Archive | Relax & Read RSS feed for this section

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

20 Jun

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

Back in the day—way back when—Goodreads didn’t exist, and I’m pretty sure (maybe not) Amazon didn’t even have a rating system for books. It was just Barnes & Noble and Borders, but mainly Barnes & Noble for me (R.I.P. Borders). I’m talking about the mid-90s. I used to buy all of my books from the store. (Okay. So my mom used to buy all my books from the store.) There was no Kindle, and there weren’t many book blogs out there, and if there were, they definitely weren’t like they are today. I actually remember sitting at my Komodo computer and scrolling the Internet, hoping to find somewhere to review books and I couldn’t find a website.

So, I reviewed books on Microsoft PowerPoint. (Something I just had a conversation about with author, Jonas Lee, so I must mention him in this article for sparking this idea in me. Thanks, Jonas!) It’s been over a decade since my PowerPoint presentation days. (A presentation that I used to show every weekend to my stuffed animals. What can I say? I moved around a lot. My toys were my friends.) I no longer have that presentation, but I can still see it scrolling through The Magic Tree House series and W.I.T.C.H.—stars flying in and flying out, wicked thick fonts twinkling on the screen before dissipating off. Sometimes, I would get a cartoon sound to line up with everything. It was 90’s perfection.

I loved it. I loved it so much. But years would pass before I ever began to post book reviews again. Why? Well…it’s a bit complicated, but it mainly came down to being an author. Beginning in 2007, I no longer felt like I could review books. I knew exactly how much work went on behind the scenes, after all, and it felt like a conflict of interest to say anything at all. If it was a positive review, someone could think I was just saying that to suck up to another author. If it was a negative review, someone could think I was just trying to tear someone else’s work down. Reviewing novels became a lose-lose situation in my mind, so I stepped away from them.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

But I missed reviewing books so much. And I’ve missed them for a long time. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking that I took the wrong approach all those years back when I stepped away from something I love to do—sharing books with whoever was interested.

I’m not a picky reader. I often love everything I read. I can definitely see value in everything I read, and my tastes range from cheesy romances to dark, dystopian sci-fi. I love poetry and memoirs and young adult and even the occasional blush-worthy read. I love everything. I really do. What I read mainly comes down to my mood, but I’ve always enjoyed recommending reads to fellow readers based on what they love the most.

So, I’ve returned. Over the past two months, I’ve been reviewing and updating novels I’m currently reading on Goodreads. You’ll probably never see a 1 or 2 or even a 3 star review from me, but please don’t get me wrong. I just rarely dislike novels, and if I do dislike novels, I am more likely to put it down than to finish it, and I don’t feel right reviewing something if I don’t finish it. On top of that, I’ve been focusing on who I would specifically recommend the read too, and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been connecting with readers more, and I love talking to everyone about how they feel about novels or what novels they have on their TBR list. I finally feel like a reader again. I’ve always been reading, of course, but reading is always better when you’re reading with friends. (And I’m so glad I’ve found reading friends that aren’t stuffed animals.) So, you can expect more reviews from me on Goodreads. Feel free to tell me about what you’re reading too! I would love to hear your recommendations. Just comment below—::wink::—and we’ll start reading together soon.

~SAT

P.S. Don’t forget! Three paperbacks will be given away on Goodreads this Tuesday, June 23 (a.k.a. my 24th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by giving away book gifts?) Click here to enter! Expect even more prizes soon.

Our most recent contest via Twitter just ended today! Congrats goes out to Kathy-Lynn Cross, the winner of the signed bookmark! Follow her @KathyLynnCross today.

winner

#MondayBlogs: Never Give Up On An Idea

1 Jun

Intro:

Pau’s Castles is a website that has a special place in my heart. I first met Pau across the blogosphere when I asked her to read The Timely Death Trilogy. Her reviewing style blew me away, and we ended up chatting—and never stopping. Her friendship is something I continue to cherish. Pau is a writer and an avid book reviewer, and I know you all will enjoy her blog as much as I do. She’s cheerful, insightful, and passionate—and today’s topic covers all of those emotions. If you’re a writer, you have probably written a story, then walked away, then came back, then walked away again, and then came back again. It happens all too often. And we wonder why we keep returning. Is it worth it? Well, I’ll let Pau explain that, but I will say this: I have been trying to rewrite and re-release my first published novel, November Snow, for eight years now. I understand leaving and coming back and leaving and coming back. This topic is something Pau and I have discussed in great depth before. Writing a novel is never going to be the same for everyone, and as an author, I know writing one novel isn’t going to be like writing another novel. (Writing The Timely Death Trilogy wasn’t like writing November Snow.) I believe leaving and coming back is significant, and Pau explains it beautifully. Please visit Pau’s Castles. She’s a wonderful writer well worth knowing!

Never Give Up On An Idea by Pau’s Castles 

lucian-and-luna

(On the photo: Lucky Blue Smith and Pyper America Smith)

The reason why I’m using this photo is because these two models are my character references for Lucian and Luna (originally named Danae, but the name didn’t seem right) Malliarch—two of my leads in a current work-in-progress called Between Two Worlds.

Between Two Worlds started out as an idea back in 2013. Initially, the title was Attachment, which didn’t feel right at the time so it took a turn to being called Samantha’s Diary, but eventually, that didn’t feel right too, so now it is finally called Between Two Worlds. As you can see, I have already changed a character’s name once and the title had been changed twice. My point in saying all this is that if you have an idea, which does not seem to rest, don’t let it rest! Since I started with the idea for Between Two Worlds, I had two other story ideas. One even reached so much research and conceptualizing, but everything didn’t seem to fit in. The characters of Between Two Worlds were screaming in my head, telling me to finish their story first.

So what’s the good thing about not giving up on an idea?

1. You get to know more things every single time you try to write about it again

The original piece for Between Two Worlds was very different from how it is now. I never actually finished the original one because I did not know how to end it at the time which makes not giving up on the idea even greater. Eventually I discovered a lot of things which can help on the major points of the plot so it led me to a perfect (for now) ending.

2. The smaller details cascade in the thought process

When an idea is fresh, we’re all excited to write about it. We’re all excited for the big stuff to happen that we fail to recognize the importance of the smaller details. For example, there’s this scene on the novel about a fork road. On the first time I wrote it, the fork road was just an insignificant path on the forest. Now that I’m writing in the third time around, the fork road suddenly had a back story which is significant to the characters.

3. The characters are easier to write about

Sometimes, not giving up on an idea makes us know about our characters on a deeper level. Sometimes we discover things which didn’t seem right on the first times we wrote about them. My example on my work here is Danae Malliarch, now known as Luna Malliarch. I felt quite detached to her because there was something off about her name back then, but it never occurred to me what it was. It turned out that I have a personal admiration to the name “Danae” but it didn’t fit the personality of character. Now that she’s named Luna, it sounds a lot catchier next to her brother’s name — Lucian.

4. The plot is easier to write about

This is simply because you already know the general flow of events. Maybe you can just add a few more scenes to not make the pace too fast (but be careful! It might get too draggy. Remember to include only the necessary ones to the plot) but other than that, you know where it’s going.

5. You find out the reason why you never gave up on it in the first place

A friend who’s currently doing Lucian Malliarch’s digital painting told me, “Pau, Lucian is a lovely character. I don’t see him as a character stuck in your laptop. Instead, I see him as a character people would know and love.”

Personally, I don’t know the reason yet as to why I never gave up on the idea surrounding Between Two Worlds, but I am excited to find out. Hopefully, you guys will get to read about it in the future.

Found this post helpful? Let me know what you think through the comments below or email me (pauscastles@gmail.com) if you have questions and suggestions for future writer-related posts!

Connect with Pau:

Website, FacebookTwitterInstagram

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: The Secret Garden of Trees

2 May

Announcement: 

From now on, one lucky winner will receive any eBook under $5.00 from Amazon every month. How? Well, every week, I post a Dark Member of the Week, and out of those members that month, one of them will be chosen for the monthly prize. Basically, the more you participate, the more your name gets entered into a giant, black cauldron – where the elders then work their magic to pick the winner! If you want to become a Member of the Dark, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. You are not required to do anything, and I will never give out your email. I will only email you during special events – like cover reveals or release days – and based on your participation, your website might be chosen as a Member of the Week. Those members are shared on The Timely Death Trilogy FB page and Twitter, and out of those spotlight winners, one of them will win the eBook prize. All April Members of the Week will be entered into the May lottery.

