Tag Archives: Book Review

Writing with Barbie

19 Apr

Prepare for laughter during today’s post. But – before we get onto the giggles – I want to share two important bits of news.

Paris Carter reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “The novel also includes several internal struggles for Eric and Jess that sparks tension throughout the entire novel, and it’s the chaos of them struggling to work out their answers and fight themselves that bring Shannon’s novel to a second dimension.” Read the entire review here or check out his review of Minutes Before Sunset first.

I also participated in an interview with Doodles, doodles everywhere. We talked about what hurts me the most as a writer, and I expanded on the research that went behind The Timely Death Trilogy. Check it out.

It’s been a few days since I participated in my first podcast interview, but I wanted to write about something fun since my last post was rather dreary. That’s when my mind immediately returned to The Lurking Voice. (Just a small, Kansas City update though, they found the Highway Shooter, so things feel a lot better around here. Maybe that’s why I’m so eager to post something I can laugh at…I mean, laugh with you…as you laugh at me.)

Back to the topic.

If you listened to the full interview – which you can by clicking here – then you know that I confessed to many writing strategies that I haven’t mentioned before, although “strategies” will quickly turn into a debatable term during this post. My ultimate, reluctant confession happened when we discussed November Snow, my first published novel.

I was 11 when I started writing it and 16 when it was published. It’s safe to say that it isn’t my best work, but I am planning on re-writing it. As we were discussing this, Ryan Attard asked a great question. How does a preteen plan a novel out? That’s when I said it.

November Snow was based on a game that I played out with my Barbie dolls as a much younger kid. Now, if you’ve read November Snow, then you might be concerned, considering how violent the book is, but there’s no need to be concerned – (I think.) That’s what I told my high school teachers anyway when I was asked about the dark nature of it. But that’s another story for another day.

Today, I wanted to share a funny truth to November Snow. No matter how dark the story is, many of my characters were actually based on the dolls I used. I admitted to it on the podcast, and now I am re-confessing it on here. Even better, I dug through some boxes, and I found the old toys, so I’m sharing a few of them as well as small excerpts from the novel that proves this goofy aspect of my writing.

You’ve been warned.

A little background before we begin:

November Snow is a young-adult, dystopian novel, and it is told from dual, first perspectives: Daniel and Serena. Unfortunately, I lost the Serena doll (she might have lost a limb or two or maybe even a head.) But I still have Daniel, who you will see soon. I’m going to share three pictures, and each picture has numerous characters on it. Below each picture, I will have a one-sentence background, and below that, I’ll be sharing the real excerpt from the novel. I’ll also include page numbers as well as who was telling the story at the time (Daniel or Serena.) I am also including a little note, explaining how my 11-year-old brain worked. Got that? Okay. I even think I’m lost, but trust me – it’s organized. Hope you chuckle as much as I did writing this post! Traveling to the past can be a funny adventure.

First picture: from the left to the right: Robert, Daniel, and Calhoun. 

theboys

Robert: 19, leader of the Southern Flock (hates hugs)

“I turned around to see Robert’s dark brown eyes staring at me, and my heart lunged into my dry throat…He muttered something, his brown hair shagging in his face, and I laughed. “ (Serena, 156-7)

Note: Believe it or not, he’s not the antagonist. Sort of?

Daniel: 18, leader of the Northern Flock (all around hunk)

“The guy looked like Daniel. He had the brown, muffled hair and tanned skin. He even had the blue and white jacket down, but he wasn’t responding to his name.” (Serena, 181)

Note: So, if you didn’t notice, I even based some clothes off of these toys.

Calhoun: age unknown, Daniel’s mentor. (kind of a hard ass)

“From the bottom step he could have been mistaken for a modern-day giant. His face was strong, as were his muscles, and he looked like he could barely fit into the sweater he was wearing. He had been in a POW accident, in which he had lost one of his arms, but he refused to tell the story. Normally, he had a fake arm in, but tonight, a gray sleeve dangled at his side, blowing in the chilled November wind.” (Daniel, 25)

Note: if you listened to the podcast, then you know this character actually ended up being very similar to my real father. Except my dad has both arms. And he’s not a vet. But I swear they are alike.

Second Picture: from left to right: Daisy and Maggie

girls

 Daisy: 16, member of the Southern Flock (I hate her.) 

She doesn’t deserve a note or description. Seriously. Have you ever hated your own characters so much that you regret bringing them into existence? I think Daisy might be in my top three of characters I’ve created and despised. #authorproblems.

Maggie: 16, member of the Northern Flock. (crushes on Adam in private)

“The front door opened, and Maggie walked in. She was wearing a small, pink coat and white disco pants that had gone out of style a century ago, but she still pulled them off easily.” (Daniel, 240)

Note: is it just me or is Daniel incredibly aware of fashion trends?

Third picture: from left to the right: Amy, Justin, and Marisa

Now for the youngsters, the category of characters that caused one of my high school teachers to ask if I needed to talk to someone after she read my novel and discovered only a few of the characters survive. (Seriously. It’s on the back of the book…) From left to right, we have Amy, Justin, and Marisa.

kids

Amy: 14, member of the Southern Flock. (Hates being called “Amy.” Her name is Amiel Marie Young.) 

