Remarkable Finds

Summer is not quite over…get in a good read before it ends!

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Summer is perfect for tackling your reading list. Whether you’re an avid reader that keeps an ongoing list of books on your phone or tablet, or a more casual reader who picks up a book from time to time, nothing beats the heat like laying in a hammock or by the pool with a great book.

But what if the unspeakable happens. What if one of the books you’ve chosen for this favored reading time is not what you expected? What if halfway through the book you realize that the book is just plain not for you?

There are studies that map the ability of a person to stop reading a book they’ve started to specific personality traits. Specifically, if you can’t put down a book you take your reading time less seriously compared to a reader that evaluates the intrinsic worth of the book at about halfway through and makes a conscious decision to continue reading the book to the end. Of course there are also those that believe that a book is never really “finished.”

Regardless of what kind of reader you are, choosing your next book can be both exciting and overwhelming. We’ve compiled some of our favorite books on shop.lulu.com as a casual list of good reads, and are constantly learning about more books that are gaining popularity. And, of course, there’s always Lulu.com’s bookstore, which is packed with hundreds of thousands of titles, including tomorrow’s next big hit.

Happy Summer reading. We hope you have a blast.

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Marquel Sherry

What first motivated you to write a book?

I’ve wanted to since grade school I just could never get a whole story out. NaNoWriMo kind of helped push me to finishe a story.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

The editing part was hardest for me. It was relatively easing getting everything typed out but it was painfully tedious going back and trying to fix things

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Go for it. Even if you think it’s crap. I still kinda think my stuff is crap but someone obviously liked I so you never know what other people are going to think of your work.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

I think it’s definitely targeted to people who enjoy fantasy writing, and romance. I’d most recommend it to people who enjoy Norse myths (especially Loki) to check it out since it is centered around them.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

Fantasy and romance have been two genres I’ve always loved reading myself especially when they are smushed together so I wrote what I liked to read I guess.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

It’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be, which I don’t think is the normal experience so I feel bad saying that I just slipped into it and everything fell into place.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

Winning the Wrimos accelerator contest. I entered because I was bored and had no intention if winning at all it was one of the biggest shocks I’ve ever received. Still can’t believe it really.

Will you write another book?

I have a lot of stories in my head and I have a sequel to the book I published sitting in my brain so yes I shall at least try to write more.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

My family, friends, and my boyfriend Lonnie who tried to help edit my book, tried to correct something in the first chapter that I didn’t take very well and ended his short editing career, but I love him for putting up with me.

Find her book, To Free the Fox, here.

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Ashley Stinson

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.37.25 PMWhat first motivated you to write a book?

I’ve always been a voracious reader, particularly of fantasy novels. Writing seemed like a natural extension of all this reading; the practice of building a world, filling it with people, thinking of stories to breathe life into that world–that all became a fun diversion for me as a young girl. I’ve just been writing ever since.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

For me, the biggest hurdle when it comes to writing a story is actually getting it down in words. Dreaming up plots and premises is fun and exciting; things feel fresh and new and full of possibilities. When it comes to actually writing it, I always find my sentences too stilted, my plots too dull, my characters too wooden. I end up agonizing over every word and thought and find myself disheartened.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep at it. No matter how hard it might be to find the time or inspiration, make yourself write. You can always fix anything you’re not happy with when you finish–but first you have to get it all down.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

In a nutshell, ‘The Ballad of the Broken Soldier’ is about a plot to assassinate the king of a country called Tahlehsohr. It follows a group of would-be assassins–men and women with their own agendas and goals quite apart from one another’s, and who don’t even particularly all get along with each other–as they try to get to the king without being caught and killed. Meanwhile, royal spies are stalking their every move and none of them can really ever be sure of the loyalties of their fellows. Adults and young adults with an interest in fantasy, intrigue, or just watching people argue ought to check it out.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

Fantasy has been a passion of mine since as far back as I can remember. Crafting a full world with it’s own customs, belief systems, and history is an especial passion of mine, and fantasy lends itself well to that, for obvious reasons.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

It’s not quite the experience I imagined. Before you’ve finished a book, you have an image in your head that the moment when it’s all done will represent some fundamental change in who you are. Or at least I did. I thought that would be the moment that I really started to feel like a writer–I imagined I’d suddenly have all these insights into story telling and the creative process and how to tweak a reader’s heartstrings. But that doesn’t happen all at once; it turns out that just finishing a book isn’t a magical formula for knowing everything there is to know about writing.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

It’s been a surprise to me how writing becomes both harder and easier. For one, it’s been easier for me to find the discipline to sit down and tell myself, “Okay–today you and I are going to work on this story. We’re going to finish these scene.” At the same time, the words come more slowly. I weigh them more carefully than I used to. It’s been a surprise how much editing I’ve begun to do even while I’m putting the words down.

Will you write another book?

Of course. I can honestly say that writing is a part of me. If no one ever read a single word I wrote, I’d still be writing books.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

My parents have been very supportive of me. My mom, in particular, loves to see the things I write, and she’s very vocal about what she thinks of it. And I have supportive friends who are also writers–so they commiserate with me when things are tough.

Find her book, The Ballad of the Broken Soldier, here.

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Emily Covington

What first motivated you to write a book?

I was motivated to write because I loved to read and I wanted something that no one had ever done before. I wanted to love something that had a little bit of everything and was my own.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

The biggest challenge is when you find your story down in a ditch and you have to motivate your characters as well as yourself. You have to remind yourself why you started, and that’s the most important thing. Sometimes you just have to stop and look at what inspires you, listen to Indie music, talk to your friends, go for a walk, and then describe everything as you sacrifice your homework and that essay that’s due. That’s hard, but it pays off.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep writing. Write everything, and describe everything. Tell me what you feel and why, tell me your past and give me the wildest imaginable future, and give me metaphors that I can relate to. I want imagery and description. I want characters made from real people that I have never met, and I want you to introduce me to them. I want to love them without knowing why or how. I want it to be seamless and real. Fall away from your fears your selfish desires cut the chains that anchor you with the knowledge that you have caged yourself and the key has been in your mouth the whole time.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

My book is about adventure. It is about romance and finding yourself. It is about learning to love and let love go, and realizing that just because you think you love someone doesn’t mean it’s always supposed to happen. My book is meant for those people who have ever lost something, for those people who have ever been in love or wanted love or needed meaning in their lives. My book is for people who long for adventure, or who long to settle down. It is for the mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, and anyone who wants to hear a story about a girl that had to lose everything before she could rise again.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

I chose fantasy/adventure because I wanted to create a place that was unlike our world, but exactly the same. It used to be good, but now it is corrupt, and it will take a massive effort to make it good again, to reintroduce freedom. It is a story with war, imprisonment, death, loss, victory, and love, and it is about a girl and her friends who fall in love with their world and the adventures they have.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

Writing a book has been so much different than I ever imagined, but I write every day. I wanted elements from everything that I love, and there is so much satisfaction to see my years of writing, knowledge, and daydreaming all rolled into one little paperback copy with a green cover and script letter and my own name sitting there before me. It is compelling and powerful to be able to hold something that I made with my own hands, my eyes, my mind. It’s quite enlightening and a very huge relief. I can’t wait to do it again.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

Writing a book has been so much different than I ever imagined, but I write every day. I wanted elements from everything that I love, and there is so much satisfaction to see my years of writing, knowledge, and daydreaming all rolled into one little paperback copy with a green cover and script letter and my own name sitting there before me. It is compelling and powerful to be able to hold something that I made with my own hands, my eyes, my mind. It’s quite enlightening and a very huge relief. I can’t wait to do it again.

Will you write another book?

I write every single day. I have hundreds of notebooks, documents, typed sentences that are lost in places, flash drives that appear out of thin air, words on notepads and papers and even on my desk with chalk. I have so many sentences and ideas that I can’t wait to reveal the next big project that will come alive as surely as this one has. Wait for Zhenya and Brielle.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

I would like to thank NaNoWriMo and my college friends at Murray State University who first got me involved. I would like to thank my parents, all of them, for shaping me into the person I’ve become. I would also like to thank the amazing people behind Lulu who have helped so much, and the other winners who have been beside me through this. We really have won in this endeavor.

Find her book, Silver Follows, here.

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Sabina Zbasnik

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.20.09 PMWhat first motivated you to write a book?

I wanted to write The King’s Blood after a small scene popped into my head. It pictured a girl chastising a boy for accepting a rusted and waterlogged sword from some half drowned woman lying in a pond. That scene became little more than a toss away joke in the book, but it grew into so much more. An exploration of how often history is rewritten, and though we treat it like stone, it’s really clay. Discovering what it takes to create a Charlemagne like character; young and naïve at first, but shaped by his circumstances to stitch together a shattered country while bringing back literacy. And, as always, poking fun at some of the classic fantasy tropes, especially the self fulfilling prophecy.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

You know when you have a word on the tip of your brain, the perfect word to slot into your flailing sentence, but for the life of you, you cannot scrounge it up from the depths of your sunken vocabulary? When it happens dozens of times each writing session, wasting time and energy, it becomes a major stumbling block.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Write like no one will read your book; edit like your toughest critic will.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

The King’s Blood has the bones of a classic epic fantasy, a prince has to get his butt onto his dad’s throne, but the sinew and flesh are satire of those tropes. It’s a book meant to get some color into the medieval fantasy realm that is sorely missing. Not only is the main heroine black, so is the friendly assassin, while the sardonic witch is Asian. If you really love Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams then you might enjoy my book. There aren’t a lot of long lists of who begat whom and the history of a stone pillar that has nothing to do with the plot, but there are jokes. Argonath sized piles of jokes.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

Despite satirizing the fantasy genre, I do love it. It’s a chance to explore and examine the human condition, what drives and crushes people, while also throwing in a dragon or two. But no bards, no one wants to put up with a bard.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

Writing is always a surprise, getting to the book stage doubly so. It is stressful to chase that dream but, when you hold that finished copy in your hands, it’s all worth it.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the community that rallies around. Wonderful friends and people who have already slogged down this journey that are happy to share their advice, their congratulations, and beta read. A beta reader that shares both the good and bad in the form of constructive criticism is worth their weight in gold. Never let them go.

Will you write another book?

I’ve already started another series called Dwarves in Space, to move somewhat into the sci-fi arena. There are plans in my mind to stretch King’s Blood out to another two books, exploring secrets about Ciara and her father to tie them back to the Elven wars, but only time will tell if I ever write them.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

My husband offered a great sounding board while writing as well as a useful alpha reader. So many wonderful friends took on the thankless job of beta reading; Dawn, Adam, Rick, I never could have reached even a passable manuscript without their advice and suggestions. Also, a shout out to my fellow Let’s Go Wrimo winners who all came together to help each other out, and Lulu for giving me this opportunity.

Find her book, The King’s Blood, here.

 

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Thomasin Heyworth

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 2.34.29 PM

What first motivated you to write a book?

A good book can take you out of your own life for a while. The best books also teach you something, or provide new insights. I wanted to write a book to share some of my own insights about life and people, and also, with any luck, to tell a compelling story that people would want to read.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

Getting started. The fear that I wouldn’t have all the pieces to make a good story. But I learned that once you get started, the rest follows.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Just jump in and get writing. As I said, getting started can be the hardest part. It’s been said by everyone, but it bears repeating, that if you just write, and keep writing, you will create something. If you don’t get started, it’s never going to happen. So don’t let the fear of doing it wrong or not writing a best-seller stop you. None of that matters. The writing matters.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

After June will probably appeal mostly to women. The main character is a widow in his late sixties, but he shares the story with a young pregnant woman. They’ve both suffered the recent loss of someone close to them, and the story is about what we share with others and what we keep to ourselves, but also about serendipity, accepting the kindness of others and being open to change. Anyone who is interested in what motivates people to make decisions could take something away from the story.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

I suppose I wrote a contemporary women’s novel because that’s what I know best. My own view of the world is through that lens. I am also most interested in real-life stories rather than fantasy, for example, because these are the most meaningful to me.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

I really had no preconceived notions of what it would be like to complete a novel. I’ve learned so much in the process. One of most important things I’ve learned is that all writers (all creators, for that matter) go through very similar experiences, and that there’s nothing quite as valuable as the advice of experienced writers. Listening to them assures you that you’re difficulties and successes are all very normal. And that’s encouraging!

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

I was surprised by the way the writing took on a life of its own. Some of my characters took shapes that I had not planned. A story belongs to the writer and the writer can make anything happen, but even your best laid plans can change at any time if you’re open to it. It’s fun to see where the writing takes you.

Will you write another book?

Absolutely. It’s already forming. And this time, while I still have many of the same questions I had the first time, I know some of the answers will come once I begin.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

I have a lot of people to thank, but mostly those who lived through the writing with me, like my partner, Peter, my mother and close friends. And I should thank NaNoWriMo for creating a site that was so easy to use and offered so much encouragement. As for self-publishing, that’s another story, and the support of Meg and Glenn at Lulu as well as the other nine Accelerator Winners has been invaluable.

Find her book, After June, here.

 

Critterkin is activating young readers in a whole new way

Final Kindness Quilt - Paper1

Jena Ball, author of the children’s CritterKin Book Series, is taking the way kids read and interact with her stories and characters to a whole new level. As part of the “CritterKin Be Kind” project, Ball has been working with 43 third graders from Bellevue Elementary School’s summer reading program, not only fostering literacy in children, but also imagination by taking her books and turning the themes into a tangible expressions of kindness called the “CritterKin Kindness Quilt.”

During the three week program, Ball has helped these children to experience, learn about, and use kindness. Not only did the kids have read an entire book, they also created three versions of a ”CritterKin Kindness Quilt” (paper, fabric and digital) while blogging and writing poetry about their adventures, as well. In a grand finale today, the children will be performing the last chapter of the book as a play . The play will be open not only to the  local Bellevue, Nebraska community, but to the entire world as well. Since technology has played a huge roll in the project, the play will actually be mass broadcast for anyone to tune into on a custom Google Hangout.

We sincerely applaud all of the effort that has gone into this initiative and hope that you will consider joining for what promises to be a wonderful, giggle filled celebration of 43 terrific kids and  their work:

WHEN: Friday, June 20th at 1:30 pm (CST)
Google Hangout: Visit this Google+ Page for the link: https://plus.google.com/events/chst5ksdn7b5iv1rn6eb3be21to

To learn more about the book, Lead With Your Heart,  that inspired the program and the play, please visit the CritterKin books page: http://wp.me/P37dkL-kp-0p

To see how you can start your own “CritterKin Be Kind” project, visit the CritterKin “Be Kind” page: http://wp.me/P37dkL-bO