Good luck!

#SATurday: The Secret Garden of Trees

Let’s talk about trees for a moment. Why? Well, because I love them, and I often share my love for them on my Facebook and during my monthly Website Wonders – like these posts A Majestic Cathedral Made of Living, Breathing Trees, 12 Amazing Tree Tunnels You Should Definitely Take a Walk Through, and 16 of the Most Magnificent Trees in the World.

I’m not sure where my appreciation and admiration for trees began, but the first tree I remember loving was an old pear tree at my grandparents’ home. It was the only consistent home in my childhood, seeing as I moved around constantly while regularly visiting my grandparents during the summers and holidays. Mainly during Christmas. Which is why this pear tree memory stands out.

It was either the fall or spring, during that time of the year where it’s too cool to be summer and too warm to be winter. It was night too – which is even odder considering I can tell I’m very young, mainly by my lack of height in the memory. Everything was much taller than it should’ve been, and I have a feeling I shouldn’t have been outside, but I always have been a bit of a rebel, a bit of an explorer, a bit of an obsesser. When I get focused, I can’t get unfocused, so it’s highly likely that I snuck out – off the porch and around the bend to the place that I can only describe as a secret garden of trees (at least, in my child’s mind).

trees

In truth, it was a makeshift grove, tucked away at the corner of the house, sheltered by the brick walls and a stone patio. The pear tree encompassed the little lot, and it hid a cracking, cement birdbath, something that equally fascinated me despite the fact that I never saw it being used. Even so, I loved sneaking into this spot, and almost every time, my mother caught me and told me I wasn’t allowed back there – something about it being right next to my great grandmother’s bedroom.

I probably only snuck back there a few times, but I still remember lying on the damp cement – staring up at the pears and the light spotting on them through the leaves – while fallen pears rotted around me. Nothing at all could’ve bugged me – not even the bugs – and I find that many trees have that effect on me.

Later in my life, we had a Dogwood tree, and a blackberry tree, and a willow tree, and a forest of all kinds of trees near me – at separate times but near me nonetheless. This morning, I noticed my neighbor has a red flowering tree – something I haven’t been able to see until recently considering I moved in during the winter. The colors are appearing – one at a time – all over my walk from my home to the coffee shop where I often write, and I am taking note of all the trees that accompany me along the way, and if I had to say anything at all, I’m just glad not every beautiful tree is locked away, tucked away, or hiding away in a secret garden.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: Website Wonders

27 Apr

Website Wonders: 

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of April’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, Travel, Coffee, and Art. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Writing:

Random Name Generator: For those who need help with naming characters

12 Techniques to Improve Your Writing in 2015: Solid

Reading:

42 Random Harry Potter Facts That Will Make You More Knowledgeable Than a Ravenclaw: Are you a Ravenclaw?

10 Nonfiction Books to Blow Your Mind: Because I adore nonfiction

7 Books That Will Change How You See The World: A great list with memorable quotes

15 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once in Their Life: Which ones have you read?

12 Great Books (And The Perfect Mood to Read Them In): I love book lists.

The Ten Greatest Fantasy Series of All Time: Any of your favorites on here?

13851_887486601318839_6943375552795368100_n

Travel:

10 of the Most Magnificent Trees in the World: Because we know Shannon is secretly obsessed with trees.

Three Future Scenarios for Romantic Love: possibly my favorite article out of this entire bunch. This is sort of travel? Travel to the future.

Coffee:

The Best Time to Drink Coffee According to Science: Do you follow these rules?

Which Profession Drinks the Most Coffee: I’ll give you a hint. Writers and editors aren’t in the top three. (WHAT?)

Art:

Just Look At The Stunning Detail in These Mini Painting and Try to Not Be Impressed: Amazing! I’m impressed.

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed these website wonders! See you with more next month!