“Amy’s hair was tied back in a French braid.” (Serena, 144)

Note: So this was more of a hairstyle thing, and you can’t really see it in the doll anymore, but it was there. I promise.

Justin: 6, member of the Southern Flock (borderline obsessed with hockey)

“Justin, blond-haired and brown eyed, was whisked off his feet by the collar of his shirt.” (Daniel, 479)

Note: There’s actually a hockey scene in the book just for this hockey-themed doll. (I really have no shame as I share this, do I?)

Marisa: 7, member of the Northern Flock (too small to crush on Adam, but apparently, all the girls like Adam…maybe I should’ve shared Adam.)

“A small girl struggled her way into Adams’s lap and leaned her bony elbows onto the table. She had long, brown pigtails that rested on the wiggling table and innocent eyes.” (Daniel, 44)

Note: The hair is there. The hair is totally there.

So there you go. My young-adult novel that almost got me in trouble as a teen was originally created during playtime as a kid.

Try to figure that one out.

I sure haven’t.

~SAT

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

 

A Reading of “Regretful Memories”

13 Apr

Coffee, Books, and Art by Sarit Yahalomi reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, and Sarit also posted the review for Minutes Before Sunset right below it, so you can read both. Find out why she said, “Again it was a page turner and full of action, and I couldn’t stop reading until I reached to it’s end.” Click here to read her reviews, and click here to go to Amazon.

covers

As many of you know, I recently started my YouTube Channel – Coffee & Cats - and I was supposed to upload a video of myself as I interviewed for The Lurking Voice. But Weebo, my computer, threw a hissy fit, and I lost the video. But you can listen to the podcast by clicking here, so there’s no need for a tiny violin of sadness to start playing.

I’m sure many of you can relate to the horrible frustration of losing an entire document or hour-long video you’ve edited for another hour. It isn’t pleasant, and the hardest part is to accept it and let it go (unlike the time I spent an entire day taking it back and forth between Apple stores only to be told nothing could be done…blood pressure is rising.) So, I’ve learned to move forward when I lose work I’ve started, including novels, but I have been waiting for another opportunity to record another video. Well, I got it.

‘Regretful Memories’ was a poem of mine that was recently published, and I shared it during my last blog post. I hope you all enjoyed reading it because today I am reading it to you. (Special thanks to Zach Hitt, Anthony Stevens, Steven SanchezRaymond Vogel, Jennifer Coissiere, and Angie Neto for their encouragement on my Facebook Author page.) I promise the reading isn’t boring. In fact, I’m surprised I didn’t hurt myself while performing it. I even committed a poetry sin.

Join me on FB, and your name might pop up next!

Join me on FB, and your name might pop up next!

Are you enticed yet? Because I am. 

Watch it below, click this link to watch it on YouTube, and/or click here to read along as I perform my debut reading. You know how social media works. Please like, share, and comment. Wink. Wink.

Hope you enjoyed the reading!

Remember, if you subscribe to my YouTube Channel, you get to watch the videos one day early.

Much love,

~SAT

Website Wonders

1 Apr

Welcome to April! Before I share those websites for writers, readers, and dreamers that I have collected in the last two months, I have two wonderful bits of new to share with you all.

Tranquil Dreams reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, but they also reviewed The City of Worms by Roy Huff, so you can check out two novels at once. “This novel sets the stage for the battle of Light and Dark and honestly, for the first time in my life, I’m behind the Dark.  I look forward to reading the next one a lot.” Find out why Tranquil Dreams said, “I totally recommend this one!” by clicking here

After checking that out, swing by my latest interview by clicking here. Mental Cheesecake asked me if I would prefer the powers of the Light or the Dark, what inspired the covers of The Timely Death Trilogy, and if I like Jace or Simon more in The Mortal Instruments.

Now – the website wonders: 

I wasn’t able to do this in February, so I’m including both February’s and March’s here. Below, the websites are organized by categories, including Great Reads, Business Help for Writers, Art Related to Books, Book-to-Movie Trailers, and Inspiration. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Great Reads:

14 year-old’s clever poem knocks Twitter backwards: I love this. Not only is it a great poem, but it’s relevant to today’s culture. It also shows off the great abilities of this young poet.

This Comic About Love Will Touch Your Heart: I thought this comic was a cute read. It sparked some debate among readers due to the subject matter of a breakup and a new relationship, but I think – if read for simple entertainment (which is what I think it was designed for) – it’s cute, sweet, and fun.

40 Freaking Creepy Ass Two Sentence Stories: I love horror. (American Horror Story is practically the only show I watch.) And these short stories gave me chills! You’ve been warned.

Business Help for Writers:

Amazon’s history should teach us to beware ‘friendly’ internet giants: As much as I love Amazon, I am afraid of any company gaining from a monopolized market. This article deals with the warnings of how this might be a future possibility and how we can prevent it.

