Tag Archives: contemporary

My Favorite YA Books of 2017

23 Dec

I’m judging this based on what I read in 2017, not necessarily books that released in 2017, and I’m only focusing on YA. If you want a complete list of books I read, check out my Goodreads challenge. A lot of these books could fall into more than one category, but I didn’t want repeats, so I tried to stick with a new book each time.

I hope you find some recs you’ll enjoy!

Fantasy

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Labeling fantasy and science fiction can get a little strange, and this novel is a perfect example of that. I honestly can’t say a lot about this book, because, if I did, it would ruin the craziest surprises. Surprises that blew me away. I totally loved how bizarre and brutal and lovely and strange this book is. If you’re okay going in blind into a strange new world with little to no explanation, you will love this novel, because by the time you get answers, it’s a million times worth it.

Sci-Fi

Warcross by Marie Lu

If you’ve ever spoken to me about the types of books I love, then you know I love future tech. (There’s something so much fun about exploring possibilities.) Marie Lu hit the nail on the head with this book that features a futuristic video game and a craze overtaking the world. Her plot twists have me DYING for book 2. (And we need more gamer girls in fiction.)

Historical

My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows

Technically a historical fantasy, My Lady Jane is easily the funniest book I read all year. (And I definitely need more laughter in my laugh.) If you’re willing to let your imagination stretch past the point of believability (especially since most of the characters are real historical figures), and you don’t mind the authors breaking the fourth wall, this book is the one you didn’t know you absolutely needed. It’s unique, hilarious, and un-put-downable. Also, My Plain Jane, a sequel following a different time period, releases in 2018. It’s one of my most anticipated reads.

Contemporary

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

At first, I wasn’t sure how this book would play out. I mean, it takes place over one weekend at a convention. What could happen? SO MUCH. If you’re a geek like me, the love for geek culture just seeps out of this quirky story. It really captures how much a fictional character can save a person. The cast is full of diversity, including a female protagonist on the spectrum, and the book features a lot of important discussions more people need to have. A quick, fun, but important read.

Horror

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

So this novel takes place in Nebraska, which automatically gets points from me, because we do not have enough books set in the Midwest. Despite a lot of Midwest clichés, I really enjoyed this story. I read it one setting. I didn’t see the killer coming. It’s super gory in a way a horror book should be. And I couldn’t stop thinking about when all was said and done. Love, love, loved this spine-tingling mystery.

Debut

Body Parts by Jessica Kapp

Yay for more future tech! This book discusses lots of relevant issues about body autonomy and the power of pharmaceutical companies. It has just the right amount of gore (can you tell I enjoy gore?), and the action is both nonstop and believable. Add a dash of romance, and you’re in for a wild ride. Also, I think this is a standalone, so if you need a great standalone (and want to support a debut author), pick this one up.

Sequel

These Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee

If you haven’t read The Thousandth Floor (#1), then go get it right now, especially if you’re an old-school Gossip Girl fan. This is another fantastic futuristic novel with believable tech and lots of guilty pleasure drama. The novel does not get enough credit for showing a lot of socio-economic situations that are happening now. I absolutely love this series. It’s uncomfortable and devious in such a flawless way that allows you to enjoy every little moment, even the ones you should feel guilty about enjoying.

 

Series

Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

I can’t believe I didn’t pick up these books sooner. Competitive ballet + real-life issues = I wish there was a book 3. (Why isn’t there a book 3???) I went from loving certain characters in the first book, to hating them in the second, and it was perfection. Also a series for Gossip Girl fans, this duology keeps you on your toes with betrayal in highly competitive ballet. This diverse duology is written by two diverse authors and published by Cake Literary, a diverse company.

Biggest Surprise:

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

I hesitated to include this category, because it makes me sound like I expected a book to be awful, but that’s not what I mean by “Biggest Surprise.” Biggest Surprise, to me, means I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book, and then it blew me away. The Love Interest definitely takes YA tropes and turns them on their head in the most glorious (and often hilarious) ways. I’m also a fan of spies, and there’s more future tech, so…

Manga

Jigoku no Enra

If you took a peek at my Goodreads challenge, you might have noticed that I read A LOT of manga this year. In fact, I normally read a lot of manga, but this was the first year I recorded it. Why? I used to hide how much manga I read, because there’s this weird stigma about it, but when I started sharing it, I began to connect to other readers who loved some of my favorites, so I’m recording it from now on. Anyway. Jigoku no Enra has everything I love in a paranormal shoujo: demons, cursed princes of hell, and one unfortunate girl wrapped up in it all. Definitely recommended.

