Writers’ food for thought

Have you ever wondered about the food/drinks that your favourite author consumes while writing? The New York Times has compiled a list of ‘Favourite Snacks of the Great Writers’ (click on the image for better view). The illustrations were done by Wendy MacNaughton and I love the comic strip look of it!

Food and drinks that fuel author's

Food and drinks that fuel authors’ writing

These writers need certain food and/or drinks to inspire their writing. Daniel Handler, who is more known for his work under the pseudonym ‘Lemony Snicket’, includes raw carrots in his writing rituals. In contrast, Truman Capote consumed a variety of drinks at different hours to fuel his thought processes. I’m slightly surprised that Mary Roach enjoys eating pho with rare beef. I assume someone who writes a non-fictional book about bodies donated to science would not want to eat rare meat.

Do you know other prolific writer who has distinctive food cravings as part of his/her writing ritual? Share with me in the comment box below.

Author-readers interaction: #4 Instagram

Instagram is another visual social medium that is rapidly gaining popularity. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram currently has an astounding 200 million active users worldwide and stores approximately 20 billion photos. For those who have never heard of Instagram, it is a fun photo-sharing mobile application. Users (also known as ‘Instagrammers’) can choose to edit the photos using filters and share them via other social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. They could also like other people’s photos by clicking ❤ , comment on the photos and/or follow other Instagrammers.

Similar to Twitter, one can find other book lovers by typing hashtags such as #bookstagram, #bookworm, #amreading. Bookstagram stands for the book community on Instagram. A lot of book-loving Instagrammers post photos of their book collection e.g. bookshelves, To-Be-Read lists. One photo catches my attention: an excited fan getting ready for a book signing session in her hometown in the Philippines (see below).

With so many social media available out there, how can authors benefit from Instagram? Here are some strategies that can be done via Instagram:

1. Market new books. One of the ways to do this is to reveal the cover of a yet-to-be-published book. In early July, Colleen Hoover revealed the cover of her latest book ‘Ugly Love’. The book, which is scheduled to be released on 5th of August 2014, is already generating buzz via Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads.

2. Organise a contest. To celebrate the release of Hoda Kotb‘s book, Simon & Schuster organised a photo contest titled ‘Ten Years Later’. To enter the contest, keen individuals were asked to upload original photos from ten years ago to Instagram, type the hashtag #TenYearsLater and tag @HodaKotb in the caption. Participants submitted wonderful now-and-then photos.

3. Give a visual glimpse of their personal lives. Amy Tan (author of ‘The Joy Luck Club’) shares pictures of her dog, travels, people she meets and fans posting with her newest book ‘The Valley of Amazement’. My favourite is a photo of her and Matt Groening.

4. Share behind-the-scenes of an author’s work. Jarrett Krosoczka, who is an author, illustrator and TED speaker, shares some of his sketches on Instagram (refer below).

So authors, why not create an Instagram account now? If you would like to read more on its benefits, visit these links: Maximize Social Business and Combined Book. If you are keen to find out more about book-related hashtags on Instagram, check out this brief guide and video.

Do you follow your favourite author(s) via Instagram? If ‘yes’, then ‘Like’ this post.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts about communication methods between author and readers. Check out previous posts – #1 (Twitter), #2 (Facebook) and #3 (Pinterest).

Writes of Passage: 50 books that will change YOUR life

The United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland celebrated World Book Day on 6 March 2014. To celebrate the glorious day, readers were invited to nominate books that have rocked their worlds. Votes were cast and a list of ‘Writes of Passage: 50 books that will change YOUR life’ was created. Using ‘Writes of Passage’ instead of ‘Rites of Passages’ for the survey/campaign… that’s brilliant!

Writes of Passage: 50 books that will change Your life

Writes of Passage: 50 books that will change YOUR life

Out of 50 books, 10 were chosen as the most popular books (see below). There is even a poster of the ‘top 10’ poster (click here to view).

Title Author Genre
1 The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins Dystopic, Science Fiction
2 The Fault in Our Stars John Green Romance
3 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Fiction
4 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone J.K. Rowling Fantasy
5 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell Dystopia, Science Fiction
6 The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank Autobiography
7 A Street Cat Named Bob James Bowen Autobiography
8 Lord of The Rings J.R.R. Tolkien Fantasy
9 The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky Fiction
10 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë Historical romance

I am familiar with all the works (either by reading the books, watching book-to-film adaptations and/or visiting a memorial) except for ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’. I don’t usually read non-fiction but reviews seem good. Will read the book if my mood-for-something-different strikes.

Based on the ‘Writes of Passage’ list, is there any book that piques your interest? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

If you have read any of the 50 books, like the page. 🙂

Author-readers Interaction: #3 Pinterest

“A picture is worth a thousand words”.

I totally agree with that saying because I am a visual learner. That’s why I love using Pinterest, a social networking website that is slowly gaining popularity worldwide. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where users can search for images and videos on the internet and curate them based on a theme. I manage a wide collection of pins ranging from social media and e-Learning to music, books and Michael Fassbender (yes, I have a board devoted to him).