8 Ways to be a Better Facebook Page Admin: This is great advice for anyone struggling with their business Facebook page. I used it, and my Facebook Page has been my number two referrer to my website (after search engines) for two months in a row.

A Facebook Change Authors Need to Know About: Again, this article is amazing. It will help enhance your views on your Facebook page.

Inside Amtrak’s (Absolutely Awesome) Plan to Give Free Rides to Writers: Amtrak called for writers to submit to this program, and I turned in my application a few days ago! It would be an unbelievable dream come true for them to pick me, but I hope the writers they pick enjoy it for all of us! I can’t wait to read what others write, even if I’m not chosen to travel in their program.

 Nine Writers And Publicists Tell All About Readings And Book Tours: I loved this because it shows the realities of what goes on behind the scenes, even for the most popular writers. A few years ago, I think it would be taboo for authors to share their true emotions about their dream profession, but it’s nice to see the acceptability of speaking truthfully about an author’s life.

Wait. A first person narrative isn’t serious???: By Nathan Bransford, I actually wrote a response to this article on my blog called It’s All About Perspective…Or Is It?. I loved what Bransford had to say about this narrative style because he proves how serious it can be, and I think it ultimately shows how much the industry is changing.

Art Related to Books:

Design Stack: Paper Jewelry: I thought these were beautiful, and they also made me wonder what my novel would be carved into. I would like to believe a tree necklace or a yin-yang symbol.

23 Epic Literary Love Tattoos: One of my favorite poems is in this collection of literary tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos, but I like looking at them. I find them to be quite inspirational.

Mind-Blowing LEGO Recreation of LOTR’s Helm’s Deep Battle: I grew up with LEGOS. I was crazy about LEGOS. My brother was worse than me. It wasn’t rare for one of my parents to step on our array of LEGOS. (We even had a LEGO camera) So I loved this LEGO town designed around Lord of the Rings.

Book-to-Movie Trailers:

The Giver Trailer: Meryl Streep Vs. Taylor Swift: I was so looking forward to The Giver movie adaptation (which I mentioned in my blog post 2014 Books to Movies, but this doesn’t even look close. Not even a little bit. Flying space ships? Oh, the nervous feelings I have. My heart might break for one of my favorite novels this August.

The Maze Runner (Official Trailer): Unlike The Giver, I am looking forward to this adaptation now that I’ve seen the trailer. It looks awesome.

Inspiration:

25 Romantic Words That Don’t Exist in English But Should: I find untranslatable words to be beautifully mysterious – like the gorgeous stranger you wish you had talked to that one night. (There’s probably a word in this list for that.)

24 Most Terrifying and Haunted Places You’d Never Want To Be In: Like I said, I’m a horror fan. This sort of stuff gets my heart going, and my heart gets my inspiration going.

Mugshots of Poets: I found this to be inspirational because it shows – again – the realities of some of the most famous writers of all time. Jack Kerouac is definitely in this list. (He’s one of my favorite authors of all time.)

Children Read To Shelter Cats To Soothe Them: I love cats. I love reading. This was amazing.

Again, I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! I apologize for not sharing them in February, too, but I will share more. I always share these on my author Facebook page, so join me there. I can’t wait until my next blog post! I have exciting news coming. April is going to be an adventure.

~SAT

Writing Tips: The Five Senses

18 Mar

Special thanks goes out to actress, director, and dancer, Gracie Dzienny, for quoting my first novel, November Snow, on her Twitter. She is known for her work on Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas and multiple shows on AwesomenessTV. Visit her YouTube channel by clicking here.

Grace

 

nice

“This is a story of forbidden love, hidden love, and a war of love.” Find out why Endless Reading said they can’t wait to read Seconds Before Sunrise in the latest review of Minutes Before Sunset by clicking here.

I wrote this post in a way I don’t normally do so. Below, I ranked the five senses from easiest to hardest in terms of including them into a story – which was a task in itself because I kept questioning my order – and then I choose a random chapter in the middle of two of my novels – Seconds Before Sunrise (SBS) and November Snow (NS) – to tally my use of the senses. So the tallies might seem contradicting because I wrote the post before I collected the tallies to see if my perception was the same as my reality. Then, below that, I have a quote from those of you who commented on my Facebook author page.

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

But I want to add one last thing: there are many novels that do not include one or more of these senses for many reasons, mainly novels that cover blindness or deafness. Although those novels are very strong, I am dealing with the average novel that cover all senses in order to explore which senses are the most and least difficult to use so that we can analyze our styles together in order to improve in our five categories. But I want to thank those writers who have written novels with blind, deaf, or other protagonists in those various fields, so thank you.

#1 Sight

I’m not sure many will argue this being the easiest, especially if the novel is in first person. We see from the character’s eyes – and we see a lot. Whether they’re looking at road while driving or searching a library for answers, their eyes are working to keep the story moving forward.

Tally: Since both of my novels are from first perspectives, I decided not to tally this one at all because it’s practically every other sentence.