~SAT

#SATurday My Weekend Cover Reveal

25 Apr

#SATurday My Weekend Cover Reveal 

This is the first time EVER—I mean it—I’ve revealed my cover elsewhere a full 24-hours before I showed it right here on www.ShannonAThompson.com.

Why?

Well, there really is only one reason. I am listening to your suggestions. Most of you—through comments and likes and messages—have let me know that you want me to create more YouTube videos, and I have. In fact, I even bought a new camera, and I revamped the entire channel. I promise to spend more time on YouTube, and I am continuing to keep that promise by revealing Seconds Before Sunrise in my latest episode:

Also, I wanted all of the Members of the Dark to share it first. I treasure every one of my Dark members, and I plan on adding more and more prizes and opportunities along the way. In fact, I have an announcement about a monthly prize coming out May 1. So, here’s a shout out to every Dark member who helped reveal the cover of Seconds Before Sunrise (Also, this month’s Dark Members of the Week are bolded):

Legends of WindemereAnnette AbernathyJonas LeeA Reader’s ReviewSDAV ReadsChris PavesicLit World InterviewsRonovan WritesThe Modest VergeLive. Laugh. Read.Mel’s ShelvesPau’s CastlesTranquil DreamsEnnlee’s Reading CornerCassandra Lost in BooksRed Sands Reviews and RamblingsawkwardMEOWEndless ReadingBook GannetMaking My Mark, Jera’s Jamboree, Just Another Girl and Her Books, The Book Forums, Macy Avenue, and Dowie’s Place.

SBScoverSeconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy)

Two nightmares. One memory.

“Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of our love.”

Eric has weeks before his final battle when he’s in an accident. Forced to face his human side, he knows he can’t survive if he fights alone. But he doesn’t want to surrender, even if he becomes the sacrifice for war.

Jessica’s memory isn’t the only thing she’s lost. Her desire to find her parents is gone and so is her confidence. But when fate leaves nightmares behind, she decides to find the boy she sees in them, even if it risks her sanity.

RUSBSIf you want to be a Member of the Dark (or a #MemberoftheDark), please email me at shannonathompson.com. By helping and sharing and tweeting out The Timely Death Trilogy, you can win prizes—like spotlights and books and more! You also get a fancy little badge – and another fancy little badge if you become Dark Member of the Week. Now in purple and in green! Who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll even be able to fly out and get a coffee with you.

Until then, here’s to more coffee and cats and Dark members,

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: The Importance of Goosebumps

13 Apr

Intro:

Today’s guest blogger deserves a huge round of applause. Not only does he spread the love for reading via his blog, November Notebook, he also teaches English to middle school students. In addition, Grant Goodman is talking about a series of books that filled my childhood, and I’m sure you’re familiar with these novels as well…They haunted all of our nightmares. Thank you for Goosebumps, R.L. Stine.

The Importance of Goosebumps

Most of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books left me terrified.

I remember how Night of the Living Dummy made me afraid to get up in the middle of the night because I knew that Slappy would be sitting at the top of the steps, waiting for me. I’ll never forget that moment when I hit the end of Stay Out of the Basement and the big twist made my stomach feel like it was full of ice. These books left me scarred, because even though I knew they were fiction, they took root in my mind and always threatened to crawl off the page and into reality.

For some reason, though, I kept reading them.

goose

Many of you, I’m sure, have strong memories of reading Goosebumps. It was the Twilight Zone for kids: a place where something strange and terrifying lurked, where people couldn’t always trust each other to tell the truth, and where sometimes you realized that Camp Nightmoon…well, I won’t spoil it for you.

These books were some of my earliest significant forays into genre fiction. Before them, I had been reading Encyclopedia Brown, Cam Jansen, the Clue books. They were fun, of course, but they didn’t hold my attention once I had found ghosts and werewolves and evil ventriloquist dummies.

Even though the Goosebumps books were largely stand-alone stories, I knew that they were all gathered under a single brand, one that I could trust to deliver a memorable story. So, while I never became a full-fledged horror fan, I did step into another type of book series: fantasy.