Top Three Honorable Mentions:

The Speaker, Daughter of the Pirate King, and Our Dark Duet.

The Speaker by Traci Chee is book 2 in a Sea of Ink and Gold series. Her prose drips off the pages. A complex, yet brutally beautiful fantasy.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller has pirates and magic. Need I say more?

Our Dark Duet concludes the Monsters of Verity, and it was a fitting ending for a twisted tale about monsters, music, and mayhem.

But what was my all-time favorite read?

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

It was my first time reading Shusterman, and he blew me away. I LOVED Scythe so much I never put it down. It’s brilliant, morally gray, and gory as hell. Scythe answers the question, What happens when everyone begins to live forever? Well, we hire Scythes, of course. You know, people trained to decide who will die. The book follows two scythe apprentices, and everything they go through—including their first deaths and some pretty horrible plot twists—will keep your head spinning. After every chapter, I kept bothering my roommate because I HAD to talk to someone about each and every scene. This book is also a near-future scenario. Scythe released at the end of 2016, so if you’re talking about 2017 releases only, my favorite book was Warcross by Marie Lu.

What were your favorites?

~SAT

 

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#SATurdate: An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night, W – Two Worlds, & YALLFest.

27 Aug

What I’m Writing:

Honestly, I’ve put the next Bad Bloods books away for now. Sophia would not shut up, so I spent my writing time obliging her this week. Basically, I wrote in book 3 of the Tomo Trilogy, Take Me Never. I know. I know. Book 1 isn’t even out, so a lot of you have no idea what I’m even talking about, but I will not—and cannot give up—on this girl. She’s loud and stubborn and loves everything just a little too much. I’m 6,179 words in, and since this week’s #1lineWed theme was “work”—this line is from Take Me Yesterday, the sequel to Take Me Tomorrow (which is complete). I promise I will get this series into readers’ hands one day. 😀 I also worked on a brand-new story after researching for a ridiculously long amount of time. But that’s all I’ll say about that book for now. For those of you who follow even my books with only initials as titles, I rewrote the beginning of B, AGAIN. Why? I know I can write B. (B is a contemporary I’ve been attempting for about a month now.) I’m just trying to find my footing with it. I like giving these updates—even if they are crazily obscure—because I think, one day, (hopefully), if one of these books ever gets into the hands of readers, they’ll be able to go back on my website and see the daily grind of it all instead of thinking writing happens overnight. I want to share the journey, so other writers know the journey is the fun part, including the struggles and hurdles and writer’s block and rewrites and little successes. Every writer’s journey is different, but every journey should be fun! Now that I’ve said that, Bogart the cat was my editor this week. I received some awesome feedback from a great lady, and Bogart let me know what he thought via Instagram. Here was that photo series.

Bogart the Cat

Bogart the Cat

What I’m Publishing:

YALL Fest 2016

YALL Fest 2016

All my books for Penned Con St Louis arrived this week! I will be traveling with YA author Natasha Hanova (and sharing a booth), so check her out. On a side note, it’s almost certain I will also be at YALLFest in Charleston, South Carolina this November, so look out for more news on that little trip of mine. I look forward to meeting more wonderful people. In book related news, I owed you guys Steven’s short story on the Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad this week, but I spent more time focusing on novels rather than shorts. I will get back to it, though! (And I will announce when it’s posted. Promise.)

November Rain (FREE)

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November Snow,

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Free Kindle Book: Bad Bloods: November Rain

Free Kindle Book: Bad Bloods: November Rain

What I’m Reading:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I finished An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir! If you love Game of Thrones, you will love this YA fantasy. It’s epic, it’s dangerous, and the world is full of surprises—magical and inhumane. I recommend it to epic fantasy readers, especially those who like a little mysterious magic and don’t mind brutality. There is a significant amount of rape threats in the book. But in regards to love, there is basically a love square going on. Each protagonist has two interests they go back and forth on, but it does not take up the majority of the novel. The novel heavily focuses on military power and rebellion uprising. You can read my four-star review here. My favorite quote? “But there are two kinds of guilt, girl: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”

I also started Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s the third book in The Raven Cycle, and if you haven’t checked out this series, do so now. It is perfection.

What I’m Listening To:  

Since I was writing in Take Me Never, I returned to my lovely Take Me Yesterday playlist on YouTube. Check it out!

What I’m Watching:

I started watching W – Two Worlds, and I LOVE it. Special thanks goes out to Siamese Mayhem for recommending it to me, but basically, it’s the best K-drama ever. It follows the daughter of a web comic as she accidentally portals herself into the comic to try to save the hero from being killed by her own father. It’s thrilling, romantic, hilarious, and simply awesome.

W - Two Worlds

W – Two Worlds

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

My oven broke! I am so sad. Baking is basically the only thing that gets me off my computer addiction (because, let’s be honest, you can’t have a laptop next to a cake mixer), so…not going to lie, I drove an hour to borrow an oven to make cookies.

What I’m Wearing:

Rain boots! It was storming like crazy here. Great writing weather.

What I’m Wanting:

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir! We’re so close.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So…I was a monk…and there were tons of monsters everywhere…and I had to defend the last glass of red wine on earth? I have no idea. But the fight scenes were epic. I managed to hold onto a glass of red wine while fighting the world at the same time. If only I were so smooth in real life. (I am the clumsiest person I know. In fact, I fell down the stairs for the SECOND time this year this past week. I’m in so much pain it’s stupid.) But thankfully, this time, I only caught rug burn.

What Else Is Going On:

I got more cat lady office décor! I’ll be sure to share it soon.

~SAT

#SATurdate: Good Morning Call, Bad Bloods 3, Top Ten, & Serial

16 Jul

What I’m Writing:

My YA fantasy, Dreammare, moved onto the third round of Adventure’s in YA Publishing’s Red Light/Green Light competition! That means I’m in the top ten! Read the opening page here. This week, I also wrote in BB, which is my second attempt at a contemporary YA, but I only have the first chapter done. I definitely believe in the story, but I’m not sold on myself writing it yet. Sometimes, we need more tools in our pocket before we can build something, and that might mean twenty more weeks of research for this bit. In bigger news, I’m DEFINITELY writing the next Bad Bloods book. Because of your raving reviews, Clean Teen Publishing already gave me the thumbs up to continue the series, and since I already have a draft from when I was 12 (eek! It’s terrible), I’m really excited to tackle this rewrite of an old project, too. So far, it’s titled July Thunder / July Lightning (but I’m aiming to make this one book instead of two). It takes place in July of 2090, and it will be told by two different characters, one of which you’ll recognize from November Rain and November Snow, and another who is completely new to the series. I’m 7,350 words in, three chapters deep, and working on the outline extensively. So far, the biggest hurdle is letting go of the focus of some of the original characters and allowing the current protagonists to focus on themselves and their story. You will see the members from the old cast as well as completely new characters and sections of Vendona. Most exciting of all will be an emphasis on Eastern Vendona, which I’ll talk a little about below.

What I’m Publishing:

Photo by The Bookworm Who Lived!

Photo by The Bookworm Who Lived!

We’re two days away from the book release of Bad Bloods: November Rain! I’m DYING from excitement. In fact, yesterday, Clean Teen Publishing let me know that we’re already on a second print run, even though the book isn’t out yet! This is big news. So, thank you for your support!

What are the latest readers already saying?

“I’m so hooked on this story and I am excited to start November Snow as soon as I’m done writing this review. I definitely recommend this book!”The Bookworm Who Lived

November Rain was a great read. The plot and the characters were pretty interesting and I was hooked from the very first page. The writing was smooth and easy to read and the pace was fast throughout the book. I easily finished this book in two sittings, it was hard to put it down. I am so excited to read the next part and see what happens! Recommend it? Yes!” –Daydreaming Books

Wattpad: Niki's Story

Wattpad: Niki’s Story

Since I spoke about Eastern Vendona above, you will love this news. Niki’s origin story released on the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad this week! You can read it here, and most of her story takes place in Eastern Vendona. Who is Niki? She is one of the higher ups in the Southern Flock, but before she joined, she was sold to a black-market psychic on the sunken bay. The sunken bay is a crime city in Eastern Vendona that literally sits on the beach leading to the ocean, but the ocean is poisoned with oil and other environmental issues. In fact, it’s one of the worst places to live, and though it plays a minor role in Bad Bloods: November Rain and Bad Bloods: November Snow, a large portion of the Bad Bloods sequel will take place in Eastern Vendona, so this story is a bit of a sneak peek. My goal is to finish the draft in two months and edit it before November for (hopefully) another July release. I mean, how cool would it be to have July Thunder release in July? (Especially since it’s the July after an election.) We will see…

The #1lineWed theme was “water” so here is your weekly preview:

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

What I’m Reading:

The Last Star by Rick Yancey

The Last Star by Rick Yancey

I finished The Last Star by Rick Yancey, and UGHHHHH, I’m so incredibly torn up after finishing this trilogy’s finale. It’s fantastic, it’s heartbreaking, it’s thrilling, and it’s…incredibly frustrating. I love how symbolic Rick Yancey’s voice is. I love how diverse his characters are. I love how REAL his sci-fi, apocalyptic alien takeover feels. And I think the ending was perfection. It was flawless. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m going to leave it at that, but if you haven’t started this alien sci-fi trilogy, pick up The 5th Wave today and check it out. It’s a thrilling ride you won’t forget. Recommended to sci-fi lovers who enjoy apocalyptic settings, alien takeovers, and mind-blowing twists. Must love metaphors. Must love numerous POVs. Must love surprises. Favorite Quote: For some, death is the midwife to faith. For others, it is faith’s executioner. Read my full five-star review by clicking here.

What I’m Listening To:

Serial Podcast

Serial Podcast

Okay. Okay. I’m FINALLY listening to the Serial podcast. I’m only on episode three, but holy bejeebes. I’m addicted.

What I’m Watching:

Speaking of addictions, I spent nearly all my free time watching Good Morning Call on Netflix. (Seriously. Each episode is 45 minutes long, and I finished all 17 episodes this week. I couldn’t stop myself. Not even a little bit. My writing time suffered, and I don’t even regret it one bit.) Good Morning Call is a Japanese romantic drama show based off a manga I’ve actually read, and I LOVED it. It’s super cheesy, it’s super ridiculous, and it’s super hard to stop watching. Even parts where the feminist inside me cringes, I have to admit I love. It’s such a guilty pleasure that I highly recommend, though you must be willing to read captions. The story follows a high school girl who finally gets her own apartment only to realize she’s been caught up in a rental scam and must room with the worst lover boy from her school…though maybe he’s not so bad, after all.

Good Morning Call

Good Morning Call

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I made chili in the crock pot this week! But I have tons of plans on future desserts for this upcoming weekend. (My weekend is Sunday-Tuesday, by the way. I live in opposite land.)

What I’m Wearing:

Kiki and I were pretty in pink this week on Instagram.

What I’m Wanting:

La La Land with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. I have the BIGGEST crush on Emma Stone. She’s perfect. Oh, yeah. And Gosling. I guess he’s okay, too. 😉

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So, do you all have reoccurring rooms in your dreams? I do. Which I’m not sure is normal or not. But I have this one room that (and this is going to sound stalkerish, because it is) that is dedicated to Lily Collins. (WHAT? I love her. SO WHAT?) So, I visit this room in my dreams, for some reason, and it’s just filled with fan art, but this time, it was destroyed, and I was distraught, so I picked up what I could, and then, as I was leaving, I realized the back lights were on…which is weird. Because these lights have never been on. Then, I remember I’ve “sold” this room (apparently in a dream I can’t recall), and the new owner is there WITH AN AXE. So he hits me on the head.

Yep.

I woke up.

What Else Is Going On:

My new author photos are on the way! But I can’t believe we’re only two days away from the Bad Bloods book release! Thanks for your support!

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

~SAT

#SATurdate: Signed Books, Cherry Cookies, Everything Everything, & The Lizzie Borden Chronicles

20 Feb

The book signing in Barnes & Noble went so well! I met so many great readers, and I was able to share that experience with amazing authors. If you would like a signed copy of The Timely Death Trilogy, e-mail me at shannonathompson@aol.com. The Barnes & Noble has a few copies left, and they will ship the books to you! To those of you I had the joy of meeting, thank you for coming out!

What I’m Writing:

Bogart judged me harshly this week.

Bogart judged me harshly this week.

I’m 30,000 words into Take Me Yesterday, and yes, I’m still handwriting this entire novel, which has been quite fun. I handwrote enough this week that I was able to start typing more onto my computer, so I did that—which of course has me changing and shifting things and driving myself mad. This was a delight to me. I like driving myself mad. This was the first week in a LONG time that I was able to go to my favorite coffee house and really type it all out. Well worth the trip.

What I’m Publishing:

This week’s #1lineWed preview theme was “texture.”

Shadows dripped off the bumpy texture and pooled into the center of the living room.

Fun story about this #1lineWed preview. For all you fans of The Timely Death Trilogy there is actually a “shade” in Bad Bloods. Her original name was Kati, but it was changed to Violet or simply Vi in the editing process. This is a description of her coming down from the ceiling as a shadow. I like to connect all of my novels, so keep your eyes open! You might see something from previous works that new readers won’t.

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

What I’m Reading:

currentI started to read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon…and then I finished it in one sitting. I literally never put it down. I knew I had to buy this book when a Barnes & Noble employee passed me and said, “You’re really enjoying that, huh?” Apparently, I was blissing out. Everything, Everything is an intimate, insane, and intricate exploration of love and life and all of the fear and joy in between. It is a heartbreaking exploration of family, friendship, health, and identity. Oh, and humuhumunukunukuapuaa. It is…everything. Read my full 5-star review by clicking here. My favorite quote was, “Sometimes you do things for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrongs ones and sometimes it’s impossible to tell the difference.”

I am also reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland on a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, and I love it so far! This novel was actually recommended to me by the Barnes & Noble event coordinator in Wichita, Kansas, and I always love recommendations. I thought I’d also share the other two books I bought while in Wichita: Dreamthief by Tamara Grantham (a CTP novel) and The Republic of Pirates: Behind the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down by Colin Woodard (because who doesn’t want to know more about pirates?)

What I’m Listening To:

Railroad Track by Willy Moon is still my inspiration for my writing life right now, so that’s about all I’m listening to.

What I’m Watching:

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles! I know, I know. It’s totally speculative and fiction, but I loved this show. It’s twisted, dark, and filled with horror and delight. (Can I say horror and delight in the same sentence?) Well, it’s on Netflix right now, and I have Netflix again. (Eep.) I must resist watching too much, but I definitely recommend this show if you love horror and loving the villains.

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I also watched The Way of the Gunbecause going back to the year 2000 can be fun sometimes. And bloody. Really, really bloody.

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I made dark chocolate chip cherry fill-in cookies for Valentine’s Day! NOM. 

What I’m Wearing:

PINK. I wore a lot of pink for Valentine’s Day. I actually like the color pink, but I don’t like wearing the color pink. It feels too bold and bright for my vampire lifestyle, but I am trying to be more…shall I say, colorful?

What I’m Wanting:

I mean, who wouldn’t want a bunch of Sailor Moon collectibles? I’d be happy with Luna, Artemis, and Tuxedo Mask…and Saturn…and Jupiter…and oh wait. I want them all. Look at them here.

sailormoon-funko-pop-figures-new-york-toy-fair2016b

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I had this really strange—very realistic—dream that someone broke into my house…and started making espresso. They even brought it upstairs and gave it to my roommate in the dark, and I was VERY confused. I wanted to scream, but I also wanted some espresso, so when they started to hand me something, I was excited. But they handed me a bunny. An adorable, fuzzy, kicking bunny. That was it. (I swear, there is no way dreams ALWAYS mean something. I mean, sure, I think they can symbolically mean something some of the time, but my dreams are too consistent and crazy…unless that means I’m consistently crazy, which is a possibility.)

What Else Is Going On:

At the Barnes & Noble book signing, I’m pretty sure there was a glitch in the Matrix. We had SIX Sarahs (all spelt with H) come up in a row. I believe all the authors had a great giggle over that…so thank you, Sarahs!

~SAT

Have you checked out this amazing gift basket Clean Teen Publishing is giving away this month? It has over $130 worth of goodies including a Kindle Fire, several print novels, sweets, swag, and more! Enter to win here.

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If you would like a signed copy of any book in The Timely Death Trilogy, e-mail me at shannonathompson.com. Barnes & Noble in Wichita has a few copies left, and they will ship you one.

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1: FREE 

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#MondayBlogs: The Prose Poem

14 Sep

Intro:

Poetry is important to me. When readers ask about my background in writing, they are almost always curious about my education regarding writing. More often than not, readers aren’t surprised to hear I studied creative writing in college, but they are surprised when I clarify I spent most of my time studying poetry. In fact, my poetry professor was one of the most influential people on my life and writing. So, when poet Ann Howells queried me about the importance of the prose poem, I was estatic to share her piece today.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

The Prose Poem by Ann Howells

As a form, the prose poem tests boundaries. It upsets award givers: a singing pig or tap dancing chicken. It defies categories and exists for those fascinated by enigmas. When poetry subverts its dependence on the line of verse for identity it opens new possibilities. Once the amazement of even having a prose poem is past, the poem can be appreciated for its uniqueness and the way in it combines suggestiveness and completeness.