Paul Davis: “Sight is the easiest by far. I think it’s really easy to forget touch and smell.”

#2 Sound

I decided to forget about dialogue in order to really study this sense in reading and writing. If I included dialogue – just hearing someone speak – then this would probably be like number one, but I thought that was too obvious. However, I am including the way someone’s voice sounds, but I mainly wanted to hear thunder or creaking doors or a television rattling on a stand as a train zooms by an open window. Because of this, I did not include dialogue associated sounds in the tallies.

NS: 11: “Trees brushed against each other to the never-ending music of the crisp, November wind.”

SBS: 6: “…a rush of sounds consumed my senses.”

Alexis Danielle Allinson: The easiest I think is sound as we are taught to familiarize a sound with a distinct description from an early age.

#3 Taste

I think this was the first one I wrote down. For me, taste isn’t necessarily the hardest sense; it’s just the least likely used. A character needs to be eating or kissing or in an accident or a vampire or something along those lines to be reminded of taste.

SBS: 5 “I opened my mouth to speak but spit blood out instead. He wiped it away, but I tasted it.”

NS: 2 “A stream of salty water drove down my cheek to my lips.”

Alexis Danielle Allinson: Taste is the hardest as everyone does this different from each other.

three

#4 Touch

At this point, I have moved the five senses around on my list so many times that I don’t even know if this is where this sense originally started, but alas – this is where it ends up. For me, touch is a debatable and difficult area. Sure, characters can “grab” something, but that doesn’t necessarily make it “touch.” I feel like touch must be how rough a surface is, how cold someone’s skin is, how gravel coats hands with powdery dust. Touch isn’t a verb. Touch has texture or a sensation. 

NS: 13 “My lips were still tingling.”

SBS: 8 “The suffocating air was filled with electricity, and it burned against my exposed flesh.”

Aurélia Evangelaire: And still as a writer, the easiest sense for me to use is touch. I like the feeling of things under hands and I love to describe it.

#5 Smell

Oh, god. This exercise is not easy. At this point, I realize I didn’t know how hard it is to choose which sense goes on what ranking. You think you do until you try. It was really difficult to choose the most difficult, but I finally went with smell because smell, in many ways, is like taste. It’s limited in the sense (haha, see what I did there?) that it’s difficult to include this sense without it seeming forced. It’s often rare moments a character takes the time to “smell the roses.” Just like real people, their lives are hectic – they may even be chased around by enemies – and it’s often the slower, more intimate moments that they have smell. This goes to say that I just had another instance where I realized how the senses change dramatically over genres. I feel like smell, taste, and touch are much easier and more important in romance, especially erotica, but those same senses may not be at the top for things like sci-fi, especially if they are in a space suit that prevents all kinds of smells.

SBS: 11 “The smell of smoke broke through the blood dripping from my nose.”

NS:5 “The rusty smell of whiskey split the air.”

Phillip Peterson Smell, I think, is the easiest and most useful. It’s more of an all-encompassing scent to the scene, which, if done well, can most effectively put the reader into your world (as smell is the most connected to memory).

ts

Those are my five senses as well as a few other writers’ senses.

It was a fun exercise to write down what I thought about the five senses before going through my novel to tally away. In the end, this allowed me to see the difference in my perspective and in reality. (Like how I used smell a lot more than taste.) I definitely recommend writers try this out themselves. I realized quickly that senses change dramatically from novel to novel. For instance, the setting in November Snow is very dirty and dangerous, so sound and touch were actually HUGE. Taste? Not so much. But Seconds Before Sunrise was nearly the opposite. Then again, these were only passages. It would take me weeks to analyze the entire novels, but I still think this is worth it.

You must be tempted by now.

You must be tempted by now.

What about you? Did you try this exercise? Do you have certain senses you use more? Ones that you avoid? Were your results different than what you thought they would be?

Comment below!

P.S. “Look Inside” of Seconds Before Sunrise is now up on Amazon! Check it out by clicking the book cover on the right :D

~SAT

So You Want to be a Book Blogger

6 Mar

I must clarify one thing before I start: I am not a book blogger, but I used to be – for about three years. (Fun fact: I also had a short stay on Let’s Get It On, Kansas City.) I’m an author, too, so – naturally – I adore book bloggers. In a metaphor, book bloggers are an author’s best friend. Readers who don’t blog are the friends that authors meet at the book blogger’s party. The reason I’m writing this is to make that party as enjoyable as possible. Below I have outlined some tips to help out book bloggers get started with their website as well as how to create a fun and safe environment for bloggers, readers, and authors.  (Actually, a lot of these tips are good for any kind of blogger, so I hope you enjoy them.)

For Your Website: These tips will help your website be as user-friendly as possible.

