection with other humans who you might otherwise never come in contact with.

10) Some people are rude, miserable and mean but there’s nothing you can do about it-Anytime you deal with the public you’ll come across that one special human who doesn’t like you, your product, your looks, your qualifications, your voice, your price…you get the picture. You can’t make everyone happy so don’t let the snarky comments of a single person get to you.Never let them dull your sparkle!  For every miserable person out there, there’s five standing behind them waiting and willing to engage with you. You’ll get your share of miserable, rude people at events but that’s a reflection of them, not you. No matter what, remain professional at all times. I was at a show a couple of weeks ago and a woman said to me, “You don’t belong here, you know that right?” Her exact words, I’m not even kidding. I smiled sweetly and said, “Sure I do! I paid my money to be here just like you did and as far as I know, you’re not the event organizer who gets to decide if I belong here or not. I hope you have a great show!” Sure it was a bit on the snarky side but I smiled and looked her in the eye. I wanted her to know that she couldn’t shake me or my confidence. Funnily enough, she warmed up to me later and guess what? She was a part-time writer who needed a publisher…shoot, if she only knew someone! LOL. Be nice that’s all I’m gonna say.

I hope that you’ve learned a couple of things from the tips I’ve shared and that you’re successful in every endeavor that you choose to embark on. Thanks for reading and for following my blog.

LLB

Posted in Cool Stuff

Hamilton Cat Fanciers…Upcoming Stories

March 20, 2017- I had the privilege of attending the Hamilton Cat Fanciers Cat Show in Ancaster, Ontario this past weekend with my book Panda the Very Bad Cat. I just want to say that the entire event was absolutely inspiring and I loved chatting with like-minded cat lovers. There are so many stories to tell and I look forward to sharing them with you all in good time. Stay tuned for those upcoming posts and I encourage your feedback. There were some really unique cats and cat lovers that I had the pleasure of meeting this weekend and I know that you’ll enjoy their stories as much as I did. Here’s the short list of upcoming stories:

  • The story of a cat that saved her owner’s life while she was having a heart attack!
  • The story of a deaf cat that was able to learn sign language
  • The story of a cat who is an even BADDER (I made that word up) cat than Panda the Very Bad Cat…let’s just say he likes to feed the dog!
  • The story of a cat who SEWS…yes, you read that correctly…he sews! And you wouldn’t believe what he’s creating to help other animals in need
  • The story of a cat who has raised over $32,000.00 for shelter animals! He’s an absolute doll and I had the pleasure of meeting him in person.

So as you can see, we’ve got a lot of great stories scheduled. Stay tuned and I look forward to your comments.

LLB

Posted in Cool Stuff, Uncategorized

Blogging 101 Course Reminder…

Hi Friends,

Just a friendly reminder that this Saturday, January 21st I’ll be at the Sherwood Branch of the Hamilton Public Library teaching a class called Blogging 101-An introductory course about blogging and how to get started. It starts at 10:30 and goes until about 1. It’s drop in so feel free to come at any time.

Some of the things I’ll touch on are:

  • What is a blog?
  • How to get started
  • Types of blogs
  • Marketing your blog
  • Blog Platforms
  • Blogging for Business

And so much more! It’s going to be a great course for beginners and I look forward to seeing you there if you’re in the area. Click on the link below for more information: http://www.hpl.ca/intro-blogging?date=2017-01-21

 

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Find out how to run and maintain a successful blog!

 

Posted in Cool Stuff

Congratulations! We Have A Winner!

Awhile back you may have read that we were having a contest where the winner would receive a free, signed copy of Panda the Very Bad Cat! The contest was remembering the names of all of the characters in the book and I’m happy to say a big Congratulations to Michael C. of New Brunswick!

He sent me an e-mail with the correct names and now I’m sending him his very own, personalized copy of Panda the Very Bad Cat signed by yours truly and Panda himself!

Here are the answers Michael gave:

Girl: Megan (Meghan) yes!

Fish: Roscoe

Dog: Milan

Frog: Martin

Cat: Panda

Great job Michael! Thanks for being a reader and for following this blog! Congratulations!

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Posted in Cool Stuff

How I Got Started…Part 2

Hi Friends,

Today’s post is a continuation of the series titled, How I Got Started in regards to writing. The second part of the series focuses on a question I get asked almost every day, “Where do you get your ideas?” 