History—Prose poems go back to poetry’s beginnings. Neither the ancient Greeks nor the Anglo-Saxons required line breaks, nor did Old Testament parables which concentrated imagery, symbol and allusion much more than prose. Early traces also appear in the Chinese Fu form, a prose form that includes rhythm and meter. In Fu, word association allows the writer to leap from one word to another, referred to as riding on dragons. This same associative leap is common in prose poems. The poet explores an experience through metaphor, through multiple levels of consciousness, leaping from conscious to unconscious and maintaining a sense of surprise.

The modern day prose poetry began with Symbolists in France and Belgium in the 19th century. The first were by Baudelaire, who praised it, saying, a miracle of poetic prose, musical, without rhythm and without rhyme, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of reverie, the jibes of conscience. These prose poems are rich in suggestion and metaphor and tend to have strong lyrical qualities. Other French Symbolists who wrote in his form include Rimbaud, Mallarme, and Valery. From there the prose poem spread in all directions through all major languages of the planet.

It was slowest to catch on in the United States where the first prose poems were journal entries of Hawthorne and Thoreau and newspaper articles by Whitman (under a pseudonym) for the New York Leader (early 1860s). Later, his Specimen Days, built on those articles, became the first book of prose poems published in America. He called for poets to break down the barriers of form between poetry and prose. Few listened.

William Carlos Williams claimed that, while blank verse and free verse were perfect vehicles for English voices with different tones and patterns of stressed syllables, the rhythm and intonations of prose poems were in tune with speech patterns of everyday Americans—a vehicle made for their voices. And, in the first decades of the 20th century, a bunch of little journals began to publish prose poems. (One of these was Poetry.) Yet, critics were hostile. After the publication of Russell Edson’s The Very Thing That Happens in 1964, small journals again began publishing a few prose poems. Robert Alexander (a well-known contemporary prose poet) compares the controversy over the prose poem to the controversy over free verse at the turn of the century. Free verse has dominated for years in this country (though not necessarily elsewhere). It marginalizes the prose poem, as well as formal forms like sonnets and villanelles, even though many, including editors, still think it an inferior prose with no place at all among poetry. The proponents are the poets themselves. Even then, consider the brouhaha surrounding the Pulitzer Prize (1990) given to The World Doesn’t End, a book of prose poems by Charles Simic. It drew an avalanche of protest from poets and reviewers.

What exactly is a prose poem?— Prose poems (sometimes incorrectly called proems, which is not a literary term) are poetry contained in a prose format that utilizes all the devices of poetry except the line break. While the distinction between verse (a poem containing regular meter and formal attributes) and prose is clear, that between poetry (a highly organized, artistic genre that produces a discrete object d’art) and prose is obscure.

Prose poetry can be divided roughly, by subject, into seven categories:

  • The object poem—about an ordinary object seen in a new way—like a mop or a shoe. These poems are usually quite short. See “Shoes” by Warren Lang.
  • The surreal narrative—popular in the 1960s, these often presented a metaphysical conceit, yoking together unexpected elements. They have a dream-like quality. Read Russell Edson’s work; you’ll either love or hate it.  Or see “Un Bruit Qui Court” by Maureen Gibbon.
  • The straight narrative—different than prose in that they emphasize feeling rather than plot. See “Translations” by Michael Carey.
  • The character poem—fleeting impressions rather than fleshed-out descriptions. See “How Grandma and Grandpa Met” by Michael Carey.
  • The landscape or place poem—often arising from journal entries or letters. They tend to be more impression than physical description. See “Icebergs” by Roger K. Blakely.
  • The meditative poem—self-descriptive, but tending to be metaphysical and abstract. See “My Name” by Jack Minezeski.
  • The hyperbolic poem—consists almost entirely of verbal play. See “The Voyage of Self-Discovery” by Michael Benedikt.