1. Have a Contact Page, Review Request Form, and/or a Review Policy:

This is not for those book bloggers who only want to read what they choose on their own. This is rather advice for those book bloggers who are looking for authors, publishers, and other people to submit novels. Be clear about what you want to read and what you never want to read. Include types of information you want in a request, like a link to Amazon or the synopsis. If you are closed for submissions, put that at the top in bold. This way, requesters don’t read pages of information only to realize you’re not accepting anything. Clarify if you accept self-published and small press published authors. I would also suggest adding if you reply to all requests or only the ones you’re interested in. That way, you won’t get as many repeat emails, wondering if you received their request.

I think I’ve read this book before...

I think I’ve read this book before…

2. Have an About Me Page:

Include your favorite and least favorite novels, – and if you want to be really specific, include your ratings of well-known novels, like Fifty Shades or The Hunger Games. We want to know more about what you like. We don’t want to send you a novel that you’ll despise. Have a name on your blog. It doesn’t have to be your REAL name. But requesters like to be personal. We want you to know we enjoy your website and using your name is one way we can prove we aren’t sending you a mass request email that everyone is annoyed by. Having nothing to call you by is very awkward for some of us. Personally, I love sharing what draws me into a website, so knowing more about you helps us share your blog to others. For instance, if you’re a librarian, I will tell my followers how much I admire your dedication to spreading the love for words to others. (And being surrounded by books all day must be lovely.)

 3Include a Rating System:

I believe this is often neglected but really important because requesters want to know if, how, where, and when you will be posting reviews. Clarify if you will use the 5-Star Rating System and/or if you will post on other pages. For instance, if you say 3.5 on your blog, explain what you’ll do on websites that aren’t accomendating to that (like if you will generally lean up or down or if it depends on the novel.) State if you will or will not post your review no matter the rating. Unfortunately, there are many authors right now who are demanding reviewers to only post the review if it is a certain rating. This is causing a very hostile reading environment, and I hope this is a way to prevent that. Although I don’t agree with authors who demand this, I still suggest clarifying that you will post your review, even if it is below 5 stars. That way, they won’t demand it from you later or send you nasty emails when it happens.

The one last thing I would suggest is to consider the name of your blog carefully. It is your blog – of course – but try to avoid having an insinuating name that contradicts the blog’s purpose (ex: “Magical Book Reviews” when you don’t read novels with magical elements.) This will cause great confusion and lots of frustrations. It’s also easily avoidable.

Connect with me on Facebook

Connect with me on Facebook

At first, this was where I was going to start talking about rating and reviewing novels, but the post was too long, so I will share my thoughts on that another day. However, I have tips for authors as well:

Disclaimer For Authors:

Remember that book bloggers are your best friend. This means we must treat them as such. Respecting boundaries is important. Don’t request a review from someone until you have read their review policy, and definitely do not contact them with your dinosaur erotica if they state they hate dinosaurs or erotica or both (even if you think you will somehow change their mind.) If you receive a poor review, do not retaliate in any way. If you’re going to say anything at all, just thank them. They read your book, after all. If you promised to share their review, share it. If they promised to review a book but never did, be polite when asking them how they are and/or if they are still interested in reading your novel.

Sometimes, expectations are not what happen, but surprises can also be better. Helping one another know what to do in certain situations can improve everyone’s relationship, but it does take two. Taking these steps might help our friendship be even better than it was before.

We want the author-to-reader relationship to be a fun and an exciting relationship, so let’s be sure to celebrate one another with respect and enthusiasm.

Here’s to our love for books.

~SAT

Amazon: 37 Ratings, 4.75 Stars (Goodreads had 97)

Amazon: 37 Ratings, 4.75 Stars (Goodreads had 97)

January’s Entertainment Reviews

31 Jan

I first want to thank Paul O. Williams of Halo Companies, Inc. - awarded C.F.O. of the Year by the Dallas Business Journal - for quoting my first published novel: “Sometimes battles are unavoidable.” - November Snow. Thank you, Mr. Williams! Read more about that here.

Last time, I shared my interview with The Modest Verge – now, you can read their review of Minutes Before Sunset. After doing that, you can also enter to win Minutes Before Sunset in Feeling Beachie’s Valentine’s giveaway by clicking here. (Love holidays = romance novels. There are 21 to choose from.)

My Facebook page is one click away.

My Facebook page is one click away.

My Author Facebook Page hit 2,000 likes – thank you very much. :D I love connecting with everyone here as well as on my other pages. On that page, I asked you all if you wanted to see a monthly entertainment review in which I review movies, books, music, and more at the end of every month. So this is my first time, and I would love it if you let me know if you want me to continue to do this at the end of every month. (I promise to never do it more than once a month.) Since I come across so much entertainment, I will only mention so many per topic, but I’ll try to mention the most relevant – normally positive – entertaining moments.

Movies – I won’t normally start with these, but I have more of these than anything – mainly because the Oscars are coming up, and the Oscars is the one awards show that I love watching.