Whether it be a book about a naughty black and white cat named Panda or a silly Deer named Duncan who has a penchant for writing in his personal diary, I can honestly say that idea generation for me personally, has never been much of a problem. That being said, I do occasionally suffer from writer’s block. But that’s a whole other can of tomatoes.

Ideas come from all kinds of places and here are a few of my favourites!

  • People watching-Go to any public place, sit quietly on a bench with a soy, caramel macchiato and watch the people go by. SILENTLY (this is important) make up stories about them. This is so much fun because it gives you the opportunity to let your mind and imagination run free! For example, Why is that woman wearing a tiara and jogging pants? Is she competing in a Disney princess marathon? Is she some sort of super hero with super powers? Is the tiara magic? You get the point.

 

  • Talk to kids-Please make sure that their either your own kids, kids you know, kids you know the parents of etc. NOT some random kid in the mall…that would be bad. Kids have a funny way of making things extremely clear. It’s refreshing and is a reminder that sometimes we all need to be silly. Kids also have a lot of answers to life’s big questions like, “Why are we here?” “We’re here because everyone has one special thing that they can do that no one else can.” This is a TRUE statement from a kindergartener that I happened to be reading to last year. Betcha some kid could answer the question of why the woman above was wearing a tiara with track pants!

 

  • Meditate-Yep. You read that correctly. Meditation leads to some pretty great ideas and I can speak from experience on this one. Meditation quiets the mind and lets you explore silence. It’s kind of hard to do at first but if you start out with a few minutes at a time you’ll get the hang of it and may even look forward to it. Meditation is cool because sometimes our minds wander and let us see things that aren’t there. During a recent meditation session,  I envisioned my guardian angel…she was made completely out of ravens and when I looked at her they spread their wings and flew away. Talk about a cool intro to a novel right?! Trust me on this one…meditate! Ideas are just floating in the air.

 

  • Real life-Remember the phrase, “Truth is stranger than fiction?”  Believe it because it’s true! Panda the Very Bad Cat is based on a real cat named Panda who lives on my parent’s farm. He’s been in quite a few sticky situations and one day I decided to write them down. Wallah! A book! Whether it’s a beloved family pet, a kid who fights with his parents about putting on a snowsuit (God Bless Robert Munsch), or a neighbor who grows prize-winning sunflowers, inspiration is all around us.

There are countless other ways to think of things to write about and these are just a few that I’ve decided to touch on. Keep an idea journal, it’s an invaluable tool for all writers and you never know when or where inspiration will strike! Stay tuned for part 3 where I answer the third most asked question…Happy writing!

LLB

Posted in Cool Stuff

How I Got Started…Part 1

January 9, 2017-People often ask me how I got started with writing, what inspires my stories and how I get ideas so I’ve decided to dedicate today’s blog post to those questions. Today will deal with the first question and subsequent entries will explain the rest.

How I got started: 

I’ve always had a huge imagination, ever since I was a kid. Sure, I used to write stories and such but I never really wanted to be a writer. Truth be told, I didn’t really think about the books that I read or how they came to be when I was up late reading a hand-me-down copy of The Baby Sitter’s Club.

I wanted to be the person who went out onto the ice during an NHL game and stitched up the hockey players! Talk about a totally different path! I remember that in the third grade, my friends and I decided to write stories about our “crushes,” and mine just happened to be the amazing Cam Neely (of Boston Bruins glory back in the day). I dug out some paper and filled seven lined pages with a story where he fell madly in love with me! (I was only nine years old by the way:) This is my first solid memory of my love affair with writing.

My creative writing started to wane as I got older and school assignments became more of a priority. I didn’t care about writing really but I still had a huge imagination.

I can’t remember the particular day this happened or how the conversation went exactly but I think it was my mom who bugged me to write a story about our farm cat named Panda. It probably went something like this, “You should write a story about Panda! He’s been into (fill in the blank) again!” I heard this about a dozen times before I did anything about it. Then, one day, I wrote Panda the Very Bad Cat (plus the 2 other books in the series) and my husband suggested that I go all the way with it! And the and the rest is history.

So I’d like to thank my mom for bugging me to write a story about a black and white cat who’s actually a real pain in the butt! Without her “encouragement,” I wouldn’t be able to share his story with you today. I’d also like to thank my husband for his constant support, love, and vision of everything Panda. Oh, and I’d like to thank my brother-in-law  for naming Panda:) and letting me off the hook with a royalty percentage:D

So there it is! The story of how I got started. Maybe a little less magical than one would have thought, but the truth is…it’s magic to me.

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