Booklovers are amongst active Pinterest users. A perfect example is a board that appreciates Stephen Chbosky‘s ‘The Perks of Being A Wallflower’ (refer below) . The board is decorated with images inspired by the book, as well as stills taken from the film. What I love about this board is ‘Charlie’s First Mixtape’ pin (I love the music featured in the book).

I believe that authors could use Pinterest to their advantages. They could:

  1. list all their books. To do so, pin book covers from own websites and write a brief description of each book. If visitors are curious about the book(s) and would like to get more information, they could click on ‘Visit Site’ button.
  2. use visuals to make their stories come alive. For example, Jo Beverley has a Pinterest board on her novel ‘A Shocking Delight’. She uses pictures of London and Devon in the early 1800 to illustrate the setting of the story.
  3. create a contest. Roost Books recently held a Pinterest contest to celebrate the release of ‘Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Investors’ by Rachelle Doorley. The winner uses the most colourful and creative images that encapsulate ‘Tinkering Inspiration’ theme.
  4. have a fun interaction with fans. In the ‘Who would be a good hero in …?’ board, Susan Elizabeth Phillips shares fans’ pick of actors for her “imaginary” book-to-movie adaptations.

Even though majority of Pinterest users (80%) are female, male authors/fans should not be discouraged. I must admit that it was hard to find a male author that uses Pinterest… until I discovered James Patterson’s Pinterest account (cue a fist pump!). I reckon his Pinterest appeals to many fans especially young fans (there are six boards dedicated to young readers).

I hope I have presented a convincing case for authors to sign up for Pinterest. If you would like to get detailed Pinterest guides for authors, visit The Book DesignerWriter’s Digest and DIYThemes .

Do you manage or follow a book-themed Pinterest board? Click on the ‘Like’ button below if your answer is ‘Yes’.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts about communication methods between author and readers. Post #1 is about Twitter, post #2 is about Facebook and post#4 is about Instagram.

How do you arrange your collection of books?

This post is a response to The Guardian’s poll on home library. Most of the readers (37%) organised their home library according to genre. This is followed closely with ‘alphabetically by author’ (18%) and ‘totally random’ (14%). Check out photo contributions from the readers to The Guardian. My favourite is definitely ‘Literary Spectrum’ (the one featured in the article) because I have never seen a personal collection of books that are arranged by colour.

I organise my books according to genre. However nowadays my books tend to be randomly placed due to the lack of shelf space. I have a L-shaped built-in bookshelf. If you look at my ‘shelfies’ (below), the books that are lying horizontally are newer than those that are standing.

How do you arrange your collection of books? Cast your vote in the poll below.


Bookmark vs. Dog-ear: How do you record the last page read?

When I got the job as a website admin/blogger for SS Readers Corner, I enthusiastically shared the news with my book-loving friends. Our discussion, which started with my responsibilities, shifted to our reading habits. One friend asked, “Do you dog-ear the pages of your book?” and my response was a firm no.

I love books regardless whether they are mine or borrowed. I am a known bookworm amongst friends and family so I get plenty of bookmarks as gifts. I usually have a book in my handbag so I carry a bookmark with me all the time. I would never fold the corner of a book page.

There were times when I couldn’t find a bookmark and was desperate to record the last page read without damaging it. The easiest solution: grab any flat item within reach (usually in my wallet or purse). There are plenty of choices for a makeshift bookmark (refer to picture below) but the most popular ones are used train tickets and receipts.

The different types of bookmarks I use: a proper bookmark, a business card, an ang pow (a money envelope), a postcard and a train ticket.

The different types of bookmarks I use: a proper bookmark, a business card, an ang pow (a money envelope), a postcard, a train ticket and a tissue.

How about you? If you use a bookmark or any item(s) displayed in the picture, like this page. Do you use other creative methods to mark the last page read? Share your views in the comment box below. Alternatively you could answer by voting in the poll.


Author-readers interaction: #2 Facebook

Last year approximately 1.23 billion users actively logged into Facebook every month. Furthermore, about 556 million users access this site daily via smartphones and tablets. As I get myself more and more involved in blogging, I notice that most authors have Facebook pages. The impressive statistics on Facebook are solid reasons for authors to communicate with fans and potential readers via Facebook.

Why does an author create a Facebook page when s/he already has a website? With Facebook page, fans do not need to keep visiting website to get updates on the author’s works. When a fan likes an author’s Facebook page, all the latest news would appear on his/her News Feed. Facebook page is about a community: it gives an author a place to talk to and get feedback from their fans. The more active and friendly an author becomes the closer relationship s/he will have with fans. Check out Dan Brown’s Facebook page. His picture with Mark Twain is liked by more than 2,600 people? Impressive!

A couple of weeks ago, Romance Festival 2014 organised many Q & A sessions with authors, book cover designers, blogger and publishers. One of the guest authors was Samantha Young, a New York Times bestseller. Due to big time difference between USA and Malaysia, I wasn’t able to join the session. It’s a good thing that the the Q & A is still there. I could read it at my leisure. Using Facebook page to conduct a Q & A session benefits the readers too. It is much easier to locate post and read it, unlike  Twitter (the messy order of tweets in a Twitter chat confuses me at times).