  • The Book Thief – Beautifully done. I’ve read the book – loved it – and my friend that watched it with me – who hasn’t read the novel – loved it, too. It’s visually stunning and respectfully done.
  • Frozen – This film deserves to win animation of the year. It’s amazing. It had more music – kind of like the 90’s Disney movies I grew up with – and the lessons weren’t revolving around boys but around sisters. I liked that a lot. Plus, as many of you know, winter is my favorite season, so I liked seeing a film that showed the beauty of snow and ice while allowing it to be symbolic to a sister’s love.
  • August: Osage County – If you can handle watching another movie about a messed up (but realistic) family, then I highly recommend this. I loved it, but yes, it’s sad and difficult to watch at times. Meryl Streep is a genius – as usual – but the rest of the cast brilliantly bring the plot together in the aftermath of all of their twisted relationships.

I’ve also seen a few others that don’t really have to do with the Oscars, but I thought I would mention them:

  • 47 Ronin – if you like the cheesy-ness of old Kung-Fu and the (classy?) damsel in distress, not to mention the infamous Keanu Reeves, then you’ll like this flick. Just don’t expect anything too deep.
  • Stand Up Guys – This came out in 2012, so I’m a little late on this one, but – Christopher Walken. Need I say more? I love anything gangster. It’s my guilty pleasure. Add a little comedic relief and a couple of great guys, I’m sold. It was awesome.

Novels

  • The Impossible Knife of MemoryLaurie Halse Anderson has been one of my favorite authors since I read “Speak.” It’s no surprise that this novel was something I couldn’t put down. Probably my favorite of hers since “Speak.” It’s brilliantly dark and quirky while somehow facing real-life challenges without making them seem petty.
  • Humans of New York -  the bookstore suggested I read this since I follow PostSecret. They also have a free Facebook page if you want to check that out first. I follow it.
  • Ryan Attard – okay. okay. He’s an author, not a book, but I’m lucky enough to read his upcoming novel before it’s released (book 2 of The Legacy Series) and I seriously had to turn on epic music to feel worthy enough to read his epic battle scenes. Check out his first novel, Firstborn, before the second book releases.
  • The 5th Wave - so my friend recommended this to me, and now I’m recommending it to you!

T.V.

  • King of the NerdsI wrote about the first season last year, and I’m definitely following the second season this year. It’s more or less the television show my father and I watch together. So far, I like the group aside from Nicole and Zachary. My favorite is Katie. (How could I not love someone who makes puppets for a living?)
  • American Horror Story [Coven] – It ended this week, but I have to mention it. I’ve been an American Horror Story fan since the beginning. I can confess that I have yet to miss an episode. This is – well – my favorite show, and I loved this season, too. However, I will say that the two episodes really made up for a few episodes that I felt like nothing really happened, but, of course, lots happened when it all came together in the end. I am so glad that they are doing a season 4, and I can’t wait to see Jessica Lange in action again (although I’m sad that she has come out and said she probably won’t return for season 5.) Nevertheless, season 4!

Music – I mainly listen to music on 8tracks, because it’s free, and I like mixing up what I’m listening to, so here were some of the lists I came across that I loved. (Minutes Before Sunset actually has a soundtrack on this website. Check it out.)

~SAT

Get your copy today!

Get your copy today!

The New Year is Almost Here!

31 Dec

Okay: I have three announcements before I begin today’s post:

First, I must clarify something about my last post. Some of my information about Scribd was incorrect but has since been corrected at the top of the page. I apologize for this mistake, and I will continue to work hard to bring relevant information to you all. In fact, I have subscribed to it as a reader, and I will review it in the near future. Thank you for understanding.

Second, I want to thank Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset. “Once I read the first page I had a hard time putting it down. I found myself lost in the story and absolutely cannot wait to read the rest of the trilogy!” Check out what their favorite heartfelt moment was by clicking here.

Third, I also want to thank the lovely readers who helped me yesterday on my Author Facebook page. Thank you for being so helpful and great, Rusty’s Reading, Yvone Williams, Rich Weber, and David Thompson.

Now onto today’s post:

If you participated in the scavenger hunt during the Seconds Before Sunrise cover reveal, then you already know that New Years is my favorite holiday. This fact was on Cassandra Lost in Books, but here it is:

“Independence Day may be Eric’s favorite holiday, but the author’s favorite holiday is New Years.”

So why is New Years my favorite holiday?

I love beginnings. The promise of a fresh start is uplifting. In fact, the first of the month is probably my favorite day of the month, and New Years is the ultimate first of the month. I like dreaming of the changes to come and finding ways to be proactive about what I want to accomplish.

So I thought I would share my resolutions with everyone today. Then, I realized that I don’t exactly have one. Instead, I have a promise.

I want to continue to work hard. I want to put more novels in your hands and articles on your computer screen. I want to continue to grow with you and learn from you. I want to continue with everything, and I will continue to be positive and embrace any changes that come. I will work hard, and I look forward to all kinds of surprises – whatever 2014 will bring. That is my promise to you guys.

In fact, I am currently working very hard on some things that I will hopefully be able to announce next year! The photo below might be me working on one of those things :D

This is me - working hard a few days ago

This is me – working hard a few days ago

Thank you for believing in me and helping me as I continue to pursue my dream.

I’m also on Facebook if you prefer that!