I read The Lord of the Rings. I read every Dragonlance title I could find. Somewhere along the line, the first Wheel of Time book showed up on my bookshelf. That led me down the path to Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, and Patrick Rothfuss.

The monster blood and the werewolves and the mummy, I’m sure, will never truly fade. They were a stepping stone for me, or maybe a catapult, that moved my imagination forward. And while the idea of a twist ending doesn’t resonate with me anymore, I’m glad to know that kids out there are still able to pick up Welcome to Dead House and start their own journeys through R.L. Stine’s many worlds.

Grant GoodmanBio:

Grant Goodman’s debut novel, Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in…Tiger Trouble! will be released on May 4, 2015. He is also the head writer for November Notebook, a YA Lit blog for teens, adults, ghosts, robots, unicorns, dragons, and aliens. He teaches middle school English in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW: Pros and Cons of Reading Goals

25 Mar

Intro:

Normally, I have guest bloggers on Mondays, but today is an exception. (Shannon accidentally overbooked her website for March). That being said, today’s guest blogger is discussing a topic I’m sure many book bloggers and bibliophiles can relate to: reading goals. We’ve all seen them, the 2015 reading goals, the reading challenges, the reading lists. CL Mannarino is an avid reader who has found herself facing many of these lists, and her enlightening discussion brings up the question of why we read in the first place.

Pros and Cons of Reading Goals

Last year, I had a goal to read 35 books. It was going to be brilliant: I had a whole list of books/series that I would tackle for that year. Each one was designed to either clean out my bookshelf (10 unread books for every 1 book I’d already enjoyed), or round me out into a more aware, well-read person.

Didn’t happen.

Instead, according to Goodreads, I read…maybe 19. There were a few books listed that I didn’t finish. So let’s say 15. That’s generous.

clmannarino_2014editIn the past, this would’ve torn me apart. I would read lists that appeared on Facebook saying, “How many of these classics have you read? Most people read less than ten” and hurriedly go through to make sure I’d tackled at least ten listed. After I could check off at least fifteen, I would smirk to myself and sit back.

Those kinds of things made me feel so well-rounded. Until I followed who would review James Baldwin and Jack Kerouac and I would feel guilty. None of those kinds of writers ever interested me. I was never an Austen person, and the only Bronte novel I enjoyed was Jane Eyre. But because I’m an English major, any post or person, no matter how off-base or high-horsed, telling me “well-rounded people read classics” made me feel guilty for not reading more of them.

It’s why I set my Goodreads goal. These other people – smart bloggers, who enjoyed deep literature that didn’t speak to me but I felt like ought to because I considered myself fairly intelligent – set lofty goals. Read more this year, they said.

They had plans. So I planned, too. And I planned a plan for someone else’s dreams instead of mine.  That, and I’d read about 30 books in 2013, so I thought I could duplicate my success.

I thought I’d be more broken up about it than I am. I thought I’d feel guiltier about reading so much more slowly this year than I do. More than anything, though, I feel relieved.

I didn’t meet the goal, but I didn’t become a less-rounded person because of it. I tackled some pretty important literature, but I also read a lot of duds. And I didn’t finish everything I started. I’d just decided I didn’t want to waste my time with something that didn’t hold my attention.

Don’t be afraid to not finish something, by the way. Often, you’ll wind up coming back to it in the future, when you’re ready to read it.

I think a big part of this guilt-free feeling is that I know more about my ability to fulfill resolutions than I did before. I know my desires better, and I’m not going to beat myself up for not being the kind of reader I expect myself to be. (Or the kind I expect myself to be based on others’ outspoken expectations of “good readers.”)

This year, I’m going to tackle my bookshelf. I’ll widen my horizons a little bit. I’ll read a few things I’ve bought. I’ll read some stories from places I’ve never read from before. Above all, I’ll go where my literary desires take me and keep the pressure off.

Reading was fun for me. It should be, still.

Bio:

CL Mannarino is a fantasy and realistic fiction writer and personal essayist. She works in Massachusetts as an editor while she writes, reads, walks, and bakes on the side. She’s trained in line-editing, extreme shoveling, and home improvement. CL can be found on her blog, her Facebook, or her Tumblr.”

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,819 other followers

%d bloggers like this: