Tag Archives: Book Review

May’s Ketchup

30 May

May’s Ketchup

Can you believe it? Another month has flown by. And it’s still raining here in Missouri. Almost constantly. It’s actually rather unusual weather for us (to this degree), and I’m starting to wonder why I tend to begin these with a weather report. (I have no idea, but I enjoy it.) Alas, May has ended, and flowers have bloomed, and exciting stories have come and go. During my recent move (and by “recent”, I mean seven months ago), I wasn’t able to bring my bookshelf, so my the books I’ve read are stacking up . . . just like my excitement for the future! We are only two months away from the release date of Minutes Before Sunset, July 28, but I’ll get to that in the Ketchup!

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, YouTube videos, Members of the Week, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this May!

Big Moments:

DBDcoverThe cover for Death Before Daylight released—and I’m beyond excited that Death Before Daylight will finally get into the hands of readers this September. In the meantime, Minutes Before Sunset releases July 28, and it is up for pre-order. (The pre-order link was also my #1 clicked item, so thank you!) I’ve been receiving all sorts of inspirational and encouraging messages from you all regarding The Timely Death Trilogy and future novels. So much so, that I’m at a loss for words. But I will say that this summer and fall are sure to be fantastic! A book signing is already underway, and the content disclosure trees have already released. On top of that, you can still enter to win one of three paperbacks of Minutes Before Sunset via Goodreads.

My #1 clicked item was pre-ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!!!

My #1 clicked item was pre-ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!!!

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Authors, Be Yourself: It’s easy to get intimidated by what other authors are doing. See how they have more followers? They even have higher sales! You should copy them to get to where they are, right? Wrong. There’s no reason to fret, and there’s absolutely no reason you should change yourself. This article talks about what you should concentrate on—and that’s being yourself.

2. When Writing is Not All You Do: Written by John Tompkins, this article addresses a viral article that went out a few weeks ago about authors working full-time. John discusses the differences between full-time authors and authors who work full-time on top of working as an author.

3. The Thing About Author Interviews: Written by Jonas Lee, this article discusses the importance of overcoming your nerves and getting out in front of your audience so they can get to know you. (His interview channel is also open to interview you!)

Other Blog Posts:

Guest Post:

My Book Story on The Modest Verge: I was asked to discuss a novel that has affected my life, and I talk about A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.

#1 SEO Term: Wattpad

#1 SEO Term: Wattpad

YouTube Channel:

Book Girlfriends (5.19)

Ex Machina and Robots (5.15)

Book Boyfriends (5.13)

Love Triangles (5.05)

RUSBSAt the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. I also like to specially thank the Members of the Dark. Every week, I award one member a “Member of Week” badge, and out of those monthly members, one of them will win an eBook of their choosing as well as more prizes. If you would like to be a member or review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Dark Members of the Week: A Readers Review, Mel’s Shelves, In Between the Pages, Legends of Windemere (Also, a shout out goes to the winner of the bookmark for helping with the Death Before Daylight cover reveal, Crazy Beautiful)

Reviewers:

Minutes Before Sunset: The Schwartz Reviews, Crazy Beautiful

Seconds Before Sunrise: Crazy Beautiful, MacyStories

Features: Death Before Daylight featured on April’s Favorite Reads

Calculated on May 27 at 19,753 followers

Calculated on May 27 at 19,753 followers

#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: How to Keep Blogging

11 Mar

#WW: How to Keep Blogging

In an ever-changing social media frenzy, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when starting out or even as you continue to grow your Internet visibility. One of the topics I constantly see discussed in the numerous forums I lurk in is blogging. Do authors have to blog? (No.) How many times should I blog a week? (As often as you want to.) But the main question I see is almost always the same. What should I blog about?

It might sound strange for me – an avid blogger – to tell others that they shouldn’t blog if they don’t want to, but I am a firm believer in writing what you want to write, and I use that philosophy toward social media as well. Hate Facebook? Stay off of it. Love Twitter? Tweet all day long. As a reader myself, I can tell when a writer isn’t enjoying their story or their posts or if something is lazily thrown together, and I am no exception. I guarantee someone can tell if I am bored or half-interested in what I am doing. There is a connective energy behind words, and that energy will get through to the reader, positive or not.

Photo from Brains on Fire

Photo from Brains on Fire

Now that I have said that, I can admit that I’ve had my moments where I didn’t want to blog. For those of you who are new to my website, I’ve been blogging on here since September of 2012. During my first two years, a post went up every other day – all of which were focused on reading and writing – but this year I changed my posts to Mondays (guest posts about reading and writing), Wednesdays (my views on reading and writing), and Saturdays (just posts about my thoughts on life).

I’ve allowed myself to morph my website as I grow and change just so I didn’t lose that energy or love. Knowing when to change your focus and energy is going to help you keep your momentum up while also maintaining your exciting and relatable voice. It’s always okay to try something new. In fact, I encourage it.

I have many things I encourage when it comes to blogging – one of which relies on planning ahead, writing posts in advance, and scheduling posts before necessary. That way, if you need to step away for a few days due to any reason, you can without disappearing completely and/or getting discouraged. In fact, I generally schedule posts about two weeks in advance. This helps me manage my life outside of blogging. I could write my entire week of blog posts in one day, which allows me to spend the rest of my week working on other things.

But what do I write about?

Well…I write about what matters to me, and I encourage all bloggers to sit back and consider what matters to them. Do you love Pinterest? Talk about how images and articles on there have shaped a character. Do you struggle with certain grammatical phrases? Discuss how someone can overcome their writing faults. Did you just read a wonderful novel? Share your thoughts on the story as well as how it can reflect everyday life. One topic I think helps beginning bloggers is to write a reaction piece to another blog post that inspired them and link back to that post. It helps connect you with other bloggers and readers while moving a discussion forward.

Topics are everywhere. Pay attention to what you discuss with your friends and family. Jot a note down, and write about it on your blog later. In fact, most of my Saturday posts come from discussions I recently had with a friend.

Blogging doesn’t have to be complicated or deep. It just has to reflect you. It doesn’t have to feel like marketing or work. It can be fun and uplifting. Just let the words guide you toward discussions you care about, and more discussions will follow.

~SAT

editingThis spring, I want everyone to take more time to smell the roses…or just stare at them. In other words, I am taking more clients for my Services. $1 per 1,000 words for editing, first chapter sample is for free, and I can increase book reviews and interviews. I also manage social media pages and so many other delightful areas that take up precious writing time. Here are some reviews.

Feel free to ask me anything at shannonathompson@aol.com. 

February’s Ketchup

28 Feb

February’s Ketchup

Wow! If you’ve been with me just these past two months, you already know how much of a whiplash session I’ve lived through recently. Thankfully, February brought great news, and I am expressing my gratitude to you all once again – for helping me so much through so much by continuing to support me. This is the summary post of the past month.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog post, my top referrer, SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this February!

Big Moments:

After you showed a tremendous amount of support and love, I signed The Timely Death Trilogy with Clean Teen Publishing. I truly could not have done it without all of your support and love, so please know that you all have all of my support and love, too. I look forward to sharing the new covers with everyone as well as the brand-new interior! I’ll give you hint. They’re both beautiful. :]

My first piece of nonfiction, Nowhere, was published in the literary magazine, Fine Lines! It was a personal essay about growing up on the road. I even added a Nonfiction page to this website.

In other news, I moved to Missouri, and I continue to be a full-time editor, social media marketer, and book review helper through my Services page. I even received a wonderful review from a writer I am positive will get published soon! I am eternally grateful for all of the authors I’ve been working with recently.

Thank you so much!

#1 clicked item from blog post "I Am Not Special"

#1 clicked item from blog post “I Am Not Special”

Top Three Blog Posts:

  1. 1SEOI Have a New Publisher: This is still so surreal, and I will always (and forever) remember the outpouring support everyone showed. Thank you for continuing to be my friend as I continue this writing journey into the future!
  2. The Greatest Conversations All Authors Have: At least, it’s the greatest conversation I have.
  3. The Importance of Setting in a Novel: Written by Tara Mayoros, this well-traveled author speaks about a vital aspect of writing.

Other Blog Posts:

Guest Post: I also had the wonderful opportunity to appear as a guest writer on The Legends of Windermere. I wrote Balancing the Editor’s Life with an Author’s Dream.

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you would like to review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

Seconds Before Sunrise: SDAV Reads

Death Before Daylight: Live. Laugh. Read.Trials of a wanna-be-published writer

Interviews: Reading, reading, READING

Calculated on February 25 at 19,364 followers

Calculated on February 25 at 19,364 followers

#SATurday: The Lesson of Macaroni and Cheese

14 Feb

#SATurday: The Lesson of Macaroni and Cheese

When I was little, my mother was making me Macaroni and Cheese – something I continue to love to this day – and I was horrified when she poured it down the sink right in front of me. Of course, that isn’t what she had actually done. In reality, she had poured it into a strainer I couldn’t see from my position near the kitchen’s island. But I still screamed.

I started crying uncontrollably. I was starving (at least, I was starving in my kid mind), and she had just made food for me only to throw it away. As my five-year-old self began crying out my explanation (because she had asked when I was so upset), she began laughing uncontrollably. Now – in my tiny dramatic brain – she was laughing in my face. Of course, she hadn’t thrown out my food, but I think my panic surprised her so much she had no other way to react. Because she couldn’t stop laughing, she actually had to pick up the strainer to show me that my food was fine. After that, we were both laughing.