Some volumes of prose poetry contain mainly poems written in prose style with regular punctuation and capitalization. Some have paragraphs to parallel the verse structure of lineated poetry, some are written as a single paragraph or verse with regular punctuation and capitalization and some as a single paragraph without any punctuation or capitalization. Some poets have pushed this even further by beginning the poem and sometimes ending it in the middle of a sentence. One rule of poetry has always been, begin in the middle, though perhaps not so conspicuously. It simply means to begin at the heart and eliminate introductory lines giving background or setting up the situation. This is even more so with prose poetry which captures a moment, facet or fleeting emotion. Also, without punctuation, one word can modify the meaning of both the phrase preceding it and the one following it. It works much the same as judicious line breaks which leave a word that belongs with the thought in the following line at the end of the previous line to color its meaning also.

What some poets have to say about Prose Poems:

It explores the ways a story and a poem can spring from the same source. An open and associative form to reach half buried thoughts. (Mark Vinz)

A poem is language presented as an art object—meant to be viewed as a work of art. Prose says: ‘Come listen. I alone have survived to tell this tale.’ But a poem entices us. ‘Come listen. No one else can tell this tale as artfully as I.’ (Robert Alexander)

Prose poems distill and mimic prose. They offer ‘life histories reduced to paragraphs, essays the size of postcards, novels in nutshells, maps on postage stamps, mind-bending laundry lists, theologies scribbled on napkins.’ (David Young)

While poetic prose may use some rhetorical and poetic devices and elements of aesthetic texture (sound, rhythm, imagery, etc.), it does not do so as consistently or as intensely as the prose poem because it is intended to be prose. The prose poem depends upon all the devices of poetry except line break, with no single element being essential. It uses heightened language; metaphorical expression; musical form; structural repetitiveness; prosodic features like meter, alliteration, etc.; and brevity. It has a great deal of internal movement in the rhythm and syntax that replaces the tension otherwise created by contrived line endings, (though in a prose poem the phrase is the smallest unit of rhythm, rather than the syllable or foot of lined poetry). Prose poems often give more significance to the final lines than other poems, which helps add closure. Sometimes merely that can turn a journal entry into a prose poem, i.e. an observation followed by a line or two that adds universality. Voice dominates. Prose poems are trickier to bring off successfully than lineated poems.

Bio: 

Ann-Richardson 2007Ann Howells’s poetry appears in Borderlands, Concho River Review, Crannog (Ire), RiverSedge, Rockhurst Review, San Pedro River Review and Spillway among others. She serves on the board of Dallas Poets Community, 501-c-3 non-profit, and has edited Illya’s Honey Literary Journal, since 1999, recently taking it digital (www.IllyasHoney.com) and taking on a co-editor with whom she alternates issues. Her chapbooks are, Black Crow in Flight, (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2007) and the Rosebud Diaries (Willet Press, 2012). She has been read on NPR, interviewed on Writers Around Annapolis television, and been four times nominated for a Pushcart, twice in 2014.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in October/November, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

More Prizes to Win!

18 Dec

First, sorry that I didn’t post this at midnight this morning, but I am in the last two finals I will ever take. That’s right – next time I post on this blog, I will be a college graduate. 

Second, thank you to author, T.B. Markinson, for guest blogging on the 16th. Isn’t she amazing?

Third, if you’ve been following my blog since last week, then you might have seen the Ebook Extravaganza Virtual Launch Party where we gave away a Kindle Paperwhite as well as many other prizes, like Amazon and Starbucks gift cards. If you attended, I hope you won one of the many prizes! If you didn’t here’s your chance to win AGAIN!

Firsborn Virtual Launch Party - Cover Art

Tomorrow, on December 19 (7 – 9 CST), celebrate the anticipated contemporary fantasy, Firstborn, meet the author, and win prizes.

Everything is virtual – meaning, you celebrate over Facebook. There are games every 10 minutes, and every time you participate, you have a chance at winning something fantastic! And you guys know Ryan Attard. He guest blogged on my website on October 21. (Here’s that post.)

Join the event here

And if you’re interested in contemporary fantasy, here’s a synopsis of his recently released novel, Firstborn:

“There’s a war raging between the forces of Heaven and Hell; and, as if his own issues weren’t enough to deal with, his sister has chosen the wrong side. Now he’s got angels, demons, talking pets and a Japanese monster to contend with. Follow Eric Ashendale in this first full length novel of ‘The Legacy Series.’”

Ryan Attard is beyond hilarious and sure to entertain you. He also has a short story, Dread Night, published, and a website you can check out if you’re extra interested.

~SAT

P.S. Can’t wait to post next time as a college graduate!

 

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