I’m also on Facebook if you prefer that!

I am here to help you, too! Always remember that you can contact me at shannonathompson@aol.com with any questions or comments.

For instance, if there is something you would like me to blog about in 2014, let me know, and I will credit your website when I post about it.

Since it’s the holidays, I’m also giving away free ebooks of Minutes Before Sunset in exchange for an honest review! Just send me an email :D

Let’s continue to build a community. Happy New Years!

~SAT

Scribd, Oyster, and Why I’m Hesitant as a Reader and Writer

29 Dec

Article Corrections on December 30, 2013: 

Below there is some information about Scribd that was incorrect, and I would like to clarify what those parts are:

  • Scribd is available on Android as well as Apple phones/tablets as well as computers
  • You can search the catalog of books by title or author without a subscription if you click on the search bar in the upper left corner of your screen next to the Scribd logo.  It the the little magnifying glass icon–the third button

Thank you for understanding!

First, I want to share a fantastic website dedicated to books, book events, gadgets, and reviews. If you didn’t check it out during the cover reveal, The Novel List is definitely worth a read. The site is both interactive and informative, and today I am thanking The Novel List for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset.

Find out why The Novel List said, “Shannon A. Thompson was really inventive with the romance bit. I didn’t even think anything would happen until it did, and when it did my toes curled.” Check out the full review here.

As a an avid reader and working writer, I focus on changes in the industry, and I try to learn as much as I can about what is happening behind the closed doors of publishing houses and libraries. I may not be the most timely person, but I’d rather watch what happens to changes before I discuss them. Because of this, I am talking about Scribd and Osyter today – two reading programs that have been out for a couple of months now.

Basic Information: 

Scribd and Oyster are e-reading programs nicknamed “The Netflix for Books.” Oyster is $9.95 per month, while Scribd is $8.99 per month, and for these costs, you can read an unlimited number a books on your Apple device.

Logos provided websites. Click the links to visit.

Logos provided websites. Click the links to visit.

Because I want to be completely fair, I want to share what I like first:

Unlimited number of books for a small fee – this is great for the avid reader. (If you only have time to read one or two books a month, this probably won’t save you money.) From the reviews I can find, the app looks clean and easy to use. It has features that allow you to search for certain words or phrases. You can discuss what you’re reading or what you want to read. Your bookshelf can be public or private, allowing everyone to compare books and see if they would like something someone else is reading. (In this case, it sounded like a Goodreads or Shelfari on top of the app.) It builds a community, but I’m still not sure it’s a community I would want to be a part of.

This is what I don’t like:

Neither website allows you to search their bookshelf before joining it. This is important, because they don’t have every book available – according to this article, these apps are missing novels from four of the five major publishing houses (Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.) And I take this sort of concealing as a HUGE red flag.

This is Bogart’s skeptical face.

This is Bogart’s skeptical face.

The app is only available for Apple run services – although they are hoping to get one out for Android soon. (I am an Android person myself, so this is a big deal to me.) On top of this, it seems these apps are only available in the U.S. They are hoping to expand, but there isn’t much clarification here.

As a writer, I could not find any information on how the authors get paid. The companies have only been vague, basically stating, “it varies from publisher to publisher.” They haven’t even mentioned the authors aside from encouraging Indie authors to join, which I don’t like considering how minuscule the information is. However, they have stated that they plan on releasing more information – along with everything else…eventually.

That being said, I think there are still benefits for authors.

These company programs can help newer authors build a broader audience. Even though the cost might seem like a risk, there are libraries, which is pretty much the same concept – just in a building. It will be interesting to see if these websites build audiences and how they affect the industry as they continue to grow and expand.

When I asked for your opinions on my Facebook Author Page, here were some of your answers: 

Interact on my FB and see you answers here!

Interact on my FB and see your answers here! 

Raymond Vogel Smashwords is in on it, with AEC books expected to be added (possibly already). So, we’ll see soon enough how/if it works from a company perspective.

Marci Balk-Ruggiero said, “I read so fast it would be awesome for me.”

David Thompson said, “The publishers make all the money. The authors get screwed – a small percentage of the fee. I’ve seen the stock photo/illustration industry go down this path. 10 years ago artists often made 50% of the money. Today it is way below that – 25% on good sites and pennies on the dollar for the biggest sites.”

Rusty’s Reading said, “Not for me. I like owning the books so they are at my fingertips any time I choose to re-visit their story, it’s an attachment thing for me. Let’s not forget sales are authors bread and butter!”

Joe Harwell said, “It’s another step back for the income stream of authors.”

So what do you think? Do you have different opinions as a reader and/or writer? 

I’d love to know. Share below!

~SAT

Review & Guest Post: Tara Maya

26 Aug

Shannon here for a second: I have two exciting things to share with you all today–one is a guest post about “Initiate” by Tara Maya and the other is a review of Minutes Before Sunset from Goodreads’ J.N. Cahill. If you review MBS, let me know, and I will post your review–as well as any of your websites–to my websites on my next posting.