Facebook is the most popular social media in the world. If you are a public figure, then you ought to consider creating a Facebook fan page. Don’t know how to start? Go to this link for tips.

Are you already following your favourite authors via Facebook? If you answer ‘Yes’, then like this page. 🙂

ps: This is a serial of blog posts about communication method between author and readers. Read other posts on Twitter and Pinterest.

Author-readers interaction: #1 Twitter

Have you ever enjoyed a book so much that you have the urge to give a positive feedback to the author? I have!

In my opinion, Twitter is the best way to do so because it allows global connectivity. I can communicate with authors at any time all over the world. Because of the limit of 140 characters, I have to be concise with my comments.

Tweets are also more likely to be noticed and acknowledged by authors and othere fans. Here is an example of a Tweet sent to an author:

This tweet was started by Goodreads. I included Suzanne Brockmann in my reply and was pleasantly surprised when she responded immediately. She gave me a teaser in her next tweet, which increased my eagerness to finish reading the book.

Authors can also use Twitter to get ideas for their projects. Once I saw an author asking for any kindergarten teacher to contact her. Hhhmm could it be that she needed a muse for her next book?

Last weekend, Romance Festival 2014 organised several Twitter live Q&A sessions. Hashtag #Romance14 was used to easily identify posts that belong to the topic. I was fortunate enough to get my question answered by the wonderful authors in Young Adult genre: Lydia SysonCathy Hopkins and Liz Bankes (see below for the first response). I have always enjoyed Twitter chats so that session was no exception. If you miss out on the chat(s), don’t fret. Just type #Romance14 into the search box at the top of your Twitter screen.

I believe that every writer regardless of medium (books, television, academic research etc.) should be an active Twitter user. If you are a writer but need convincing about using Twitter, visit Twitter guide for authors and illustrators and Author Media.

If you enjoy tweeting to writers and/or fans, please spread the awesomeness by sharing this post with your friends and followers.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts about communication methods between author and readers. To read other tips, click #2 for Facebook and #3 for Pinterest.

How to cultivate reading habit in children

When I was in primary school back in the 90s, my mother used to borrow books to encourage her daughters to read. As a teacher, she had easy access to books in the school’s library and that gave us a lot of reading options. I remember reading Hans Christian Andersen‘s version of ‘The Little Mermaid’ and listening to other stories through audio cassettes. Each story teaches a life lesson, for example  the importance of being respectful to everyone regardless of status. Fast forward to 2014 and thankfully reading has become a habit of mine.

Sweet Valley High novels were my favourites when I was a pre-teen.

Sweet Valley High novels were my favourites when I was a teenager.

I do not have children but if I do, I would instil a love of reading in my children. I found an article that would help parents and grandparents to cultivate reading habit in children. The author recommends books based on age groups and author preference. There are also tips on using graphic novels and electronic books (e-books) to promote reading.

Our store has various titles mentioned in the article such as ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’, Judy Blume, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Hunger Games’. Please visit the store to check out our selection of children and young adults books.

Goodreads experiences: Members versus non-members

Goodreads is a global online community for book lovers. It includes many features such as book reviews, profiles of authors, discussion forums, polls. The database is not only limited to English books; it also includes Malaysian books e.g. Karim Raslan, Fauziah Ashari, Love You Mr. Arrogant. Budding authors, take note! You could join the ‘Goodreads Author Program’ to reach a wider target of readers.

This post is a simple guide to the desktop version of Goodreads website. I will distinguish the experiences of a Goodreads member and those of a non-member.



How to search for a book without Goodreads login/membership

You don’t have to become a Goodreads member to search for details of books. Just type in the book title, author or ISBN in the search column located in the middle of the webpage. You could find the search column inside a red box in the attached image. Click on the image to get a better view.

What does a non-member get to do?

  • Get more details of a book (e.g. publication date, book covers, formats)
  • Read reviews
  • View discussions of a book
  • Check out author’s profile (including a list of published books)
  • Answer a trivia
  • Answer a quiz


There are already many great features provided for non-members. Why do you need to get an account?

Goodreads members get MORE benefits. Once a member is signed in, a dashboard will appear. As you can see in attached image, the search column is easily located in the main navigation bar (refer to red box). There is no need to scroll down the page.

Goodreads benefit

Advantages of becoming a Goodreads member

What are the extra advantages of a Goodreads membership? (refer to blue boxes)

  1. Keep track of the books that you ‘have read’, ‘are reading’ and ‘want to read’ (highlighted as #1 in blue font)
  2. Check out what your Goodread friends ‘are reading’ or ‘have read’ (refer to #2)
  3. Become a fan of your favourite authors and get their updates (refer to #3)
  4. Join discussions of a book (refer to #4)
  5. Get book recommendations from the website (refer to #5)
  6. Click on ‘Explore’ to (refer to #6)
  • Search in ‘Listopia’ for books with similar themes
  • Enter ‘Giveaways’ to win new books

Those aforementioned points are the features that I regularly use. Now that you have read and perhaps evaluate the different experiences, what have you decided? If you like using Goodreads, share this article with your friends!