It might seem strange – and perhaps, it is – but this memory is one of my fondest memories I have of my late mother. Probably because she later taught me how to cook Macaroni and Cheese before she died, but I mainly love this memory because we were doing something together.

kft-288b_1z

I only had eleven years with my mom, many of which I don’t remember, and she was often too ill to do much, so my memories with her are fleeting – probably unmemorable to the kid who gets a lifetime with a mom – but then again, maybe not. I guess I’ll never know, but I do think about aspects of my life like this a lot, and I’m very grateful for even the tiniest moments because even the tiniest moments last a lifetime. Her lessons have stayed with me, after all.

Let’s take this memory for example. When she started cooking, I was really excited, and then, when she “poured it down the sink”, I was crushed, but then, I realized it was not what it seemed, and everything was fine. In fact, I was one step closer to eating, and I got to laugh so hard it stuck with me for life.

On my bad days, I try to remember Macaroni and Cheese. Aside from the pasta being possibly the best comfort food in the world – no exaggeration – I think there is a lot to learn from the lesson of the strainer. When everything appears to be going down the sink, so to speak, maybe it’s only being strained of all the bad stuff so you can move on to the best part – eating. And I do love eating.

We’re only getting closer to enjoying it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh along the way.

~SAT

TTSP.S. I am taking on more clients who need book reviews, interviews, and editing! I provide the first chapter’s edit for free. If you’re interested, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

In the meantime, check out Tiger Tail Soup by Nicki Chen. This historical novel was inspired by true tales about the Japanese occupation, and I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction like The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

Writing the Back Blurb

8 Nov

Announcements: 

The Messy Owl reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “A thrilling and entangling plot, full of suspense and action.” Read the entire review here or check out my latest novel by clicking here.

Writing the Back Blurb

As I near the release date of Death Before Daylight, I remember more topics that I can talk about due to the tasks I must complete beforehand. Writing the back blurb is one of these tasks. Oh, yes. The dreaded back blurb. Everyone knows about the summary of text on the back of the book that convinces readers, “Yes. You want this book.” The scariest part relies on the fact that the summary is exactly that – something that could make it or break it for a reader.

The pressure.

So, I’m going to share how I write the back blurb by using Minutes Before Sunset as an example. First, I want to clarify that this is how I write one, and it may not be a method everyone should use. It also might come across as more complicated than it actually is, but that’s because I am breaking it down into five steps, even though – in reality – it feels like one when I’m writing the back blurb. I hope it helps those who are struggling with writing one!

1. Try to write a query letter

A query letter is even worse, right? But I like to start there because it forces me to summarize the novel in one or three sentences. Those sentences end up summarizing everything, but – more importantly – it forces me to get to the bottom of the message, the theme, and the genre. This allows me to focus on those things in the future. Set aside until step 3. (This is actually where I get my “Two destinies. One death.”)

2. Write a one-page synopsis

Oh, how painful this is. (Just kidding.) This is where I write whatever I want to. I explain the novel for as long as I like, and when I’m done, I slowly start to cut smaller parts out until I get it down to one page. Set aside until step 3.

3. Combine Step 1 and 2

This is where I combine everything. Look at the first two sentences you came up with and compare it to the synopsis. What matters the most? What catches your eye the most? What correlates and what doesn’t? Sure, it would be great to mention your favorite side character’s importance, but do they add to the theme more than the protagonist? That first step really helps me make the cuts I didn’t want to make in step 2. (This is where I get most of the information that will be found in the middle.)

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

4. Make it catchy

Once you get the information that you want, twist the sentences around. Think of the infamous Don LaFontaine’s “In a world” movie trailer voice. Or listen to epic music while you write it. Make it fit! Make it intense! Don’t hold back…until you step away for a day. I would warn against making it too epic – because that’s when many create a back blurb that is too abstract to understand – but keep some intensity while also creating some grounding for the reader to get. Step away for a day. Come back. Read it again. Make sure it sets up the reader’s expectations in the right place. For instance, you don’t want to mention love in the synopsis if love is barely in the book at all. That will only cause romance readers to pick it up, and they probably won’t be too happy with your novel if they expected something that ended up not being there. (This is where I add the quote. I add the quote at this point because it becomes my “dun dun dun” but it also helps me focus on the turning point of a plot – the main conflict, per se, and I like to set up the reader to know that for the trilogy.)

5. Edit. Get opinions. Edit again. But decide on it.

Just like a manuscript, get someone’s opinion about your blurb. Edit, and rewrite it, but don’t obsess forever about it. Eventually, you have to decide on something and turn it in. Talking to others might help you feel more confident about the back blurb. I would even go so far as suggesting getting an opinion from someone who had read the book and someone who knows nothing about the book. (This is also where I add the review quotes since I finalize the blurb.)

It’s over! You have your back blurb, and you’re ready to share it with the world. The only other thing I would mention is this: for series, I would suggest remaining consistent. Seconds Before Sunrise has the same parts that Minutes Before Sunset does – the slogan, the quote, the summary, and the review quote. Death Before Daylight will as well…which reminds me. If you want an ARC of Death Before Daylight for review, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I will share your review right here and on my other websites as well!

And best of luck with your back blurb writing,

~SAT

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