J.N. Cahill, an avid reader and aspiring author, has reviewed over 300 books on Goodreads alone. This is one of the many reasons I was so excited she wanted to review Minutes Before Sunset, but her blog (Writer. Artist. Dreamer.) was the main one. She begins her review with “Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I would like this. But about 15% in, I was convinced that I was, in fact, going to like this. Paranormal/Supernatural Romances are usually a hit and a miss with me, but this one did a very good job with the genre. Thompson’s writing is strong.”

Read the rest here.

… Onto the guest post! …Initiate_cover

The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate by Tara Maya 

BLURB

DEADLY INITIATION

A DETERMINED GIRL…

Dindi can’t do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi’s clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

AN EXILED WARRIOR…

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn’t commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don’t kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father’s wars and his mother’s curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her… assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

EXCERPT

Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

She hadn’t appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.

“Join our circle, Dindi!” the fae voices gurgled under the water. “Dance with us forever!”

“No!” She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, “Dispel!” but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn’t be coming up again.

“Dispel!” It was a man’s voice.

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

“Better?” he asked.

She nodded. He was young–only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

“Good.” He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

Dindi’s hand touched skin–he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

“It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that,” he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. “What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?”

LINKS

Tara’s blog http://bit.ly/12dFdNy

Tara’s Twitter http://bit.ly/162sCtE

The Unfinished Song on Facebook http://on.fb.me/1400mMq

Amazon http://amzn.to/15ciwYc

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/13yM5Dr

Kobo http://bit.ly/1aFhg1P

iTunes http://bit.ly/1baddhN

Smashwords http://bit.ly/17zK8Xn

Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.

Movie Mention: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

24 Aug

I first mentioned The Mortal Instruments on October 2, 2012 on my post Relax & Read: The Mortal Instruments. Then I followed it up on November 15, 2012 when I realized it was being adapted into a movie, and I couldn’t help but post Movie Mention: City of Bones. Now I’m here, almost a year later, reviewing the very movie I’ve been looking forward to for such a long time!

Before I get into the review, however, I want to clarify that I’m not going to have spoilers, because I know many of you might be seeing it this weekend or in the future. (If you decide to comment with a spoiler, I will respond, but please begin your comment with “SPOILER ALERT” so no one’s experience is tainted.) That being said, my review is also going to seem very short, because I cannot say a lot without spoiling certain parts. So here we go:20130823_172945

I’ve seen it twice now, and I loved it both times. I thought it was fantastic, and, yes, I’ve read all of the books–numerous times. I understand they changed a lot, including sequencing and the overall ending. But I’m very openminded when it comes to movie adaptations, and I look at books and their movies as separate pieces of work. As readers know, the books are very detailed and long. I think it’s important to remember how little time the directors and screenwriters have to fit everything in. Plus, it’s an adaptation–something I like to consider a “sister piece” (something inspired by the book–not the actual book.) I do think the movie is easier to understand if you’ve read the novel, because some explanations are only one or two sentences long, and, sometimes, it is whispered. However, the movie storyline is linear, and the graphics were awesome. I loved Jamie Campbell Bower, and I was impressed by Lily Collins as well (I was more worried about Collins than Bower, because I loved him in Camelot and haven’t seen so much range from Collins before.) Also, I think they retained Clare’s humor as much as possible in the two-hour dark tale. In regards to the “secret” revealed, I can see why people are upset, but, at the same time, I understand why Hollywood would change it for non-readers. Plus, let’s be real, readers would have told everyone the truth anyway.

But I will say one thing:

If you want an exact (or closely told) story of City of Bones, you’ll probably be disappointed, especially towards the end. I’d simply recommend an open mind to the changes. I absolutely love, love, LOVE the books, and I enjoyed this movie.

The only disappointments I had included Magnus Bane and the lack of presence Alec and Isabelle had (but I’m hoping they will get more screen time in City of Ashes.) Despite the overall popular disappointment with the movie adaptation and the book, City of Lost Souls, I remain a loyal fan of Cassandra Clare. It’s safe to say that I’m counting the days until City of Heavenly Fire (Book 6) is released on May 27, 2014 and City of Ashes (movie) comes out.

Aside from my review, I also wanted to share two book reviews I’ve received from two lovely ladies:

"Anne" by Carmen Stevens

“Anne” by Carmen Stevens

  • Author of Anne, Carmen Stevens, reviewed Minutes Before Sunset on her blog. “For me, there was a continuum of fast page turning as the story developed and the two main characters developed an interesting romance. This book is compelling, dramatic, funny and sweet, with lots of edge and action. I’d rate it 5 out of 5 stars, and this comes from someone who NEVER reads fantasy. Check it out today! It’s totally worthy of the Goodreads award it was given.” Read the rest here.

 

  • Goodreads reviewer, Satarupa, also read Minutes Before Sunset: “I loved the story line, it is fresh and unique and totally ‘kick-ass’! The action scenes are awesome and they are capable of sending chills down your spine and the suspense will drive you crazy with anticipation.” Read the rest here.
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